5 principles for achieving your daily goals in business and in life

By Posted in - Public Blog on January 25th, 2017 1 Comments

accounting business goals

Many of us know we should drink more water for our health and wellbeing, just like we know there are a number of daily tasks we should do to develop and grow our business.

What does this have to do with accounting and business advisory? Keep reading and you will soon find out.

Clearly, it’s not difficult to drink water, yet why do many people fail to drink enough water, despite knowing it would make them feel much better? Likewise, why do people in business often fail to do the daily simple things that, if done, virtually guarantee improved business performance?

It’s because they don’t set themselves up for daily success by doing all they can to support the creation and maintenance of crucial daily habits.

Let’s first look at the ‘drink more water’ example…

I noticed recently that I was not achieving my daily goal regarding drinking two litres of water. I’d tried using sports water bottles (to keep with me throughout the day — I figured that would help) and having a large glass of water on my desk.

But it didn’t work. Often I’d forget, in the midst of a busy day, to drink the water that was right there within my reach.

The only approach that has worked for me—and it works every time—is filling up a transparent 2-litre water jug and putting it and a glass on my desk at the start of the day, right next to my track pad/mouse.

The transparent jug allows me to see my progress on the goal at all times throughout the day. An individual glass does not provide this. Seeing the water level in the transparent jug reminds me to drink more throughout the day. It also gives me the satisfaction of completing that goal, which I know is very important for my health and wellbeing.

You see where this is going. Here’s how it ties in with your accounting firm’s business goals.

When I thought about why it worked so well and so easily, I identified these…

5 principles for achieving your daily goals in business and in life

  1. Simplicity: Filling the jug once a day is actually easier than re-filling a glass multiple times a day.
  2. Transparency: This method would not work if the water jug was opaque. You need to see the progress being—or not being—made, at all times.
  3. Line of sight: I place the water jug behind the glass so that whenever I pick up or look at the glass, I automatically see the remaining water level in the jug. I cannot help but see this many times each day.
  4. Specificity: The goal is not to drink ‘more’ water; it’s to drink 2 litres of water, each day. It’s a black and white measure that you know has been achieved or not.
  5. Set up for success: At the end of each day I get the satisfaction of checking this daily habit off as completed. This feels good. Completion releases energy and builds self-esteem. (Yes, even in such simple objectives as this! And by the way, I mark this daily task off as Complete in a habit-tracking app called Momentum.)

So, how can these 5 principles be applied to other areas of your life, including your accounting practice?

As you measure your business’ daily and weekly progress on its lead measures (i.e. the activities that will achieve your lag measures — your target results), check to see if you are applying:

  • Simplicity: Are the measures simple, easy to measure?
  • Transparency: Are the measures easy to see, in real-time? Think real-time dashboards, pulling in data from the various apps your business uses. (If you want any tips on these dashboard apps and options, just ask in the Comments area below.)
  • Line of Sight: Is the display of your real-time lead and lag measures in a place where you and your team cannot help but see them multiple times per day? Do you have real-time dashboards displayed in monitors (or even just on a whiteboard) in team training and meeting rooms, on the wall behind the coffee machine or kettle, on the wall at the end of the hallways?
  • Specificity: Are the daily and weekly goals specific so there is zero ambiguity about whether they have been achieved or not? This is essential.
  • Set up for success: Are you setting things up so that you make it possible for you and your team to have a win each day and each week? This does not mean to make your goals (target measures) low and under-ambitious. However, on the flip side, be careful of so-called stretch goals that are overly ambitious. They just set everyone up for failure, disappointment and damaged self-esteem. It’s true. Sometimes business leaders (and accounting firm directors) think they are setting stretch goals, and they’re really setting what I call ‘snap goals’ — goals that will stretch everyone too far, and things will eventually snap… people will give up on achieving your business’ goals if they seem out of reach; people will burn out; people will leave the organisation. Burning and churning your team is a recipe for under-performing and not reaching your business’ potential.

The change management principle at play here is one identified by Patterson, et al in Influencer: The Power to Change Anything called Structural Ability: changing the physical environment can automatically bring about changes in peoples’ behaviour. In Chapter 9 the authors share some fascinating examples of how changing the space (the physical environment), changes the behaviours.

Effectively bringing about change is all about enabling the vital behaviours, which are the simple daily actions that—in a given situation—have been proven to produce the intended results.

Have you identified the vital behaviours—and the lead measures for these—in your business and personal life? Do you know what you can change to achieve your business’ goals? How can you apply Simplicity, Transparency, Line of Sight and Specificity to set yourself up for success each day, each week?

In addition to using these principles to achieve goals in your accounting firm, you can even teach them to your clients so they can apply them in their own business’.

It’s not difficult. But it doesn’t happen by accident.

(1) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Mark Lennon -

    January 30, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Very simple. Very practical.
    Thank you.