How to set goals that you’ll actually reach
Let's talk goals for a moment, shall we?
When it comes to goal-setting you will be forgiven to not take it seriously but...you actually should.
Goals should be more than a to-do list or a list of things you’d like to have or be.
They should serve as a reminder that it’s all possible, only if you put in the work.
Goals give you a purpose; they act as a roadmap to what you want to achieve and the life you desire.
So instead of wandering around aimlessly and just throwing everything at something to see what sticks, how about setting actionable goals that you will dedicate time working towards?
I know, saying it is one thing and actually writing down effective goals is another.
This is where this blog post comes in.
Take out that notebook and some pens and get ready to make some notes because today we’ll be talking about setting goals that actually work.
Long story short:
Let's dig into it, shall we?
1. Have specific goals
It’s simply not enough to write down vague goals or a goal that forms part of the bigger picture.
You need to be as specific as possible so that it can be easier to work towards that goal.
So instead of ‘Get more Instagram followers’ you could instead write, ‘Increase my Instagram followers by 400 targeted and engaged followers by the end of the month.’
Why does this work? It’s specific and it’s measurable.
You’ve stated that you need to work on getting 400 targeted and engaged followers and you’ve given yourself a time frame.
Now you can work on a strategy to reach that goal and because you have specified the goal, you have an idea of what need to be done to reach it.
2. Make your goals achievable
This doesn’t necessarily mean having to be realistic. What even is being realistic when we live in a world of endless possibilities!?
In this context making your goals achievable means breaking them up into little pieces so that you can be able to achieve that goal without being overwhelmed and running for the hills.
If your goal is to write a 10 000 words of something this month, you could break that number into something like 1 000 words a day for 5 days, with a 2-day break. Let’s look more into this:
Scary= 10 000 words between now and the end of the month
Not scary= 1 000 words for 5 days over 2 weeks with a 2-day break
When you make your goals achievable, you’re least likely to procrastinate or allow the sheer size of it to make you afraid and then not end up doing it at all.
I’m sure there was a time when you’ve set a goal that looked rather impossible and then decided to not work towards it at all.
I know that I am guilty of that.
My mistake was not making those goals achievable; I set an obstacle for myself even before I could begin.
3. Be prepared to fail
No, no, listen.
I am a big proponent of failure.
Not that I earnestly seek to fail but I understand and embrace the fact that failure will always be a part of life and sometimes we cannot avoid failing, no matter how hard we try.
Because you see, it’s failure that lets us grow and by growing, we make sure we’re ready for when we eventually succeed.
Now, when setting goals, you need to be prepared to fail. Set a Plan B, C and if possible, all the way to a Plan Z so that if you do fail, the failure wouldn’t be so devastating.
For example, say your goal is to earn $5000 next month from your coaching clients. I assume that you’ve got bills to pay and that you’re literally banking on that income to be able to pay some of those bills.
But what if no one books your services or they do but it’s not enough? How are you going to protect yourself from possibly not being able to pay bills?
You make sure that you have enough savings to cover the bills for the next two months and if not, you’ll have to prepare to get the money in other ways. Perhaps you could sell a mini-course?
Perhaps you could reach out to event organisers for speaking engagements? Maybe do something entirely that is not related to your coaching biz by selling handmade things on Etsy (if you’re especially crafty)?
Whatever option you end up choosing, make sure it can act as a soft mat for if you miss that landing.
4. Base your affirmations on fact
Self-affirmations are a very effective technique for increasing motivation in people.
Psychologically, when it comes to self-affirmations, there are two kinds: affirmative self-talk (‘I will get 500 people on my email list’) and interrogative self-talk (will I get 500 people on my email list?)
A study was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois and Southern Mississippi University on positive affirmations. The study showed that interrogative self-talks were more effective than affirmative self-talks. Why?
“The popular idea is that self-affirmations enhance people’s ability to meet their goals,” Professor Albarracin said. “It seems, however, that when it comes to performing a specific behavior, asking questions is a more promising way of achieving your objectives.”
Read more of this study here.
So what does it mean to base your affirmations on fact?
It’s like this: when you say you will do something, it’s not a fact yet. It’s just telling yourself that you will do that thing but what happens when you don’t?
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, how many times have we told ourselves that we will do something and then time passes and...oops!
Did we? I’m reminding you to take the trash out tonight, haha!
Now, how about if you ask yourself if you can do something?
By asking ourselves a question instead of simply saying, “I will!” allows us to determine our willingness and readiness to do something.
By answering those questions we’ve posed to ourselves, we allow us to motivate ourselves into doing things because after all, we want to prove that we will do that thing, not so?
Let me repeat: you don’t know for certain if you will do something. Right now, you only think that you can. Can you?
5. Be flexible in how you get there
Wouldn’t it be easy to map out a way to your destination and then get there exactly how you planned?
Well, it’s not that easy and it shouldn’t be.
This is why you should be flexible in how you get there.
Your plan might just not work and require you to change tack and try a different method.
So be flexible. In achieving your goals make sure that you don’t adhere to just one method of doing things, allow yourself to go with the flow where needed.
Be a willow; bend with the wind instead of standing fast and breaking in the storm.
Let's be willows together?
6. Take responsibility
When it comes to setting and achieving your own goals, the responsibility falls on you.
It is you who needs to execute and follow-through and when a deadline is missed, it is you who must acknowledge why it was missed and take steps to prevent missing any more deadlines.
You can delegate the tasks that are part of your action plan but no one else can achieve the end goal for you.
I know it can be tempting to have someone else take the reigns for a while while you sit back and focus on other things but this is the horse that is going to take you where you want to be, do you trust another person to know exactly where that is?
Didn’t think so.
But don’t worry, I believe in you.
Hold your head up high and follow through!
7. Focus on what you can control
*shouts and waves hands around* Control all the things!
There is only so much you can control and if you like retaining control in every aspect of your business, you may open yourself to disappointment when you realise that some things are out of your control.
An easy way to avoid that is to focus only on what you can control.
When we do that, we let go of the things that are out of our control and devote our attention on the things that we can which keeps us moving instead of getting us stuck in a place of frustration.
So when there is something that is out of your control, instead of trying to maintain the illusion of control, rather delegate it to someone else or move on.
Setting goals is a big part of our creative businesses because without goals to serve as our road-map, we risk going anywhere and everywhere except where we really want to go and we risk being stagnant and not quite achieving anything.
But what are goals if they are not set properly?
I do hope that this blog post helps you set effective goals that you will achieve and that you have a clearer idea of what your goals should be.
Now about these goals that you will achieve...can you? ;)
See what I did there?
Need a little help? A while ago I designed some goal setting printable worksheets and if you're not a part of my exclusive library where you can access them and more, just sign up below to get them in your inbox.
Happy goal setting!