Setting goals is the easy part, the real challenge is how to reach them
Founder Friday is a weekly guest post written by a founder who is based in or hails from the Silicon Prairie. Each month, a topic relevant to startups is presented and founders share lessons learned or best practices utilized on that topic.
If you ask a successful entrepreneur how they achieved their success, chances are, they will talk about setting goals. It's no secret that having some goals can push you to aim higher, work harder and stay focused. Goals can turn your daily grind into milestones, the murky waters of your future weeks and months into clear paths with a finish line. But setting goals is the easy part. The real challenge is how to reach them.
Start your day as a producer, not a consumer
A recent article on Information Diet discussed the importance of setting your day off on the right track. For many of us, we start our mornings with a routine and as soon as we have some free time, we get the urge to check Facebook, Twitter, read news, open a game we were playing, etc. By starting your day off as a consumer, you launch yourself into a day of grazing a mindless consumption.
Start your day as a producer. Write a blog post, knock out an item on your todo list, send emails to people you've been meaning to get in contact with, etc. Stay busy for an hour before doing anything else. You'd be surprised how much you can get done with a clear focus and no distractions that have come your way for the day. Waking up as a producer is procrastination insurance.
Don't break the chain
For many of us, the challenge is staying focused every day. It's just too easy to put things off, wait until tomorrow and forget about things. There's a surprising productivity secret invented by Jerry Seinfeld during his days as a touring comic trying to become the next big comedian.
Let's say you set a goal of launching a mobile version of your web app in one year and you need to learn how to build an iOS app. Hang a big calendar on your wall and get a big red magic marker. Spend a certain amount of time each day reading and learning about Objective-C, then put a big red X over that day. After a few days, you'll have a chain, and every day it will grow longer. You'll like seeing the chain. Your only job next is to not break the chain.
By using this method, you'll create habits. It's an inch-by-inch approach that yields extraordinary results over time. Consistent daily action is a wonderful way to build long-term expertise and reach your goals.
We all have days where we are a bit off. Some days, we'll be more productive than others. But the key to being successful is to stay positive and keep moving forward. You can come up with a hundred reasons why your idea isn't going to work or why your goal is unachievable. As soon as you let those thoughts seep in, you've created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Positivity and belief, as cliche as it sounds, is paramount to success.
Success takes time
Have you ever watched a televised Poker game? Have you ever sat down and played one? It's quite a different experience, isn't it? Sometimes, we fold 50 hands before getting a great one. Yet, on TV, it seems that every hand contains an epic battle between a guy with Pocket Queens, Ace-King suited, and trip' 10s. You see the exciting hands, yet there are countless hands that result in everyone folding and losing money to blinds that are simply edited out.
The same thing happens in the startup world. We develop unrealistic expectations of success. Pinterest becomes the hottest new social network overnight. Instagram closes a $1 billion buyout only 2 years after launching. Draw Something hits 50 million downloads in just a few weeks. On the surface, these stories lead us to believe that we can build something today and get rich tomorrow. But every one of these successes started with failures, start-overs and persistence. It takes time – a lot of time.
Stop thinking and planning. If you have an idea and some goals, get started. Coming up with the perfect plan will create an endless loop, ultimately leading nowhere. No plan will ever be exact; there are too many unpredictable variables that will present themselves on the path to achieving your goals.
Now, it's up to you. It's time to set some goals and go get some things done.
Credits: Photo of Adam Coomes courtesy of Coomes.
About the author: Adam Coomes of Kansas City is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for technology. He co-founded Infegy, an enterprise software company with flagship product Social Radar, and is also known as one of the first members of Zaarly.
Currently, Coomes is founder and CEO of Salt, a consulting company focused on helping businesses innovate, simplify and make a bigger impact by using startup philosophies and technology expertise. He also facilitates Startup Weekends and other events around the nation. Coomes was named as one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek's "Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs" and a "Top 20 In Their Twenties" by Ingram's Magazine.
Coomes can be found on Twitter, @adamcoomes.
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