Month 3: “Start Before You Are Ready” — Define Your End Goal

By Angela Mitchell, author

When my son Jordan started the 4th grade, we both had a startling revelation: We have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

I admit that when Jordan’s teacher brought her suspicion to our attention, I was a little upset. Mostly, I had confused ADD with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He wasn’t a kid who was constantly running around the room yelling or being disorderly because they were bored and had to stay active. Jordan was the opposite. Quiet most of the time, he had a photographic memory of specific subjects, and he was never a disruption — not in class, not at home. Of course, my kid was also a daydreamer, forgetful, disorganized, and emotional when he was overwhelmed.

I came to learn that ADD is a neurological disorder that causes a range of challenges such as difficulty attending to instruction, focusing on schoolwork, keeping up with assignments, following instructions, completing tasks, and social interaction.

The more I read, the more I could relate! Like Jordan, I have a keen ability to remember minute details of specific subjects that really interest me, which I am passionate about. However, I am a daydreamer; my mind is constantly active. As a result, I tend to experience mental exhaustion, and my life can get pretty darn overwhelming at times.

I also learned that ADD is ubiquitous. When I shared my son’s diagnosis with friends, family, and co-workers, many of them responded, “Heck, that sounds like me!”

Here’s the good news for me: Entrepreneurship is one thing I am very passionate about. I am constantly coming up with business ideas, and once a new idea emerges, it’s all I can think about. Details for that company begin to formulate in my mind — from the required supplies to marketing plans for the target audience. It’s so much fun.

This is what I know: Approaching my budding life as an entrepreneur in this way was exhausting. In hindsight, I could see the reason that I’d spent countless hours researching these ideas only to get exhausted because I was disorganized about the process. Once I knew how to manage my mind, I decided to start living my 2nd life (refer to Chapter 2 for details). Instead of being stuck in the endless loop of research/abandonment around my business ideas, I started writing them down on a timeline that I call my Roadmap (if you missed it, see the introduction for details on that). I also promised myself that if I added an idea to my Roadmap, I would commit to seeing it to the end.

I invite you to join me!

1. Identify your desired end goal using the SMART Method.

This approach will not just help you manifest your dreams, it will help you get clear about your passion so you’ll falter less during those rough patches.

Examples of realistic goals:

  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to become a nutritionist.
  • I want to open a dance studio.
  • I want to buy a house.
  • I want to write a goal-setting book.
  • I want to start an investment portfolio.

2. Get SMART!

SPECIFIC: Narrow down the details of your goal.

For me: I knew that I wanted to start a profitable consulting business, and I wanted to focus on delivering high-quality support to government clients in the business process automation and analytics space. I was specific: My client (government), the specific service I would deliver (business process automation and analytics), my key differentiator (high quality), and the financial status (profitable).

If your goal is to start a business:

  1. Identify your desired client.
  2. Know how you will differentiate your business from others.
  3. Determine the problem your business will address or solve.
  4. Know what product or service you are selling.
  5. And identify what qualitative metrics do you will meet.

If you are trying to achieve a personal goal, such as losing weight or becoming a long-distance runner:

  1. Be specific by qualifying how much weight you want to lose.
  2. Identify how many marathons you want to run and which ones they will be.
  3. Choose the method you will use to lose weight, like reducing calorie count or how you will train for the marathons like running on the treadmill or cross-training.

MEASURABLE: Create deadlines and metrics that are as precise as possible.

I wanted to have two contracts established before officially starting the business, and I wanted to have at least 6% profit on the contracts. I also wanted to start the business within a year of writing the roadmap.

Try this:

  1. Pick a timeframe.
  2. Set realistic goals.
  3. Choose qualitative metrics that you can manage well: lose 50lbs in one year, reduce 400 calories per day, write a book in a year by writing one chapter a month.

ATTAINABLE: While the adage “anything is possible” is a positive way of looking at your life and dreams, it is important to make your goals realistic to be achievable.

For me: I was already working in the IT government consulting space, had established client relationships, a recruiting strategy, and leads on possible contracts. Therefore, my goal was something that I was knowledgeable about and had connections ready to call; I just needed a plan.

To ensure your goal is attainable:

  1. Have more than one way or the option of reaching it if you need a significant amount of start-up capital.
  2. Apply for a business loan, have a list of potential investors who have access to capital, and feel confident you could get money from a crowdsourcing group.
  3. Be realistic: If your only option to obtain capital is to win the lottery because you don’t have good credit, don’t know any investors with money, and don’t think it is an idea that could generate crowdsourcing funding, then this is not an attainable goal.

RELEVANT: Your goals should meet all of your needs.

For me: When I started my business, I wanted financial freedom, yes, but I wanted to travel and have different experiences without money being a factor in my ability to do so. Starting CASE Management gave me a kickstart to generating money faster than working for someone else.

Your goals should also take into account environmental factors that are conducive to the relevancy of your goal:

  1. If you want to be a real estate investor, but it is a seller’s market, and the houses are over-valued, this goal may not be relevant.
  2. If you want to start a small business that relies on having a brick-and-mortar storefront, but a pandemic has kept people from shopping in stores — you should think again.

TIMELY: It is essential to have a timeframe for achieving your goals. This will keep you accountable and minimize the chances of dragging out the goal with no end in sight.

For me: This applied just enough pressure to achieve my goal in a reasonable time period. I added this to my Roadmap and shared my goals with trusted friends and family, so they helped keep me accountable.

3. Play with it!

  1. Revisit the 10 SMART goals that you defined in Chapter 1.
  2. For this book, we are going to focus on the Long Term Goals.
  3. Pick one of the Long Term goals from your Bucket List.
  4. Use the SMART descriptions to make sure your goal is as defined and specific as possible.
  5. Enter this SMART goal as your desired end state in the Roadmap app.

Click here to read more of “Start Before You Are Ready.”

About Angela Mitchell

Angela Mitchell, CEO, and CASE Management Consulting president, based in Washington, DC.

A multi-million, 8(a) Certified, Minority Woman-owned Small Business founded in 2016, CASE delivers secure, high-quality web-based process automation tools and knowledge management solutions. CASE guides an organization through change, focusing on business processes and technology. “Our mission is to provide leaders with real data to make better business decisions,” Angela says.

Angela is also the co-founder and director of Kids Code Too a non-profit organization focused on building computer science confidence in elementary students (3-8th grades) from underserved communities. Kids Code Too teaches students to build computers, utilize the computers to learn to code, and teach other kids to do the same. Learn more here.