QUESTION: How do you set goals that can actually be achieved? Whenever I set activity or revenue goals, I never quite hit the number. Should I be setting my initial goal as a stretch goal within another more realistic goal?  

ANSWER: When setting an activity goal, it is important to link the activity to the amount of revenue it will generate. The absence of this link of activity to revenue is why you do not meet your activity goals. Having a goal for a job order a week, three interviews a week, two interviews a week, in the absence of connecting it exactly to a billing number, a revenue number, and not connecting the revenue number to desire, means you are trying to motivate yourself with math.  As a recruiter, the only kind of math I was motivated by was total invoices.  

When I do this exercise with clients I have them remove the word “realistic.”  Now, if you did $100,000 last year, to say you are going to do $2 million next year is not impossible, there is probably a way to do it. But, so many people say that want to set goals realistically. When you say realistically, you have kind of shot yourself in the foot. You have already made it in your mind’s eye impossible.  

The reality is that if you have a strong enough desire to dramatically increase your billings, nothing is unrealistic. The link to desire is the same when working with clients who are stuck at a certain revenue level.    

Let us say the best you have done, revenue-wise, is $200,000, what $300,000 allow? Where is the additional  $100,000 going, exactly, specifically, and precisely? It does not mean you have to spend it on stuff. Are you going to use any of it to lower debt? Are you going to use any of it to put towards your kids’ education? Your retirement? Long-term financial security?  

There is no judgment, but money, for whatever reason you wish to use it towards, needs to be defined. If it is not defined, when you do not hit it, you do not feel regret, and you do not adjust course.  

My gut feeling when I see someone not hitting their goals or stuck in the same range for two or three years, it is because they do not have a specifically defined reason to exceed their previous earnings. Even at $200,000 if you are a solo operator, with limited expenses, you are probably before taxes keeping $170,000 or $180,000 of that conservatively. That puts you in the top, I think, 3% to 5% of income earners in the country, so there is no negative judgment.  

When people say they want more my gut feeling is “more” is theoretical. When “more” is theoretical, you make a placement or two and then exhale. Let us say you made a deal today and a deal yesterday. If you are stuck at a revenue number, you probably relax the rest of the month a little bit. You are probably finding yourself taking your foot off the gas pedal. If that is true for you, this is what is going on. You have not created, attached enough desire to the incremental $100,000 in income.  

Let us say you wanted to go break out and you wanted to break through the threshold of $200,000 and you wanted to hit $300,000 as the first benchmark. That is probably going to be somewhere between $65,000 and $70,000 after taxes. 

I am going to have $65,000. Where does that $65,000 go? What does it allow for you that you do not have in your life or your business now? Can you invest more in research to get some more free time? Do you want to invest, if you have not invested, in part-time admin?  All my clients that never had admin, when they hire an admin, they say it is the best advice they ever got. It actually paid for the whole coaching program. What is it for you that the incremental billings, over where you are going to get stuck, is going to allow you and propel you in your business? One, what is the desire?  

Two, where do you stop now? Be honest with yourself. Look back over the past few months. Where have you taken it easy? Where have you taken your foot off the gas? What I can promise you, is if you can break those habits, and say, I do not want to work 50% harder to make $300,000, you do not, you do not have to work any more hours.  

One of the things we do with our clients is we say, okay, we want to take you to $300,000. We did this with a few clients this summer who wanted to take a three-day weekend. To get to $300,000 was two interviews a week with an average deal size of about $22,000. We helped them set up a plan to arrange two interviews a week before the close of business on each Thursday. These were people that were averaging say one interview a week before they started working with us. Now they have doubled their production, and they reduced the workdays in the week.  

It is not that we are that brilliant. We simply got them focused on what the incremental revenue would look allow. We got them excited about an extra day off during the week throughout this Summer sprint. It got them really, really focused so when they actually were at their desk for eight hours they put in a decent day versus sitting at their desk for eight hours and putting in a two and a half to three hours “real” workday.  

Great question.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash