11/18/2014 05:58 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

Checking a Box Is Not Generating Results

Results--what entrepreneurs are driving their businesses towards.

The result of a project, initiative or even team member is what allows us to measure if our business is moving forward. Without those results, we are just spinning our wheels not knowing if our actions actually impact our goal.

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are doing just that--spinning their wheels.

It's an easy cycle to fall into. As entrepreneurs are just starting out, they are overwhelmed with the amount of tasks they need to accomplish. Their to do lists grow day after day and they become primarily focused on "checking the box" on their list.

As their to do list shrinks, entrepreneurs feel a great sense of accomplishment. Let's celebrate! I knocked that project out of the park!

However celebrating at this point is pre-mature.

Compare checking off boxes on a to do list to the study by Ivan Pavlov. He trained the dogs to associate a dinner bell with their dinner being served. Every time the dogs heard the bell, they began to salivate and celebrate their dinner.

Even after Pavlov stopped serving them dinner after the bell.

The dogs were celebrating the bell, not the result--dinner.

Allowing ourselves to simply check off the boxes on the to do list does not mean we've achieved the result we want. The only way to know if we've achieved the results we want, is to be clear on what we wanted to achieve to begin with AND review our results during and after the project.

So how do you break the cycle of celebrating too early regarding your to do list?

  1. Determine your destination before you begin. Being clear on what you are trying to achieve before you begin the project is crucial.
  2. Measure progress. If you want to reap XX returns, what number will show you if you are making progress or not?
  3. Bring your team on board. Communicate with your team your desired result and how you will track it. Make tracking visible for them so they can contribute to the progress.
  4. Review, review, review. Establish a time at the beginning of the project to review the results through out. If your project will last six months, maybe reviewing bi-weekly will keep you on the right path.

Don't just check boxes; drive towards #results and see your focus shift to the future. @thecharfens @HuffPostBiz

Reviewing is the step that often gets overlooked but is the most critical!

Making time to review your progress is the difference between "checking a box" and actually arriving at the destination desired.

Alex & Cadey Charfen are the Co-Founders of the Charfen Institute.