Each day brings unlimited opportunities that must be addressed with limited resources. How, then, do you perform at your best today while you address the needs of tomorrow? Without clear goals, it is easy to get bogged down and lose sight of the larger picture. Without priorities, you can find yourself ignoring big opportunities while chasing small ones.
Just because goals are long-term does not mean they should be exempt from change. AOL met its goal of becoming the Internet access industry leader, and it had a great business when people used dial-up to get online. AOL also succeeded in turning instant messaging from a convenience for wonks into a mass-market tool. But it missed the moves to broadband, search engines and social networking, and it failed to adjust its revenue model before dial-up faded away. Yesterday’s goals were important yesterday, but they should not ossify and obstruct the goals for tomorrow.
Every business, of every size, requires management. If you are a one-person shop, you have to manage yourself. You only have 24 hours a day, and you can’t spend all of them working. Having goals and priorities lets you decide what work is most important and the best order in which to tackle it, whether you’re managing your own tasks or coordinating an entire team.