The Hidden Danger of Meeting Goals Early
Setting and achieving goals is an important tool for benchmarking your accomplishments as a business owner or entrepreneur. The goals provide something to work for and achieving them validates your efforts. So why should there be a danger in meeting goals early?
Well, let’s say that you have a goal of getting 1,000 new email subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. You put the work in to optimize your website’s opt-in and to put together compelling copy for ads on the social media platforms preferred by your clients. Fast forward, it’s the end of February and guess what? You have already added your 1,000 new subscribers. This should be great news, but here is where the danger comes in: what are you doing now? Consider the following options:
- Berating yourself for picking a goal that is too easy and revising it upwards without stopping to acknowledge your success.
- Ignoring the milestone because you already revised it upward when you hit 500 new subscribers at the beginning of February.
- Halting all your efforts, you don’t need new subscribers now, so you should wait until the results count towards next quarter’s goal.
- Celebrating your success as planned and picking a bonus goal to maintain your momentum.
If you picked D, good job. As an entrepreneur, you are the boss, and part of being a good boss is recognizing your team’s achievements, even if you are the only member of your team. Ignoring your successes is a path to discouragement and disappointment. If you don’t recognize what you have accomplished it is easier to forget your successes in favor of focusing on your failures.
What you should do when you meet a goal early
Celebrate. Your celebrations don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but they do need to exist and feel like celebrations. Simple celebrations can include sharing your success with like-minded people, creating a record of it for future reference, or a five-minute dance party.
If you work with other people, I loved the celebration technique from the 2015 movie, The Intern. In The Intern, a start-up company had a bell that managers would ring to celebrate and call attention to company and individual achievements. Ringing the bell cost nothing but a brief interruption to their employees’ day and helped the employees feel connected and know that their contributions mattered. The point is that you acknowledge the success, not that you spend any money on the immediate celebration. Remember that success breeds success.
What to do after you have met your goal
Once you have met your goal early, consider whether it is appropriate to create a bonus goal. The bonus goal is something additional to work for and celebrate upon completion to help keep you from losing momentum. For instance, in my earlier example, you may decide to create a goal of an additional 500 or 600 new subscribers in the month of March. But, you still need to remember to follow through with the celebration as if you had met the goal on time. The new goal gets its own celebration once it is achieved.
As you achieve your goals, avoid letting better-than-expected performance become a stumbling block. Take time to celebrate your success, then decide what to do next so that you can keep up the momentum on your business while setting yourself up for more success.