The New Year is upon us (Happy New Year to you), and everyone is psyched about their resolutions. While this is all well and good, resolutions tend to pale in comparison to actual goal setting. Think about it; why don’t people ever go through with their New Year’s resolutions?
Simple; these resolutions are vague and lacking in direction.
“This year I want to lose weight”
“This year I want to make money”
“This year I want to get a house and car”
“This year I want to out-drink Ron Swanson”
While all of these resolutions are admirable, they don’t really give you the kick in the ass that you need. That’s where goals come in. Big or small, goals give you something to work towards. No more pointless hustling; with a goal in front of you, you gain purpose and the ability to pursue progress.
Goals are vital for all of us, and though they are difficult to achieve, they make our lives more interesting.
Unfortunately, the process of setting and accomplishing goals is overwhelming to most entrepreneurs, especially when what you want to achieve seems unattainable.
That’s what I’m here to help you with today. Below is a straightforward guide on how to lay out your goals, and how to work efficiently towards those goals.
How to Set Goals That You Can Accomplish
Before you start setting goals, you need to figure out what you really want; you can’t set goals for an unknown event. Once you’ve come up with a list of goals that you want to achieve, refine your goals with the S.M.A.R.T criteria below:
SPECIFIC- Who, what, where, when, and why are questions you should ask yourself when setting goals. Your goals need to be specific, as vague goals are hard to attain.
Instead of saying that you want ‘to start a business’, say that ‘you want to open an online electronics shop in April, that sells high-end computers to medical professionals.”
The more specific your goal is, the easier it is for you to outline the steps necessary to achieve that goal.
MEASURABLE- How can you know if you’re close to achieving your goal if it cannot be measured? Whatever your goal is, it needs to be quantifiable.
Don’t just say that ‘my goal is to learn more about business.’ Instead, say that ‘my goal is to take a business class at the local university.’ While the first statement cannot be measured, the second one can. You can count the number of classes you attend, and you can witness your progress through tests taken throughout the semester.
You can also include milestones, such as earning your first A-grade on a test, handing in your first case study, completing your diploma/degree.
ATTAINABLE- Idle dreams are often confused with goals. While it’s great for me to dream about playing professional football for Arsenal, this is never going to happen.
That’s why it’s important for you to be honest with yourself when setting goals, so that you do not set out to achieve something that is unrealistic.
Furthermore, you can make your realistic goal more attainable by breaking it down into sub-goals.
When you have a large goal like ‘opening a chain of electronics shops by 2020’, you might feel discouraged because of the enormity of the goal. Start by breaking your goal down into sub-goals:
- Identify a market for the electronics you want to sell in the next 6 months
- Create a niche shop that sells a select number of in-demand electronics by October 2016
- Grow your customer base to 3,000 customers per month, each spending an average of $200 by December 2017
- Open a secondary location by March 2018
You can then break each of these sub-goals into progressively smaller goals. As you complete this process, your goal will seem attainable. You can feel the stress drain away, can’t you?
RELEVANT – When setting goals, avoid being frivolous. Create goals with intention. What I mean is that your goal should tie into a particular vision that you have for your life or your business.
Don’t set goals that will not have an impact in the future. For example, if the vision of your business includes ‘implementing environmentally sustainable practices’, then you are wasting time setting goals such as ‘learning more about bookkeeping.’
The goals that you should set include ‘reducing waste by 50% by July 2016’, or ‘eliminating the use of plastics in products by 2017.’
There’s nothing wrong with becoming an expert on bookkeeping, but it’s not relevant. Why are you wasting your time and resources on that goal?
TIME-FRAME- One mistake that entrepreneurs make is setting an open-ended goal.
‘I want to turn my idea of a recycling plant into an actual business.’ This is great, but when are you going to do it? You should have a specific time-frame for achieving your goal; otherwise you won’t have the motivation to see it through.
If your goal has a time-frame, such as ‘I want to turn my idea of a recycling plant into an actual business by December 2016,’ then you will experience an actual fire being lit under your ass.
Also Remember To…
Plan Your Goals
If you lack a plan for attaining your goals, then you’re simply dreaming. You need to write down your goals, use the criteria above to refine them, and then outline a step by step process of attaining your goals.
Ideally, you should plan for the entire year ahead of you so that you are not caught unaware at any point. When you are fully prepared, you can avoid mistakes and take advantage of opportunities. I use Google Calendar, Google Docs and MS Excel to outline the steps to achieve my goals, but if you’re not a big fan there are hundreds of planning apps and tools for you to take advantage of.
Prioritize Your Goals
Have you ever met someone who seems to have organization and execution down to a science? Someone who’s business seems to be in perfect order?
Hold down your jealousy and listen up; there’s nothing special about these people, they just have their priorities in order. I have several goals that I want to achieve, and so do you. Unfortunately, we can’t achieve all of these goals. There’s not enough time in the day.
That’s why it’s necessary for you to list your goals in order of importance, and focus on the ones that are right at the top.
Yes, you want to get a new coffee machine for your workplace, but I think that creating a sales funnel for your new product should come first.
By prioritizing your goals, you’ll improve your focus and reduce your stress.
P.S. Start saying NO to the goals that you don’t have time to follow through on, and STOP wasting time on actions that do not result in the achievement of your goals.
Track Your Goals
You need to keep track of the progress you have made when pursuing your goals.
When you see what you’ve accomplished so far, you’ll be motivated to work harder to achieve your end goal.
You can simply track your progress by writing down your goals, crossing off the one’s you’ve achieved, and indicating the milestones that you’ve passed.
Adjust Your Goals
Change is inevitable, and you need to be flexible enough to make changes when it is necessary. As you track your progress, you might find that you are behind or ahead of schedule. If this happens, then you will need to make adjustments that reflect your current position, and which will help you achieve your end goal.
If your goal is to ‘debut your new hoverboard by December 2016’, but the research phase takes longer than you planned for, then you might need to speed up the production phase in order to meet the deadline. Alternatively, you might need to push back the deadline, or debut a half-finished product in December.
On the other hand, you might find that some of your goals become redundant, unnecessary, or unexciting along the way. Don’t be afraid to get rid of these goals!
Become Accountable For Your Goals
There are days or weeks or months when you will lack the motivation to follow through on your goals. This is most prevalent among solopreneurs who have no one pushing them to pursue their goals. This is why you need a professional ass-kicker in your life.
Someone who won’t tolerate your excuses, and someone who will give you the encouragement or the shove that you need to press on. Look for a friend, family member, or a mentor who is willing to be your accountability partner. You can also become a part of a community relevant to your niche, where you will find the motivation and support that you need to press forward.
When you are accountable to someone else, there is a smaller chance of you bailing out midway on your goals.
Enjoy Your Goal Accomplishments
When you accomplish your goals (and you will), be sure to buy a ticket to the Caribbean. Don’t ignore huge milestones, celebrate them. You’ve worked hard to accomplish your goals, so enjoy the experience and revel in your win. It’s a great boost for your confidence.
You can also celebrate small milestones, but unless you’re Richard Branson, a trip to the Caribbean may not be financially prudent.
The journey to achieving your goals is tough and full of sacrifices, and that’s why you need to set goals that make you happy. In this way, you’ll enjoy each milestone along the way. That’s why it’s time for you to eliminate goals that are draining your energy and passion, and set goals that are motivating you to do better.
By using the tips given above, you can set goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive. You can also apply this criterion to your personal, relationship, financial, family, study, and health goals. You’re welcome!
If you found this helpful, remember to share it with your friends, family, and colleagues. Also drop me a comment telling me how your 2016 goal setting is going, and sign up to the newsletter in the sidebar. Please, and thank you.
I wish you the best with your goal setting, and I’ll see you back here next Monday.