Lately, I’ve heard a lot of people begin sentences with the words, “I want . . .” and “I wish . . .” For example, the other day a friend said, “I wish I could take a vacation this summer.” A client said, “I want to grow my business this year.” At a networking event, I heard another person say, “We need to find a way to streamline the back-room processes,” (this while discussing problems with efforts to increase customer-facing time). In these three examples, it seems as if all three people are looking to the future, focused on something positive for their lives and businesses. In fact, I believe these words can be self-limiting.
Consider instead what would happen if these sentences started with, “I will . . .” – I will take a vacation this summer. – I will grow my business this year. – We will find a way to stream-line the back-room processes. All of a sudden, these statements are goals, rather than intentions or hopes that depend on some magical ingredient to make them true. A goal can be quantified and acted on. Once we say, “I will” we begin with a mindset of commitment – a choice to make something happen.
When you hear yourself start a sentence with, “I wish,” “I want,” or “I need,” stop and re-phrase to “I will.” If you feel a goal there, write it down as soon as possible. A goal written is more likely to be achieved. Then take the time to translate that statement into SMART criteria. If you are unfamiliar with that, it means to state goals with these components: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let’s take the example of my client who wants to grow her business this year.
First, she restated her comment to, “I will grow my business this year.” To gain specificity, she restated what it means to grow the business, which for her involves increasing her revenue 30% by increasing her client base. In discussing how that would be measured, she decided that she would start with the revenue from the end of last year, and set the year-end goal to be 30% higher, measuring it monthly to see if specific marketing efforts were contributing to revenue by helping to increase her client base. In exploring whether this goal is achievable, she talked to a few competitors about their growth and looked at her own revenue and client movement over the past eight quarters. In the end, she decided that 30% was a good number. Further examination of her business financials and her ability to take on the number of new clients the goal requires, she also decided that the goal is relevant to her overall business strategy and mission. Finally, she addressed the time factor by clarifying that she wanted the 30% growth during her current fiscal year.
Today, she sent me her restated goal. She went from, “I want to grow my business this year” to “I will increase my revenue by 30% in fiscal 2012, by growing my client base.” Now she is working on brainstorming ideas for growing her client base. What she initially identified as a “want” is now something tangible that she can use to define a future state for her business. Soon, she will have an action plan that will define the steps she will take to get her there.
What do you want, wish for, or need? What will you do to get there? Even the most amazing achievements start with the simplest words, “I will . . .”