As we reach a new year we cannot help but be bombarded with the buzzword “Resolution”. It comes up in casual conversation as you and your BFF are grabbing a cup of coffee and she asks what your resolutions are, or at work by your colleagues who are dying to tell you all about how they’re now on Keto and it’s going to “change their lives” and obviously, you should be too otherwise you basically hate your body.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a fresh start, but more importantly I’m all for a fresh start whenever one is needed, not just around the New Year. I also feel that since we’re all obsessing over it anyway, we should really just come up with a plan (I’m a big plan guy) for our futures and the lives we wish to lead, not just in 2018, but going forward. For me this plan comes in the form of goal setting. Now I’m not an expert goal setter, but since I’ve been running a business for the past three years I have definitely come to understand the importance of goals and translating that into a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily plan.
I decided that based on what I have learnt around the topic of goal setting and what has worked for me in the past, I would share 10 top tips I find most helpful for goal setting:
1. Understand what makes a goal a goal – a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. One way to remember that is to use the acronym “SMART”. If a goal does not fit these guidelines chances are you’ll fall short or it’ll be “too easy” which won’t translate to a lasting improvement; ie. “I will work out more this year.” If you haven’t worked out before working out once will equate to meeting this goal – no real work is done here.
2. Categorize your goals for the year – This will be a complete picture of what you wish to accomplish this year while also creating a reflection of the life you wish to lead. On a piece of paper turned horizontally draw four vertical lines creating five equal spaces along the paper. At the top of each space label a category. For me those categories are as follows: career, financial, personal, spiritual, and family. Obviously these may look different for you based on what’s most important in your life, but I find that these five are pretty standard. Beneath each heading write up to five goals (no more than five for each because you want to ensure that you actually reach these goals) reflecting the change you’d like to see in each of these categories. These goals should be big ones and if you find you want to focus on one area more than another, by all means - whatever feels important to you. I’ll give you a couple of examples:
1. Under personal I have written: “I will make more time to spend with my family this year than I did last year”. Important note: “make time”, meaning that my family is becoming more of a priority this year than it was last year. This also follows the SMART guidelines (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound).
2. Under career I have written: “I will use prospecting and network marketing to meet 10 new prospective clients every month”; again, using SMART guidelines.
3. Break down yearly goals into quarterly goals - Now that we have a handful of goals you wish to achieve this year, let’s break those down into what we need to do each quarter to achieve our goals. For instance, if your goal was to gross $100,000 in 2018 it’s pretty obvious that you’ll need to gross $25,000 in your first quarter to stay on track with that. Or if your goal was to increase your client base by 25% this year, you’ll need to see that number reflected per quarter ie. Last year’s first quarter had a client base of 15, this year you need to see that base grow to around 17.
4. Break down quarterly goals into monthly goals - Now that we know what we need to see quarterly, we need to break this down into monthly tasks – by the way, a really good book to read on this is “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran. The way I do this is I reflect on my goals at the beginning of each month. I first look at my productivity and accomplishments from the previous month and I build a plan for the upcoming month based on what I have accomplished and what is left to accomplish in my quarterly goal. For instance, if I notice that I needed to gross $8,000 the previous month to hit my quarterly goal but I fell short by $2,000, I now need a plan to raise that additional amount this month. In my business that dollar amount translates to roughly half a transaction, but to close one transaction I typically need to meet with five new people, so now my goal for prospecting has moved from 10 to 15 new prospective clients. This could mean I need to host an additional open house or two, reach out to more people on my social media or revisit my past client base a little more intentionally.
5. Break down monthly goals into weekly goals - This next step may seem pretty obvious. The most important thing I have invested in (a whopping $30 investment) is a new day planner every year. Aside for the obvious reasons of keeping my life in order, it has also helped me stay focused on my monthly and weekly goals. My day planner has the entire week at a glance (I am the MOST OCD when picking a new day planner) so that I can write my weekly goals right at the top of each week and stay focused on these every morning when I check my planner. One of my goals this year is to maintain a daily workout routine and use exercise as an outlet for my negative energy. Once I break that down I have decided that working out 4-5 times per week is measurable and completely achievable with the right time management. So this action step is to invest in a day planner – it’ll help you focus on your monthly, weekly and daily goals and actions you need to achieve to reach your long term goals. Take this one seriously!!
6. Break down weekly goals into daily goals – Now that we have a plan for the week, month, quarter and year, we can create a plan for each and every day. For me this comes in the form of a “morning routine”. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me as I know that if I don’t completely set up my day before my meetings and appointments I feel incredibly stressed and anxious for the entirety of the day. I won’t go into too much detail of what my morning routine looks like, but what I can tell you is that I have had to sit down and write this routine out (remember, big “plan guy” over here) so that I stick to it and don’t become paralyzed with the “I have so much to do but no idea where to start” mentality that can seriously get the best of us. Trust me, this is a big reason you don’t get what you need to get done every day: you are overwhelmed with everything you need to do in a day and the best way to combat this is to break down what needs to get done each day and chip away at it one item at a time. (Today my day planner reads: “2018 goal setting blog”. Check.)
7. Time blocking – With every social media app, email, newsfeed and constant social life that is texting at the tip of our fingers, it’s VERY difficult to stay focused these days. What a revelation – I know – but I came to the realization that I was wasting SO much time on these time suckers that even though I felt like I had accomplished so much my daily to-dos were still left unchecked. One piece of advice I got early on in my career was to time block and become a better manager of my time. I time block my morning (part of my morning routine) to reflect certain things that need to get done each day including answering emails, touching base with my clients, creating reports and comparative analyses, etc. During this time I don’t allow myself to check social media, answer personal texts or phone calls, and I’m not allowed to do any of these things until my morning routine is complete. Some people call this their “Power Hour”, I just call it getting shit done. It’s very effective.
8. Keep an accountability log – I also use my day planner for this as I set my monthly, weekly and daily goals directly into this book and can check them off as I go. Another great visual is to use a white board to write your goals and tick them off as you move through the year. The visualization of reaching goals and the satisfaction of crossing them out are sometimes all the motivation we need to keep going.
9. Have an accountability partner – Typically you’ll find someone like-minded in your profession or industry who also has some serious goals to crush. If you don’t find someone in your professional sphere maybe look at your personal one – a friend, partner, family member; you’d be surprised how many people are searching to find help to make 2018 their best year yet. Make a weekly or monthly appointment to check in with said person to discuss your outstanding goals for that week or month and review what you have accomplished that you said you would. Sharing your goals with someone is a great way to ensure you’ll stick to them. Not only do have to be accountable to yourself, but now you have someone else to answer to.
10. Celebrate each and every success – All too often we breeze through life achieving one goal and chomping at the bit to reach the next. It’s incredibly motivating to achieve your goals and that gets us excited to move on to the next which is a great side effect, but I encourage you to pause and celebrate your successes as they come. Creating new habits, reaching new heights and starting to see the life you designed for yourself unfold are no small tasks – so celebrate them. Go out for a fancy dinner, buy that expensive bottle of wine or take that trip you said you’d take once you reached a specific income level. Life is short – stay focused, but always make time to honour yourself