When it comes to marketing your company, one of the topics most people want more information about is goal setting. The reason is that they believe knowing how to set goals is the key to success. I can understand that. With all the talk about goals, most are quick to jump on the goal-setting bandwagon.
When I did a little keyword research on the topic, the phrase “goal setting” received over 12,000 search queries (according to SEM Rush). However, “how to achieve goals” got a mere 1,000 searches. Hmm … something’s wrong here.
FACT: Setting goals won’t actually help you accomplish anything.
No matter how specific you are, regardless of how you format each statement … writing down goals will leave you in the same shape you’re in now unless you purposefully take action. Otherwise, you simply have a sheet of paper (or a Word/Google doc) full of wishes.
I discovered this about nine years into the life of my business (which recently had its 18th anniversary). Goal setting is a first step. It is by no means the only step. Once I realized that, and began to work my plan, an astonishing transformation revealed itself. The goals I’d so carefully written in the past (then filed with all the other goals I’d created in previous years) started to develop right before my eyes.
- selling retail arbitrage, wholesale, or bundling on Amazon
- starting/growing a blog to earn affiliate revenue
- offering services via a website
- trying to build your list of customers / subscribers
… making statements about what you would like to have happen is a complete and total waste of time unless you implement whatever is necessary to make those goals happen.
My Personal 10-Step Process for Accomplishing Goals
It doesn’t matter what the goal is, the steps below are the process I follow almost every time … and they work! As long as I stay focused on goal setting AND accomplishing my goals, I do not fail.
- Set a completion date/deadline.
Do you need to have something finished by the end of the month? Would you like to see results within a year? Whether it’s adding more subscribers to your list or pumping up your bottom line, a deadline should be set.
You’ve heard the saying that nothing motivates like a deadline, right? It’s true! Completion dates create a sense of urgency and commitment that drive us toward the goal. Without these timelines, almost everyone resigns the accomplishment of their goal to “one day.” Which, as we all know, never comes.
- Break the goals you’ve set into doable chunks.
For the sake of example, let’s say one of the goals you’ve set is to increase revenue by $12,000 within the next year. For me, it’s harder to track 12-months out. If I get halfway through the year and realize I’m running behind it might be a bit late to make up ground and still come in on target.
I break goals like this down into monthly amounts. Instead of $12,000 per year, I would focus on $1,000 per month. If you prefer, you could go further and calculate weekly goals. Your overall objective would be the same (to make an additional $12,000 in the next year), but you’ve given yourself checkpoints along the way to ensure that your progress stays constant.
- Be prepared.
Just plopping down in front of your computer and making things up as you go is another mistake when it comes to goal accomplishment. What if your project was to build a bookcase? Would you sit down in front of a pile of wood and think, “Hmmm …. How am I going to do this?” Not likely!
You’d probably have looked at plans for bookcases, found out what tools you’ll need, bought materials (wood, nails, sander, stain or paint, etc.). Then, after you knew what you were doing and had the necessary supplies, you’d get to work.
In order to add $12,000 to your annual total, what will you need? A plan — your “blueprint” for how to bring in the extra money. Maybe you need new software to automatically add your posts to your social accounts so you don’t have to do it manually. It could be you need outside help from a virtual assistant or training from a pro who has successfully done what you want to do.
Get everything you need lined up before you tackle your goals. Otherwise, the process will be one of start/stop/start/stop — not very productive.
- Work on your goals first thing in the morning.
When your business is buzzing, client demands are filling up your inbox and Facebook keeps “dinging” on your phone; it is so tempting to take care of that one thing before you sit down to work on your goals. Resist!
The more you allow distractions to clog up your plans, the more likely you are to go off track. You deserve the time to work on your business. In fact, your business demands that you pay attention to it or it will eventually suffer.
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Complete your tasks before you do anything else and you’ll make much faster progress.
- Schedule all appointments for goal work.
“Consistency” is a dirty word to a lot of people. Most are fully able to jumpstart a new goal, but maintaining focus until the end gets to be a problem. It is critical to work at a steady pace if you intend to cross the finish line on time.
For projects that have a beginning and an end, I recommend determining what action is required and how much time (whether in hours, days, weeks) it will take to reach your goal. Then, book appointments for yourself … all the appointments … now.
Using our example above, let’s say adding $12,000 to your annual total requires you to find and connect with other businesspeople to set up webinars. You estimate you need to do 24 webinars in the next year to earn another $12,000. However, not every person you contact will say “yes” to allowing you to do a webinar for their people.
You might add an appointment to your schedule on every Wednesday at 8 a.m. for the next 12 weeks to research and contact five people. This leaves you a buffer in case the first few contacts tell you no. You’d keep the Wednesday appointments on your schedule until you booked 24 (or more) webinars.
The same would apply to any other tasks. Add time to create, set up, and run social media ads; reach out to blog owners and offer a guest post to them; record and publish videos; create new products, and so on.
Not slating time for these tasks all but guarantees they won’t get done. There are always other things to do that tend to take over your entire day. Before you know it, you’re running behind on accomplishing your goals.
- Set an amount of time for each session — take a break if needed.
Just as if you were scheduling a client or doctor’s appointment, block off a specific amount of time to work on your goal. Depending on what the goal entails, the time will vary. You might choose to start with 1 hour per (day/week) and go from there.
- Set an agenda for each session.
Nothing will break your stride more than staring at a blank computer monitor. Not knowing what to do before you do it is a huge time waster. At the end of each appointment, decide what you will do during the next session. That way you can be prepared with an agenda and be able to accomplish it.
- Avoid distractions.
Distraction is one of the top goal killers. It can have you running from room to room and bouncing from email to phone call to text and, before you know it, hours have been wasted with nothing to show for it. Use this checklist to distraction-proof your environment before you begin working on your goals:
- Turn off email (don’t just minimize it because notifications may still pop up).
- Turn off phone ringers — let calls go to voicemail.
- Turn off social notifications on your computer, phone, and tablet.
- Put pets out of room/house.
- Close the door to your work area if it has a door.
- If you tend to get caught up in what you hear on the radio (or music app) or TV/video, turn those off as well.
Now you can start chipping away at your goals in a distraction-free space.
- Use tools to motivate you.
With all the gadgets, gizmos, widgets, plugins, tools, and tech available these days, there has never been a better time to set and accomplish goals.
Motivate yourself by:
- Getting yourself and your team organized with interactive project planning software. I LOVE Smartsheet.
- Watching your progress toward the goal unfold with a four-foot, vinyl, goal setting thermometer.
- Boldly outlining priority goals in huge style using a whiteboard / corkboard combo.
- Gearing up for the steps you’ll need to take using an action planner.
- Be Accountable
Whether you tell a business partner, a spouse, your Facebook followers, or someone else, many people find that forcing accountability to another person keeps them on track. Being called out about whether you completed your weekly/monthly steps means you have to say “yes” or “no.” If you require that additional push, ask someone you know to text, call, or email you to make sure you’ve done what you said you would each day/week.
Finished? Then It’s Time to Celebrate!
Throw yourself a party! Accomplishing goals is a big deal. According to Inc.com, “Scientists say 92 percent of people don’t achieve their goals.” Welcome to the elite 8 percent! Take time to enjoy your success, then get ready to accomplish your next round of goals.