When people think of goal-setting, the usual aspirations come to mind: Exercise more. Eat healthier. Save money. Get organized. Most know the importance of setting personal and professional objectives, but only about 20 percent ever do. And of those, only 30 percent achieve their aims! It really makes you wonder how anyone ever gets anything done.
In this article, I’ll explore why it’s important for self-storage operators of all levels—from the complete novice to the multi-decade veteran—to create their own goals, plus how to build an achievement plan and evaluate progress. Those of you who do this will enjoy positive growth, at work and in life!
The Importance of Goal-Setting
Let’s start with an example. Say you’re dropped off in an unfamiliar town and need to go to a grocery store. Would you start walking around aimlessly? More than likely, you’d pick up your phone and type “grocery store” into the search. Then a nice little blue line would tell you exactly where to go and how to get there. It would even tell you how long the trip would be.
Similarly, you need a plan to guide you in goal-setting. After all, how do you know which direction to take if you don’t know where you’re headed?
Setting goals and having the discipline to follow through will strengthen you in all areas of life. Are you looking to take the next step in your self-storage career? Want to move from operating a single facility to multiple? Maybe you’d like to lead an entire organization. How about purchasing your first facility, or maybe even a portfolio? If you don’t take the time to write down your objectives and set a path, how will you know what you genuinely want?
Perhaps your target is more personal. Maybe you’re too focused on work and want to spend more time indulging in family, friends or hobbies. Maybe you want to learn a particular skill. Whatever they are, set some goals to ensure you enjoy your life. They can be whatever you want.
I establish my personal and professional goals at the start of each new year, but I’ll let you in on a secret: It isn’t easy. Sitting down and writing your ambitions takes effort and time, so you need to plan for it. Choose a date and clear your schedule for at least three to four hours. It’ll be time well-invested.
You must write or type your intentions! They can’t just live in your head. Get a notebook, Google sheet, Word doc or whatever you prefer, and define the key areas in which you’re looking to make change. Here’s how I organize my targets:
- Financial (professional improvement and budget)
- Health and fitness (physical and mental well-being)
- Relationships (personal and professional)
- The art of life (rewards for yourself)
- Charitable acts (helping others)
Under each of these headings, set tasks you want to achieve and the habits you’ll modify to do so. I like to write them in the past tense, as it suggests they’re already in progress! For example, here’s one I wrote for this year:
It’s Dec. 31, and I spent time on the weekends as a rep from the New Jersey Self Storage Association (NJSSA) visiting storage facilities and introducing myself. This is an effort to grow both the NJSSA and my network of contacts. I achieved this goal by scheduling time to visit these locations in my planner. I also took different routes home, sometimes to stop at facilities in between work and home.
Another approach to consider it to set goals by timeline and organize them by the short, mid and long term. You can define the timeframe as whatever feels comfortable for you. You’ll always have the flexibility to push a goal you aren’t close to achieving from short-term to mid-term, or mid-term to long-term.
I also like to create objectives with varying degrees of difficulty. When you give yourself different levels of tasks, it helps you to keep your eye on the prize. By successfully completing easier goals, it provides an increased motivation to push harder and achieve the bigger, stretch ones. I’ve found that taking smaller steps toward greater targets makes it easier to hit those milestones.
Finally, you need to review your goals regularly. I place mine in a binder and read them on Monday mornings before heading to the office. This helps keep me aligned, aware of where I am and where I want to be. Having your goals in front of you helps to focus your efforts. You know exactly what you’re working toward and why you’re even working at all!
Evaluate and Pivot
Life comes at us fast—I mean really fast. One of the greatest things about revisiting your goals on a weekly basis is you can redirect your efforts as the world and your circumstances change. You may have hit some of your targets already, and now you need to add something new to the mix to keep your growth accelerating. Be flexible and update as needed. Luckily, in the digital age, we don’t have to carve things out of stone.
The goals you set for yourself should be like life—in constant flux. When we complete a rental for a self-storage customer, the last thing we should be doing is kicking up our feet and relaxing. On the contrary, we should look for the next sale and the next new skill to make us more knowledgeable about our products and services! Increased know-how will lead to more compensation and career fulfillment.
You’re the only one in control of your personal and professional growth. Set a destination as well as a plan for how you’ll get there, then check in consistently to ensure that you’re following the correct path. It’ll be challenging but worth the effort. Since I’ve adopted this process, I’ve been able to achieve goals that would’ve felt as though they were distant, unachievable dreams. And since you’re reading this, I get to check yet another one off my list!
Phil O’Hara is the director of operations for Delta Self Storage, which operates three facilities in New Jersey and New York. Phil has worked in many positions during his self-storage career, which spans more than a decade. He’s currently a member of the New Jersey Self Storage Association Board of Directors. Contact him at [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn.