A Simple Formula to Achieve Your Goals, From X to Y by When

From X to Y by When

Happy New Year! For the past 48 hours my social media feeds have been littered with articles on why or why not you should set New Year’s Resolutions.

The “No” camp likes to share the facts:

  • 40% of North Americans set New Year’s Resolutions every January.
  • 53% of the resolution setters want to “save more money.”
  • 45% are trying to “lose weight” or “get into shape.”
  • 25% want to have “more sex.”
  • 92% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.

Ouch! That is not encouraging at all.

Setting New Year’s Resolutions may seem futile, but I love this time of year. The start of the year is a brilliant time to set and reaffirm your goals, because defining what you want is the starting point of good strategy.

Reframe Your Goals with a Simple Formula

From X to Y by When

Mid last year a friend of mine introduced me to The 4 Disciplines of Execution. It’s a brilliant book on how to organize teams to achieve great results.

The authors created a simple goal setting formula, “From X to Y by When.”

Click here for details on Sticky Branding Crisis Marketing eBook
  • X represents the current state
  • Y represents the intended outcome
  • When is the timeframe

For instance, “Grow revenue from $17.5M to $19.5M by December 31, 2018.”

You could say, “We will grow by 15% in 2018” or “Our goal is to exceed $19.5 million in revenue in 2018,” but they lack the specificity of From X to Y by When.

Don’t Mistake Dreams for Goals

Most people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, because they set “dreams” not “goals.”

A dream is something you want or desire. You may want to double the size of your business, get into the best shape of your life, or win a Nobel Prize.

You may even make your dreams specific and time bound, and create a goal masquerading as a strategy like “25 in 5” or “30-30.” (Grow to $25 million in 5 years, or grow to $30 million by 2030.)

Dreams can feel an awful lot like a goal, but they lack two key elements:

  1. An unrelenting commitment to achieve the goal.
  2. A clear understanding of what you will change or transform to achieve the goal.

Transform Behaviors vs Fantasizing About Outcomes

Good goals are written in context.

Late last year I lead a client through their annual strategic planning process. The sales team came to the session with a bold goal: “Grow revenue from $18.2M to $25M by December 31, 2020.”

With the goal clearly framed it sparked a conversation:

  • How is this achievable when we’ve been averaging 4% year over year growth since 2015?
  • Was the sales team dreaming?

Good goals stretch you to change. To move From X to Y by When you will have to change systems, behaviors, and even beliefs.

The sales team wasn’t dreaming, they were challenging the rest of the organization,“What do we have to transform to become a $25M company?” The management team took the challenge and worked through each division of the business to consider what would have to change to achieve the goal.

When the team focused on behaviors and systems, the goal became far more achievable. It wasn’t a dream, because they knew what had to change to reach the objective.

Use the New Year to Set and Renew Your Goals

I love the New Year. It’s a brilliant time for reflection and planning. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

Define what you want to achieve, and then frame it with the simple formula, From X to Y by When.

You are far more likely to achieve your goals when you get specific about what you want, why you want it, and what will have to change to get it.