Set achievable business goals with my SMART PATH system.
Running a business can be tough. People like to be challenged, but not overwhelmed. How do you make sure your business goals are engaging and realistic?
Tackling too much
Having big dreams for your business is great! But just like making a New Year’s resolution to never eat a carbohydrate again, or to go from never jogging to a marathon winner by February, if the bar is set too high, the chance of burnout or failure increases.
So, how do you make progress without burnout?
In my experience, it’s difficult to make progress until you pay attention to the process rather than the end goal. Instead of making major changes immediately, I advise business owners to break their goals down into the SMART PATH system. You’ve likely heard of SMART goals, and adding the PATH to achieving them increases productivity without sacrificing morale.
SMART PATH goals are…
Specific, so you know exactly what your goal is.
Measurable, so you know when you’ve achieved it.
Achievable, so you can achieve it instead of feeling disappointed.
Results based, so you know what you’re getting out of accomplishing your goal.
Time based, so you know when you’re going to celebrate your achievement!
Process oriented—focused on the process of making the goal happen.
Action based—what specific actions would you need to take to make the goal happen?
Template focused—which actions will you need to repeat and gain mastery over to achieve the goal?
Habit-cultivating—how can you make this part of your routine? How often do the actions need to take place for the result to be realized? How do I make these actions repeatable, so my brain doesn’t have to decide to do it every time?
Here’s how I would set up a SMART PATH goal to organize an office filing system.
- Specific: I want my paper filing system to be easier to search through.
- Measurable: I will know my paper filing system is easier to search through when my employees can find the files they’re looking for without having to ask me where they are.
- Achievable: How much paper is there to deal with? Do I have the organizational know-how to revamp my filing system, or should I call in a professional?
- Results based: If employees ask me less and less often where files are, I will know that the process is working.
- Time based: I will organize my filing system over X days/months.
- Process oriented: I will file each client file alphabetically, with the oldest paperwork in the back and newest in the front. I will go through the files I have now and shred paperwork that is older than X amount of years to declutter, and then make sure that what is left in each folder applies to the correct client and is ordered by date.
- Action based: In order to maintain the filing system, I will instruct my employees in the correct filing method, and each year will purge the paperwork that is now too old to keep.
- Template focused: Because I have created clear filing rules, when I get a new client, I and my employees will know how to set up the new file.
- Habit-cultivating: I and my employees will keep the filing system up to date by having regular purges, spot checking files, and making sure that all files are put away by the end of business each day.
Why do I put so much emphasis on processes and habits? Did you know that repeating activities literally changes your brain? Myelin, the insulation layer around your nerves, physically builds up the more you do an activity. Each time you repeat an activity, your brain gets a little better at doing it. That means that every time a new client comes in, it’s easier to create their file, and when it’s time to purge everyone is on the same page.
Setting SMART PATH business goals trains you and your employees’ brains, and reduces stress while maximizing efficiency.
The smallest achievable step
Once you have your SMART PATH goal, start with the smallest achievable step. If you want to organize your files, start by gathering them all in one area. Break the goal down until the first step is easy to do, then do it. That way, you start the process with a win! Success fuels success, and if you stick with it, organizing will become part of your office routine.