Setting goals is easy – achieving them is hard. Take New Year’s Resolutions for example – it takes no work at all to proclaim on January 1st that you’re going to give up drinking. The real challenge comes when your friend offers you a glass of wine at dinner – will you pour a glass or ask for a water instead?
But what if, instead of announcing you’re going to give up on something all together, you decide to cut back? It becomes easier to say no on some occasions when you know you can say yes on others.
Herein lies the importance of setting realistic, achievable goals for yourself and your business. It’s tempting to get ahead of yourself and make big promises, and you might even believe that you’ll be able to stick to them, but in the long run, the path to success is much smoother when you adopt the mindset of goal-setting.
This is especially true for goal-setting in business. Without goals, your company is shouting into the void. With them, you are delivering relevant and insightful content to an audience that values your input. Which would you rather your company be?
So how do you create these realistic goals, and how do you achieve them?
Put simply, you need to get your Lead and Lag Measures in place. If a giant cartoon question mark just appeared over your head, don’t fret! Here we go:
A Lag Measure is your ultimate goal. It’s easy to measure, but it’s often ill-defined and vague.
A personal example of a Lag Measure might be losing 5 kilos in 3 months. It’s what you want to end up with, and it’s easy to measure because if, in 3 months, you step on the scales and find yourself 5 kilos lighter, you know you’ve achieved your goal.
However, saying you want to lose 5 kilos and actually doing it are two very different things, so how do you achieve your Lag Measure? With your Lead Measures.
A Lead Measure is what you do to achieve your Lag Measure – it’s the small steps you consciously choose to make in order to lead you to your ultimate goal.
So if your Lag Measure is to lose 5 kilos, your Lead Measures might be to start training with a PT twice a week and cutting out junk food. These steps will lead you to your goal.
And it’s the same for any goal. If you want to play the guitar (LAG), you learn the chords and practice (LEAD). If you want to save for a big holiday (LAG), you cut out unnecessary spending (I’m looking at you, daily coffees) and put away a small amount every week (LEAD).
If you fail to put in the effort along the way, you’ve got little chance of achieving your end goal, so setting achievable lead measures is key.
Before anything else, you need to know what your ultimate goal is – otherwise known as your BHAG – your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. What do you want your business to achieve?
To give you an idea, here are some examples of BHAG’s from some of the world’s most notable companies:
Facebook – Make the world more open and connected.
Google – Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Amazon – Be Earth’s most customer-centric company.
So it needs to be big, it needs to be hairy, and it needs to be audacious. It needs to force you to reach for the stars. It needs to be questionable – can you really achieve that? – but not out of the question. You need to believe that you can achieve it.
We’ll let you in on a secret – BHAG’s are scary and incredibly overwhelming. Facebook’s goal to make the world open and connected is an admirable one indeed, but where would you even start with such a goal?
This is where Lead and Lag Measures take center stage, along with another technique called Reverse Engineering.
Reverse Engineering is, put simply, taking things apart to see how they work.
If we gave you a burger, you could dismantle it and end up with the buns, the meat, the lettuce, the tomato, and the sauce. Then, you could put it all back together and you’d have a burger again, only this time you’d know the exact ingredients needed to create it.
Reverse Engineering your goals is a similar concept. To discover the steps you need to take to achieve your goal (or your LAG), you need to take it apart and analyse what it is that’s going to get you there. Once those steps are broken down, it’s your job to turn those steps into smaller, more achievable goals (or LEADS) that will result in your ultimate goal.
Reverse Engineering and setting Lead and Lag Measures can be applied to any industry, including online marketing. As long as your goals are clear in your mind, the steps needed to achieve those goals can be found. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Lag Measure: increase engagement on social media
Lead Measures: post frequently, start conversations, actively engage in the community.
Lag Measure: be seen as an authority in the industry
Lead Measures: create and share relevant, dynamic content, engage in industry-related conversations, remain up-to-date on industry news and advancements.
Ultimately, you can see how your path forward becomes clearer once your goal has been Reverse Engineered and your Lead Measures have been established.
If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is. Reverse Engineering your goals may not be an easy task, but it’s a worthy one. Once you’ve broken down the steps you need to take to achieve your long-term goal, you’ll be far more likely to actually do it.