Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Start-Up 101: Goal Setting and Visioning

Usually, I post about other entrepreneurs but today, I decided it was about time I wrote from my own experience.

I am sure many people have experienced this situation: you wake up in the morning, practice all matters of human morning rituals and then get to work. When you arrive, you are faced with a long to-do list, and all anyone cares about is results.

I will admit that today is not an easy day for me. My to-do list is long and it is easy to forget why these tasks were created in the first place.

On days like this, I remember my goal-setting mantra: "Strive through the narrow gate." It means that if you want to something, anything, you must work to achieve it.

This mantra gets me through my most frustrating moments. Entrepreneurs won't tell you this, but they have these moments too.

Three things a person must do to continue to strive through the narrow gate:

1) Determine the goal you want to set and when you want to accomplish it.
I set a goal to run on the treadmill for 40 minutes (10 minutes more than my usual 30) in addition to 5 minutes for warm up and 5 minutes to cool down.

2) Consider the motivation behind this goal. What will be your reward for your achievement? I decided that if I could run the treadmill for 40 minutes, then I could prove to myself that I was capable of completing any goal that I set. The reward in this case was the accomplishment itself. It may not always be the case, however.

3) And most importantly, celebrate the goals that you accomplish and evaluate the ones that did not have the outcomes you anticipated. Find meaning in yourself as a human being before you commit yourself to accomplishing tasks like a robot.

For me, this is the toughest part of goal setting, because routine was not a part of my life as a child. My parents tended towards the unexpected. But it is also the most important because it sets the stage for consistent, successful goal-setting.

Whenever you feel yourself getting frantic and thinking about the next task when the one in front of you is unfinished, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Try to feel comfortable with yourself as a person in the present. It is difficult to do because it is a human state to be dissatisfied. We worry constantly about what is next on the to-do list.

If you can admire yourself for being who you are, then you won't be worried about job titles or stay with in-the-box thinking. I have found that if I give myself more credit for my accomplishments, I can trust myself well enough to try more daring things. When I set the goal to run on the treadmill for 40 minutes and I succeeded, this event led to a 1 hour rock climbing session and I had no fear of what anyone would think of my rock climbing abilities. I was able to ask more questions and learn more tricks. Because I was open to myself, I was open to others.

Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship is about "striving through the narrow gate" and staying optimistic. When things get hard, it's best not to get angry, but to step back and look at the opportunities to do things differently.

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