Lots of people have a goal to lose weight. But the journey to say, losing 10 pounds, can seem incredibly daunting. In all reality, losing that amount of weight in a healthy, sustainable way, should take months. But people want quick fixes. They aren’t willing to do the work to truly reach their goal. 

Setting and achieving goals in business works the same way. Anyone can come up with an ambitious goal, but even the most realistic milestone is unreachable unless you have a smart plan to achieve it. 

Why People Struggle with Goals

Achieving a goal takes time. Most people fail at achieving their goal because they don’t know how to create a path that will take them from their present reality to achieving something that may be months or years down the road. 

Here are the most common reasons people struggle.  

  • They aren’t able to work backward from goals to daily tasks
  • They aren’t flexible enough to change their goals or their path to them
  • They don’t record progress or celebrate wins

Let’s take the example of losing weight and imagine a person wants to lose 10 pounds. 

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. To lose 10 pounds, you have to remove 35,000 calories from your diet. Folks without a plan may try to get to that number quickly, barely eating anything for weeks. But that’s not sustainable. Eventually, they give up, go back to their old eating habits, and lose sight of their goal. 

How to Turn Your Goals into Actions

“To move goals from aspirational to reality requires discipline. If we’re trying to get to a goal, we’ve got to have some interim steps that we can achieve.” — Tim Yeomans, FiredUp! Executive Vice President

Indeed, 35,000 calories is a big number, but when you break it down, it seems more reasonable. For example, if you cut just 350 calories from your daily diet, you could lose 10 pounds in a 100 days, just over 3 months. That’s not a terribly long time, and it’s a manageable pace, so your chance of success is far higher. The same concept applies to business and it’s a useful tool for turning goals into actions.

Choose SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Goals that don’t abide by these criteria are difficult to track, stay focused on, or adapt over time. 

Break goals down into smaller pieces. Think about smaller objectives, milestones, and daily tasks that funnel up to realizing your ultimate goal. 

Celebrate wins to keep your team motivated, focused, and engaged with the project.

Don’t be afraid to adapt if your goals need to change to reflect your organization’s current needs, abilities, and goals. 

It’s OK for goals to be moving targets, so long as you are always making progress, staying engaged with your team, and being strategic about creating a sustainable path forward. 

Small Steps Can Lead to Big Futures

Years ago, FiredUp! helped a Washington State school that was getting left behind. They had a failing infrastructure, terribly outdated buses, and ineffective technology. So, they made a lofty goal to become one of the best schools in the district. 

It started small, with a simple switch from expensive and outdated software to free Google apps. Then they updated their network and suddenly their tech was cutting edge. The updates continued and they got loans for brand-new school buses. 

Along the way, they made the critical choice to celebrate every positive change. They announced the reformed tech program and the new buses, which engaged the community to get more involved. Soon, the school had completely turned itself around, bond measures started passing, and housing values went up because families wanted to live near this incredible school. 

The biggest goals can transform a company when team members and leaders are strategic about plotting a path from beginning to end, are willing to adapt along the way, and are committed to celebrating victories whenever possible.

Learn how to create the culture change your business needs to excel by downloading our workbook: The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture… Starting with Yourself.