IMAGE: Sunset on Dec 31st 2022.
It’s that time of year again when we set goals for the new year. And it’s important to have well-defined goals with specific outcomes you can measure (i.e. SMART goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely). I’ve set some goals for the year. But personally, I find it more useful to have a ‘focus’ for the year.
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Where a goal defines a specific outcome you’re trying to achieve. A focus is more general and higher-level. A focus defines the overarching theme or area you’d like to improve on.
A lot of businesses have a mission or vision that provides a high-level sense of direction. Your vision is why your business exists and doesn’t change all that often, unless you make a big pivot in your business. Your focus is higher level than a goal, but lower level than your vision. It’s a quarterly or annual theme that defines what you’d like to improve on.
The reason I like having a focus is that it applies to everything that I do. Because goals are quite specific, they usually apply to just one project or area of our business. Whereas a focus, or theme, applies to your work more generally.
For example, I have a goal to grow our Pipedrive referral commission this year. I have a specific monthly recurring figure I’d like to reach; this is a very specific, measurable outcome that affects a very narrow part of my business. But my focus is to improve systems and team efficiency. It’s similar to a goal but ‘improving efficiency’ isn’t very specific. Improving systems and efficiency applies to every aspect of the business, from marketing and sales to customer support and admin.
Some people choose a keyword to focus on for the year. I was talking to a client last week and his keyword is ‘leverage’; meaning he wants to leverage his time more efficiently and instead of doing the same work again and again, allow customers to benefit from the work he’s already done.
The nice thing about having a focus is that it helps you to evaluate different opportunities and decisions. When I get approached by someone with an opportunity, I can decide whether it’s worth pursuing based on my focus and how I think the opportunity may benefit my business. Your focus acts as a lens through which you can make better decisions.
If you use Asana, you may have noticed the new ‘Focus’ heading on the My Tasks page. You can change this week to week if you’d like to define a short-term focus. Or you can set it for the year as a reminder of what you’d like to do better in 2023.