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Project 56!

Following on from the sporting theme of last week’s blog, I thought I would continue the theme in this week’s blog – this time with a business lesson from the world of swimming.

You may have heard of Adam Peaty. If not, he is a British swimmer who rules the world in his favourite event the 100m Breaststroke.

Let me give some brief back-story.

Peaty won gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016 in the 100m Breaststroke. He also holds the world record which stood at 57.10 seconds. To put that in context, he has swum the 14 fastest swims of all time in his event and no swimmer other than Peaty has ever swam under 58 seconds for the 100m Breaststroke.

What you might call total dominance. So, what do you do when you are so far ahead of your competition but need to keep motivated?

You set another goal. Which is where Project 56 came in.

After the Rio Olympics in 2016, Peaty got together with his coach and came up with a plan to swim under 57 seconds. It may not seem a big deal, but in swimming terms, it’s a huge target.

His goal, his focus and his training over the last 3 years were all targeted at Project 56.

This weekend past, he achieved it. At the FINA Swimming World Championships on Gwangju, South Korea, he stood on the blocks for the second semi-final, swam the race of his life, shattered his own world record and clocked a time of 56.88 seconds.

Project 56 had been achieved!

To emphasise Peaty’s complete dominance, none of the other swimmers who qualified for the final broke the 58 second barrier.

How does this relate to business?

If you want to achieve something extraordinary in business (or in life, or in swimming!) it starts with setting a goal.

But not some ‘wishy-washy’ goal that you hope one day you might achieve.

Your goal needs to be S.M.A.R.T. Let me explain.

Specific – What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you’ll get there. “I want my business to turnover £1 million” is not the same as saying “I need to turnover £20,000 every week for the next 52 weeks by increasing my marketing and lead generation”. So be specific.

Measurable – Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear or feel when you achieve your goal. In the same way that Peaty knew when he broke the 57 second barrier that he had reached his goal your goal needs to be measurable so that you know when you’ve achieved it.

Attainable – Is your goal attainable and achievable? For Peaty, Project 56 was a big stretch, but he knew that with the right work, effort and discipline it was attainable. There’s nothing wrong with ‘shooting for the stars’ but also make your goal realistically attainable, otherwise you’ll just become de-motivated.

Relevant – Is reaching your goal relevant to you? As a swimmer, Project 56 was totally relevant to Peaty. As a business owner, what are the goals relevant to you and your business. For instance, there’s no point setting a goal of building a multi-million pound business if in fact you are very happy running a ‘lifestyle’ business from home. The relevancy of your goal is really about your purpose and the reason why you want to achieve a particular goal.

Timely – Decide on when you would like to achieve your goal by. Write a date down and create a deadline. Then keep the date in mind as you move forward. That way you will stop the sense of drifting along that can sometimes happen. That said, ‘stuff happens’ so be flexible and don’t beat yourself up if you go past the deadline. Just re-set.

Peaty’s Project 56 was a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Take some time to think about your business, what you would like to achieve and then create a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It does work and Peaty’s Project 56 is proof. Sure, it will take focus, drive, determination and hard work, but so do most things worth having.

And importantly write your goal down. This is an important point. The chance of a goal being achieved increases dramatically when you write it down as opposed to carrying it around in your head. So write it down and keep it somewhere you can see it. Put it up on the wall or perhaps make it a screen saver.

Then go for it! And watch your business begin to thrive.

As for Adam Peaty, what’s next? I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s already planning Project 55!