We’re a few months into the year – how are those goals coming? Are you crushing them or finding it to be a bit trickier to meet everything you set out to do?
I normally find myself in the latter camp, where I set aggressive goals and end up falling flat. Thankfully, I worked with a blogging coach in January who helped me set goals in a brand new way that has overhauled my approach and helped me succeed.
Today I’ll be sharing the three simple steps that will teach you exactly how to write goals you can achieve. (By the way, I actually shared this with my email list back in January. Missed it? Subscribe today to receive my motivational emails every Tuesday!)
How are you currently setting goals?
If you’re like me, you may be setting goals that are almost perfect, but that are missing one critical component.
Let me explain.
Being very achievement-oriented, I used to set goals based on a specific number or result I hoped to achieve. For example:
- Grow my email list to X number of subscribers.
- Grow my traffic to Y number of page views per month.
- Earn Z dollars per month from my blog.
And so on.
I thought these were good goals since they were specific, measurable, relevant, and time-bound. What I didn’t realize is that they were missing one critical part of what are called “SMART” goals:
In most cases, they were not achievable.
I was setting audacious goals for myself thinking they would push me to succeed, but instead I was measuring things I couldn’t directly control.
Yes, reaching a certain number of monthly page views meets most of the criteria. But is it realistic for me to be able to achieve a certain number of page views in a given time span?
Have you found yourself setting goals in a similar way?
Instead, we should be setting goals based on actions we can take, versus based on pie in the sky numbers we can’t completely control.
In other words, if I want to grow my email list, my goals should be around specific actions I can take in order to grow my email list. Things like encouraging readers to sign up in more places, giving them a compelling reason to subscribe, and so on.
If I want to grow my traffic, my goals should be around completing certain courses and guides focused on tactics I can implement to grow my traffic. Or on creating more content to give people more chances to find my blog.
See the difference?
The way I used to set goals wasn’t setting myself up for success. This new approach gives me concrete steps to take and no question as to whether or not I achieve them.
So what does this mean for you and how to set goals? Here are the steps I’d recommend.
First, identify the territories in which you want to write goals.
Determine which arenas of your life are a priority and in which ones you’d like to set goals. Areas might include home and family, finances, personal, and career. Ask yourself questions like:
- Where would you like to be at this time next year?
- What things are most important to you?
- What do you dream about achieving?
I talk about this more in my post DIS which includes a free worksheet that covers this exercise on how to do just that (you can download it here!)
By doing this, you’ll be tackling the “R” from SMART goals – making them relevant.
Next, reflect on what actions you can take to make them happen.
This stage is all about addressing the “A” from SMART goals – making them achievable. Let’s say, for example, that one of your first draft goals is “Lose 10 pounds”. While that may be relevant, it’s not something you can necessarily fully control.
Instead, brainstorm the actions you can take to make this desire a reality. Things like:
- Walk for 30 minutes or more at least 3 times per week.
- Eat a clean diet free of unnatural sugars, white flour, and added salt. (I’m no nutritionist so this is a stab in the dark example!)
- Consume a maximum of 2,500 calories per day. (Again, this is a random example. Be sure to speak to a doctor about what is a realistic goal for you and your body.)
These goals are all things you can do and know that you’ve done them.
Third, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
While the SMART framework splits these up, they’re pretty related and you can refine your goals against these criteria all at once. For each goal, make sure it’s:
State exactly what you hope to accomplish. This is where “Walk for 30 minutes outside every weekday” is much better than “Start walking more often”.
Ensure you can measure whether the goal has been achieved. Things like times and quantities are great examples. One of my current goals is to write 3 new blog posts a week, and every week I can know without a doubt whether it’s been achieved since it’s so measurable.
Set target dates for your goals: a date by which they end. My recommendation is 12 weeks. As they discuss in the book The 12 Week Year, it’s an ideal duration since it’s long enough to give you time to drive momentum and get results, but short enough that you aren’t tempted to procrastinate and put things off.
My challenge for you is to look at your 2018 goals with a critical eye to make sure they are based on concrete actions you can take. This may involve reworking them, but I promise you you’ll be setting yourself up for greater success.
And if you’re looking for an accountability partner to help, check out my post about finding and working with an accountability buddy!
Did this resonate with you? Did you have an a-ha moment like me or were you setting action-based goals already? Leave a comment and let me know!