It’s the time of year for annual reviews and planning what we want to accomplish in 2018. Goals are the foundation of our reviews and small business plans. Goals give us direction, motivate us, and measure progress. But simplified, broad goal setting can seem nebulous and never lend to full realization, one such example. On the other hand, very specific or complex goals can be unattainable and could lead to an “all or nothing” thought pattern.

As the foundation of business plans, its important to get goal setting right. Business owners and entrepreneurs need to strike a balance between challenge and attainability.

Examine your mission or vision statement. The mission statement is the ultimate direction your business should always be working towards and defines your priorities and company qualities. Establish goals that cater to that vision. For example, Nike’s vision statement is “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)” What are some goals that support this mission? Nike could aim to come up with x number of innovative designs for specialized running gear in different climates over x months. Other goals could be to run a successful ad campaign to older adults to encourage exercise or an adapted sneaker to improve support for people with flat feet in the spirit of making everyone an athlete.

Consider your sacrifices. Virtually every small business will say they want to increase their bottom line or become a recognizable brand. But when choosing your goals, you need to think about the process from day one. By making the goals measurable and including benchmarks you can think about whether you have the capability and resources to reach those benchmarks. Then ask yourself, what are you willing to sustain, overcome, or challenge to reach these goals. A goal itself may sound great and it’s easy to jot down many well-intentioned goals, but any achievement requires a painful process. Before marrying your main goals, carefully measure all you will have to commit to in order to make them happen and be sure you take on those in which the “juice is worth the squeeze” and those that are not going to lead to burn out.

Categorize and limit your goals. Small business goals often fall into common categories: profits, costs, customer services, marketing, employee satisfaction, and social responsibility. Examine how your goals fit into these categories and seek to spread across the categories so one ball is not dropped. Too many goals in the same category can cause you to lose focus or direction creating a lose-lose situation. It can take self- restraint but setting out to accomplish a concrete set of steps towards a single goal without distraction is the best way to ensure you will reach that goal. It’s also important to ensure you have short-term goals and aims included to measure and reassess progress and to stay motivated and on track.

Make a roadmap. If you’re not already familiar with S.M.A.R.T. (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-Oriented) objectives, or even if you are, it’s a good idea to get a refresher each time you take a moment to plan out your goals.

What’s the difference between a lofty goal and next year’s accomplishment? Planning, strategy, consistent assessment, and alignment with the mission of your business.