The key to getting what you want: 6 easy steps to setting goals you can stick to

Here we are fast approaching the end of the first month of the year which seems like a great time to put pen to paper around goal setting. How many of you out there set and committed to goals for the year ahead and are already starting to see your enthusiasm beginning to wane? I’m sure that the goals you set yourself made sense and were created for a reason so why is it that so many of us find it difficult to make them stick beyond the first shoots of spring? My thought on this is that whilst there is no silver bullet there are some things that are critical when it comes to goal setting that put in place will make it much more likely that we will follow through on our commitments.

Goal setting has a whole new meaning for me this year. When you’re running your own business every little thing you do seems to be important in a way that just isn’t the same when you work for someone else. It’s your name, your brand, you that’s putting yourself out there and your bottom line. So this is a very big deal for me. These past few months have also given me some time to reflect on what is really important to me and I’ve been encouraging my clients to take time out themselves, to step back and really think about what they want this year, why they want it and to follow the process I’ve set out below. I encourage you to do the same.

1) Create a vision that captures the essence of what you are longing or drawn to do.

2) Create a personal why statement. For me this is the most important step!!! Before writing your goals ask yourself a few questions first to make sure you have clarity around why you actually want to set out to achieve something.

Why do you want this?
What would it mean not to have it?
What is important to you about it?
What would you love to have as a result of achieving this goal?
How will achieving your goal(s) benefit you?
How will you feel when you accomplish your goal(s)?

Use these questions to help you create a meaningful sentence that captures ‘your why’ i.e. something that has heart and soul for you about why you want to achieve your goals. The reason I suggest you do this step before writing your goals is that not only will it ensure you are more likely to stick to and actually achieve them but it may also surface something that will surprise you that should have more priority in your goals than you realised. Your ‘why’ can also sometimes be different than you think. Be curious and most importantly honest with yourself about what this is. I really love the article written by Benjamin P Hardy on which I’d recommend reading in general if you’re looking for motivation and inspiration to be bold and he has a couple of things in here about goal setting. “When your why is strong enough, the how will take care of itself.” Read the full article here.

3) Once you’ve completed the steps above you can write your goals. There are lots of opinions on the best way to do this although the commonly held principle is to make them ‘SMART’ or ‘SMARTER’. This can be applied to long term and short term goal setting. I include a section on this in my free guide to time management ’30 steps to time management you can start doing immediately’ which you can download here.

4) Create an action plan that breaks your goals down into manageable chunks that will help you start making progress and moving toward your goal. You can also use the ‘SMARTER’ approach to ensure your action plan has clarity and is specific enough that you can easily see if you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve or not. So for example I have an overall goal of completing my business plan by 28th February 2017. One supporting action of that goal is to create a cash flow projection for my business for 2017 by 27th Jan 2017.

5) Schedule time to review your goals regularly to ensure that you are on track and that they continue to make sense. It’s easy to lose sight of your overall goal when you get caught up in general day to day ‘busyness’ so be diligent about these checkins, schedule them into your calendar and if you find you need to course correct then make sure you do that.

6) Ensure you have a support network around you. I have two support networks that I lean on regularly:

My virtual support network. These are people that I may not necessarily have a close relationship with or even know personally but they are people that I look to for inspiration when I’m not sure what to do or feeling a bit stuck. For example I follow Richard Branson and regularly read his posts on what it takes to be successful in business, to be resilient when faced with failure and how to be brave with risk taking.
My actual support network. I’m finding that this year I’m having to look at my actual support network differently. This is a group of people that I do have relationship with that I know I can rely on for help and encouragement when I need it. Currently this looks like: my amazing husband, my wonderful coach and other folks who I know I can turn to for a steer and guidance or who have been there and done it and can give me the benefit of their experience. In general I want to surround myself with positive people that know what it takes to be successful.

What do your support networks look like?

So in summary my recommended approach to goal setting is:

  1. Get clarity on what you want by creating a vision
  2. Get even more clarity on what you want to achieve with a personal ‘why’ statement
  3. Create ‘SMARTER’ goals
  4. Support your goals with a clear and specific action plan
  5. Review them at regular intervals
  6. Put the support you need in place to help you succeed


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