The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines listless as “characterized by a lack of interest, energy, or spirit.” In tough times, or whenever we have been doing something for an extended period of time—especially without achieving desired results—we often lose our energy and interest for what we are doing. Sometimes it is in our career or particular job, but it can also happen on projects, with clients or in our businesses.
Business owners and managers are typically motivated when they see results. There is nothing like closing a big deal, acquiring a great new client or picking up a five- or six-figure payment from a job well done to get us motivated and energized. On the other hand, when it seems that no matter what we do nothing is happening, it is tough to get up and go. In those “down times” we are listless.
The treatment and cure for listlessness? Get a list! OK, yes, I am now talking about being listless in a completely different context, but it is related. We are listless—lacking energy and motivation—when we are unfocused and without the proper direction to make things happen. When you are not focused on the next goal, making a list of major and mini-goals (I like to call them focus targets), is the fastest way back to results, energy and interest!
Let’s talk about the list. It isn’t bullet points of activities and tasks. Instead, first create very specific things you want to accomplish; in other words, quantify your outcomes. The outcomes must be meaningful and motivating. They should be specific and measurable. For example, “acquire more customers” might be something you would write on the list, but that isn’t sufficient. You want more information:
- What is the ultimate desired result from these leads: More sales, more cashflow, more profits? All of the above?
- How much?
- In what period of time?
For example: “I want to generate $1 million more in sales in 2012 than I did in 2011. I want those sales to generate a minimum of 10% profit.”
- What type of customers are you looking for?
- A million dollar a year customer?
- A customer that buys from you every month?
- A customer that signs a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal for products and services?
- Do you want new customers, or more sales from existing customers (or both)?
The more you specify the details of the customer(s), you want the more you will be able to focus in on getting that customer!
- When do you want to get the sales?
- What does that big goal of $1 million increase translate to in daily, weekly, and monthly focus targets? It is great to set a challenging goal: it serves as motivation to achieve it. But an unrealistic goal works just the opposite; if you set a goal that is beyond your reach, what is the point? Think of it this way: you need a goal that makes you stretch, that is just that bit beyond easy, to take you out of your comfort zone. THEN take your big goal and translate it into the subgoals, targets that you can focus on … and execute.
After you have created your major goals (you can have up to three, but no more) and broken the goal(s) into focus targets, then it is time to understand the resources you will need. Item number two on your list should be all of the elements you need to pursue and achieve your goals, including skills, money and time. You may not know where they are going to come from, but you need to know what they are.
Once you have your list of resources, you need to quantify, detail and lay out the timeline/sequence of when each of these things is needed.
For example: You may need a computer. Think about the questions you’ll need to answer:
- What type of computer?
- How much will it cost?
- What kind of purchasing terms can you get to purchase it?
- Until you have your own computer, where can you get access to one that you can use?
- The local library?
- A community center?
- A friend?
In evaluating and obtaining resources, do not be afraid to ask for help. None of us succeed alone, so expect to ask for everything from advice to borrowing meeting space, use of a computer, or even a pen. Whether the task or item is large or small, sometimes we all need a helping hand in pursuing our goals. And remember to reciprocate to others! Focus on your own goals, but do not be myopic and unwilling to help out—in at least small ways—when others need help reaching theirs!
Plan. Plan. Plan. The least expensive way to figure out what you need to do and the best investment of your time and money ultimately is to develop a plan of action. If you are thinking “I don’t have time to plan” then you must have time and money to waste! A plan be it broad strokes or a detailed map of how you will get to your goals causes you to think through the scenarios and options, in writing the plan, the reward is not the written document but the process you go through to get there. If you take time to research what others are doing, what the customer/market needs and alternatives for your product/service, marketing and the other elements that comprise your business, you can learn and make mistakes on paper. This is ultimately much less costly than spending big dollars to find that you picked the wrong location, have a regulatory barrier to what you want to do, etc. Of course as with anything there is a flip side, do not get so caught up in the planning that you try to “plan” 100%. Avoid paralysis by analysis, or waiting for the perfect time (there is no such thing) to actually do!
You have your goals, which are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and focused. You know what you need (resources) to go after them. You have a plan of action. Now it is time to act! Item number three is to list the actions you can take immediately, in the next month, six months, year … even five years (if you have set an audacious, long-term goal). In my “Ten Minutes to Success” program, I advocate that you spend at least ten minutes every day on your goals. That may not seem like much, but over the course of one year you can carve out over 60 hours to work on your goals. Personally, I carve out several ten-minute blocks of time each and every day to work on my goals, review plans and TAKE ACTION to do something toward each goal. In the course of a day, arriving 15 minutes early to meetings, for example, enables me to have ten minutes to work on a task, make a mini-plan or set new goals, and still have five minutes to prep for my meeting!
Actions repeated consistently become behaviors and habits. They become a part of us that are automatic. By focusing on our goals and making them a core part of our behavior, we put ourselves on the path to success. Our mind is focused, our priorities are established and by having our behavior focused on success, it “just happens” because you are making it happen!
Copyright ©2011 Lea A Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.
All Rights Reserved