A wise man once said, “Goals transform a random walk into a chase.” As entrepreneurs, it can sometimes be difficult to feel like we’re heading in one specific direction all the time. Between managing our businesses, family lives, and sometimes even a 9-5 job, progress can be hard to come by. It is crucial to set clear goals to make sure that whenever we’re spending precious time on our businesses, we’re working with the end in mind.
I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to distractions. There have been numerous times where I see someone marketing in a certain way and decide that I want to try that strategy only to realize that it doesn’t get me any closer to my goals. Social media is another huge distraction for me (anyone else?)
Whether you’re looking to take your side-hustle full-time or grow your existing business, the quickest way to achieve your goals is to be more intentional about setting and working towards them than ever before! These six steps will help you consider your long term, intermediate, and short term goals and create an action plan to work toward them. Download my goal setting worksheet here to follow along.
Determine Your Focus Areas
Start with some self-reflection! Find a quiet place, fight the urge to check your email, and reflect on the aspects of your life that you are most dedicated to improving. Write down a handful of areas that you want to focus on – anywhere from three to five is perfect. Certainly some of these focus areas will pertain to your business, but they could also include relationships, fitness, leadership roles, personal development, etc. The key is that they are priorities for you in the long term.
My five focus areas are my business, relationships with family and friends, advocacy & faith, personal development, and creative expression. I typically re-assess my focus areas each year but they rarely change. These broad areas of improvement will help you stay aligned with your priorities and set goals accordingly.
Visualize the Outcomes
Now that you have your compass set, consider the end game. Identify the outcomes that you’re seeking within each focus area. Are you looking to hit a certain profit number? Expand into a new market? Run a marathon? This is where you can dream big, even if those dreams seem out of reach. For each area, detail what these outcomes look like, what it will feel like to achieve them, and what that would mean for your life. The more specific you are, the better! I have clients that tell me they want to double their profit in the next year, but what that actually MEANS for them is that they’ll have more flexibility and time to spend with their family. This is where you’ll pull motivation from when things get tough or you get discouraged.
I try to map out the one main goal I want to achieve each year within all 5 of my focus areas. So, for example, I have a Trello board that lists my focus areas and has a column for 2016, 2017, and 2018 so I can see progression in each area.
Personally, I even have images that go along with my outcomes. For the majority of my career I’ve kept a photo of my dream house pinned somewhere on my desk to keep me motivated. Do the same for yourself!
Set Specific Goals
With a clear vision of the end result, create intermediate goals for the next month, 6 months, and year that will lead to the overall outcome that you’ve written down. This allows you to bridge the gap between an outcome that may seem unattainable and your daily actions that will get you there. For example, if you want to create an online course that may seem impossible on day one. But if you create intermediate goals of making a content outline in the first month, recording 2 videos per month for 6 months, then the course seems much more achievable in a year! Think of the intermediate goals as a ladder that you’re climbing to reach your overall outcome.
Having trouble visualizing? Let’s say that one of your focus areas your business and your perfect outcome is to hit $100,000 in your second year. I included an example of what the goals, metrics, and rewards might look like in that instance here.
Measure Your Progress
One of the most important (and most overlooked) aspects of goal setting is creating goals that you can track. For each of your intermediate goals, create measurable actions that you can use to measure your progress. This essentially becomes your to-do list or checklist of daily actions that will lead to success. Think about it like those Russian nesting dolls where each one fits into the other. Your daily actions should be working towards your intermediate goals which lead to success in your main focus areas.
When you’re creating your actions list, incorporate numbers or metrics as often as possible. It is much easier to stay motivated if your goal is to write one blog post, three times per week than if it is just to “post more often”. This allows you to track your progress and adjust as you go along.
Monitor Your Success
The key to actually achieving your goals is to create a process that ensures you are continually focused on the big picture. I recommend building time into your calendar to review and monitor your progress on a weekly basis. This will allow you to re-focus, re-align, and help avoid those distractions as they come up.
For me, I set aside 30 minutes at 9am every Monday morning to assess my progress from the previous week and set priorities for the coming week. Doing this allows me to stay on-track and keeps my larger outcomes and focus areas at the top of my mind throughout my daily activities. This also ensures that nothing slips through the cracks and is forgotten in the course of daily life. There are many monitoring systems out there from Trello, Bullet Journals, or Lifetick. The options are endless, so choose what works best for you! I use a combination of Trello and a simple spreadsheet.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Finally, remember to build in some rewards for yourself. This is supposed to be fun! If you’ve chosen your priorities correctly, these are all things that will bring more joy to your life in the end so make sure to celebrate your successes along the way. Hit your 6 month goal of 30 new clients? Take a day off and treat yourself to a massage. Knowing that you’re working towards these smaller rewards on the way to your end outcome will help you stay motivated and excited when the going gets tough.
Take action today by starting with the end in mind and working steadily towards your dreams. Download my free goal setting guide here to help you take the first step and comment below with any additional goal-setting tips that have worked for you!