“There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic timeframes.” – Dan Sullivan

The past three months have been full of annual planning sessions in which we review what we accomplished in 2016 and identify what we aim to achieve in 2017, especially in the first quarter.

Many companies had a great year in 2016. Some of the wins were tangible, dollar-driven results, while others were more qualitative. Wrapping up the year is absolutely a time for celebration, and it’s also a great time to reflect on what’s been learned and what lies ahead for 2017.

But not all goals were achieved.

Sullivan’s quote offers interesting insight into goal setting. In the past three years of working with entrepreneurial companies, one common theme seems to transcend industry, product, or service. It’s an entrepreneur’s drive to fit 30 pounds of goals into a 5-pound bag of time.

A Probable Breakdown

Most would understand that the law of physics plays at least a small role in preventing 30 pounds from fitting into a 5-pound bag, but we often insist we have control over that law; in fact, that the law shouldn’t apply to us.

Here’s an example: We make a promise to generate $1M in new sales this year, but we end the year at $655,000. Or, we have eight Rocks (90-day goals) and end the quarter with less than 30% complete. What gives?

At the risk of politicking, our educational system has taught us that we need to be good at lots of things, able to manage multiple priorities and demands. Our thinking would say “no problem” to accomplishing $1M in new sales (or eight Rocks) simply because we’ve been taught to cram as much into as little as possible.

A Possible Cause

Our attention span has a duration of microseconds. Our culture rewards speed and volume. Our thinking systems are designed around time, effort, and breadth. In a tangential context, this would mean the most expensive, best-tasting wine would have been bottled two minutes ago, ready to drink.

Is it any wonder we’re so soured by a lack of results?

A Potential Idea

What if you could expand time? What if you embraced a 90-day quarter as 2.5% of a 10-year target rather than 25% of a year?

This 2.5% perspective shifts your relationship from immediate results to progressive results. It will actually expand the amount of time you have to complete your goals.

If you were guaranteed to accomplish a 10-year goal by simply completing 2.5% of the goal each quarter, what quarterly Rocks would you set? In the world of “less is more,” I’d bet you’d work on fewer Rocks, rigorously qualify each one, and ensure each would produce wider results that multiply over time.

Stretch out your thinking to tighten up your effort and results.

To learn more about where you have opportunities to stretch, invest 5-7 minutes in the EOS® Organizational Checkup™ and discover where to start.


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