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Tricky Goals

I learned a lot working in the family business. Arguably, more business than I ever learned during my two-year tenure as an MBA student. There’s just a lot of things that you gather from doing real hands-on experiential work.


I believed that one of my initial goals from a couple years ago was to make a million dollars within five years of work. It was an ambitious goal, but one that I was not afraid to aim for.


Now, a couple years have passed, and I must admit that I am nowhere near that one million dollar per year mark that I had set so ambitiously before.


It’s been a few years already, and I have seen some marked improvement in our company portfolio of customers. But, nowhere are we near that level of one million dollars in gross profit.


Does this mean that we are a failure? To not have achieved this goal? It’s kind of hard to say. On the one hand, we don’t look like we are anywhere near achieving that milestone that I had initially set.


But on the other hand, we have made some progress in the right direction in terms of finding new customers, new partnerships, and improved expected profit over the past couple of years.


So, at least, we are trending in the proper direction. And it’s got me thinking just exactly how important goals really are.


Do we really need to buy that summer house in ten years? To have kids in five years? To have one million dollar in profit in so-and-so timeframe?


What makes a goal worthy of striving for? It’s kind of tough to set it out in simple and defined terms. Sometimes, business-wise, if your goal is too money-driven, you may set out with the wrong priorities.


For one, you may shun smaller customers because they don’t align with your goal of simply making as much money as possible.


You may over-quote your prices and shun reasonable costs in simple pursuit of a higher profit.


You may think of money as the only worthy goal in pursuing when running a business. And you may not think with the intention of truly servicing your customers.


So, it’s tricky. These goals need to be represented in an all-encompassing manner. So that you run your business with not just the tunnel vision goal of driving short-term profits.


It needs to be more than that. Profits and money can only go so far. At some point, if all you see are profits and money, then the business will most likely deteriorate and your customer base will slowly dissipate.


Sometimes, I wonder if it’s even worth it to have goals. Isn’t trending in the right direction kind of good enough? Why is there a need to hit quarterly benchmarks?


I do understand the need for quotas and indices. But sometimes, being driven too much by these tangible rewards can lead to a lot of cheating and cutting corners.


And business should be more than just driving a profit over the course of a set timeframe. Goals need to be SMART. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. And Time-Based.


It’s a lot to take in. But at least this means that goals are measured by more than one set of values. They need to be holistic and well-rounded. They need to be realistic yet challenging.


And they need to revolve around more than just the prerogative of money. Goals are kind of like a guidepost for you to set yourself in the right direction.


But by no means are you required to simply achieve them by the end of the day. I feel that as long as you are trending in the direction you set out, then you are on the right track. And things are going smoothly.


The need to achieve and accomplish can sometimes cover our eyes from the big picture. Running a business or living life should be more than just that big reward at the end of the day.


It should be defined more holistically. Just because you did not achieve an ambitious goal that you set out doesn’t mean that you are an epic failure.


It just means that the business hasn’t trended the way you initially forecast. But, that doesn’t mean that you should be hard on yourself and label yourself as a loser or anything like that.


Again, goals are simply guideposts. You shouldn’t feel obligated to hit and achieve every single one of them. As long as your intangibles are doing well, you should feel proud of where you are at.


Business and life should be measured by more than just tangible achievement. They should be measured by your original intentions and should be given the decency of different perspectives.


What one person sees as a failure can be seen as a success if you simply view things with an open-mind. So, you do you. Set your goals. Set out to achieve. But by no means let those goals or achievements define who you are as a human being.


You are more than simply that.

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