The Glory of Goals: Define Your Future – Short Term and Long Term

By Todd Natenberg, Author, “I just got a job in sales. Now what?” and President of TBN Sales Solutions

Success comes from purpose. Until you recognize what it is you want to accomplish, you will lack the motivation necessary to accomplish anything. Sales reps burn out easily because they repeatedly ask themselves, “What does it all mean? Why am I doing this?” They lack vision. They can’t visualize the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because they don’t know what the pot of gold looks like.

If you can’t define “living” clearly, how do you know if you’re successful at it?

Here’s a strategy for setting goals:

1. Write goals down and post them.
2. Make goals measurable.
3. Set deadlines for goals.
4. Make personal and professional goals.
5. Celebrate goals upon accomplishment.

1. Write goals down and post them

Do you know why people love e-mail? They can see the words. When people see things, they become real. Until a visual picture is created, it’s an idea open to interpretation. With email, there is no room for confusion. People know what the message is, when it was sent, who received the message and who sent the message. Even for those of us with bad memories, the information can be re-read by accessing a computer.

Goals are the same. When goals are written down, they magically become real. They remind salespeople why they endure constant abuse from angry prospects, the pressures of obtaining a monthly quota and continual bantering from managers to close deals. Writing down goals lets you see the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. In addition to writing your goals, post them where you will see them regularly – in your office, your home and somewhere visible in the car.

2. Make goals measurable

Selling 150% of quota, running 10 new sales appointments a week, buying a $65,000 Lexus and owning a $500,000 house with 5-bedrooms and a 3-car garage are all legitimate goals.

“Being happy” is not a goal. “Enjoying life” is not a goal. “Selling a lot” is not a goal. How will you know when you are happy? How will you know when you are enjoying life? What is “a lot?” Selling is based on numbers. Salespeople succeed when they sell. They fail when they don’t. Even more specifically, salespeople achieve a certain level of success or failure based on an exact number. Personal goals must be established the same way.

The more specific your goals, the more achievable they become.

3. Set deadlines for your goals

When are you the most productive? When do you get the most amount of work done in the least amount of time? Usually it’s the day before you leave for vacation! Why? You have no choice. You have no time to think. You just act. You have to focus, so nothing holds you back. You remove all obstacles because of the urgency. Why is the urgency so great? It’s because the consequences are so severe.

How productive would you be in your job – in your life- if you treated every day like you were leaving for vacation the next day?

4. Make personal and professional goals

Enjoying what you do is important. Enjoying what you do because it enables you lead the life you want is even more important. For instance, it will be much easier to make 100 cold calls if those 100 cold calls are necessary to achieve the income needed to achieve your goal – a Lexus. Or perhaps your goal is to stay physically fit. Staying fit will result in a greater alertness, less irritability and make you more productive in your job which will enable you to make those 100 cold calls to achieve that income to buy that Lexus. It’s a never-ending circle – in a good way.

If you asked former NBA star Michael Jordan at the height of his career if he enjoyed lifting weights, he might have had to think about it. But because improving his overall fitness enabled him to be the best of the best, rarely would he miss a workout.

5. Celebrate your goals upon accomplishment

Too often, people let life pass them by. They try hard to achieve something, but when they do, they ask, “Is this all there is?” That’s because they never take a moment to enjoy how monumental their achievements are.

When you accomplish what you set out to do, be proud. Celebrate your success. Remind yourself that you accomplished your goal. The blood, the sweat and the tears were worth it. If you won an award, post the plaque. If you received that $50,000 commission check, frame it. (Cash it first!) Narcissism is acceptable in celebrating success situations. Whoever gave you those prizes thought highly of you. Think highly of yourself.

Brag to yourself. Take your significant other out to dinner. Buy a nice gift. Spoil yourself. You earned it. When you enjoy success again, you will want to repeat the feeling. Make it memorable.


Take a sheet of paper and list your goals based on the criteria we just discussed. Do the following: Make two columns – Personal Goals and Professional Goals. List under each column a timeframe: 1 month, 6 months, 1 year and 5 years. Under each timeframe list the numbers 1-5. There will be 40 items total. Write down your goals.

You can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you want to be. If you don’t know where you want to be, no roadmap will get you there.