Financial Data
Updated 29 Sep 2020

The secret to reaching goals

Is to avoid smugness at all costs.

30 October 2013  Share  0 comments  Print

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So you want to grow your business. This means you’ve formulated a strategy and written a number of goals that need to be achieved in order for growth to occur. Here’s something you probably aren’t aware of. If you want those goals to happen you can’t go tell everyone under the sun what those goals are.

Don’t speak if you’re looking for validation

The reason you can’t tell someone “My goal is to double turnover in a year,” is because your mind is a complex thing and the act of telling someone a goal – which is invariably followed by amazement and encouragement – tricks the brain into thinking the goal has already been achieved. It’s a psychological phenomenon called “social reality.”

Here’s how it works…

You: “My goal for 2014 is to double sales in the company.”

Listener: “Wow, that’s fantastic! What a great goal.”

The congratulations and encouragement your brain is tricked into thinking the goal has been achieved because of the satisfaction you feel from the acknowledgement you receive. What transpires is that you feel less motivated to do the hard work necessary.

Science at work

To test this theory, scientists asked participants to write down their personal goals on a piece of paper. Half the participants were then asked to tell people their commitment, while the other half kept it secret. Hey were then given 45 minutes of work to do that would help them achieve their goals. The real test was that they were allowed to stop at any time.

Those that announced their goals quit after 33 minutes of work and felt like they were much closer to achieving their goal, while those that kept quite worked for the full 45 minutes and felt there was still a lot of work to be done before they could reach their goal.

Making goal setting work

When you’re running a company, it’s not always possible to keep goals a secret, in fact it can be counter-productive to operate in a way that is not transparent to your work force. Instead, goals setting and working toward goals should undergo a shift to avoid premature gratification.

The next time you’re setting goals, talk about it in a way that doesn’t give satisfaction, and tell it to someone who will hold you accountable rather than offer praise. Also be sure to have three parts to your goal: The What, the How and the Condition.

You: “My 2014 goal is to double sales in the company, and I’m going to achieve this by targeting my best clients and upselling. If I get distracted by smaller clients, kick my ass ok?”

Listener: “Sure, I will remind you who your best clients are.”

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