Are you on track to achieving your goals, a month or so in from setting them?  Perhaps you have given up on new year resolutions before now?

I thought about goals a lot while on holiday recently: OK, I have a thing about goals. They’re not the magical solution many proclaim them to be, they won’t propel your firm forwards no matter how much you want them to. In fact did you read “why goals suck”?

Skiing is about new habits, just like achieving your goals

Goals don’t drive your business. It’s you and what you do repeatedly that does. In other words, your habits are what will make the difference in your firm. Achieving your goals requires you develop new habits, which relate to the new goals.

This year’s skiing experience

This year I promised myself I would not keep falling over and that I would enjoy longer, more complex runs. It didn’t happen that easily! I did manage to stay upright for slightly longer, but I really needed to change the way I skied.

After two days of frustration I sat down for some apres ski reflection. As I nursed my bruises, I learnt that we form our skiing patterns the way all physical habits are formed, by repetition. Repeating a pattern of movement, until our bodies repeat these patterns on their own, without conscious direction. That’s true for all habits.

Learning to ski better is not about more knowledge, but about overcoming old habits. Some would say we can’t change our habits, but must replace them with newer, stronger, more effective habits. That’s a big job and it takes time.

We probably can’t change our habits, but we can replace them with newer, stronger, more effective habits.

The last sentence made me sit up and think about all business, and how we eagerly set new goals to do new things and so often struggle when they don’t turn out to be the solution.

Achieving your goals in your firm

If you’re trying to change the way you work, so that your firm grows (or whatever your goal is) there are several thoughts to draw from my ski experience:

  • No matter how motivated and skilled the ski instructor and pupil; single lessons don’t work. In the same way a one-off goal setting session, or course, won’t change things. You need to embed the behaviours that will allow you to achieve the goal. That needs to be the real focus.
  • What are the new habits you want to create? Firstly you’ll need to know what you do now, and how it needs to change.
  • What are the new things you need to do constantly? On the slopes I spent time each day focusing on new skiing movements and later relaxing with fun skiing. Doing your new routine first thing when you have energy makes sense.
  • On the slopes I had my coach monitor things from time to time to see if I was on track. Who will review your progress?
  • Some mornings I just wanted to chill out and play instead. What will keep reminding you? Checklists, or other people can help.
  • How will you know your new habits are working? In my case I wasn’t falling over the time, but this can be harder in business, it may take time for the final results.
  • Accepting that it won’t always run smoothly and not getting frustrated helped my skiing. I guess learning to fall is important, so don’t beat yourself up as much.
  • Use other habits to help you. Habit stacking is about adding something to a routine you already execute without thinking.
  • The key to achieving your goals is not more understanding (be it marketing, leadership, strategy, or skiing) but overcoming deeply ingrained habits.

Habit is habit, and not to be thrown out the window by any man; it must be coaxed downstairs, slowly, one step at a time

Don’t give up on your goals just yet, dust them down and focus on the related habits.

And on slideshare . . .

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access