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If you’re like me (and about 80% of people I’ve spoken to recently are), you take time at the end of both the calendar and the financial year to reflect on the year that was and clarify your focus on the goals you want to achieve in the coming period.

And why wouldn’t you? We’re always hearing things like “the 3% of Harvard MBA graduates who wrote down their goals earned ten times as much as the other 97% combined.” And “People who write down their goals AND tell a friend are 78% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.”

Well, I’m calling bullsh*t on that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of defining your goals, articulating where you want to head, or what you’d like to do differently in your personal and professional life (ahem – I am a business coach after all!) It’s just that simply defining your goals isn’t enough. Oh, and by the way – the oft-quoted research study from Harvard (or is it Yale?) is a furphy – although I am sure there has been more research done since 1953!

I’ve no doubt that people who write down their goals achieve more than those who don’t, and yet I’ve lost count of the number of conversations  I’ve had where people have told me “I know what I wanted to achieve, but a whole year has passed and I still haven’t ticked things off my list!”

Sure, everyone’s journey is different, and some people might respond to goal setting better than others;  but right here, right now, I’m going to share the one thing (in my experience) that will make a MASSIVE difference to the achievement of your goals – above and beyond simply writing them down and sharing them.

Can you guess what it is? I’ve listed a bunch of things in another post that will help you too, but without this one core thing, the rest won’t make that much difference.

The secret is…

Now a cynic who doesn’t know us very well might be thinking I’m about to say “employ one of our business coaches” but this blog is not about blatant self-promotion. (That fact should be subliminal!). Other than that, the secret is…

TRACK the achievement of your goals.

If your aim is to get down to a certain weight, weigh yourself and write down your weight once a week.

If you want to increase your annual revenue to $1 million, or your client numbers to 160 per adviser, break up that target into monthly amounts and track what you’ve achieved each month against your target, keeping an eye on the cumulative achievement to date.

The act of doing this will not only keep you focused on the results you’re seeking and encourage you to prioritise your time, but will keep you motivated as you see the incremental steps you take towards your goals. And if something goes awry that might prevent you from success, you can address it early and either replace your goals with alternatives, or adjust the activities you’re doing to get you back on track. When you’re talking about business goals, you want to track your achievement of ALL your activity and outcome targets as individual goals as well as your overarching income target.

Use whatever process will work for you to get visibility on your progress towards your goals – an app, a whiteboard, spreadsheets, a big handwritten drawing of a funnel…

Our coaches provide this visibility with our coaching clients, and it’s one of the most important tools in our arsenal that helps our clients to not only stay accountable, but to keep on top of the data that matters, to troubleshoot in real time, and most importantly, to celebrate their wins throughout the year. We have a clever spreadsheet that most clients use, and we’re thrilled to see that more advice firms are now able to build Dashboards to track what’s important. It doesn’t matter how you look at it – it’s so important that you have good data, that you look at it regularly, and that you know what to do with the information you’re looking at!

*Article updated 2023*