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How to set goals

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There’s a baker, some think ‘mad’, from the little Victorian town of Beechworth, who nowadays is paid over half a million dollars a year to tell his business success story.

Tom O’Toole says his success has come from having dreams, writing down a date for achieving each dream and then working towards making the dream real. He believes these are at the core of his turnaround story, which at one stage saw him contemplate suicide.

“Most people don’t have goals but the most important thing about goals is having them,” he insists. “I believe if your goals are not on paper they are not on this planet.”

O’Toole has made goal setting an art form to the extent he will not buy a shirt without a pocket on the front because he carries around a little notebook into which he writes ideas and goals — dreams with dates. He now can show you hundreds of these notebooks going back more than 10 years.

Speaking success aside, the Beechworth Bakery employs more than 60 people in a town with a population of 3000, one of which was Australia’s pole vaulting champion, Emma George. Annual turnover of his bakery is in the $3m region and O’Toole boasts how he has taken $27,000 sales in “cash over the counter in one day”.

But wait there’s more. There’s now another Beechworth Bakery in Echuca, following another baker’s attempt to copy O’Toole’s idea. It didn’t work out for him and O’Toole bought the store. Not too long ago, he sold a significant share of his business and now five franchises have developed. The Beechworth Bakery business is now really cooking.

At the core to creating worthwhile goals, O’Toole argues is to challenge yourself to dream big. “Get out of your comfort zone and take a risk,” he advises. “Shock people and don’t put limits on yourself.”

Professional achievers have a common characteristic and that is they are big at writing down their goals. The former and much-missed Wallaby prop, Ben Darwin, who went within millimetres of living life in a wheelchair at the bottom of the scrum against the All Blacks in a World Cup semi-final in Sydney in 2003, learnt about goals at school.
As a “fat and sporting-wise, unimpressive” border at Sydney’s Barker College — (his reflections!) — he wrote down his goal on a wall beside a Wallaby jumper that one day he would wear the green and gold. He insists seeing his goal daily was to keep the dream alive and to keep him committed to it.

Darwin says seeing the goal every day motivated him. In fact, one morning when he was out on the school ground doing laps, the college security guard fronted him and asked what he was doing?

“I’m training to become a Wallaby,” he replied. Darwin says the guy walked away laughing his head off.

Goal-setting and preparation cannot be underestimated and this was one of the trump cards of Darwin’s old World Cup winning coach, Rod Macqueen. The preparation had to be thorough being the means to the end, which of course was the goal of victory.

One woman who has the ring of confidence and is big on goals is Erica King who owns Focus Dental Management, which advises dentists on how to better run their businesses. She thinks there is a misfit between her clients’ qualifications and their goals.

“Many business owners know what they’d like the end-result to be,” she explains. “But to get where they want to go they have no business skills or people skills, or structure in place to achieve the end-result. This is because they are so busy doing what they are trained to do professionally that they never get to do the actual business.”

Her solution is straightforward:
•    Put in structures and systems
•    Clearly define your goals
•    Make sure the owner’s goals are aligned with the staff’s goals
•    Ensure everyone has ownership of what’s happening and is involved in the process of change
•    Encourage good communication between staff and customers so you know what’s happening in your workplace and market.

American, Gene Donohue, says powerful written goals can be created in seven easy steps.

“Goal setting however is more than simply scribbling down some ideas on a piece of paper,” insists Donohue. “Our goals need to be complete and focused, much like a road map.”

Here are Donohue’s seven steps:

1. Make sure the goal you’re working for is something you really want, not just something that sounds good.

2. A goal cannot contradict any of your other goals.

Donohue correctly points out that you can't buy a $750,000 house if your income goal is only $50,000 per year. “This is called non-integrated thinking and will sabotage all of the hard work you put into your goals,” he argues.

3. Develop goals in the six areas of life:
•    Family and home
•    Spiritual and ethical
•    Financial and career
•    Social and cultural
•    Physical and health
•    Mental and educational.

This introduces balance to your goals and helps eliminate the non-integrated thinking.

4. Write your goal in the positive instead of the negative.

5. Write your goal out in complete detail.

Tom O’Toole recommends that you if have a goal to say to own a Maserati, then go to a showroom, sit in the car, smell it, touch it, even take a photo of yourself in the car. He believes that this will make you more committed to your goal.

“We are giving the subconscious mind a detailed set of instructions to work on,” explains Donohue. “The more information you give it, the more clear the final outcome becomes. The more precise the outcome, the more efficient the subconscious mind can become.”

This is akin to visualising the outcome or the success and this is the domain of sporting greats, but more and more business winners are admitting to this positive process for extracting the best out of themselves. Of course, that is the goal.

6. By all means, make sure your goal is high enough.

The very memorable radio personality, Casey Cason, who hosted American Top 40 used to leave us with his inspirational sign off: “Reach for the stars and keep your feet on the ground.” It was good advice for goal-setters.

7. This is the most important, write down your goals.

“Writing down your goals creates the roadmap to your success. Although just the act of writing them down can set the process in motion, it is also extremely important to review your goals frequently,” Donohue advises. “Remember, the more focused you are on your goals the more likely you are to accomplish them.”

The last word should go to O’Toole. He warns about dream takers who try to tell you will never achieve your goals and differentiates between dreams and goals: “Goals are just dreams with dates.”

Published on: Thursday, June 18, 2009

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