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In order to achieve any goal that is complicated, long or difficult you often need to engage in a variety of behaviors or achieve sub-goals in order to reach your goal. Sometimes the goal reaches a level of complexity where…

Focusing on the goal directly can be detrimental

For example if you are trying to get a new product off the ground, and you immediately focus on profitability. Your product fails to turn a profit in the first two weeks so you close up shop. What is wrong with this? Perhaps your product was actually taking off and you just needed a bit more time for the volume to take care of the hard costs.

Concentrating on key performance indicators improves your odds of achieving complex, challenging goals

If you had concentrated on Key Performance Indicators instead you might have seen that although you were not yet profitable, sales were up and you were well on your way to achieving that goal. Likewise KPI’s can help you when you are trying to achieve a goal that is not overly direct such as becoming famous, discovering a new medicine or building a company.
These complex goals are hard to approach directly, and hyper-focus on the end result too early can kill your motivation and stunt your results. In these situations it can be more productive to focus on what you can control, instead of on the end result which is not under you direct control.

Advantages of Key Performance Indicators for any goal

There are several advantages to this:

  • It can increase your motivation by giving you more manageable, direct goals with immediate feedback


  • It can help clarify what you need to do in the meantime while you are trying to achieve your overall goal


  • It can alert you to areas you are lacking, or falling behind on


  • It focuses your strategies on achieving these intermediate goals which ultimately determine your overall goals success or failure


An Example Of using KPI’s

Let’s try another example. Say you have a goal of becoming a famous musician. This is not easily achieved, many people try and most fail. What can you do to give yourself a leg up? Well with complex goals like this you might be better off not focusing on becoming famous and instead on achieving other key targets, or key performance indicators.

You might set targets like:

  •  The number of new, original songs produced
  •  A rating of 8/10 for all new songs from fans
  •  Holding a certain number of live events
  •  Appearing in a certain number of interviews per month
  •  And so on

So all of these things are what will make you famous, but are not necessarily that obvious until you take the time to think about the smaller, intermediate goals that can support your ambitious and difficult goal.

From each of these KPI’s you can also build your own smaller strategy that just exists to meet that specific KPI target. Furthermore it can give you clarity when you are trying to decide how to prioritize the actions towards a long term goal.

You might find that its better to first focus on new songs that meet a high standard, then focus on concerts and publicity to promote those new songs. Or you could decide upon the reverse and prefer to build up publicity long in advance of releasing your album then focus on song quality once you have significant build-up.

The Real Power Of KPI’s

Many people erroneously believe that KPI’s are solely about measuring performance when in fact they are actually much more powerful than that. KPI’s actually enable you to gain clarity and focus on what you can control to achieve any goal, not just business ones.
It gets you and your team (if you have one) focused on what you can actually change and improve, instead of on things outside of your control. For example you don’t directly control what people think of your music, whether or not someone buys your product, or how much someone likes your cooking. What you can control is what you do, which is exactly what KPI’s help you measure.
By changing your focus from the things you do not directly control to the things you are under direct control of, you are better able to take actions that bring you closer to your goal. It also enables you to test your assumptions and see if you are correct that your KPI’s will lead to your goal or not.


KPI’s as a hypothesis test

You can think of key performance indicators as a hypothesis test on whether or not a particular set of KPI’s will lead to your ultimate goal. Perhaps you assumed that getting a large number of people interested in your YouTube cooking channel would translate into people buying your cookbook, but it turns out they were not interested.
This gives you the opportunity to review the feedback from your KPI’s and see if your assumptions align with reality. If they don’t you can refine and improve which performance indicators you target to be more accurate.
For example say you discover that your YouTube visitors are not interested in buying a cookbook.  You might start with a survey inquiring about why they are not interested. You might discover that they would prefer a video cookbook rather than a text one and suddenly you change your KPI’s to focus on a new video course instead.


Apply KPI’s to your goals today

Applying key performance indicators is easy, you can start today by asking yourself:

  1. What intermediate goals will lead to my ultimate goal?
  2. What must happen in order for these intermediate goals to happen?
  3. What are the most important things I need to monitor to ensure my ultimate success?

Try it out today with a large, daunting and complex goal you haven’t known how to achieve. You will be surprised with how much easier and less intimidating it becomes with these performance indicators that focus on what you can directly control, instead of on things not directly under your control.

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