How to Set Goals (and stick to them) in 2018
December 6, 2017
With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time to start setting goals. This is your chance to dream big and come up with things that you really want to accomplish in the New Year!
Last month I covered how to set up a savings and income goal for your business. If you haven’t seen those two posts then check them out here and here. Those will give you a good foundation for developing your financial goals to help you with your overall business goals. That way you don’t get caught up in the numbers for this exercise.
Let’s go ahead and get started!
Create a Dream Board
If you’re a visual person, like I am, then you’ll love this step! It’s a great way to start brainstorming before you grab a pen and paper and starting letting the ideas flow. It’ll give you a nice foundation of ideas so that you can see which ones resonate with you.
I used Pinterest to create my dream board. But you could create one using magazine clippings or simply by creating a folder on your desktop that you add images to. The goal of a dream board is to include things that you aspire to do or have. This exercise will allow you to get clear on your goals in a visual way.
Try to keep this board to business things only – you can always create a separate one for your personal life too. I included inspirational photos, like glamourous office spaces and professional headshots that I resonate with. I also added images of women who I look up to in business. I included daily affirmations that I can refer back to at any time. These can be words or phrases that state your goals and inspire you to keep moving forward.
Write Your Goals Down
Now it’s time to get comfy on the couch and start scribbling down ideas. What works for me is to let the ideas pour out. Don’t filter out the good ideas just yet. Let your mind flow and come up with things that you aspire to do in the near and distant future. This will create a master list of ideas that you can come back to at any time.
Now look over that list and start circling the ones you want to pursue within the next year. Re-write the goals in a way that makes them more specific and measurable. So for instance, let’s say that one of your goals is to start a Youtube Channel. Get more specific and set some deadlines for yourself.
Here’s an example:
I’m going to start a youtube channel that gives online entrepreneurs business and design advice. I’m going to launch my youtube channel at the end of the first 90-day quarter. At the end of the 2nd 90-day quarter, I want to have grown my youtube channel to have 250 subscribers. At that time, I will reevaluate my channel and create a new goal for the remainder of the year.
Focus on the Next 90-Days
Although it can be really fun to dream about where your business will be in 5-10 years, I find it so much more efficient to just focus on the next quarter. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed and allow you to pinpoint the goals that you want to reach, this quarter and this year, instead of ones in the very distant future.
Goals can change really quickly when you’re a business owner. Say that after 90-days you find out that one of your ideas was a dud. At least you only spent 90-days working on that. Now you have the rest of the year to focus on something else and get crackin’ on a new goal.
Take your list and select a few things that you want to accomplish within the first 90-days of the New Year. Keep it attainable and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things at once. Remember, you’ll need to make time to work admin tasks and your client projects too.
Break It Down
Congrats! Now you have your goals for the next 90-days! Let’s break those big goals down into less intimidating projects and tasks. Think of a project as a smaller milestone portion of a goal. Tasks are your to-do list items that make up your projects and, ultimately, your goal. Let’s continue with the YouTube example from above:
Goal: Start a YouTube Channel at the end of the first 90-Day Quarter
- Youtube channel setup
- Film & edit 10 videos
- Launch channel
- Promote & grow channel
You’ve broken your big goal down into four projects that go in chronological order. Now break these projects down into tasks. We’ll use the first project as an example:
- Create a Youtube channel
- Design channel art
- Optimize description, keywords, and links
- Film & edit a channel trailer
- Create a channel into
See, that wasn’t so hard! Now you’ve broken down that intimating, big ol’ goal, into 4 projects with lots of little tasks. Now you just need to chip away at those tasks to reach your end goal.
Develop Systems and Habits
This is the sticking point for many business owners. I’m the first to admit that I have trouble sticking to my own internal goals. Like many, I’m motivated by external factors. I hate disappointing others and thrive on having project deadlines. Unfortunately, It’s easy for me to push aside my own goals to focus on others.
Let’s change this and hold ourselves accountable. Try treating your goal like a client project. Use a project management tool like Asana (my fav!) or Trello to keep yourself on track. Create a new project in Asana for each of your goals and add in all of your projects and tasks. Then set due dates and stick to them.
To stick to these dates, you really need to get into the mindset that this is a client project. Imagine that someone else is holding you accountable for these deadlines. This puts the focus on an external person and not just yourself. If you want to go the extra mile, ask your partner or a close friend/family member, to hold you accountable. Or post your goal on social media for the world to see. Now you have your audience to hold you accountable for your goals.
Make it a habit to check in on your board and accomplish things by the date you said you would. You might find this new system a little complex, at first, but the more you stick with it the easier it will be to actually accomplish your goals. Trust me, it will feel so good when you can check off those bigger milestone projects and your actual goal from your list!
Say, for instance, every time you complete a milestone project you will reward yourself with a little treat. This could be something small like your favorite chocolate bar or a fancy cup of coffee. Or you could reward yourself with a new business app or course that you really want to invest in. Setting a date for these small rewards will really keep you motivated to stay on track.
Alternatively, you could also set one big reward once you reach your end goal. For example, once you have started that Youtube channel and have your first 250 subscribers you could book that trip to Hawaii that you’ve always wanted to go on. Choose rewards that are the most motivating for you to keep going.
Reevaluate your Goals
After your first 90-days reevaluate the goals that you have accomplished. Are you seeing a return on investment? If something isn’t worth your time, then you might want to cut that from your list and move onto something different. If you’re seeing some growth, then it’s working! You can either build upon that goal or try a new one next quarter. This is also a good time to check in on your yearly goals and see if they’ve shifted or if you’re on track to accomplish them.
Repeat the process over again by updating your dream board. Also, take a look at that master list from the beginning. See if anything new on that list resonates with you. You might see something that you want to pursue during the next quarter. Do a little more brainstorming before jumping in your project management system and setting up your projects and tasks.
As you can see, goal setting is really about the follow through. Although it can be difficult at first, making it a habit to set and accomplish goals is key to up-leveling your business. You’ll start to see continued growth quarter-after-quarter and year-after-year. Doing the same thing you did last year will likely give you the same or similar results. And, we don’t want that – now do we?!
When you’re working through this exercise, try not to compare yourself to others. What worked for one person, might not be the best fit for you. Coming up with unique ideas that people haven’t seen before is likely going to get the best results.
Make sure to grab your copy of the 2018 Strategy Workbook below. This workbook is jam-packed with ways to plan for the New Year. By the end of the workbook – you’ll have an income goal, savings goal, your business goals, and a visibility strategy for 2018.