How To Set Goals Like A Ninja
Firstly, Happy New Year.
Right, down to business.
It’s that time of year when we do the whole new years resolutions, look with optimism to the year ahead and tell ourselves that this year we will be thinner/faster/richer/smarter or just not crying over our ex’s into a tub of Haagen Dazs and tell ourselves this will be our year. But then by Martin Luther King Day, which for the none US readers, falls on Monday 15th January this year, also referred to as Blue Monday, folks are back to their usual miserable selves, trying to figure out how to get out of the expensive gym membership they’ve bought and drunk dialling their ex at 3am. There’s even now an official Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day on the 17th January. Let’s face it, the whole new year, new me is total and utter bullshit.
The truth is that the clock striking 12 and the turning of your new calendar, isn’t going to change a damn thing about your life. Sorry, I know that’s a truth bomb that the fitness selling types, vegans and quit smoking people don’t want you to think. But it’s true. However, it can be a point in time that you choose to hit the reset button and start to make changes. Form new habits, work towards new things and generally just get your shit together. But, sorry, you still won’t wake up on new years day a new person. Or a millionaire. Sorry.
So, what happens if you really do want to make changes? Business goals are essential to keeping you on track if you want to grow your business. Personal goals are also important if you do want to make those essential changes, like be healthier, strong, thinner whatever. Most people go wrong when they set goals in that they just sort of wish for things. Like those that make remarks about wanting to win the lottery and then not buying a ticket. Or forgetting to buy the ticket. Or only buying one when it’s a big rollover jackpot. You see, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Are you setting clear concise goals or just casually wishing for stuff and then complaining when it’s not happened by the middle of January?
The start of the new year is a good time to take some time to evaluate what you actually want. Look at all areas of your life; health, wealth, relationships, business, family. Is everything as you would want it to be? If you are a business owner, whether that’s a small owner operated business, a side hustle or a large organisation employing lots of people, chances are you have some idea of the direction you want that business to go in over the next 12 months. It might be a vague, rough idea, but I’m guessing that you still want to be in business come next new years.
So let’s look at those business goals in more detail.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
I’m going to look at this as though you are a small business owner, either owner operated, freelancer or side hustler. Your bigger picture business goals are probably somehow linked to your own personal goals. You will have (or at least you should have) a rough figure you need each month to live off. This is your survival budget. It pays the bills and puts food on the table and you may factor in some contingency spend too for either the little luxuries or emergencies. On top of this, there will be essential business running costs. This should, in theory, bring you to a figure that your business needs to bring in to survive. Your breakeven point.
What happens when you want to increase that figure? If you’re going down the non-committal route you may say that you want to increase your income by £10k. That may sound great in your mind, but unless you tie it to something that actually gets you motivated and it’s a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) then realistically you aren’t going to achieve that goal. Sorry.
The problem lies in that most people don’t get very specific about what they really want. Like the lottery win. If you really, really wanted to make a concerted effort to win the lottery then you’d set up a direct debit for an online account and set aside a specific amount of money to buy tickets each week. The odds of winning the UK lottery are 1 in 14 million. That may seem like ridiculous odds. But it still means there’s a chance of winning.
THE GOALS TO SET
If you really want to achieve real goals then you need to work on them backwards. You need to reverse engineer your wins. Think of something you really want, like really want. Be specific, but also realistic. My big goal for this year is to take my daughter on a trip that I really, really want to do. She’s 18 this time next year and she’ll be off doing her own thing after that. So I figure it’s this year or never. But it’s costly. Like really costly. But doable.
I figured out the overall cost of the trip, I’m probably looking around the £20k mark, so that needs to be added to my income for this year. Plus the bit the government will want for the extra income. Break this down into a monthly amount and that £20k isn’t quite such a big scary number. But then I need to figure out how to make that extra money each month. I have to look at all the different things that generate revenue and work out how many more of each I need to sell each month to make that money. Breaking it all down like that makes it all seem more achievable and realistic.
I break it down further to what I need to do each week, then each day. Because the ultimate goal is something that I really want to do there is an emotional attachment to it. This makes me more invested in achieving it. When I’m having tough days I can bring back that feeling of excitement of doing this trip by looking at photos of the place and imagining how amazing it will be to do it. It’s important to stay focused on the goal in a positive way.
AVOID THE NEGATIVE
It’s important to not attach your goal to something negative. Things like saying you want to pay off your debts are all well and good but it makes you focus on debt, which is a negative. Instead, if being debt free is your goal, work out the amount you need to pay it off, set a date you want to pay it off by, divide the figure by the months and set up a separate bank account that all your debt payments come out of. Transfer the required amount to this account each month and set up direct debits to pay the debts. And don’t focus on it. Just focus on the amount you need to make each month to cover it.
Attach a positive to achieving the goal. For example, what reward do you want for being debt free? Anything, realistic that is that won’t get you in debt again. Something you really want. It might be a weekend away, a new gadget, a dog, a nice meal in a fancy restaurant. Attach the positive emotion to the goal and don’t think about the negative (debt).
Sometimes the action that the goal requires doesn’t fill you with joy. Like going to the gym. It’s like hell on earth if you aren’t a gym bunny. Dragging yourself out of bed at 6am to do a spin class is probably the last thing you want to do tomorrow. But if you want to achieve a health goal then it may be necessary. But what is the health goal? Is it to drop a dress size? Be able to run after your kids without getting out of breath? Be able to swim? Whatever it is there will be a positive outcome from it. Focus on that and not the 6am alarm call.
Here are some startling facts for you. 83% of people don’t have a clear goal. 13% have some form of goal in mind. 3% have their goals written down. Just 1% of people have clear goals written down and revisit them on a daily basis. Those 1% are laser-focused on their goals because the positive goal is always at the forefront of their minds. There’s probably also no coincidence that we often refer to the super successful as the top 1%.
Looking at those stats it might seem simple that you just need to write out your goals every day. Well, yep, if only it was that simple hey. You can start by breaking things down into annual goals, monthly, weekly and then daily goals. Work backwards from the big goal. Do you know your conversion rates? How many emails do you need to send to get a sale? How many video views? Work out what each sale is worth, what the conversion rate is and then break that down into the daily tasks you need to do to achieve that. Write out your annual, monthly, weekly, daily goals and then have a plan to hit your targets. How many words do you need to write? Photos you need to take? How long does each task take? Schedule the time. If it’s scheduled then it gets down. Don’t deviate from the schedule.
If it takes you all day to write a blog post, but the blog post is what attracts the traffic to your website, then schedule out a day each week to do the post. Prioritise your tasks. Have a top priority each day, and then 3 smaller ones. But these are your must do things. Come hell or high water you must get them done.
BREAK IT DOWN
By breaking everything down into smaller tasks you can ensure that your time spent on doing things is more measured. We all procrastinate. My goodness, I’ve lost count of the days I’ve spent looking at a blank screen. Now, because I have everything scheduled to within an inch of its life, I set timers to get stuff done. It’s like a mini win when you beat the timer.
Set your weekly goal, break that down into your daily priorities and then pick your reward for achieving your big goal. It might be something like if you get 100 email sign-ups for the week you will have dinner out on Sunday. Think about the nice place you’d like to eat dinner. Read the menu. Think about what you will order. How good it will taste. What dessert will you treat yourself to? Think about the details to the point you can taste the food in your mouth. You’re emotionally attached to that now. Every day during the week bring back that great feeling of enjoying that food. Make your monthly goal something a bit more or just something you can form that emotional attachment to.
But every single day you need to track your goals, measure where you are at reaching your weekly, monthly and annual goals. Write down every day what you are achieving, the steps you are taking and how much closer you are to your goals. Keep it positive. If the income isn’t coming but you are doing everything on your plan, write about how your target income is on its way to you. Have faith that what you want is on its way. You just have to keep your focus and most importantly, believe in yourself.
WRITE, WRITE, WRITE
I think we’ve pretty much covered there how to set your goals, so to help you along the way I’ve created some great printable sheets to help you keep track of your goals, daily, weekly and monthly. Set aside time each week and month to evaluate where you are and make your plans. It’s important to check in daily with your goals but I also set aside a few hours each week just to make sure I have everything planned out for the week ahead. I tend to do this on a Sunday, just sat on the sofa watching tv with my planner and notebooks.
I then set a day aside at the end of each month to review what has worked for the past month and what I’m doing in the next month. Then I check all my target numbers and ensure I have a clear content plan for the month ahead. I also check that I have work planned out for clients so I know what needs doing there. This all helps me stay on track, avoid procrastination and not waste time. Schedule the time and stick with it.
Just a note on wasting time. We’ve talked before about start-up distractions to avoid, so it’s along similar lines. Your time is your most vital asset. We all have the same number of hours in the day and days in the week. But we all use them differently. Many people waste their time and then wonder where the years are going. Don’t be that person. Make the most of your time and don’t waste it. How many times have you sat mindlessly watching the tv and not enjoyed it? What a waste of time! If you aren’t enjoying it then don’t do it! Obviously, the exception to this is the 6am wake-up call to go to the gym. Eventually, you will enjoy that once you get the benefits.
Things like spending time with negative people or worse still people you don’t even like. Cut it out! Use your time wisely. Watching something on the tv just to pass the time before bed? Why not go to bed earlier or read a book that might educate you? Do something to help you reach your goals rather than wasting your time.
You get the picture.
The last tip I have for you is to find yourself an accountability buddy. This should be someone you trust that you tell your goals to and they regularly check in with you to see how you’re getting on. You are more likely to actually do something if you tell someone else you are going to do it. Just make sure it’s someone who is as positive as you and not a negative nelly who will bring you down. In fact, delete negative nelly. You don’t need them.
Good luck! Go get them tiger and believe you can do this.
Share your big goal in the comments below if you want a little bit of accountability.
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