Over-estimating and Under-estimating Your Capacity

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I have noticed something over the years I have spent helping businesses develop their plans. Business owners and executives tend to under-estimate what they can achieve in five years and over-estimate what they can achieve in 90 days.

We get mixed messages. We are told to dream big and push the envelope. But then we are also told to be realistic and prioritise our tasks. So when should we go big, and when should we keep it simple?

The key to business success is setting goals and developing plans to reach those goals. And you need to start with the long term, big hairy audacious goal. Where do you want your business to be five years from now?

Many business owners struggle to articulate their long term goals, so they tend to be wishy-washy and vague. It is difficult to comprehend what can be achieved in such a long period of time, and often the big goals seem unrealistic and unachievable, so they are diluted and dumbed-down.

When setting goals for the long term, I live by the mantra, “Aim for the stars, fall in the trees. Aim for the trees, fall in the mud.” In other words, if you set do-able, mediocre goals for the long term, and you fall short of achieving them, you probably won’t show any growth over five years. But if you set big stretch goals and you fall short, you will still be in a much better position five years from now. Think big, dream big and extend yourself for long term goals.

Now the opposite is true for short term goals. When we sit at our quarterly 90-day planning workshops, the teams set too many targets and goals for the quarter that are simply not possible. At the end of the quarter, when they haven’t ticked all the boxes and have not managed to complete the tasks they set for themselves, they are frustrated, demotivated and beat themselves up.

I am currently working with a number of business owners who are completely overwhelmed by the task at hand to achieve their defined goals.

My advice is to chunk it down into management bite-size chunks in your 90-day plan. Keep your 90-day plan simple and focused. Don’t try to change the world in three months. Select one or two key areas to focus on, divide it into smaller and smaller tasks until you have a list of realistic tasks that can be achieved in a few hours or less. Focus on the tasks that will have the greatest impact. It is these small daily tasks that, over time, drive larger achievement.

Committing to goals is not always the biggest challenge, narrowing the goals to focus on is.  When you try and focus on too many goals at once, it causes all activities to slow down, stand still, and sometimes even slide backwards. Rather do one or two things properly than start multiple projects that never get completed.

We are about to enter the last quarter of 2017. What is the one big goal you need to focus on in the last push of the year?

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