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Get your practice mojo back and achieve your goals

As Covid-19 dominates 2020, many accountants have had to tear up their long term practice goals. Zoe Whitman, the host of AccountingWEB Live's Ways of Working, explains how you can get your goals back on track.  

20th Jul 2020
Founder But the Books
Columnist
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A climber reaches the summit of an exposed mountain
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As I suspect is the case for many accountants and bookkeepers who decide to go out alone, I’d not thought much beyond working as a freelancer in the first eighteen months of running my business. Then I started working with a business coach and he asked me where I wanted to be in ten years’ time.

Thankfully he wasn’t expecting a well-rehearsed, interview-style response, but I was surprised when we embarked on a visualisation exercise to help me picture myself in my future life.

I’m no stranger to visualisation. After some convincing about its grounding in science, I’d had a series of sessions with a hypnotherapist to work on my mindset the year before. I’d learnt how imagining experiences and events before they happen creates a feeling of ease, I’d built the confidence to take steps I might not have done before, but I’d never pictured myself ten years in the future.

The visualisation with my coach helped me start to build a picture of my future, so I could set goals to set me on the right path. I could see where I wanted to be and imagine how I’d feel once I’d realised my vision. As it turns out, the coronavirus pandemic put an end to my plans for how I thought I’d achieve my goals - for now - but my goals are still clear; I’m clear on the purpose they serve and that’s helped me reassess, and change direction.

Are your business and personal goals aligned?

We all set goals for our businesses. Whether you’re running your own practice or an employee, I suspect you have goals for the coming year; maybe you break those down one quarter at a time. But, have you asked yourself lately what the purpose of those goals is? Where are you headed? Why are these goals important?

I recently watched a TEDx talk with Stephen Duneier about setting ambitious goals. I take a huge interest in goal setting, and Duneier is an inspirational example of somebody who’s achieved a lot of things; from becoming fluent in German, to learning aerobatics, to becoming a record-breaking crocheter.

But if I set myself the goal of crocheting enough fabric to cover a tree (seriously, watch the video), I just wouldn’t get it done, I wouldn’t be motivated, and that’s because I don’t care about crochet.

And it’s the same if we set business goals we don’t care about. If we get them done, it’ll be a long slog, a small miracle maybe, but more than likely, those goals will fall by the wayside.

Register for the next episode of Zoe Whitman’s Ways of Working here.

So, if you’re struggling with achieving a goal, if it’s been on your list for years or if you’re finding it hard to find the motivation to get started, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it to please somebody else? Is it because you think you should? Because if you’re not doing it for you, it’s probably the wrong goal and it’s unlikely you’re going to see results.

So what are the right goals?

The goals which will keep you motivated, which you’re much more likely to achieve, are the ones with purpose, something emotional, which runs deep and keeps you focused.

Do you ever see those weight loss ads where somebody has lost half their body weight? And yet maybe you’ve been having a battle with yourself about shifting half a stone for the past two years. It’s quite possibly because you haven’t had enough of an emotional incentive to take action - or the weight just wasn’t enough of a problem for you, you can still do your jeans up after all. The woman who lost half of her body weight no doubt found an emotional connection - fitting into her dream wedding dress, going to her son’s graduation or being able to run around in the garden with her kids.

Your business targets are likely to be less emotional. They’re probably around growth, revenue, profit, client numbers, output and systems improvements. These are arguably more difficult to feel sentimental about, so how can you make the emotional connection to make those goals really matter to you?

What do you want in your future life?

Well, the truth is, the steps we take this quarter, this year, are all driving us towards something: an outcome or a future life. And the question is: if you keep going in this direction, will you end up where you want to be?

Setting short term goals isn’t enough, we need to think about where these fit in with our values and our long term plans, and this is the tricky bit.

I hadn’t thought about it either. We think that setting goals every year, goals every quarter will help us be successful, but we need to know what success looks like to make sure we’re on the right path. If you start with the end in mind, you can work towards what you want intentionally.

If you’re finding it difficult to get clarity over what you want, where you want to be in ten years’ time and what that will look and feel like, this is where I know that visualisation can help. You can work with a mindset coach, or you could start simply today by watching a video on YouTube or downloading an app like Headspace or EnVision.

Whatever you decide to do, making some decisions about what success looks like for you at work and in your personal life and working out what will bring you happiness and fulfilment will help you set goals you’re inspired to work towards. If you set meaningful goals, they will bring you energy and you’re much more likely to see success.

 

If you've got children, you've probably had a difficult few months of relentless parenting and home-schooling. In the next episode of Zoe’s Ways of Working webinar, you'll hear from four accountants and bookkeepers who've worked around their children. Register here.

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