How to Set Goals & Actually Achieve Them
A little less than a year ago, I sat down with my iPad and recorded a video of me talking. I didn’t really have a plan, I just wanted to get my thoughts out there. And along the way, I ended up deciding that I wanted to outline my goals for 2017.
So I pulled out a notebook and started to write down those goals.
It all started with 1 big goal. To be working on my own by the end of 2017.
And then underneath that, I wrote 5 other small goals that I considered my KPI’s (key performance indicators). I told myself that I needed to achieve those 5 smaller goals in order to quit my full-time job and work on my own.
And honestly, when I set those goals, I kinda didn’t believe that I was actually going to achieve them. I mean, at the time, I didn’t even have my website launched. I was just working on launching it.
So when I said that I wanted my website to be making me $5,000 a month in income, that was basically a shot in the dark! And so was wanting 50k followers on Instagram. I clearly had no idea what I was talking about their either.
But the funny thing is…
As I’m sitting here in my office listening to some calming indie music, I’m almost brought to tears.
This life. This life that I’m living right now is unreal. And I can’t believe that I did. I created this. I wrote down my dreams and I chased them. And within just 10 months of launching my website, I was working for myself with my first freelance client.
Someone seriously, reach through this screen right now and pinch me. Because I am honestly about to start crying thinking about this.
Pull it together Cathrin. You have a blog post to write!
About a week ago I had a blogger reach out to me asking about goal planning and actually holding yourself accountable for achieving those goals. And immediately I wanted to grab my iPad and start writing this post.
Over the past year, I actually found a system that really works! A system that has helped me to not only set my goals but also create a plan to achieve those goals. And then guess what… I’m actually achieving every goal that I work for.
And here’s the real kicker… I tell myself all the time that success is inevitable. And by the end of this post, you better beat ya, you’re success will be inevitable as well.
So enough babbling on my end. It’s time to get to the good stuff.
How to set goals and actually achieve them
Setting goals is one thing. But actually achieving them is another.
There is a quote that you’ve probably heard of. But I’m going to repeat it for you anyways.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Seriously. Like seriously. How simple is this?! Yet so many people fail to achieve their goals because they never create a plan to actually get there!
So I’m going to walk you through a process on how to first set your goals, and then we’ll talk more about how to achieve them!
Look back before you move forward
Before you can even set your goals, you need to look back and analyze how far you’ve come. And then you need to look at where you are at right now.
So let’s perform a detailed evaluation together.
How far you’ve come
Start by looking back at the very beginning. And if you just started, that’s fine! You’ll just skip this step and look at where you are right now.
But if you started your website, blog, or business a couple months ago or a couple of years ago, look back at the very beginning. Where it all began. And write a list of all the things that you accomplished in that time!
This could be a list of 5 things or a list of 50 things. Whatever you have considered an accomplishment that you achieved in relation to your blog or business, I want you to write it down.
Where you are right now
Now that you’ve boosted your confidence and you see how truly kick ass you are by accomplishing those things, it’s time to get down to business and perform an evaluation on where you are right now.
And I want you to evaluate all areas of your life.
So let’s start with you.
Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you treating yourself properly? Is there anything in your life that you wish to change? How can you balance your mind, body, and soul, by better caring for each element? Is there one of those elements that you’ve been lacking on?
You can ask yourself far more questions than just these. But I just want to get your mind thinkin’!
Next, I want you to focus on those around you.
It may seem silly. But this is important. Who you surround yourself is who you become.
So are there people in your life that constantly bring you down? Are there people in your life that can put a smile on your face no matter what? Are there some people who don’t align with your long-term goals? Are you giving your truest self to these people? Is there anything you could do to improve your relationship with your friends and family?
And I get it. At this point, you’re thinking: What the heck is this lady talking about? I just want to set goals for my business/blog!
Well, we are finally there my friend.
It’s now time to evaluate your business.
But there is a reason why I took the time to have you evaluate yourself and those you surround yourself with. Those 2 things are likely to be the main reason why you achieve or don’t achieve your goals.
If you are not healthy or happy, you are likely to hold yourself back. And if you don’t have a solid support system around you, you’ll let your goals fall right through the cracks.
So if you skipped that sections thinking I was crazy, please go back and do it. And if you don’t then don’t blame me for not achieving your goals, okay?!
Let’s take a look at your blog or business.
This is where things get really serious. So if you didn’t have a piece of paper in front of you, it’s time to break it out! Because you need to have these written down in order to set your goals a little later on.
So go ahead and perform an evaluation.
Start with your numbers to make it easy for yourself. Look at your website traffic, your social media followers, your email subscribers, how many blog posts you’ve launched, and how many emails you’ve sent, and how often you post to social media. Any stats that you think are important to write down, write them down!
Once you’ve finished with your stats, then it’s time to move onto the real insights on how your blog/biz is doing.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your goal setting, your productivity, your work ethic, the products you have available, the content you provide, your customer service, your engagement, your conversion rate, your opportunity for growth, your vision, and your uniqueness?
And if there are any other areas that you think are important to rate as well, go ahead and do that!
But when you rate these on a scale of 1 to 10, make sure that you’re being honest. And if you find that you are taking it too personally, look at it from a 1,000 foot few. As if you were a complete stranger evaluating what you have done. That way you get a real response from yourself.
And just like that, we are done looking back at all of your hard work. It’s now time to get into the data and see how we can use it to set our goals.
Analyze the data
So you have your stats and you have your check in with where you’ve been and where you are right now.
Now ask yourself: Are there any areas that popped out at you that you noticed you really need to work on?
Write those down right now.
And if you didn’t notice any areas, look back to the section where I had to rank different aspects of your blog or business and see what areas you ranked the lowest. That’s a pretty good starting point.
This is the time to identify any areas that might be lacking. And if it looks like everything is lacking, start with the lowest low and see if there is anything you can do to bring that to the same level as everything else.
In time, you ranking scale will have 7s or above! But for now, it’s great to be where you’re at. Because we are going to set goals to improve those weak points.
The difference between a goal and a project
I knew that I was at a low point in my life where every morning I would make a to-do list and on there I would write “shower”. And every time I took a shower, I was proud to cross that task off my to-do list.
How silly, right?
After a few weeks of doing this, I realized that something had to change and I bought a productivity planner to see how to properly create daily to-do lists. And now I no longer place “shower” on my to-do list… thank goodness!
There is a subtle difference between a goal and a project just like there is a subtle difference between a task and a regular routine.
My regular routine is to shower. Because that’s the normal thing to do. But a task is something that isn’t so regular. Like do the laundry, go to a doctors appointment, or call my mom. Those are unique tasks that I actually need to accomplish on different days!
But goals and projects are slightly different. Goals are not something that you have direct control over. Weird, right?
A goal is something that you work toward to achieve. But there is still a level of unknown whether that goal will be achieved or not.
So let’s look at a real example.
A goal is not to launch a blog. “Launch a blog” would actually go on your project list. But “launch a blog that generates $5,000 a month in income” is actually a goal. Because there is more of a level of unknown as to how you are going to achieve that.
Another great example. And this is something that I actually used for myself this year. My goal was to increase my email list by 300% by the beginning of October. So that meant that I had to assign projects to increase my subscribers by 300%. There was no set thing that I could have done to achieve this goal. But instead, multiple projects that would get me small steps closer!
And you better bet ya, I achieved that goal.
So now it’s time to actually set your goals.
Setting your goals
So now it’s time to actually set your goals.
And while you do this, I want you to remember the difference between a project and a goal. If there is not a level or unknown such as a percentage of growth, then it might be better fit for your project list instead of your goal list.
Determine the length of your goal
If you are walking through this post as you gear up to create your goals for the New Year, then your goals may be for the next year.
But you’re goals should have a clear date that you are going to achieve them.
So whether that’s 90 days, 6 months, or a year, you need to know the length of time that you have to achieve that goal.
Depending on the length, you can determine how big your goals are actually going to be!
This year, I’m actually creating a list of goals that I will achieve by the end of 2018. But I’m also setting smaller goals to achieve in 90 days so that I can hold myself accountable and work in smaller chunks to achieve my goals.
So if you want to do something like that, then go ahead and join me! And share some of your goals in the comments section down below.
Outline your theme (or main focus)
Before you start setting your goals, you need to determine what your umbrella theme or main focus is. All of your goals should have 1 common theme.
Some themes could be: marketing, audience growth, outreach and new relationships, finances, new opportunities, outside of the comfort zone, family and friends, personal development, self-love, or mine for this set of goals is actually “next level growth”.
This theme could really be anything.
So go back to your evaluation that performed before and look at what areas you said that you needed to work on. Is there any overarching theme that you could set to help you focus in on your goal setting?
Write down 3-5 goals
Based on the theme that you just created, what are 5 goals that you want to achieve over the timeframe that you also just set?
Wow that was a long question, wasn’t it? But I think you get the picture.
What are 5 goals that you want to achieve in the next 3 months, 6 months, or year?
And remember that there should be a level of unknown. So I’ll give you some examples to get you thinking.
- Improve marketing tactics to generate 50% more email conversions a month.
- Improve Facebook and Instagram to generate 150% more website traffic.
- Create a profitable sales funnel that will produce a $5,000 product launch.
Theme: Personal development
- Expand my friend group by 5 new amazing, supportive, like-minded people by the end of 90 days.
- Decrease my percentage of fat by 5% by the end of the year.
- Become genuinely happier with 50% of my emotion tracker filled in with “really amazing” or “good” days.
Theme: Next level growth
- Increase income by 200% by the end of the year.
- Improve marketing to generate 25% more leads a day for my email list.
- Create a functional routine that improves productivity and efficiency by 10 hours a week.
Now, these are just 3 goals for each. If you want to set 5 goals, go ahead and do it! I usually stick to 5, but I just wanted to give you guys some more examples of what goals really look like.
How to achieve your goals
So now that we actually have your goals written on paper right in front of your eyes, I want you to look at them.
Read these goals out loud. And then repeat after me: Success is enviable! I will achieve these goals within the (time frame you set).
Say it out loud, my friend!
Now it’s time to get down to business and create a plan so that you can actually achieve your goals.
So remember how we talked about the difference between projects and goals? Well now that you have your goals, you need to outline the projects that you have to complete in order to achieve that goal!
Projects are actionable steps that you can complete. Just like something that you would put on your to-do list.
So let’s look back at my example above. I’m gonna give you a real look at my goal setting.
Theme: Next level growth
Goal: Create a functional routine that improves productivity and efficiency by 10 hours a week.
- Build out bullet journal to be 2 months ahead of the current date.
- Reduce time on phone during work hours. Remove it from the office at all costs! And watch the Moment app daily.
- Create a plan for all 2-week sprints until the end of these 90 days.
- Create a daily routine for success and stick to it! Try out new things but find something that works!
- Prioritize all activities to align with specific days. Example: Monday = content writing. All content writing will get done on that day.
So these projects are pretty unique. And unlike most projects that you might see like write a blog post, or add 5 new opt-in to your website. Those are more simple projects. And if your projects look like that, that’s great!
But for this goal of mine, I really had to get creative and think of what I could do to achieve that goal.
So whatever it is that you need to do in order to get closer to achieving your goal, write those down!
Break down your projects into tasks
If you outlined some pretty big projects for yourself like launch a website or create a profitable sales funnel, then you know that there are smaller tasks that go into that project.
And that’s important to know! Because some projects may take a lot longer than others.
So while you’re at it… write down all the tasks that come with the projects that you need to complete.
Create a calendar or schedule to achieve your goals!
This is where your real goal achievement comes into play. So are you ready for this?
You need to actually create a set schedule or calendar on when you are going to work on projects and when they will be complete!
It’s really much easier than you think.
If you mark it on your calendar when you will work on what project, you will get them done. Plain and simple.
So I like to break mine out into 2-week sprints. It’s like little chunks out of my life where I get to focus on a couple things. And once those things are done, then I move to the next project.
But I can only move onto the next project if those tasks are actually done! So I force myself to stick to my calendar no matter what. No excuses!
Right now, create a calendar of all the projects you have and when you will work on them! Break it down by a week or 2 weeks. It will really make your life easier, trust me.
Keep your goals and projects front and center
Now my very last tip to give you to achieving your goals and sticking to your calendar or projects is to keep them front and center!
Keep your list of goals and your list of projects somewhere that you will see them every day.
If you want to be a little crazy like me, I just tape my schedule of projects to my wall in my office. And then my list of goals is left on my desk to see every darn day!
You want to keep these top of mind at all times.
If you don’t, then you risk the chance of forgetting about them and “falling off the wagon”. When you keep them in front of you at all times, it will be a gentle reminder that you have stuff to do! And if you want to achieve your goals then you really have to get ish done!
Another great way to hold yourself accountable is to tell your family and friends about these goals. Even write a blog post about it so your community can hold yourself accountable.
And then at the end of every month, check in with yourself. See how you are doing and how far you’ve come. And of course, see if your projects still align with your goals and if there is anything that you can change to get one step closer.
And if you follow all of this my friend, success will indeed be inevitable.
Now it’s your turn
Well, this has been a long post, hasn’t it? I’m not sure how you’ve stuck with me this long. Because at this point, I’m kinda sick of hearing my own thoughts run through my mind trying to get out in a way that actually makes sense.
But what I’m going to leave you with is that you are the only one that can achieve your goals.
No one else is going to do it for you. You have to put in the work. You have to put in the time. And you really have to hustle your booty off to get it done!
Nothing worth having comes easy.
So dream big, little duckling. And go conquer that world of yours.
Until next time…
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after started her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly blog posts, sporadic YouTube videos, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.