I had asked a coaching client to put together a 90 day plan, outlining his goals over the next 30-60-90 days.

The plan was very thoughtful. He outlined a lot of important activities. As we spoke, I said, “I asked for your goals, but you identified activities. How do you know those activities help you achieve your goals, how do you know if you’ve achieved your goals?”

He’s not alone, whether I’m working with the top executives looking at organizational goals/challenges/problems; or sales people improving their results; or coaching individuals; we mistakenly define activities as our goals.

Some that current clients have come to me with include:

  • Improve sales performance and productivity.
  • Improve win rates.
  • Improve forecast accuracy.
  • More effectively articulate our value proposition.
  • Improve our hiring process.
  • Improve our prospecting.
  • Build an accounts program.
  • Grow our business.
  • and on and on and on……

All of these thing are nice and generate endless activities and programs. But they aren’t goals!

There is a structure to a goal. Achieving a goal is binary, we achieve it or we don’t. A goal has a measurable result or outcome. We have to know that we have achieved a goal not that we are going the right direction. A goal is time bound; we achieve our goal by a certain date, not sometime in the future.

For example:

  • By a year from now improve sales performance and productivity as measured by the % of people achieving goal–moving from 53% to 60%. (And we might later set a goal to move it from 60-70%.)
  • In the next 6 months increase Bob’s win rates to 45%.
  • By the end of next quarter, improve forecast accuracy, as measured by target close date and deal value, to 70% for the current quarter.
  • And so on……

Activities are, well, activities. They should produce results, but they don’t necessarily produce results.

Goals are important and measuring our ability to achieve our goals is important to our personal growth and that of our organizations.