A Lean Startup Starts With A LEAN MIND – 5 Crucial Elements To Achieve Your Goals

Whether you are in charge of a well established organization or starting up as a social innovator, your ability to achieve goals and be successful in your everyday activities is essential. And when adopting lean principles in your startup, it takes a focused and agile mind to build, measure, and grow your business in a fast-paced environment.
But where to start?
In this article, Jeffrey Clark provides us with the five key element necessary for pulling off the amazing or just making each day a productive one. Enjoy!

1. The Power Of Your Thoughts

That which we think about and obsess over, has a tendency to become manifest. For instance, the hypochondriac will obsesses over illness, and actually gets ill. Take a step back and you can probably see this in your own work.
I do financial coaching for a nonprofit, working among a team of social service agencies. I started out with clients that never called me back, never showed up for the meetings they booked, or if they did meet with me, they never followed through with their plans. I started thinking how my time would be better off without these time and energy wasters, and focused instead on finding good, responsible, driven clients who sincerely wanted to make a change in their financial lives and needed my help to point them in the right direction.
The result? The bad clients stopped coming and I became more efficient at helping them determine if they actually wanted to do the work that being coached requires. As I thought about, defined, and looked for the people I wanted to serve, I found them. And THAT’s when the quality of my financial coaching clients began to shift.
So, what we chose to focus on has an uncanny way of making itself present. If your goal in your organization is to launch a new program, focus on envisioning the program. Don’t focus on all the road blocks ahead of you. Otherwise you’ll be doomed before you even start.

2. Clarity Of Purpose

If you’ve ever written a grant proposal, you’ll know the painstaking detail that needs to go into it if you want it to be accepted. The same level of clarity has to go into goal setting in your personal life and professional life. Sure, an idea can start on a coffee stained diner napkin, but you’ve got to seriously flesh it out to know precisely what you want and how you’re going to get there. Focus on SMART goals or Objectives & Key Results (OKR).  Simplicity is good, but it has to be clear.
I’ve recently spoken with a bunch of folks in the nonprofit and education sectors and I have to be honest: Very few knew exactly what they wanted. We can complain about what we don’t like. We can be general about what we’d like to have, in a fanciful way. But when it comes to being clear about goal setting, and knowing what we specifically need to get there, we’re a complete mess. And then we procrastinate, never really getting started with that which will truly benefit us.
So see who you need to be, see what you need to achieve, make a plan to get there and then take initiative and START. Again, be explicit. Set clear milestones. Break them down into actionable chunks and get started NOW.

3. Persistence

Nothing will be achieved if you quit before the end. This comes more naturally for some people than for others. We may actually start the project, but find ourselves putting off some of the less clear or pleasant tasks along the way. I believe however that persistence can be nurtured with practice and intention. When the going gets tough, it’s just a sign of something that needs to be addressed, or it builds strength, or it shows where the answer isn’t. In grade school, teachers wouldn’t give you half a grade for a paper halfway completed. Your boss won’t accept half a report. So don’t accept anything less than complete goal fulfillment from yourself. Be persistent.

Among the various books on entrepreneurship I’ve read, and the business owners I’ve spoken with, persistence is consistently one of the top necessary qualities for success. Often, once you start, it is easier to keep going. But when you hit an unforeseen difficulty, or the results don’t pan out the way they were intended, you need to ride it out, find alternate solutions, and keep pushing forward.

4. Be Driven

It’s hard to be persistent if there’s no motivating drive. This calls into question everything you’re then doing. If you have a burning desire for it, it’s easier to keep at it because you KNOW the outcome is worth the effort. You need to begin finding your desire and moving towards it. Time is moving along whether you find it or not. It’s best to proactively get that desire and quit wasting time.
Drive implies a connection with your soul. We all have unique interests – what will get one person up in the morning, won’t for another. For me it’s a passion for social justice and working with entities focused on doing good. For other people, it’s the arts, or sports, or whatever. The point is, the goal you’ve set has a much greater chance of succeeding if you’ve got passionate drive behind it.  

5. Orientation Toward Success

To attain success, you must envision the outcome that you intend to have. I need only look back a few months to see how obvious this one is.

I ran an IRS-VITA tax return preparation program for the first time this past year. I was convinced it would be a success. We would get volunteers and clients, file their tax returns, and in the end, meet our goals. I knew others who did it, and thus there was no doubt in my mind that we would be successful. And we were. Period. Now take this same success consciousness and apply it to a business or program approach that no one has done before. People innovate successfully all the time. If you think it can be done, then KNOW it can be done. Persevere, figure out what needs doing, be organic in your approach (you likely won’t foresee all the bumps), and achieve the goal. I’ve done plenty of “special projects” to know that if you want and think something is possible, then it is. Failure is only an option if you let it be one.
So, what are you going to do next? Below is a simple list to get you started.

Action Items To For Goal Setting

  1. Write out your goal in the simplest, clearest terms.
  2. Read it aloud at least twice daily until you achieve your goal.
  3. Write a quarterly action plan – complete with sub-goals and action items. Review this daily.
Again, if you maintain laser-like focus on your goal setting, and your goal is clear and broken down into bite sized actions, you’ll be able to achieve anything you feel is worth doing.
Your turn: What goal setting tips do you have for conquering your personal and professional goals? What mind tricks do you master when operating your lean organization? Please share with us in the Comments!
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