We all have goals in life, but often we treat them like wishes. And wishes rarely come true. Read on for actionable steps to help make sure you reach your personal and professional goals.
Goal setting is one of those things that we all know we should do. So maybe for New Year’s, we’ll write down our resolutions.
“I will lose 25 pounds.”
“I will increase my blog traffic by 50%.”
“I will make $xxx per month.”
“I will meditate for 30 minutes a day.”
These are all worthy goals. But they’re not smart goals. Let me clarify. They’re not SMART goals.
In order for goals to truly be actionable and achievable, they need to meet certain criteria. You can remember them with the acronym S.M.A.R.T:
- Goal statements need to be Specific.
- Goal statements need to be Measurable.
- Goal statements need to be Achievable.
- Goal statements need to be Relevant.
- Goal statements need to be Time-Bound.
In other words, it’s not really enough to make goal statements. More on this in just a bit.
Figure Out The How of Meeting Your Goals
When it comes to achieving your goals, the how is way more important than the what.
The What is your destination. Where you want to end up. It’s a fixed point.
The How is the road to your destination. The steps you’ll take to get to your stated fixed point.
For any goal you set, there may be multiple hows. As they say, all roads lead to Rome. And as I say, All roads lead to Ben & Jerry’s.
Either way, do not feel bound by how others have achieved their goals. Come up with a how that makes sense for you.
Steps to Achieving Your Goals in Life
Assess whether the goal is important to you. Some folks make goal statements because they feel pressure from others or because they think other folks will be impressed with them. But if you aren’t passionate about the goal, you’re not going to be overly motivated to actually reach it.
- How will I feel if I achieve this goal?
- Is the goal aligned with my beliefs and values? (For example, someone who holds “spending time with family” will probably do better to set a goal about that rather than making money. The making money might become a means to the end of spending more time with family.)
One of the most useful tools I’ve found to help assess whether my goals are in alignment with my beliefs is the Rituals for Living Dreambook (or Dreambook and Planner) from Dragontree Apothecary. It’s not easy work, but once I was finished, I had a very clear idea of what was important to me. Consequently, I was able to focus on the important things and let the unimportant stuff go.
Make It SMART
Make sure your goal statement is:
- Specific (What Are You Going To Do? You may also want to ask where, why, and with whom if it makes sense for the goal)
- Measurable (How Will You Measure Your Success?)
- Achievable (Is This Goal Within Your Means–if not, how can you make it so?)
- Relevant (How Does Achieving This Goal Support My Values and Beliefs? Is it in alignment with my priorities?)
- Measurable (How Will You Track Your Progress? How Will You Know When You’ve Achieved My Goal?)
Take this example:
I will increase my blog traffic.
This goal inspires the sad trombone sound. I contend this isn’t a goal at all. It’s a wish or a dream. “I wish I could increase my blog traffic.” “I dream of having amazing traffic one day.”
Dreams and wishes are passive. Goals are active. Dreams and wishes have you waiting for things to happen. Goals have you making things happen.
Compare that wish to this goal:
I will increase organic and social traffic to my blog by 50% by x date.
Now that’s SMART. It’s specific. It’s measurable. It’s achievable, relevant, and time-limited.
If you’re dreaming or wishing, you’re not doing. Make dream time or wish time productive time by asking “How can I make this dream happen?” “What do I need to do to make my wish come true.” Now you’re on the right track!
Try this: Turn these wishes into SMART goals.
I wish I could fit into x garment.
It’d be nice to have a big following on (insert social media platform of choice.)
It would be so cool to work with x brand, but I’m too small for that.
I really want a new car.
Break It Down
How long do you think it will take to meet your goal? Just give it your best guess. If you think it’ll take a year to meet your goal, start listing all the steps you’ll need to take to make it happen.
For example, using the goal of increasing traffic by 50% by a certain date, here’s how I break that down.
- Figure out what my traffic is now. (Don’t know how to do that? Ask someone. Ask The Google.)
- Figure out my traffic sources and which ones bring in the most traffic.
- Decide if I want to work on boosting sources that bring in relatively little traffic, concentrate on sources that are already bringing in a lot, or some combination of both.
- List all the steps I need to take to have the best chance of increasing traffic for each source. (Don’t know how? Ask someone. Ask The Google.)
*Remember, there is more than one way to reach your stated goals, so what works for me might not work for you. Know your strengths and play to them.
Here’s the time-limited part of a SMART goal. You are way more likely to meet your goals if you have a concrete timeline. If you say “some day,” some day may never come.
Continuing with the goal of increasing blog traffic by 50%, my next step is:
- Lay out all the actionable steps on my calendar and/or a spreadsheet and begin implementing based on that. (If I write down that every Tuesday I’m going to work on SEO of underperforming posts, then when Tuesday rolls around, that’s what I’m going to do.)
- Track progress using whatever metric makes sense. For traffic goals, Google Analytics if your friend. (Don’t know how? Ask someone. Ask The Google.)
- Tweak plan as necessary based on feedback/metrics.
They say a plan never survives once it makes contact with the enemy. You can’t plan for every eventuality, so you have to make your best guesses.
To put that into less militant terms, once you start working towards your goal and you are finding you’re not meeting your benchmarks, you will have to do some research, change your approach, and tweak the steps you’re going to take accordingly.
Do not consider that a failure. It’s just another step in the process.
Identifying what does not work to help you meet your goals in life is critical information. The next time you set a similar goal, you’ll know how NOT to start, and that will save you time.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do, or the next time you’re wishing for something, practice these 5 steps for meeting your goals. Achieving goals in life doesn’t happen by wishing or dreaming. And it doesn’t happen in a state of overwhelm. You need a plan. Make one.
And if you need help, ask.
Doing some serious work on goals will be part of what we do at the BlogStamina event April 3-6, 2019. I hope you’ll join us!
Here’s a graphic for your reference. You are exponentially more likely to meet your goals in life if you stick to a plan. This is the plan I use.