Most New Year’s resolutions fail because they fail the “How?” test.
“I’m going to be healthier.”
Good for you! How?
“I’m going learn a new skill.”
“I’m going to double my business next year.”
Goals, resolutions, whatever you want to call these, they’re too broad, too vague, and not actionable or measurable.
But as we head into 2021, there is one thing that’s worse than setting mediocre goals: not setting any goals at all.
CEOs did what they had to do in the spring of 2020 to keep their businesses operational. By summer and fall, the real leaders were pivoting and accelerating. Any company that’s still too paralyzed by uncertainty to set BIG targets for the next twelve months probably won’t be around to judge if they succeeded or failed.
Crystal Ball Exercise
Step 1: Gaze into your Crystal Ball. You see December 31, 2021. All your employees, your friends, your family, everyone has gathered to celebrate 2021, your company’s BIGGEST year ever.
Why was 2021 such a huge success? What was the #1 goal you set at your annual planning session that you crushed by the end of the year?
- Grow revenue by 40%?
- Acquire a distressed company that enhanced your capabilities and value?
- Launch a new product that booked $8 million in orders?
- Upgrade your online storefront?
- Reduce the customer concentration risk of your biggest customer from 35% to 22% of your gross revenue?
- Build an in-house training department that will continually refresh and develop your talent pool?
- Reduce your customer churn rate from 24% to 15%?
- Hire a C-suite superstar from a competitor that was treading water?
- Expand your supply chain, limiting your exposure to future disruptions?
Write down one BIG goal for 2021 that will take your company up a level–or two. Then, write down 2 – 3 other goals that support the BIG goal. Be realistic, but don’t be afraid to think BIG!
Step 2: Now for the hard part. How did you hit those goals? What are the specific and measurable activities your team executed daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly that built towards your BIG annual goals?
In my experience as a coach, CEOs usually have an easy time completing Step 1 of the Crystal Ball Exercise. It doesn’t take a whole lot of prodding for a CEO to see where he or she wants a business to be at the end of the year.
But those same CEOs usually struggle to identify the steps they can put in place to realize that vision. They think that seeing the future and setting the target is good enough. They assume that the necessary processes will work themselves out over the course of the year. They trust that their C-suite and team leaders will do what they’re supposed to do even if, deep down, they know they’re expecting A work from B and C players.
In short, these CEOs settle for good enough before they’ve ever really tried to make their companies great.
If you get stuck on Step 2, don’t settle. Kick off the year with an annual planning session that will recalibrate your goals and fine-tune your processes. Call up a trusted mentor whose been there, done that, and has the perspective you need. Get a CEO coach who will help you identify the right steps, alert you to potential potholes, and hold you accountable.
There’s a lot of positivity in the air right now. 2020 was tough and everyone is excited for a fresh start. But flipping over a calendar page from one year to the next isn’t going to make business any easier in 2021. If you want to sustain the momentum you built in Q4, you need to maintain a laser focus on what you want the most.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 600 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 40 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 59% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com