There are numerous books on goal setting, and one I would highly recommend is “The Seven Habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey and draw your attention to the Begin with the end in mind chapter. This is exactly how we should set goals.

I thought the easiest way for me to explain how to set goals is to use a real-life experience of my own which I am sure you will all relate to. I also want to explain to you that a dream is not a goal. They are totally different things.

My dream was always to run the London Marathon. I had watched it for 23 years and every year I said to myself, “I really ought to do this at least once in my life”. It took me 23 years to make THE decision. Every year I said I would do it the following year, but I never made THE decision. Up until after the 23rd Marathon it was just a wish and then it turned into a dream and it had a date associated with it. My dream was to run and complete the London Marathon on 18 April 2004. Straight after the 23rd marathon I made contact with a number of my friends who always said they wanted to run it. For 8 out 10 of them it was just a pipe dream. They said it but were never prepared to put in the action so it came down to just me and two other friends who made the commitment.

Having never run a marathon – or any running event of any distance – I knew I needed to speak with someone who had run a marathon before. They suggested that I needed to get a decent pair of running shoes and subscribe to a magazine called “Runners World”. They said Runners World will give me diet plans and running plans to keep me on track and this was key to me running the marathon in 2004 and again in 2005.

At the time of making the decision, I was running 3 miles once a week and in just under 365 days from where I was, I was going to be running a marathon – just over 26 miles. I knew that running 3 miles once a week was not going to get me there but Runners World gave me a 12 month goal setting plan that allowed to me stay on track, and it was exactly at Stephen Covey says in his book – Begin with the end in mind. So we worked backwards. I knew the date of the marathon and this date was set in stone. It was not going to change.

It was suggested we run our longest distance – about 18- 20 miles about 4 weeks prior to the Marathon. Then we needed to run a number of half marathons and distances between 13 and 18 miles during the 5 to 6 month period leading up to the Marathon. We needed to be running a 10 mile run, about a month before the first half marathon and then a number of 10k (6 mile runs) starting from 3 months from where I currently was. So I had my long term goal and now I had short term goals to keep me on track. The short term goals had to be a stretch but also achievable so could I run 6 miles in 12 weeks time when I was currently running 3 miles? Yes I could, and to step up from 3 to 6 mile was relatively easy providing I put in the commitment and had the discipline to follow it through. So I knew my short term goal – a 10k run. My mid term goals were the half marathons, and long term goal the marathon on 18 April 2004.

We entered events as this gave us the discipline to train for these specific events each step along the way. What seemed a mammoth task when we made the decision became easier because we had the short term goals along the way. Goal setting in business is no different .Begin with the end in mind and work backwards, and then you have achievable baby goals along the way to the main goal. Without the baby goals to keep us on track the main goal would not have happened. For help with achieving your goals, please drop me a message

Richard Knight – Lionheart Business Troubleshooting – helping Business Owners achieve their goals and dreams

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 27/07/2020