Set and Accomplish Your Goals: 5 Easy Steps
In business and in life, we all need goals if we want to be any better off than we are right now. There are a million different methods for setting and accomplishing goals, which is great, as not every method works for everyone. The following five step process is easy to implement and will help many get from here to there whatever your goals may be.
1. Get some clarity
To be effective, goals must be clear, concise, specific, and measurable. Be very clear on what you want to accomplish, the date by which you will complete the goal, and how you’ll know you’ve accomplished it. It isn’t enough to say, “I want to have the ‘go-to’ blog about do-it-yourself web design.” How will you know you’ve accomplished that goal? More importantly, what does it really mean to have the ‘go-to blog?’ A more effective goal would be, “By May 1, 2010, my blog will be first in the Google search results for the term ‘DIY web design.’” Of course it’s also important that your specific goal is realistic. If you’ve just started a blog on Internet marketing and want it to be 1st in the search results within 30 days, you might need to reassess. The key is to have a crystal clear picture of what you want and by when you want it. Put that down on paper, then go to step 2.
2. Break it down
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! For every major goal, there are almost always smaller goals that must be met first. For example, you’ve got to get to 10,000 RSS subscribers before you hit 40,000. If your goal is to bank $50,000 by October 1st, figure out when it will be realistic to have reached $40,000, $25,000, and $10,000. Set those dates and shoot for each one, with the larger goal always in your mind, but with the “sub-goal” as your short range target and primary focus, until it’s hit – then celebrate, and move to the next one. This technique helps to keep you from being overwhelmed with huge goals. If your goal is $1 million in sales in three years, and the most you’ve made to date is $800, there will be a part of your mind saying, “A million dollars is so much money. How will I ever do that?” Breaking your huge goal into smaller goals helps your mind accept the possibilities, and it will help you stay on track too.
3. Cross the bridges – before you get to them
No matter what goal you set for yourself or your business, there are bound to be challenges and obstacles along the way. If not, your goal isn’t big enough. While you can’t plan for every possible contingency, you can probably foresee the most likely complications that might prevent or at least slow your progress. Working through the “what-ifs” now will make them much easier to overcome when they actually do occur. Let’s say you write a blog on extreme mountain-biking, and you have a goal to reach 20,000 subscribers by August of this year. You’ve been injured before, and know that it’s not uncommon for those in your sport to be knocked out of commission every now and then. If you want to reach your goal, you’ve got to post relevant, interesting articles often, so what happens if you break both wrists and aren’t able to type for weeks or months? Having considered and planned for that possibility, you have a reserve of several articles on the ready. Because you want your posts to be timely, you also decide to begin right now forming relationships with other bloggers in your arena and asking them to occasionally guest blog. Now, if you do need to be away, you won’t be panicking about losing readers while you’re recovering from your injuries.
4. Aaaand… Action!
It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a dream. In breaking down your goal and planning for contingencies, you have formed a plan that will carry you from where you are to where you want to be. Now, all that’s left is taking the necessary actions to get you to your goal. For this, it might be helpful to take step 2, and break your goals down even further. Ask yourself, “What actions do I need to take each day that will get me closer to my goal?” Taking action daily toward accomplishing your goals will keep you focused on the goal as well as on those smaller goals that will get you to the big one. Don’t let a day pass where you don’t take some step, no matter how small, toward your objective.
5. Assess as you progress
As you move toward your goals, it is important to check to see if you’re on the right track. If you were traveling from Los Angeles to New York by car, you wouldn’t consider taking the trip without a map. In goal achievement, your plan is your map. But you don’t just look at your map before leaving Los Angeles and then put it away. You must check it periodically to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction. It’s just as important to assess your progress toward your goals. This can be accomplished a number of ways. One way that works well for many is with a wall calendar. If your goal is based on a number (subscribers, money earned, search ranking, etc.) write where you are each day on your calendar. This will go a long way to helping you stay focused and on track. You might also notice trends that you can manage to, or a need to adjust either your goal or your methods of reaching it. And if you find you’re lost, don’t be afraid to ask for directions!
As Brian Tracy puts it, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” Whether you use this process or something else, the important thing is that you set goals for yourself and for your business. Share your thoughts in the comments. Which methods do you use to set or track your goals?