It’s that time of the year again! The beginning of the year is a prime time to start evaluating the things that you’d like to accomplish and setting goals in order to attain them. Though you don’t need a new year (or new decade!) to roll around to set or start working towards your goals, there is definitely something nice about being able to start fresh with a clean slate.
If you’re like many people building a business, perhaps you’ve set goals only to forget about them when Q2 comes around. Or maybe you have a general idea of the things you’d like to accomplish in the coming year, but you haven’t written them down. Or you’ve possibly set some general goals, but they were vague, which ultimately made them harder to achieve. No matter which category (or combination of those mentioned above) you fall into, this post will help you break down exactly how you can set attainable, realistic goals.
First things first. It’s hard to set goals for the future if you don’t know precisely where you’re at now. Reflecting on where you are and what you’ve achieved can be such a gamechanger for setting yourself up for success with the goals you set moving forward.
To start reflecting, write down a list of different categories in your life.
For example, categories can look like this:
If there are any that are not relevant for you or that are missing from the list above, feel free to add them. Just as goal lists look different for different people, categories will look different too.
Once you have your categories written down, go through each category and write down where you’re at right now. I encourage you to really, truly reflect on these and be honest with where you’re at in the present moment. Getting clear on where you’re at will help lay the groundwork for where you want to go.
Envision Your Dream Life
Once you’ve taken some time to reflect on where you’re at now, go back to your categories and think about how you’d like them to look in the future. Usually I recommend looking to the year ahead (or 12 months), but you can pick any date in the future and fill in from there.
For example, let’s say you’re working in a job that you’re unhappy and unfulfilled in. That’s your current reality and where you’re at now. But in the next 12 months you want to start your own business and leave your corporate career (or wherever you’re currently working). That’s part of your dream life. The sky can be the limit and no dream is too big. I’ve found that it works better to get as specific as possible, but if you just have a general vision right now, that’s okay too. Just write down as much information as possible about what your dream life looks like, and set a timeline for it to happen.
Break Down the Categories
Once you’re clear on what you’d like your dream life to look like, it’s time to think about categories. Obviously, we want our dream life to become a reality. But in order to make that happen, we need to bridge the gap. This is where the start of that bridge comes in.
Go back to your list of categories and write them down again. Though many goals can fall into more than one category, the benefit to breaking down categories one by one will help you specify what you’d like to achieve in each. It’s also useful to see which areas you’re leaning more heavily on. If most of your goals are falling into finance, it may be a good time to evaluate if you’d like to balance things out more or if your big push this year will be solely on finances. There’s no right or wrong on this.
Some years my goals are more balanced, and others they are more focused. For example, most of my goals this year revolve around business (professional development), personal development and my relationships. Though some of these goals also fit into other categories, such as finances and adventure, by far the majority of my goals this year revolve around business. This is based on the phase of my life that I’m in and is really congruent with my five-year plan, and I’m fine to push hard this year. With that said, there is very little in the categories of fitness or spirituality for me this year. Depending on the season of life that you’re in, your categories and their priorities will change, and that’s perfectly okay.
Once you have your categories written down, you can start to brainstorm and write down general things you’d like to achieve within those specific categories.
And then we get into the fun stuff. Once you have an idea of what you’d like to achieve and in which categories they fall, it’s time to really get crystal clear on those goals so we can start to make them a reality.
This is a step where people oftentimes struggle. You’ve thought about the things you want to achieve this year. And maybe your list looks somewhat like the following:
-make more money
That’s a great start, but we want to dive even further into these. These goals are very vague, which makes taking action towards them much more difficult. It’s also very hard to know when we’ve accomplished each goal because they aren’t specific.
For example, what constitutes losing weight? Is it 10 kg/lbs? What does eat better mean? Is it eating fast food less, cooking more, or eating healthier in general? What does get organised mean? Organise your digital files or your home or does it mean be more organised overall or some combination of the three?
As you can see, there is a lot of area for interpretation with each goal. Each goal should be as clear and concise as possible in order to set yourself up for success.
How can you do this? SMART goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. So how can you actually set goals that follow the SMART structure?
Be specific. What exactly will you do or what exactly do you want to achieve. Pulling from our examples above, “make more money” could be more specific by talking about how much money you want to make. For example, “Make $500 per month with my business.”
Having measurable goals makes it much easier to track and goes hand-in-hand with the previous step of getting specific. The progress is very easy to monitor as you can tell immediately at the end of the month if you’ve reached your goal of “Make $500 per month with my business.”
Attainable & Actionable.
It’s amazing to set goals that stretch you out of your comfort zone and push you. And the sky really is the limit for what you can achieve; however, you do want to make sure that you’re being mindful that your goal is attainable. Let’s say you set a goal of “Make $100,000 per month with my business.” While this is absolutely possible, if you’re just starting out, it’s going to take time to build up to that level. In the meantime, it can be easy to get discouraged and give up on your goal. Instead, take it in steps and build up each year.
Depending on the source, sometimes the SMART framework has “Actionable” listed for the A. You can also break down your goals and ensure that they are actionable. Also keep in mind that these should be action steps that you have control over. A great way to do this is to break down 3 steps that you can do in order to make your goal attainable. So, if you goal is to make $500 per month with your business, three steps to do that could be:
1. Tell my friends and family I have started a business and ask if they need of know of anyone who could benefit from my services.
2. Get active on Facebook and Instagram and start networking and making connections.
3. Do market research and ask my audience what problems they need help with.
Make sure that your goal is relevant and will help take you on the path to your dream life. If your ultimate goal is to create a business that allows you to stay at home and take care of your kids, then setting a goal to make $500 per month with your business will help you take steps to achieve that bigger-picture goal.
Finally, you want to make sure that your goals are timely, or time-based. A goal without a deadline can make procrastination creep in and make it extremely difficult to achieve your goals. A timely goal for our example may be to make $500 per month with your business within 6 months.
Recapping on our SMART goal: we have a specific and measurable goal to make $500 per month with our business. It is timely because we want to achieve this within 6 months. It is relevant because it’s helping us on our path of working from home to raise a family. It’s attainable and we’ve listed 3 actionable steps that we can take in order to make it a reality.
Setting SMART goals can make such a difference in helping you actually achieve your goals instead of having another year pass you by without making progress.
What goals have you set for yourself for this year? Let me know in the comments below!