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You should have daily critical numbers that make your business or life work. For example, in the financial advising world, advisors set goals that are either a certain amount of revenue they want their practice to generate for the year or the number of clients they want to reach. Reverse engineer it so you know that each week you have a certain goal you have to hit. (You can even break it down into a daily goal – say 8 first appointments per week, so each day you need to have 2 first appointments to reach your goal). At the end of each day you can ask a very simple question – did I win today or did I lose today? Know that some days you will win some days you will lose, but what happens is that when you win you feel good and know you did something worthwhile and you build on that momentum. If you lose, it’s not the end of the world, but it creates a sense of urgency. You realize that you need to focus a little more, first thing tomorrow morning I need to go through my client files and ask for recommendations / referrals / introductions. Losing for the day brings an awareness that you are off track a little.

Most people slowly begin to go off track because they are not paying attention to a daily critical number. If you pay attention to a daily critical number, you will notice that you are off track when it is early enough to get back on track without much sacrifice or extra effort. The people who do not pay attention to daily critical numbers notice that they are off track maybe a month after they have gone off track. At that point, it is a lot more challenging to get back on track and it takes much more work and sacrifice.

This is a lot like making sure you are going to the doctor for annual checkups. Let’s say there is something wrong with your health – the doctors detect cancer. If they detect it early enough, survival rates are very good, but if it goes undetected for a long time the survival rate goes down dramatically.

Let’s take a student. She knows she needs to get her grade point average up to 3.5 and her critical number to do that is to invest in 2 hours of study per day. If at the end of the day she realizes that she did not study for 2 hours, she knows she needs to ramp it up. Having a daily or weekly critical number in your professional and personal life will force you to ask the question, “did I win today or did I lose today?” Just by doing that it allows you to build momentum on your victories. In your losses and in your defeats, it’ll force you to make adjustments much sooner so little problems don’t become big problems.

You don’t want to over complicate things, so in your business world you need to find 1 or 2 key metrics that really make your business work. Keep it simple and then whenever you have a goal, reverse engineer it so you know what your daily critical number is.

For example, someone’s personal goal might be to run a marathon. So he may have a running schedule in front of him at all times so that when he wakes up in the morning he knows how many miles he needs to run that day in order to get the mileage he needs for the week to stay on pace to cross the finish line in the time that he desires. Let’s say the daily running schedule is to run 6 miles. So if he runs 6 miles today, good for him. If he doesn’t, he will know that he will have to run more tomorrow to get back on track. Those daily running schedules allow the runner to do what is necessary each day to build the foundation and then build upon it to have a successful race, which is a great strategy to apply with anything in life. Don’t over complicate it because if you do then you will be running around in a lot of different directions.

Many people ask how to keep from getting lost. The key is to focus on a critical few numbers. There are multiple things being thrown at us in our world and if you have the ability to focus on the critical few it will allow you to prioritize properly. It’s all about priority management, which we talked about earlier. If you can manage your priorities, you can hit those goals and objectives that you want to accomplish.