A common trait of all successful people is that they know how to set goals and how to achieve them.
Goal setting is definitely the most important factor for success. If you don’t know where you’re headed and what you want to achieve then how will you know if you are successful?
Most people just don’t take the time to set a clear goal and make a plan for reaching it. They are either too busy or too lazy to sit down and get their priorities straight. They simply go with the flow and have no idea where the current will take them.
Others like to say: “Why make plans when life is unpredictable?” And this is true up to some point but to live a more fulfilled life you need to have a goal. Even if things don’t turn out exactly the way you planned and they almost never do you will be much more successful when you have clear goals and a detailed plan for achieving them.
How to set goals the right way?
To set a goal that you will stick to you need to have a very strong reason or intent. It needs to be aligned with your present values, beliefs and it has to work well within your context. If you don’t know what a context is you can read my post on mindset.
You are most likely to be persistent in the pursuit of your goal if it is something that you really want, if you have a burning desire for it. It needs to be something that you are passionate about and would really feel good about yourself if you can achieve.
Being unhappy with something may not be a strong enough reason for your goal. For example if you’re unhappy with your current job and want to find a new one in a more interesting field. You will first need to know what is the field that you would be happy working in. Simply saying I don’t want this any more doesn’t tell you what you really want.
It really all comes down to finding your passion and your life mission. Everybody has his own view on existence and what they would want to do with their life. Living and working within your passion will make you a much happier person and give your life true meaning.
Presuming you know your passion and know what it is that you want to achieve how do you go about setting a goal? There are two main characteristics that shape a goal.
The first one is the quantity of whatever it is that you want or the level of achievement that you want to reach. In order to track your progress a goal needs to be measurable even if this measure is simply a yes or a no.
For financial goals or weight loss goals this is easy to do since you can say I want to have X amount of money or I want to weigh Y pounds or kilos. For personal goals this can be a little tricky. For example if your goal was to become a better speaker how would you measure success?
The easiest way is to measure your current level on the scale of 1 to 10. In our example that would be saying: “My speaking skills are a 4 and my goal is to turn them into an 8.” There will always be subjective factors influencing your judgement when rating your skill level but it should still give you a pretty good idea of where you stand.
The second thing that every goal needs is a deadline. That is because people are known to work better when they are fighting against a deadline. If you don’t put a deadline on your goal you risk procrastination and failure.
Your deadline needs to be reasonable as well as the goal needs to be reasonable but then it still has to be stretching your comfort zone. For example if you are currently working for $5000 a month then making $50 000 a month within two months might be next to impossible. If you don’t believe you can reach that goal and it’s way over your head you won’t follow through with it.
Another important requirement is to always put your goals in present tense. You should try your best to feel as if you have already achieved it. That way you are putting the Law of Attraction to work. If you make statements about the future then that future may never come and even when the time has passed your goal will still be in the future.
A clearly defined goal should sound something like this: “I make $10 000 a month in December 2016” or “My weight is 160 lbs. in August 2016”. Write it down somewhere and make sure you read it at least once every day. Put it on your night drawer, stick it to your fridge or next to your bathroom mirror to keep your focus on it.
How to tackle and achieve your goals?
So now that you know what you want and set a goal for it what are the actions that will get you closer to achieving it? Setting the goal was the easy part, now you have to make a detailed plan that will lead you to success. Here are the steps to making a plan that have been proven to give you the best results.
#1 Create a list of monthly sub-goals.
Break down your big goal into smaller ones that are logical and incremental. Each month should bring you a step closer to your goal so you should be able to measure your progress and make adjustments if necessary. Create specific milestones that seem reasonable for a month’s work.
Choose your way of recording your plan (on paper or in some kind of digital form) and write your big goal at the top. Then write your list of monthly milestones in order until you reach the deadline for achieving your goal. It should look something like this:
BIG GOAL: I make $1 000 a month of extra income in December 2016
May: Have my website up and running with at least 15 pages or posts in it.
June: Choose 5 affiliate offers that are in line with my niche and use them within my website, adding at least 15 new posts.
July: Find 10 new products to review and affiliate offers that go with them. Start building an e-mail list.
August: Work on promoting my website, start building a following on social media and create at least 10 new posts.
September: Create a youtube channel and make at least 5 videos and at least 10 new posts.
October: Create 10 posts and 5 videos and a mini e-book.
November: Create 10 posts and 5 videos and an e-course.
December: Create 10 posts and 5 videos and celebrate the holidays.
You can see how by the end of the year you will have at least 90 posts and pages, an affiliate offer on most of them, 20 videos and a youtube channel, social media pages and following, e-mail list, e-book and an e-course. That should be enough to start making money from your website if everything is done right and is a great foundation for future growth of your online business.
That list gives you an overview of all the things you should accomplish each month. It makes the goal appear much more achievable and defines the steps that will lead you to success.
#2 Write out your weekly assignments and plans.
As soon as you have your monthly milestones defined you need to further break them down into weekly assignments. This means you will get even more specific about the stuff that you need to get done each week in order to have your monthly sub-goal accomplished.
Here is an example outlining the month of May:
Week 2: Choose images and write the content for the first 4 pages and posts.
Week 3: Do research and write content for 4 posts.
Week 4: Do research and write content for 4 posts.
After you decide on the stuff that needs to be done each week you should start planning your daily tasks. The old school method would be to get a hardcover planner or a notebook where you write down the schedule for each day. I would prefer using a spreadsheet or a google doc because it’s easier, I can access it from my smart phone and it’s just more convenient than carrying around a notebook.
I’ll give you an example of my daily plans for week 1 of the month of may:
Monday: Brainstorm domain name ideas and check availability. Buy hosting, have wordpress set-up, choose a theme, edit site appearance and decide on site structure.
Tuesday: Choose names for menu items (pages), brainstorm ideas for post topics and do keyword research ( 15 post names).
Thursday: Decide on your home page, find pictures and do research on all the pages in your menu.
Friday: Find pictures and create an outline for each of your posts that you should write for the rest of the month.
Weekend: Catch-up if you need to, read and research whatever you find necessary.
Most experts and gurus suggest that this organization of your goals and plans works the best and from my experience it does. Breaking down your goal into small manageable steps will really play a huge role in the way you look at it and your commitment to it.
You can create a plan for the whole time that the goal is supposed to take accomplishing or you could only plan for the month ahead. Just make sure you know what you should be doing each day of the month before it starts to gain a better focus and clarity.
#3 Plan your days in detail.
This may seem as an overkill but I can assure you it is essential to your success and will help you stick to your goal. Take it as a tool of creating accountability and focus. When you spend time to plan your day you are focusing your energy on the tasks at hand. This can be done on a weekly basis or you can take a few minutes each night to plan for the next day.
When I say plan in detail I don’t mean you should allocate every single minute. It is much more important to prioritize your work and pay attention to the things that really matter in stead of spending too much time on meaningless tasks.
Write out the list of tasks for the day and then assign a level of priority to each of them according to the results that they are expected to deliver. There is a widely popular theory that 80% of results come from 20% of the actions. It’s called the 80/20 principle or the Pareto principle. Find the 20% that deliver the greatest results and make it a top priority of your day’s work.
Another important factor for your productivity is to avoid distractions when you are working on the important stuff. Identify the factors that are distracting you and create strategies for eliminating them. Turn off the sound of your phone, block social media, turn off the TV, choose a time when you are alone or do whatever needs to be done to concentrate on the task.
In your daily plan you have to include everything that you need to get done that day. We all have chores, errands, appointments and responsibilities that need to be taken care of and that makes it even more important to have a detailed plan. Concentrate on what’s important, give yourself time to do the high priority tasks and then decide how to fit in the ones with medium and low priority.
Here is how I planned my first day of starting my online business:
Commit yourself to this way of organizing your work and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals. This will be your road map that you will have in front of you every time you feel lost. Revise it every now and then, measure your progress and make proper adjustments when you need to.