We Need a Strict Definition of Personal Success

“Every moment we spend pursuing an undefined goal is a complete waste of time — especially personal goals.”

June 17th, 2020   |    By: Wil Schroter

As Founders, we spend an inordinate amount of time setting and pursuing goals, yet the ones that truly matter — the ones that affect us personally — are often amorphous. If we're spending every waking moment working toward a goal, it stands to reason that our goals should have an insane amount of fidelity.

We Tend to Suck at Goal Definition

If you ask a startup Founder what their goals for the startup are, they may say something like "To sell for a billion dollars!" But that's a pointless goal unless that Founder needs exactly a billion dollars (or their percentage of it) to achieve their goals. Also, if you have a plan for spending a billion dollars please call me - I want to hang out.

A better goal would be "I need $281,520 to pay off my student loan debt, put money down on a house, and put $50k in the bank for emergencies."

That type of goal has a specific definition and a deliberate purpose which allows us to make tons of decisions based on that outcome. For example, we probably don't need to take on a ton of investment to achieve that outcome or build a giant company. We can hit that goal with way less complication.

Goals Should Be About More Than Money

Money is a very binary goal, but we should also be specific about what our non-numeric goals are. For example, we all say that we want "more freedom" (it's why we started a company!) but do we ever really define that freedom?

That freedom may mean that we don't ever want to answer to anyone ever again (my favorite), but we should be specific about who we don't want to answer to. Are we talking about investors, customers, employees (all of the above)?

I personally never wanted to answer to a Board again (so we don't have one). I didn't want to deal with huge enterprise customers that could crush my business (so we don't have those). The list goes on. By making goals very specific we start to create a tight roadmap toward real success.

The More We Tighten Up Our Goals, The Easier They Become

It turns out, the hardest goals to reach are those with the least definition. It's like when we say " I want to be happy" — again, a dumb goal — because in and of itself it lacks definition. On the other hand, as we distill our goals into highly specific outcomes, it turns out they are often way easier to achieve.

A great method I've personally found is to not only make them highly specific but make them incremental. Instead of saying "I want to lose 40 pounds" try "I want to lose 1 pound by Monday." Smaller, focused goals have the highest chance of success. And if we're going to be spending an insane amount of time pursuing goals, doesn't it make sense that we invest some serious time refining them?

In Case You Missed It

How Do I Design My Startup Around My Life? There’s very little preventing us from designing our startups around our life goals. It starts with us being very clear about what we want to achieve and then taking clear, small steps toward those outcomes.

7 Habits Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs From ice cream powerhouses to e-commerce pros, here are some traits from great founders that I’ve observed and tried to emulate throughout my 20-year career as an entrepreneur.

How Much Should I Be Working? (podcast) While there's truth to the assumption that more hours equal more growth, we'll explore how it benefits to think quality and not quantity when it comes to your weekly punch card.

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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