For a moment, try this: use your vision and look out towards an imaginary ocean's horizon. Fill in all of the details you can imagine. Look at that beautiful dark blue water. Envision one bright white cloud set against the clearest of cyan skies. And there is a sailboat, white sails stretching in the wind, safe in the control of a skilled captain. The boat is hand-crafted and strong. Its purpose is no less than to provide joy for weekend sailors.
Just as an exercise like this can be done to create a mental landscape, it can also be done to develop a succinct and inspiring vision statement of what your organization intends to become and achieve.
A vision statement should be graphical, inspiring, guiding, unique, and brief. It should be future-focused on what you want your company to become in a specific time-frame. It should answer the question "What will success look like?" Perhaps most importantly, your vision statement should make you happy when you get there. A few examples:
- Land a man on the moon and safely return him to earth by the end of this decade.
—John F. Kennedy's challenge to NASA in 1961. Note the simple, specific task and time-frame.
- I have a dream that all men will be judged by the merit of their character, not by the color of their skin.
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. No time-frame is given, but it is very visionary and inspiring, painting a vivid picture.
- In two decades our services will no longer be needed.
—Illiteracy program. Short, memorable, challenging.
- Between 2010 and 2015, Acme Design's nationwide team achieved $_________ in direct and passive income by providing graphic design services, websites, and online marketing programs to growing businesses in the San Antonio region.
—Note how this vision statement includes time-frame, dollar achievement, characteristics of the business, products and services, description of client, and geographical scope. It is written in a "believe it and receive it" tense.
Both visions and goals are future-based concepts. They are also interdependent. Goals need visions for guidance. Visions never become reality without achieved goals.
Goals must be written down. We tend to live in "tasks", going about our days "putting out fires" and getting stuck in routine. But goals are different. Goals are larger accomplishments that, put end on end, result in the sort of life we dream about! When we write our goals down, our mind is forced to visualize them and to commit to them.
Let's take a first pass at a sample goal. Then, we will "test" that goal with our SMART goal criteria. The most basic "template" for a goal is "what" is going to "happen" by "when." For instance, "I will take a course on Twitter by November 1st."A more elaborate template might also include why it's important for me to do, who is going to be involved, and how I'm going to do it. For instance, "Utilizing XYZ Trainers, I will take a course on Twitter by November 1st because I want to promote my publishing business."
We've taken our first crack at writing your goal. Now—enter the "S.M.A.R.T." goal. This formula has been in consultants' bags of tricks for many years. We will work together to make sure our goals for your online marketing campaign are Specific, Measurable/Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-specific.
- Is your goal specific and stated clearly? Will you know when you have reached it?
- Is it stated in a positive way? IE not "I hope to" or "I might" but rather "I will" or even better, "I already have."
- In vivid detail, can you see yourself having reached your goal? Imagine how awesome it's going to feel after you reach it? See the results happening?
- A general goal might be to "beef up our website." A specific goal might be to "complete our new custom-designed 20-page ABC Company Website by December 1st.
- In regards to quantity, will you know if you have achieved your goal?
- If you're anything like me, raw numbers and statistics seem shallow. Instead of "achieve 100 hits a day during the month of December", I might add "thus reaching 3000+ people who need my God-given gifts." See that? I'm on a mission!
- Is this a goal which can actually be achieved? Goals which stretch us slightly are energizing. However, if a goal is too far out of reach we will most likely give up on it after the excitement wears off. Can you visualize yourself having reached your goal? Are you energized by this vision? If not, your goal might be either too ambitious or not a good fit.
- Is this goal "from the heart?" As we identify the goals that are most important to us, we figure out ways to make them come true. We can exercise our faith that the necessary gifts, aptitudes, and resources will present themselves. A goal that is from the heart brings about passion and enthusiasm. It fits us. It gives us energy to spread the word. Sounds achievable, doesn't it?
- Let's try an example of an achievable SMART goal. In this case, our friend is writing a goal about something getting ready to take place, but he is writing it in the past tense: "After having completed 4 hours of email marketing training with Joe, I sent an well-designed email and reached 300 potential customers for my new sprinkler system business."
- Life is short! We can avoid wasted time by making sure that our goal is meaningful and will make a difference if accomplished. Thus, it is important to search inside and ask ourselves why it is important that we achieve this goal. Does it fit our businesses vision?
- Not interested in the goal? Then it's not relevant to you. Many others might be interested and think it's the best goal in the world. But does it interest you? Are you passionate about it?
- A relevant SMART goal sample might be: By the end of the year, we will add 5 contributors to our website's blog so that we will attract more visitors which will increase our advertising revenue by 30%.
T= Time Specific
- By when will you realistically achieve this goal?
Out on the sea, when steady wind fills a stretching sail it creates tension. That tension propels the sailboat forward. Goals are no different. If we have answered "yes" to our criteria so far, there should be a "positive tension" about our goals that motivates us to accomplish them. We will help you stick with your realistic "SMART" goals during our EMPOWER phase.