Do you know where you want to be in 5 years’ time? Or next month? Or by the end of this week?

In business we are surrounded by information about the importance of setting goals: from BHAGs to sales targets, to leads in the pipeline, financial targets, getting to the next level, calls to make, time to spend on LinkedIn, staff KPIs … most of us can offer a very long list.

But invariably when I work with businesses that are struggling, I find that the behaviour of the business owners is obstructing their journeys to success.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • You have the picture of the luxury holiday on your wall, but the daily interruptions prevent you from ever finishing your daily task list. It seems you will never have time to take a holiday.
  • You had an inspiring vision for the future, but staff troubles and cash flow problems are eroding your self-confidence. You think perhaps you should downgrade your vision.
  • You have a dream of achieving financial freedom, but you can’t bring in enough clients to even pay yourself a salary. Being an entrepreneur is so hard.

Before you blame the economy or your staff or your demanding clients, try taking a look in a mirror. I bet you’ll see that you yourself are the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals.

Do an honest analysis: Why aren’t you closing deals? How are you managing your clients’ payment terms? Could you find better ways to motivate your staff? How can you prevent unnecessary interruptions and work more efficiently?

Usually the answers to these questions reveal that you are avoiding difficult decisions and slipping back into your comfort zone. Trust me, behind every failing business there is a business owner who works incredibly hard – at the wrong things.

Because it’s much easier to deal with what is familiar than to face a new challenge. Or to ignore an employee’s performance instead of having a constructive conversation about it. Don’t we all find it easier to just hope late paying customers will change their ways, rather than firing them? And if confidence is low, we can always postpone going out to sell until next week.

Yet if you don’t take action to tackle your difficulties, you will never succeed. All these evasions will only take you further away from your goal.

If this is what you see in your mirror, I advise you to spend a week making a list of all the decisions you take, or fail to take. Break it down into the smallest detail; like how often did you check your email? What feedback did you give your employee? How did you deal with a customer complaint? How many hours did you spend on trouble shooting? When last did you check your cash flow? Or your sales pipeline?

Then analyse each action. Did it help you to advance towards your goals? Or not?

Successful people practice the habit of evaluating every small step they take … and ensuring that each action of the day helps them to move forward. It becomes part of their subconscious behaviour, part of their belief system.

It should be one of your unshakable business rules.