I am a pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of business person. While I have some general idea of which way I want to go professionally and I continue to take steps to get there, I largely follow the flow of what feels right at the moment.
For instance, when I first went into writing, I thought I wanted to write about health, fitness, and personal development. However, after doing a lot of business pieces (like this), I’ve found that I enjoy this topic tremendously, which has made me strive to learn as much as I can not only to help myself, but to help my clients too.
Every once in a while though, I decide to sit down and create a list of professional goals. You know what happens when I do? I start to meet them.
It’s like when I developed my bucket list just a couple of years ago. Since then, I have been able to cross off items such as writing and publishing my own book (I’ve actually finished three now and have been picked up by a publishing company for my newest ones), doing a radio interview, having my content published in a magazine (okay, three to be exact), and many more. That is in addition to the personal things I’ve accomplished as well, such as going sky diving, taking a dance class, and even submitting an invention for consideration (it didn’t go beyond that, but it was fun to do nonetheless).
Now, certainly, I am not suggesting that simply committing a goal to paper will make it happen, but it seems to definitely increase the likelihood. Why? In an effort to find the answer to that question, I came across a number of reputable sites which reference the Harvard Goals Study, citing that the 3 percent of the students in Harvard’s 1979 MBA program who committed their goals to paper earned an average of 10 times more than the remaining 97 percent of the class combined when interviewed a decade later.
Of course, these are staggering results that likely make you want to whip out a pen and paper right this moment and start scribbling. But, before you do, there is something you need to know. There is no record of this epic study anywhere. Even Harvard itself cannot locate it (as cited on their Ask a Librarian page), which means that the findings cannot be proven, if they are true at all.
This doesn’t mean that you should pack up the pen and paper just yet though. Even though you may not make ten times more than people who don’t write down their goals, the act of putting them in black and white serves a useful purpose. Many useful purposes, actually.
The Benefits of Writing Down Your Small Business Goals
Here are just a few benefits of writing down your small business goals:
- It increases your clarity. By writing down your goals, you’re forced to clarify them, which helps you realize exactly what you want. It may also help you realize what you don’t want, which is equally important.
- It gives you more motivation. Write down your goals and look at them often and you will find yourself more motivated to make them a reality. They can keep the fire in you burning hot, helping you reach them more easily.
- It enhances your commitment. The mere act of writing a goal down makes you feel more committed to it, thereby increasing the likelihood that you will meet it. It is like creating a contract with yourself, which makes it harder to break.
- It directs your energy. As superstar motivational speaker Tony Robbins says in his blog and throughout his various teachings, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” In other words, direct your focus toward your goals and your energy will automatically go there as well.
- You’ll get more opportunities. Writing down your goals helps your mind realize where you want to go, so it is more open to the opportunities that can make your dreams come true.
So, if you haven’t already, take a moment and first think about your small business goals. Where do you want to be in one year? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Do you see yourself selling more products or offering more services? How about growing to new locations, even expanding globally?
Now, pull your piece of paper out and write these goals down. Let the things you want resonate with you. Additionally, come up with ways to make the things you’ve listed happen. Still not convinced? Well, how would you feel if you found out that setting goals is what may help you get more government contracts?
Setting Goals Is a Requirement for Federal Agencies
That’s right. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “each federal agency must set an annual goal for participation in its contracts by various groups.” In other words, each year, the various federal agencies must set goals to determine what percentage of their contracts go to small business owners, women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, and such. Therefore, if it weren’t for them putting their goals in writing, it may be harder for certain categories of businesses, like yours, to get government contracts.
While it may seem like a lot to take in, just think of how you will feel years from now when you look at this list and are able to cross off all of the things you accomplished. Just like I did. All because I wrote my goals down.