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Published on January 14, 2019

What Are Measurable Goals and Why You Need Them For Success

What Are Measurable Goals and Why You Need Them For Success

Daydreams can be delightful. We are mesmerized by the idea of things that are new, exciting, that change our lives and prospects. This is the basis for state lottery systems. They sell one-dollar daydream machines.

There is nothing wrong with a good daydream, unless they keep you from working toward a goal, and goals are only vaguely related to daydreams. A goal is specific and obtainable through planning and diligence. Daydreams can be turned into goals, but this requires work. Since some people are immune to work, they continue to daydream instead. They will not endeavor to do the Tough Things First that are the initial steps toward achieving goals.

Why Measurement Matters

One of my marketing director’s favorite lines is “If it cannot be expressed in numbers, then it is not a fact, just an opinion.” This is true. Likewise, a desired outcome that cannot be measured is a daydream, not a goal.

It is defining outcomes, then establishing how they will be measured, that creates a goal.

On my journey to becoming Silicon Valley’s longest serving CEO, I set many goals, and had some set for me. Each had a specific and numeric mode for measuring if the goals were reached. I went into business for myself because I never wanted to work for anyone else, ever again.

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I succeeded in that goal, and it was a simple enough measurement – 37 years without a boss. Well, at least not at the office – home is a different matter.

I also had a goal of not enabling anyone to take over operational control of my semiconductor company. In Silicon Valley, this meant not taking venture capital money because VCs manhandle startup CEOs, often kicking them to the curb if rapid growth is not achieved. My alternative was to borrow a lot of money from banks, who normally do not lend to startups like mine.

In my process of twisting banker’s arms until they lent me the money to start my company, they added many very specific success measurements. My debt to equity ratio target became one-to-one. Three profitable quarters in each year was required. Each was a goal unto itself, and measurable with math. Each of these smaller goals, added to my own business goals, then became the checkpoints for knowing if I was to achieve the big goal of being boss-free for the rest of my days.

Now, imagine doing any of this – earning a salary without a boss, convincing bankers to lend you money, running a successful enterprise – without goals. You likely came to the quick realization that an unmeasurable goal has no end nor a real start. It is a daydream and nothing more.

What Are Measurable Goals

Goals must be realistic. Realism is goal setting gold.

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You might have the daydream of flapping your arms and soaring with the eagles, but that is not realistic. However, a goal of increasing your sales closing rate by 5% is realistic and in no small part because you have a valid measurement.

Similarly, you can daydream about losing some weight (vague) or you can define a weight loss goal of 10 pounds before your high school reunion (specific, numeric and time constrained). The specificity of your goal is the first step to success. This gives you an endpoint and makes it tangible. It also provides you the terms for measuring your success.

One realistic goal, well defined, is very likely to come true. One unrealistic goal is likely to fail. A realistic goal with lousy definition is impossible to achieve, for there is no actual goal. And 100 goals will all fail because no human can chase that many objectives.

These are the reasons most New Year resolutions die quick deaths.

When making New Years goals, people tend to be vague. Scanning social media for common New Year’s resolutions people have posted, I see way too many entries like “start a new hobby”, “travel” and “read more books”. If I indulged in wagering, I’d bet a lot of cash that none of those goals came true because none were specific.

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However, if they were restated as “build a table-top size HO train model”, “spend a week exploring Thailand” and “read three leadership books starting with Tough Things First”, then most of these goals would be met. Each is realistic. Each is measurable. Each can easily have an action plan built around it.

If you want a real-world example, let’s talk about a friend of mine. On the side he is a semi-pro musician and songwriter. But aside from an occasional gig at a local saloon, he was not doing much with the songs he had written. A year ago, he set a goal of producing his first solo album, and that it had to have at least 10 songs on it. Clear goals. He had no band, no deep recording experience, and really no money for studio time. But nine months later, he released his first album.

One reason he was able to achieve this was that he temporarily shoved aside his other passions. This was, in effect, reducing the number of goals he was working toward. Remember, I said that a small number of realistic and well-defined goals is doable. This is precisely what he did.

This begs an interesting question, namely “How many goals can, or should I pursue at one time?” Though the number varies depending on the person and their daily circumstances, the proper range is less than five and for most folks maybe three.

Sundry studies have shown that people max-out at remembering or prioritizing three things. It stands to reason that they could not likely handle more than three significant goals simultaneously. More than three begs dividing limited time, resources and attention to doing your best at any one of them.

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Since there is little or no value to only partially achieving a goal, why risk doing poorly on five goals when doing really well at three, or two, or one really important goal is more satisfying?

The Bottom Line

All this said, one thing really helps in succeeding at reaching a goal. If it is personal to you – deeply, movingly personal – you will have the drive and the stamina to work past the tiny frustrations that often accompany pursuit of a goal. Self-improvement goals tend to be the most personal since they involve making a better you.

Want a great New Year. Simple. Set two well-defined, personal improvement goals that can be measured. Odds are you will succeed, and the glow of success makes it that much easier to repeat the process again, and again, and again.

More Resources About Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

More by this author

Ray Zinn

Ray Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, angel, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

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Published on April 16, 2019

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

When was the last time you did something for yourself?

Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

So how can you make that happen?

Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

Listen to Yourself

The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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What is your purpose?

Have you ever thought about this question?

Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

Seek Out Continuous Education

Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

It’s Super Practical

Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

“Knowledge is choice.”

Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

Habits Make Your Time a Priority

How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

Your Well Being Comes First

We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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