Importance of Priorities
Whether your clients know it or not, you are being paid based on the time you spend helping them. And you're being paid well for that time. Therefore, you must work by priority: most important tasks before least important tasks. By breaking down your job into specific tasks and scheduling each one, you can help ensure that all tasks are completed on time.
You can also prioritize your jobs into most important, less important, and least important to make sure that you're always doing what's most valuable to your business. A most important job is one with the shortest deadline, the quickest payout, the most important client, the greatest opportunity for your consulting services firm.
Of course, this doesn't mean that any of your clients are less important than any other. All have equal potential for helping your business succeed either through the jobs they hire you to complete or through other clients they bring you. But the full-fee client who must have a special report for her Tuesday staff meeting probably has a greater need for your services than does the client who wants to start planning next year's financial strategy. So you prioritize your work based on the client's need as well as your own. The success of your business depends on it.
Planning for Success
Success in consulting isn't an accident. It's deliberate. You must plan for consulting success. That planning requires that you establish professional goals, from how many hours a day you spend prospecting to how many new clients you must locate each month. Your ultimate goal may be to earn a specific amount of money, but it takes these other goals — and many more — to achieve your financial goal. One of the advantages of consulting over many other professions is that you'll have more control over your own goals.
A goal is an objective, an intent put into action. Many people have problems with goals simply because they don't understand what goals are and how to use them. Instead, they drift from one situation or desire to another without ever deciding and acting on their aspiration. They don't actually set goals.
The profession of consulting teaches you the requirements and benefits of setting goals. As you discover this powerful tool, you may begin seeing applications within your personal life. It doesn't mean that your life will be filled only with activities intended to meet specific goals. It does mean that you will learn to prioritize your actions better because you can visualize how these actions result in meeting goals.
You cannot set only one primary goal. You must set smaller goals, groups of interrelated objectives that work toward your personal life goal. For example, earning $100,000 a year offering weight-loss solutions is an admirable goal, but it's not your primary one. Your life goal will involve your values, your relationships, and your needs and desires. It may be to enjoy your life in all its facets as well as you can. It may be to help reduce world hunger or find a solution to another larger problem. It may be to make sure that your family gets opportunities that you didn't have. Whatever your life's goal is, your career and specific job goals are components. They are means to an end.
Acting on Goals
Goals are just desires until they are acted upon. To someday visit Rome, you must first decide how to get there, fund the trip, and plan what you will do when you arrive. In a small way, those decisions can begin your action toward the goal. However, it will take greater actions to make the event happen. You will need to get a passport, purchase a ticket, make arrangements for accommodations, and perform related tasks. To enhance your trip, you will want to learn some Italian. You probably will buy and study a travel book on visiting Rome. These are specific actions toward your stated goal.
Your consulting goals require action as well. Reaching $100,000 in annual sales is just a desire until you act upon it, learn what it takes to arrive, make specific plans for your business, and learn what skills you will need to make it happen. You must take action on your desires to make them goals. You must set your goals.