THE BLOG
01/11/2011 11:01 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reach Your First Goal: Quit the Health Club Now

The life of a small business owner is not matched with eating well and exercising regularly. This is why many of our New Year's resolutions revolve around getting into better physical shape.

It is no surprise that this is the hottest time of year to join a health club. Not coincidentally, February 1st is the hottest time of year to leave the health club. Why do so many people repeat this every year? It has to do with this predictable pattern.

Here is your workout schedule the first week at the health club: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Here is the workout schedule the second week at the health club: Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Here is the workout schedule the third week at the health club: Wednesday, and Saturday. Here is the workout schedule the fourth week at the health club: Wednesday. Then you quit because you are burned out.

In business, we fail for the same reason. We simply set our tactics for achieving our goals and expect too much too quickly. Many experts say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. In business, it takes 90 days.

As entrepreneurs, we are not generally a patient group. We try to accomplish too much in a short period of time. The most effective strategy to move toward your goal is to set patient interim steps. Take each small step, learn what you can from the result and build on its outcome. For example, when an entrepreneur starts out, their initial goal is to get that first paying customer, not the first 100 customers. After that first customer pays, the goal is to get a second, and then a third. This may seem simplistic, but setting small tactical goals accomplishes:

1. A feeling of daily achievement. Some goals are so big, we forget what we are going after. The sense of daily accomplishment will help when those big failures kick you in the teeth.

2. Time to change course. There are no sure things in business. Taking smaller steps allows the entrepreneur to adjust the outcome and increase the chances of success.

3. An opportunity to make permanent change. Small steps do take longer to get to the goal, but then there is a better chance for success to be habit forming and create a permanent process.

How are you executing patient interim goals?