I’ve coached hundreds of small business owners, all unique. And yet, I’ve noticed four characteristics that show up regularly in those that achieve their goals. So, I’m going to share with you the four characteristics, or 4 Cs, of goal achievers.
The four characteristics of goal achievers are – clarity, confidence, courage and consistency.
What’s fascinating about these four characteristics is that they work together to accelerate progress towards goals. For example, the clearer you are about the goal you want to achieve, the more consistent you can be with the activity needed to achieve it. You can more easily identify your priorities and align your schedule to fit those priorities.
The clearer you are with your priorities, the more consistent you become with your activity. This also leads to an increase in courage. If you are wildly clear about the type of client you want to attract to your business, you can be more courageous when you ask for referrals or introductions to others. This courage leads to confidence. And the more confident you are, the more consistent you will likely be with your results!
The characteristics also ebb and flow as you grow and develop as a business owner. You might find you are extremely confident and courageous in one area of your business, but when you take on a new project or client, you find your confidence and courage at an all-time low. It’s important to recognize that growing your goal achievement characteristics is a journey. You don’t just arrive one day – and from that day forward you’re always clear, confident, courageous and consistent. This is why the practices I recommend (such as the Friday Ritual) are so important. We can’t predict when our confidence or courage will drop.
As I have been reflecting on my goals throughout the year, I noticed that these characteristics are present in the goals I have achieved or made significant progress on, and lacking in the goals I have not. As I look back at the goals I did not achieve, I was often lacking clarity.
I define clarity in the goal achievement journey as knowing what you want and why you want it. Clarity helps us understand why we are doing all the hard work to achieve a goal. Without clarity, we can lose our motivation, forget why we are pursuing a goal or work without intentionality.
Visioning is one of the best ways to gain clarity. A vision serves as the foundation for meaningful goal setting. Once you know where you want to go in the future, you start to see how the goals you set today connect you to that bigger picture. A vision highlights what you want to achieve which can inspire motivation and discipline.
I know writing a vision isn’t as easy as it sounds, so I put together my favorite prompts to help you start drafting yours. Click here to download these vision prompts.
If you are new to visioning, be prepared to work through the common roadblocks of perfection and fear. If you find yourself saying, I can’t see that far into the future, or what if what I write doesn’t come true, you might be facing these roadblocks.
I’m very familiar with vision roadblocks. I struggled to write my first long-term vision and likely would not have completed the assignment if it wasn’t for a women’s leadership group I was part of in 2015. I was so distraught with the assignment that I didn’t finish my vision until I was on the flight to our group meeting. I was too caught up in perfection and fear. A vision is so important, and yet I was too worried about writing the perfect one or afraid I would fail to accomplish what I wrote.
I overcame my vision roadblock by shifting my perspective. I learned that a long-term vision is a draft. A draft that can and should evolve as you grow and evolve. We are now eight years into my first long-term vision, and I am on a completely different path. What that vision did for me was inspire me to take risks, raise my hand and vocalize what I wanted to my leadership team at that time. While I am no longer working towards that original vision, I credit that first draft with much of the growth I needed to be the business owner I am today.
Shifting your perspective to view your vision as a draft instead of a finalized document can be incredibly freeing.
Another way to gain clarity is by understanding and remembering your why. Understanding your why is significant in the goal achievement process because it will motivate you when times are tough. And like anything in life, you will face adversity and challenges on your goal achievement journey and might feel like giving up. You’ll be propelled to power through those tough times if you can center back to an incredibly moving why.
When I get discouraged on my goal achievement journey, it’s usually because I lost sight of my why. Instead of focusing on my why to help others maximize their potential and achieve their definitions of success, the achiever in me can over-emphasize results and outcomes. When I don’t get the desired result or outcome, I am tempted to give up.
Understanding your why is not only motivating, but it also supports strategic business decisions. Knowing your why helps you commit to meaningful projects that align with your why and keeps you focused on serving your ideal clients.
I can’t move on from clarity without discussing the importance of getting specific with your goals. If your goal is to “grow your business,” – you need to get more specific. What does grow your business mean? Do you want to grow your business by bringing on more clients? Do you want to grow your business by increasing revenue? Do you want to grow your business by having more sales? Do you want to grow your business by hiring more team members? There are many ways to grow your business, so you need clarity about what it actually means to you. The clearer you are about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
When you are clear on your goals, you are more likely to take action and do the work that helps you achieve them, which leads to confidence. I define confidence in the goal achievement journey as when who you think you are aligns with action to achieve your goals.
Action is so important as it relates to confidence. If I had waited until I felt confident to launch my podcast, there would never have been Elite Achievement episodes to listen to. Each action I took to launch my podcast – hire a producer, choose a name, record the intro, record the first episodes, conduct my first guest interview – grew my confidence. Even today, over sixty episodes in, I’m still developing my confidence as a podcaster.
Don’t falsely believe that you need to wait to take action until you are confident. Start taking small steps toward your goals, and you’ll be surprised at how your confidence grows along the way.
It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy because of how we think. Past and future thinking can destroy our confidence.
Past thinking is when we ruminate, replay or rehash situations over and over again. This type of thinking is not productive because it’s a one-way conversation. We often over-blame ourselves and only remember the worst-case scenarios. Instead of feeling confident, this type of thinking can leave us disappointed, frustrated, and maybe even embarrassed. We are not exactly feeling inspired and excited to take action in the direction of our goals!
A huge part of growing your confidence is catching yourself when you are replaying a story or conversation over and over in your mind and stopping. Sometimes recognizing that you are ruminating is enough to get you to stop the negative mental narratives so you can focus on moving forward and learning from the given situation.
Overthinking is when we stress out about every little detail and become so overwhelmed that we don’t even start. I do a lot of overthinking! Some level of detail, prep, and planning are necessary before taking action, but if you find yourself getting caught up in striving for perfection, you might be overthinking. It’s important to remember that you’ll figure out more details and tweak your approach along the way. Figure out the first few steps and get moving!
Future thinking is when the “what if” scenarios take over. What-ifs are rarely positive and always seem to be negative. We assume the worst outcomes, which fosters anxiety and fear. You literally think yourself right out of taking action! If you are a future thinker, be sure to consider the positive what-if scenarios. You just might realize that the real fear lies in not going after all of the positive what-if scenarios!
Confidence is essential in the goal-achievement journey. When we’re not confident, we tend to show up as someone other than ourselves. We can often watch others achieve success and grow their businesses while we feel more like a victim than a victor. Ultimately, if we’re not confident, we are limiting our potential!
Without a doubt, courage is required to maximize our potential. I define courage in the goal achievement journey as embracing discomfort to grow in the direction of your goals. I think it’s essential to understand that we’re all going to feel uncomfortable at times on our goal-achievement journeys. We’re all going to feel different levels of fear as we push through mindset and other growth barriers.
I used to think successful people were naturally courageous and didn’t have any fear. What I’ve learned is that successful people embrace fear. They still have fears, but they take action toward their goals despite the feeling.
One of my favorite acronyms to describe fear is:
We often create stories in our minds about all the terrible things that could happen if we act courageously in the direction of our goals. In my experience, the horrible things I think will happen never do, and if they do, they are never as intense as I thought they would be.
If you continue to buy into negative stories, you probably won’t take the action needed to achieve your goals.
Another way to avoid taking action towards your goals is to sit around and wait for fear to be completely removed from the situation. Similar to confidence, courage grows by taking action. Each time you do something scary in your business (like asking for great referrals), it gets easier the next time you do it. I encourage you to come to terms with the fact that fear will exist and learn to take action regardless. Breaking your goals down into steps and focusing on one step at a time can make the fear feel easier to embrace.
If you are stuck due to fear, it’s important to identify what you are afraid of. Play with the fear and ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen and what’s so bad about that and then flip the script and ask yourself what’s the best that can happen.
As you grow your courage, you’ll be able to act more consistently. I define consistency in the goal achievement journey as creating momentum by repeating the actions, habits, and beliefs that lead to goal achievement.
Consistency is so important because when we move away from all of the starts and stops in the direction of our goals, we will make a ton of progress. Inconsistency leads to a lot of struggle and defeat, resulting in a desire to give up.
An all-or-nothing mentality inspires inconsistency. Have you ever started a new year thinking, “this is the year I’m going to work out, implement a morning routine, drink water, eliminate fast food and go to bed early?” You’re going to do all the healthy things every day at once, or you’ve failed. I’m not a health expert but I’m pretty sure if you pick one or two healthy habits and do them with consistency – meaning if you miss a workout, you get back into the routine the next day – you’ll finish the year healthier than you started.
We do this all of the time. We set out at the beginning of the year or the beginning of the quarter, even the beginning of a new week, with big plans. This is going to be the week for change! I’m doing it. I am going all out. Then we miss a day and beat ourselves up. The all-or-nothing mentality is not serving us well.
I encourage you to be aware of this all-or-nothing mentality as you strive to achieve a goal or accomplish something you’ve never done before. If you miss a day or get off track – guess what? That’s called being human. We all are imperfect. If we continue to put these rigid all-or-nothing expectations on ourselves, we hinder our ability to achieve our goals.
If you tend to give up because you got a little behind or missed a day, remember, you’ve got tomorrow and can get back on track. Even if you don’t execute seven days a week, which was your intention, five days is still better than no days.
Another thing that impacts consistency is what I’ll call the instant gratification lie. We’ve become accustomed to instant gratification. I get it. I’m a huge Amazon Prime fan. I love that I can add something to my cart and have it on my doorstep the next day. These technological advances that make our lives easier can complicate our mindset when it comes to goal achievement because they create a false expectation that success should be instant.
In conversations with clients, we often brainstorm strategies to help them achieve their goals. We’ll create a game plan and talk about the next steps. In subsequent meetings, I’ll ask my clients about their progress. And frequently, I hear the defeat in their voices as they describe their progress. I always listen for that initial response before going one layer deeper. Because, more often than not, I find out that they are feeling defeated based on a small sample size or effort.
If you are working on implementing a new strategy in your business or ramping up your activity, keep progressing. Give yourself at least 30 days to try it out and get some results. Please don’t make sweeping assumptions based on a tiny sample size. Give yourself enough data, repetitions, and time for this process to work itself out.
The instant gratification lie inspires starts and stops. We get super fired up and excited about a new idea and begin implementing it. But, if we don’t see instant results, we tend to give up. We think, “wow, it must not be working!” In reality, we might need to allow ourselves a few more attempts before determining if it does or doesn’t work.
Building consistency goes back to clarity. The clearer your vision is for where you want to go and the goals you want to achieve, the easier it becomes to act consistently. Once you have that clarity, you can start connecting your commitments to the activities you need to execute and achieve your smaller goals. Those smaller goals roll up to the bigger goals, which ultimately roll up to achieving your vision.
As you consider your goals this year, I encourage you to ask yourself these four questions.
Growing your clarity, confidence, courage, and consistency will take intentional effort but it will be worth it when you can celebrate achieving your goals in 2023.
And with that goal achievers, keep celebrating your weekly wins, noting your lessons learned, and identifying your priorities for next week so you can finish this year strong.