6 Guidelines for How to Set Achievable Goals
It’s that time of year where we dream of all the things we’re going to accomplish in 2017. We love to dream BIG dreams of getting in the best shape of our lives, traveling the world, and building our businesses into six-figure success stories.
I, too, am a big dreamer. I lie awake at night thinking of all the things I want to accomplish in my business. I then lie awake stressing out about how much time it will take and how little time I have.
All of our BIG dreams are 100% attainable, but they can seem overwhelming when you don’t have a plan for how to reach them.
I personally like to break my goals up into categories: health + fitness, business, spiritual + emotional, relationships, and financial. Once I’ve done that, I follow these six guidelines for creating achievable goals.
1 | Set a goal that is specific & measurable.
“Get back in shape” is not measurable or specific. How will you know when you’ve achieved the goal?
“Workout 5 days per week for 3 months,” or “lose 20 pounds by March 31”
These are measurable and specific. You can create a calendar, keep track of your progress, and easily identify if and when you have reached the goals.
2 | Make sure the goal is realistic, yet still challenging.
I recently figured out exactly how much money I would make if I was completely booked with branding clients for the entire year of 2017. I factored in my current prices, raising my prices, and booking a combination of all 3 of my branding packages.
Booking the entire year is a realistic goal for me. With the services I offer, and the amount of clients my schedule would allow me to take on, I know exactly how much a full calendar would yield in income.
I’m not going to set a goal to make $200,000 this year if I don’t have a plan, or offer services that could produce that much income.
Now, if making $200,000 this year IS your goal, that is fantastic. But you need to make an actionable plan for how that goal would even be a possibility. Don’t just say “I’m going to make $200K and I have no idea how.”
Maybe you are going to offer an online course in which your goal is to book 200 people at $600 per person for a total of $120,000. In addition to the course, you plan to book 20 clients at $3,500 each, which would bring in $70,000. Now you’re only $10,000 away from your $200,000 goal. That’s much more realistic.
Challenge yourself. Don’t set a goal you wouldn’t be happy with reaching.
Make sure it’s stretching you, but also make sure it’s possible.
3 | Determine actionable items that will help you achieve your goals.
As I mentioned in the last point, set action items to help you reach your goals. This basically means break down your goals into smaller, short-term goals. If you meet each of the smaller ones, you will eventually achieve your larger goal.
As an example, one of my goals for 2017 is to read 8 new books. (For me, I knew this would be an increase from the amount of books I read last year, but not so overwhelming that I couldn’t achieve it.)
So I broke it down into 3 action items:
#1 I decided I wanted to read 4 business books and 4 spiritual or leisure books.
#2 I made a list of which 8 books I want to read and in what order.
#3 I know that if I want to reach my larger goal, I need to read 4 books by June 30, complete the following two books by September 30, and the final two between October 1 and December 31.
This will help me throughout the year to keep track of my progress and know whether or not I’m on schedule to meet my deadlines or if I need to pick up the pace.
4 | Set deadlines
I’ve touched on this throughout the first 3 points, but I want to make sure you remember this one. Setting deadlines is so important for meeting your goals. I will admit, this is not always easy (for me either!), especially when you’re the only one who knows your deadlines.
**If you struggle with this, try finding an accountability partner who can make sure you are sticking to your deadlines.
Your goals of today will soon become goals of yesterday, and the day before if you do not set deadlines to hold yourself accountable. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose and by what date?
You can’t keep waiting until tomorrow or tomorrow will never come.
If you want to make $200,000 in 2017, do you plan to wait until June to figure out how you’re going to reach that goal? No. You need to start now. You need to know how much you should make in the first quarter in order to stay on track for your goals.
If you plan to buy 4 rental properties in 2017, you should know that means you need to purchase your first property before March 31, and your second before June 30, and so on.
If you don’t set deadlines for yourself, time will fly by and you’ll still be sitting, waiting, wishing (to quote Jack Johnson).
5 | Use rewards as motivation.
This is totally dependent on the person, but in the past it has proven to motivate me. This past year I promised myself I would get back into my healthy lifestyle of eating right and working out regularly. I set a goal for myself to workout at least 5 days a week every week of the month. If by the end of the month I had worked out 5 days each week, I could reward myself.
The first month I was allowed to buy a new workout outfit, month two was a new pair of Nike shoes and month three was a new swimsuit.
I couldn’t keep this going forever because—let’s face it—that would be expensive, but I did it for the first 3 months because I knew I would need the extra motivation to get back into the habit. After those 3 months I didn’t need as much motivation to continue the workouts.
If you know something is going to be difficult for you, try setting a little reward to keep you motivated.
**I never suggest using food as a reward for eating healthy or working out because it can often set you back, but hey YOU DO YOU!
6 | Write your goals down & review them regularly.
Growing up my Dad always hounded us to write our goals down. I will admit I didn’t completely understand the importance of this until later in life.
Writing your goals down helps to hold you accountable and it gives you something to reference in the future. If you put time and thought into setting your goals—which you should—make sure you have them written somewhere to refer back to.
Also, I have found on days when I’m unmotivated or discouraged, it can help to remind yourself what you’re “fighting” for. Even on days when I’m EXTRA motivated and driven, I often get so excited I don’t even know where to start. It can also be helpful to refer back to your goals and see what needs the most attention now, and what can wait until a little later.
I know several successful people who place their goals in prominent places or on their desk and read them every single day. This is a fabulous idea for staying focused and keeping your dreams at the forefront of your mind every single day.
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Set achievable goals using this 4-page worksheet!
Once you’ve set your goals, I’d love to hear them! Comment below with your BIG dreams and let me know how you plan to achieve them!