When I hung up the phone, I was in a state of shock. I’d just agreed to do something that was vital to my business growth, yet totally unreasonable to accomplish in only 90 days. To top it off – I had no extra time in my already over-flowing schedule.
It all started when leadership coach Caitlin Miller invited me to participate in the Breakthrough Game. When it came time to identify my goal, she insisted that I select one that was the “other side of possible.”
So, with a great deal of angst and a bit of excitement, I committed to increase my database by 50% in three months.
Was I crazy? Perhaps. But trying to pull this off in such a short time frame was a challenge I couldn’t resist.
The Failure of Incrementalism
Most of us are used to dealing with incremental goals. Our quota goes up 15% each year. We decide that we’d like to earn 10% more money. We’d want to increase our closing ratio by 5%.
These small increases keep us thinking and acting small. We commit to making one extra call each day. We focus on working harder. Perhaps we even think about working smarter.
But the reality of it is, incremental goals feel like a burden. They don’t inspire us to greater heights. Mostly, they just wear us down as we face a never-ending cycle of doing more, more, more.
The Real Secret to Success
When we set unreachable goals that require us to stretch beyond what we think we’re capable of achieving, we’re forced to consider new options.
Take my situation: It took me seven years to build by database to its current size. Now I needed to increase it by 50% in a totally unrealistic timeframe. Clearly, my normal modus operandi wouldn’t work.
New strategies were needed – ones that I’d never considered before. I had to think differently about this challenge.
I started by asking new questions:
- How could I double my database virtually overnight?
- Where could I find a critical mass of people who’d want to receive my newsletter?
- What partnerships could I put together?
- What resources did I have at my disposal?
- If I had all the money in the world, what would I do?
- What would Steve Jobs do if he were given this challenge?
You see, your brain cannot resist an unanswered question. It immediately goes to work connecting ideas and tidbits of information to create new options for you. It operates on hyper-alert as it goes about the day, searching for possible solutions from what it observes, reads or hears.
New ideas start to pop up- ones you may never have considered before. Some will be good. Others will be lousy or off-the-wall, but they may be just what you need to spark the next great idea.
The Clock Starts Ticking
When you give yourself an unreachable goal with an unrealistic deadline, you also need to plot out a plan. Personally, I divided my 90 days into three one-month segments.
In the first 30 days, I focused on exploring the challenge. I actively searched for ideas that I could implement. I challenged myself to find solutions that wouldn’t push me to the brink, were easy to implement and low cost.
I spent the next 30 days, creating some lead generation tools as well as modifying my website. And, the final 30 days were allotted for implementation.
Did I achieve my goal? Not quite. I only grew my database by 25% in those 90 days, but that in itself was an unachievable goals. I was totally elated with these results – especially since I abandoned the project in the final three weeks in order to meet my publisher’s deadline for my newest book, SNAP Selling.
I Double Dare You
Now that I’ve told you my story, it’s your turn. What kind of unreachable goal can you set for yourself in the upcoming 90 days?
It has to be something that you’d really like to achieve – and, as Caitlin Miller says, “is on the other side of possible.” You have to feel a little bit scared to tackle it, but it excites you too.
How about increasing your hot prospects by 50% in the next three months? Perhaps it’s landing five new appointments with big companies in your area? Maybe it’s pulling together an educational event for your prospects and getting 35 people to attend?
Think about it! I double dare you to take this challenge. And 90 days from now, I’d like to hear what you accomplished!
Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into accounts, speed up sales cycles and win big contracts. To get a free Sales Call Planning Guide and sign up for the newsletter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on bringing Jill into your upcoming sales meeting, kickoff event or conference, call 651-429-1922 or visiting www.SellingtoBigCompanies.com.