Goals are magic. They are little pieces of intention that you carry in your heart and use as compasses when the trails get messy. But sadly most goals are condemned to long lives spent in the backs of old, dusty notebooks. Never to be given much thought and never to be trusted with the gift of action.
It honestly breaks my heart.
But why is goal setting so hard and why do so many of us give up on our new year’s resolutions before the champagne even flattens? I have a few theories.
Goal setting: the why.
Maybe the problem is with your intention. Intention matters so much in literally everything you do but very much much so when it comes to goal setting. The why behind your goals is almost more important than the goals themselves.
The why is going to be the fire behind the goal, the fuel for the success-engine if you will. If your why isn’t strong, you better have ironclad self-discipline or it ain’t happening!
For example; two of my actual goals from last year were to “grow my Instagram account to 1000 followers” and to “get Google Ads Certified”.
I wanted to get certified because it meant I was that much more marketable and I was learning a skill I would use to improve my business and the businesses of my clients. I wanted to grow my Instagram account so I wasn’t embarrassed by its low follower count as a person who gets paid to grow follower counts.
One of these goals did not get enough of my attention last year and I’m guessing you can tell which one it was. When the shit hit the fan in March I had to ration my mental and emotional attention.
The goals with solid self-loving intentions behind them are the ones I was able to power through and on which I was able to make progress. The ones I had random, superficial intentions behind, not so much.
Goal Setting: the when.
If it’s not your intention maybe it’s your timing. When you do your goal setting matters too! If you’re new to goal setting or not a huge fan of goals this may just mean the obvious times like when the new year rolls around or for your birthday, but there are so many times you can set a goal.
Some of the fun ones are:
Before a new month
Before a new week
Before a new day
For a quarter
For a call or course or project
Goals are just directions, intentions, and action items for something ( a call, an event, an interaction, a year) that you prioritize. Your goals can be simplistic and unproductive such as “relaxing enough to take a couch nap on your day off”. Goals do not always have to be some big grandiose proclamation. In fact, it’s easier to make progress when they aren’t.
Goal Setting: the what.
You can and should be setting smart, intentional goals all the stinking time! And if that makes you the pit at the bottom of your stomach churn, hang in there because I have a feeling that maybe it is the goals themselves that are the problem.
You’ve probably already heard the acronym S.M.A.R.T. for goal setting but it bears repeating. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Goals are not visions.
Wanting to grow a successful business is a vision, not a goal. How on earth do you measure that? When is your time table? How do you know if you’re failing, or more importantly when if you’re succeeding?
Goals should serve as actionable milestones on the way to your overall vision or dream. If your vision is to grow a successful business what should be your first goal? Is it to register for your LLC? Is it to hire a team? Earn a million dollars?
Choose a specific goal that is measurable, attainable, and all of those other fun words from the acronym and then get to work converting that goal into an action plan with the help of micro-goals.
Goal Setting: the how.
What’s a micro-goal? A micro-goal is just a teeny tiny goal and honestly 99% of the time it is the difference between an accomplished goal and a goal that never gets off the ground. Your goals should either be micro-goals, goals that can be achieved in a single session or consist entirety of micro-goals. If they aren’t that could be your problem with goals.
When you are setting your goals and especially if they are goals that are going to take you more than a few months or require more than a few steps it’s time to project plan that puppy!
Project planning is something we do all the time here at The Clever Catalyst and honestly, the clients who utilize it are never sad that they do! (shameless boast) Project planning or micro-goals take big hard-to-tackle projects/goals and break them down into bite-size manageable chunks.
For example, even when designing a home page for a website. There are dozens of subtasks and sub-sub tasks and sub-sub-subtasks. This makes the process so much smoother. Even just for the home page copy will have tasks like SEO research, copy drafting, copy proofing, image and asset collection, team calls, development milestones, review processes, and client check-ins.
Having the goal and project broken down into as many smaller steps as possible may seem silly but there is honest and convincing evidence that even just checking items off a list can make a huge difference to our motivation and progress. It also allows you to always be able to hop in achieve a micro-goal or two and feel that much better about your badass self!
Which sure beats sitting down to accomplish something only to be overcome by the overwhelm and ending up distracting yourself with Amazon shopping carts you’ll never place for hours.
Goal Setting: the now!
So what are you waiting for? Get to it. Get out there and start setting and achieving your goals. You’ll be amazed at the difference accomplishments can make to your confidence and your overall productivity.
If you’ve never set a goal you could follow through on try setting a goal for just today. What is the one thing you want to get accomplished today? And what is that first step you can take to making that goal an achievement?
If that goal requires you to finally pull the trigger and reach out to The Clever Catalyst, let me save you the step and put a big fancy hyperlink . . . .