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Goal setting is a tried and tested management technique which is a pretty useful device to help you clarify what you want to achieve in your business. The trick with goals though is that once set, you shouldn’t look at them again until you’ve achieved them. It’s like mountaineering: if you keep looking up at the summit you’re trying to conquer you’ll throw yourself off balance and just topple over backwards and be destined to start the process all over again.

Bill is a case In point. He’s set himself a target of 50,000 sales of his unique flower pots in the first year of trading. The target is ambitious and challenging: so much so that he’s being stretched this way and that in trying to reach it. He stresses and strains but that figure of 50,000 looms larger and larger day by day. It never shrinks but just stands there: implacable, ponderous, sneering, much like Mount Everest, daring to be overcome. And for the first month or two this implacable target drained away Bill’s confidence, belief in the superiority of his flower pots and will to live. He promoted and promoted, pushed and pulled and yet that damn target stood there, ridiculing him until one day, Ben phoned Bill and ordered a dozen for his new greenhouse.

The first sale took it’s time to complete: but complete it he did and by the end of the week, Bill was 12 flower pot sales closer to his target. At this point he stopped thinking about the summit, but just concentrated on the next step: the next dozen flower pots to the neighbouring allotment. That sale happened surprisingly quickly and before he knew it, Bill was taking one step at a time towards the summit of 50,000 sales: but the trick was to stop looking at that mocking target and just focus on the here and now of today rather then the promise of impossible riches tomorrow,

Before his first six months were through, Bill realised that 50,000 was way too pessimistic a target and that it needed revising upwards. So up went the target but this time, instead of fretting about the sheer impossibility of it all, Bill knew that all he needed to do to achieve his goals was to stop looking up at them, keep looking down at the ground beneath his feet and set off, one slow, laborious step at a time.