A lot of people thing that they’ve set goals but then wonder why they never accomplish any of them. If you want your goals to become reality, then you need to take the proper steps to set goals that are actually achievable.
There’s nothing magical about setting goals. There’s nothing that mystically starts to happen when you utter the words, “I want to…”.
The secret to achieving your goals is to be smart about how you set them. There are effective ways to set goals, and then there are those totally, never-gonna-happen ways that people go about goal setting. The trick is to know these steps to setting goals that you can actually look forward to accomplishing.
1 – Get crystal clear about what you want to accomplish
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The first step to achieving goals is to get very clear about what precisely you want to accomplish. This business of having vague goals like, “I want to have a successful business” or “I want to lose weight” won’t do you any good. They’re too hazy.
Because what does a “successful business” look like? What does it mean to “lose weight?” In either of those examples you’re not going to have any idea what you’re REALLY striving for until you paint a clearer picture of the end result.
Covey had it right again – begin with the end in mind.
But back to the examples.
Instead of saying you want a “successful business”, you might instead state that you want a business that brings in $2000 a month in which you work 20 hours a week creating websites for clients.
Instead of saying that you want to lose weight, you’d state that you want to lose 20 pounds by a certain date.
In the above examples you’ve got something very clear to work towards, not some hazy, nebulous wish that can’t be achieved because you don’t really know what it is.
But how do you get clear enough in what you want to be able to set an achievable goal in the first place?
I suggest that you sit down and do some dreaming and scheming. This helps you to create a vision of what you want for your life so that you can then sit down and think about the specific goals that will help you turn that vision into reality.
In your vision, get specific. What do you want your days to look like? What do you want to spend your time doing? What do you hope to receive from this new life that you’re dreaming about – money, peace of mind, time off?
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Because one thing is certain, you’ll never achieve anything you can’t first visualize in your mind. And I don’t say that because I’m big into woo-woo (in fact, I’m about as anti woo-woo as you’ll ever meet).
Instead, here’s what I know about creating a vision and how it translates into achievement: We’re more likely to hold ourselves back and play small because we’ve never even had the nerve to imagine ourselves doing anything else. And in that way – we do create our own reality.
Does this mean that you’re going to wake up one morning with a million dollars in your bank account? I doubt it.
But until you begin to see yourself doing the kinds of things that it takes to make a million dollars you aren’t very likely to do them.
2 – Assess the current situation
In order to set effective goals, you need to have a very clear picture of where you are now. After all, it’s hard to chart a new path until you know where you’re starting from.
So sit down and take inventory of your life and business. Get familiar with your numbers (things like your current income, how many clients or products you currently have, how many people are on your email list, etc.).
Also, create a list of your assets. This can include people you have to help or guide you, or it might be a list of things you already know how to do. But it’s a list of things that are going to help you achieve your goals.
You’ll also want to take stock of your liabilities.
These are sometimes a lot harder because it requires that we get honest with ourselves about things in our lives or about ourselves or other people.
Our liabilities may include many things:
- lack of certain skills
- unfamiliarity with technology
- lack of a supportive partner or friends
- too many other responsibilities or obligations
- inability to draw boundaries
- lack of productivity and time management skills
- difficulty creating a realistic work schedule
- lack of money to invest in training, software, or other business needs
- poor health or lack of stamina
- being easily distracted
The list can go on and on, but it’s important to have a realistic picture of what is working, what’s not working, and what you need to improve upon.
3 – Break the goal down into smaller projects and tasks
Here’s a big mistake that people make when it comes to setting goals – they don’t really understand what a goal IS. A goal is a desired result and is pretty large in scope.
Let’s go back to our example of creating a business that brings in $2000 per month. In order to achieve that goal you’d then start to think about the things that need to be put into place in order to make that money each month. The money isn’t just going to fall out of the sky so what are you going to do and what needs to happen to create the circumstances for you to earn that money?
So you break it down. If I want to earn $2000 a month, I need to think about what products and/or services I’m going to offer. Do I want to create a series of smaller, more affordable products, and if so, what are they? Or do I need to offer higher-priced things? Maybe I need to also focus on growing my email list. In other words, what are all the different things that need to happen in order to achieve the big goal?
Let’s say that I decide I want to create a line of several digital products. Each product would be its own project that I would plan out and schedule. I’d list out the steps it’s going to take finish the product and get it ready to launch. Once I had the first project completed, I’d schedule out and work on the next one. But I’d know going in that it was going to take a series of projects in order to complete the big goal of creating the income.
If you’re an author and your goal is to have monthly royalties of $5000, then you’d follow the same sequence. You’d plan out what books you need to write and publish and each book would be a project. But you’d probably realize that in order to make that kind of money requires multiple books.
Here’s the bottom line: Your goal is not to “write books”. Your goal would be a more specific outcome that you would recognize once you’d achieved it.
4 – Create a plan of action
Here’s where most people fail. They create goals…even good, measurable, specific ones…but they fail to create a plan that will help them achieve those goals.
You’ve heard the old saying…a goal without a plan is just a wish. That’s very true. Because until you formulate a plan and then start working it, you’re just dreaming.
Now the dreams are great – in fact, they’re where you start. But they’re not where you stop.
Instead, you need to create a specific plan that you can implement. And this is where you need a good planner system.
Now I’m a paper girl…always have been. I do use some digital tools (I like Trello and Asana). But there’s something about putting pencil to paper and actually mapping things out in my calendar that makes the plan much easier to actually do.
Here’s how I suggest you plan things out:
- pull out your calendar (I highly recommend Planner Pad)
- record non-negotiable appointments and activities (dr. visits, church, etc.)
- schedule time for personal activities (cooking, eating, hygiene, downtime, and sleep)
- now start plugging in the specific tasks that are required to do to complete your projects.
You’ll probably begin to notice a certain rhythm to your weeks (or at least to your month). As you do, you’ll notice time blocks when you can sit down to work. The trick is that you need to know what to do before you sit down and waste time trying to think about what to do.
And that’s where most people make the mistake.
Or they wait until they feel “motivated” to do the work. Let me tell you…waiting until you feel motivated to do something is pretty much a guarantee that you’ll never do it.
It’s always best to have a plan before you sit down to work because it enables you to be more productive and actually move through the things that are necessary in order to complete a project.
And completing projects is the way you achieve bigger goals.
To wrap it up…
If you’re really and truly going to make a go of your small business, then goals are critical. They’re what keep you focused on the bigger picture and keep you moving in the right direction.
Without goals, you’ll meander along and you’ll probably stay busy, but you won’t get anything of value actually done. Then you’ll look back at some point in frustration and wonder what happened.
Taking the steps to set effective business goals increases the likelihood of success, gives you direction, and helps you turn your business dreams into business reality.
And the good thing is that achieving goals isn’t that hard once you know the steps.
More to help you in your business:
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