If we achieve what we measure, then is it true that we become what we think about most of the time? Philip E. Humbert, Ph.D., wrote, "The human brain is a goal-seeking, problem-solving machine, and the things we think about, focus on and worry about inevitably shape our destiny."Let's take this down to the reality of a managing partner. What do you focus on and worry about? If your answer is everything, you are filling your mind with too much stuff. No one can worry about everything. However, there are a handful of things you should be worrying about when it comes to the health of your practice.

Refuse to fill your days with all those other worries. This is easier said than done, but there are ways to focus on what is truly important for your firm and for you. That's why I firmly believe that managing partners, more than anyone else in the firm, need to have specific goals that are shared with the firm's other partners and family members.

You make your biggest contribution when you passionately pursue your talents and use your strengths. You can only accomplish this by having goals that rely on your talents and strengths.

The power of written goals

If you read the works of high achievers, they are always promoting the idea that we need to have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish, and then write it down so we can focus on achieving it. Just writing your goals down is not enough. You need to share them with your other partners, direct administrative support staff and family members.

As the leader of the practice, you don't operate in a vacuum. How will your partners know if you achieve your goals for the year? What impact will your goals have on your practice, as well as your family?

Once you have a draft of your goals, start getting input from those you trust the most. Ask them for honest feedback as to how this particular goal will affect them. Frame your goals and keep them on your desk so that you see them each day.

How many?

You don't need a lot of goals for the year. In fact, most of us tend to have too many. Break them down into three categories - personal, family and business. If you develop two or three in each category, you already have between six and nine goals to accomplish. That may be too many - the number is really up to you, but don't go beyond nine.

And make sure that your goals are measurable, since that's what you will be evaluated on at the end of the year.

Why set goals?

Most managing partners spend the day multi-tasking, and then wonder where the time went. Take a look at your desk right now; is it cluttered with papers and files?

Having written goals can force you to choose what is important to do, rather than what is urgent but not important.

If others know your goals, they can help you achieve them. Too often, our goals remain within us and we feel that no one else cares whether or not we accomplish them. Let others know your goals, so that they can get aligned with them. Sharing goals with your partners and family can also provide additional input. They may see obstacles and additional opportunities that you failed to see.

While you want to make sure that your goals are realistic and attainable, you don't want to create any goals that become so dominant in your life that you lose sight of the present or what is really important.

The acid test

Many consultants tell you that effective goals need to be "SMART" - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible. These are all critical aspects of good goals. However, if you meet all of these criteria and your written goal does not light a fire in your belly, you have the wrong goals.

Goals are accomplished because you have a burning desire to do something. When setting goals for yourself and others in the firm, make sure that you are true to yourself and do what you love. When you and your partners know exactly what you want, then all your efforts are focused on achieving those goals. Your firm is now alive! Your people are alert and invigorated! When was the last time you or they felt that way?

It's never too late to start this process, so if you haven't developed your goals for 2007, do it now! Realistic and passionate goals take a lot of time and thought before you are willing to tackle them. Get away for at least one day by yourself and think about what goals you want to achieve for yourself, your family and your practice.

You may feel like you are standing at the edge of the water, afraid to jump in. Your choices are to go back to the old ways, or take the plunge. My advice, from personal experience, is to take the plunge.

The water is great!

August J. Aquila is chief executive officer of Aquila Global Advisors (www.aquilaadvisors.com), a practice management consulting firm. Reach him at (952) 930-1295 or aaquila@aquilaadvisors.com.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access