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Goals are essential to evolve to different stages of life. Having goals in life gives you a feeling of purpose and instigates motivation to be better in some aspect of your life, be it professional or personal.
However, the effectiveness of goals lies in how you define your end goals and the process you use to achieve these goals.
Different people have different goals in life, both short-term and long-term. Some want to become a better person, others want to be healthier and fit. Many of us entrepreneurs want to become financially independent, grow our businesses, or otherwise accomplish some business result.
Regardless of your goal, most of us are likely to fail if all we have is an abstract idea of our end goal. Most of us focus too much on an end goal that is too abstract and poorly defined. Equally problematic, most people also tend to dismiss the importance of setting up a strategic process to achieve those end goals.
With the beginning of this new year, it is only fitting to stop for a little bit and set up New Year resolutions for 2018. I must admit this is the time of the year I find myself daydreaming about a possible near future, only to realize I wasted precious hours doing nothing.
Because I know I’m not the only one in that boat (right?), I thought it would be a good idea to put some of that daydreaming to good use and craft a post about setting business goals for 2018. We all must take action somehow. This post is my first action step!
Keep on reading to find out how to set up your business (or personal) goals for 2018 to successfully achieve them.
4 Steps to Achieve Your Goals
Freebie: If you want to follow the 4 steps below with a worksheet, download it here for free.
STEP #1: (Truly) Know Your End Goal
You may think this is both obvious and easy, but you’ll be surprised to know that it goes beyond saying “I want to be healthier”, or “I want to be rich.”
Those are nice goals, but what do they really mean? What exactly does being healthier, or being rich look like in real, tangible ways?
Instead of picking some picture-perfect dreams, you need to set up measurable, clearly defined end results you want to achieve.
A better way to clearly define what being healthier means to you may be to become mentally healthier this year, by reducing your anxiety problems.
For online entrepreneurs, a better way to define your “I want to be rich” dream may be to state that you want to make $100K by the end of the year, through your online efforts.
Whatever your end goal is, you need to visualize it in a very clear and concrete manner, so that you can define it. This is what is going to help you set up a clear path to achieve your goal.
Step #2: Craft and Define Milestones
The next step if to break down your primary end goal into smaller goals, or milestones. Turning abstract dreams into clearly defined end goals is an important step 1, but the broad scope of your end goals can leave you feeling overwhelmed. It is essential to break it down into mini goals.
Breaking down long-term goals into short, actionable milestones helps you define a strategy to achieve what you want. Equally important, milestones serve as encouragement along the way. As you accomplish these mini-goals, you gain confidence in your ability to reach the bigger goal, which helps you stick to your plan.
For instance, if your resolution for 2018 is to make $100K by the end of the year through your online efforts, you may want to break it down into the following milestones:
Set up a professional online profile/website within 30 days;
Source a list of 10 ideal clients within 40 days;
Pitch to your 10 ideal clients within 60 days;
Land 2 ideal clients within 90 days;
Make sure your milestones are clearly written down on a list or action calendar so that you can check them off as you achieve them. This will build momentum and reassurance in yourself.
You can create as many milestones as you want and need. It really depends on what your end goal is and how far you are from it at this very moment.
A word of caution when setting up your milestones. I noticed that when I break down my end goal too much, into too many little milestones, it starts feeling more like an endless to-do list. This often leads me to dismiss tasks because they feel too trivial. If this happens to you too, then you may want to break down your end goal into quarterly-based milestones. These quarterly milestones are small enough to be easily attainable, but still significant enough to carry some weight in your mind.
Step #3: Brainstorming Action Steps
Brainstorming is a great way to think outside the box and find different ways to achieve both your milestones and your end goal.
While brainstorming, you may notice some action steps will overlap. This is an opportunity to prioritize your action steps.
Brainstorming is also a great time to network and gather insights from others. You may find that many have similar goals and have used different strategies to reach their goals. This is important to gain perspective and learn about strategies you wouldn’t consider otherwise. Just make sure you are careful when following others’ strategies because what works well for some may not work for others.
Step #4: Take action
To quote the great Nelson Mandela, “Vision [goal] without action is just a dream. Once you’ve clearly defined your main goal, set up your milestones and brainstormed your action steps, your next step to take action!
But here’s the thing… This is the hardest part of setting goals! (I’m sure we all have come to that conclusion).
Taking action is the hardest part because it involved real effort on your part. It is also hard because it involves yet another scary aspect – change!
When taking action, it is essential to know that feeling scared and overwhelmed is normal and understandable. It is part of the process, and there’s no shame in it.
At this point, you want to focus on your most immediate milestone – the mini goal your action step is meant to reach. It keeps you focused and motivated.
It is also important to follow priorities and start one step at a time. You want to focus on your first milestone and take the actionable steps for that milestone. Don’t try to do it all at once, or jump milestones. If you did it right, your milestones are meant to flow and progress towards your end goal.
How am I applying these steps?
This year, one of my goals is to branch out the blog to both broaden and specify the content for E-riches Club. That is, I want to help aspiring entrepreneurs like you, not only by showing you different ways to make money online, but also to help you organize your online efforts and reinforce your entrepreneurial mindset.
A specific (albeit a bit complex) end goal for 2018, which I can break down into milestones and action steps. Here’s a sample of how I’m using these 4 steps towards my first milestone:
Milestone #1: Create build up content for a Mindset Category for the blog
Action Step 1: Brainstorm 12 different blog posts for the category, to complete by December 25th, 2017 (I started ahead of time)
Action Step 2: Schedule the first 6 drafts on my editorial calendar for the first quarter of the year (to be done by December 26th, 2017)
Action Step 3: Write first 3 posts by Jan 2nd, 2018
Action Step 4: Add graphics by Jan 3rd, 2018
Action Step 5: Schedule first 3 posts to publish by Jan 4th, 2017
(Some of these action steps repeat to complete the first milestone)
That’s just a sample for my first content milestone for E-riches Club, for this year. Of course, you may have completely different goals. Regardless of the goals you have, it is crucial and much more effective to break it down into those 4 steps.
You also need to have it written somewhere. Studies (like this one) show that goals that are written down are much more likely to be accomplished than those that just stay in your head (a.k.a daydreams).
You can grab a piece of paper, your word pad or something else to do this. I put together a little worksheet to help you organize your thoughts – get the free Setting Goals for 2018 Worksheet here.
What are your goals for 2018? Are they specific enough? Do you have a plan to tackle them? Let me know in the comments.