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Have you ever had the experience of being really excited and fired up about your business, feeling invincible, like you could do anything, and nothing would stop you?

(Yeah, me too.)

And in that place of high energy and excitement, have you ever set very ambitious business goals, ones that if you were in any other state of mind would have freaked you out?

(Yeah, me too.)

And then have you ever had the experience where you pursued those very ambitious goals, but the only problem was that the results didn’t come in as you expect.

(You guessed it! Me too.)

And so what happened?

I think it was in the way we were setting our goals.

We were probably focusing on the outcome more than the effort.

I wrote about this a little bit here: setting business sales goals, but I wanted to delve into this area a bit more, because I believe that this is an insidious problem for most entrepreneurs.

We focus on outcomes, not actions.

Of course, we want to produce results, so focusing on outcomes makes sense- except when the outcomes rely on other people. We can have a great idea for a new business offering, and we can do all that we can to make it valuable and enticing and to send people to it.

But we have no control over whether they buy.

Did you know that many offerings actually fail in the market place? You might put out 5 offers, and only one of them garners interest. This means that we each need to get comfortable with setting goals around actions- i.e. “I will make five offers this month.” rather than outcomes- i.e. “I will sell XYZ number of programs this month.”

(You can, of course, still decide you’d like to sell that many, but the key is to realize that you don’t necessarily control every aspect of the sale.) Another way of setting that same goal would be to focus on the actions – i.e. “I will make 50 calls or personal contacts, with the goal of selling XYZ number of programs per month.”

You see you can control the number of calls you make, or the overall amount of outreach. In other words, you can’t necessarily propel people to buy, but you can create the optimal conditions for them to buy. This way, you’re focusing on what you can manage and control (your number of actions or your behaviors) without tying the success of the goal to the decision to purchase.

Of course, ideally, your optimal condition creation will lead to sales, but sometimes it won’t. And in these cases, you need to find a way to set your goals so you focus on actions, not necessarily results.

All of business is a testing process and a series of better and better iterations. By focusing on your actions, you can bring a better attitude to “failure” and have the perseverance to keep moving forward, improving your ideas and offerings as you go.