Goal setting - does that make you feel excited or a bit meh or overwhelmed? There's such a lot of advice about how to set goals, when to set them and much more. However, the biggest challenge to goal setting can be feeling truly connected to them so that they're meaningful and stay the focus of your attention and daily work.
How can we make the most of a goal setting process so that they have the impact you want - to guide you towards your dreams and help you achieve your vision?
According to experts, a great goal needs to have two key elements to it. We need to understand WHY the goal is important. Then we need to understand HOW we're going to achieve it.
This sounds blooming obvious but actually, when I think of my own goal setting over the years, I can see I've subtly not always applied both those things clearly enough. I have 'assumed' quite a lot in each goal and therefore, it's withered on the vine.
So, let's look at some ideas that might help you truly feel connected, and maintain that connection over a period of time, to your goals.
I love to start any business coaching session with a vision style goal. This is the 'big picture' stuff about where you're headed, what you're looking for as the bright new future. Unlocking this kind of vision is a creative process I feel, and I have often done this through vision or mood boards to really bring the vision alive on a page. You might use Pinterest, a spreadsheet, a notebook, coloured pens etc etc, it just needs to suit you. Focus on what you want life to be like as part of this vision. You can refer to lots of our resources and workshop recordings to dive a little deeper into what your vision is.
Whatever your 'visioning' process is, how can you connect with it on a deeper level? Can you spend some time looking at your mood board or closing your eyes and really 'feel' what it would be like to get to that vision? How will you feel, how will those around you experience this vision? Where will you be, who will you be with, will you be happy, satisfied, confident, relaxed? Will you be alone or in a team or community? Don't rush this bit because it's the connective magic that will bring your goals to life.
Decide on a timescale for your next set of goals. So often, goal setting is about the next 12 months or even a 5 year plan. This might be great for you and help you with a 'this time next year, I will.....'. However you can play with other timescales too. We recently chatted in a Thrive Session about exploring a 12 week goal setting period. Specifically not looking at a 12 month block of time but focussing down into 12 week chunks with their own goals and planning processes. We have a forum thread about goal setting in 100 day slices too. Think about how you might benefit from playing with the timescales of your goals so that it might help you with focus, relevance and of course, the all important dopamine hit of ticking something off your list!
We've talked about a vision type goal but breaking that into workable goals is absolutely the key step here. Try to be a specific as possible. For example, if you have a goal to 'grow your customer base' then try to break that goal down into specifics. How many exactly is more? Are they all one type of customer or are you looking to attract different segments? Where are these customers coming from - online customers, long term or new customers? Add in this type of detail to all your goals to help your brain really understand what it it you're going to need to do to make the goal happen.
As with your vision, for each goal, you need to add in the WHY for each. Using the example above, you might assume 'growing your customer base' has an obvious why of making you more money. But...this may not be the 'specific why' for that goal. Perhaps it's because you want to reach or help more people. Maybe you want to stretch into a new geographical area. What will those new customers do for you and your business? Will they increase turnover or grow your community to help others? Will they begin to advocate your brand to others?
Align all your goals with your vision at each stage. We have very finite resources as a micro business - our time, budget and brain space. Therefore, make sure each goal you set is aligned and only adding to your vision. It can be tempting to add in some additional goals that everyone has - make more money, attract more customers, grow Instagram followers etc without checking in to if that goal will really take you one step nearer your vision.
Have a mix of goals that move the business forward but also you. As micro business owners, intrinsically connected to our business in the day to day, it's not easy to achieve a goal if we're not working on ourselves too. Make sure you have goals in here that support you and your energy to get to a goal. If you set a goal to grow your customer base, also consider goals for you that will go hand in hand with the commercial target. For example, do you need a new goals of daily walking to give you the creativity or energy to grow your customer base? Do you need a goal to regularly connect in with your community to gain the confidence and ideas to help you grow your customers?
Finally, remember the quote. "you can do anything, but not everything". This is a powerful lesson for little businesses. We can have great ideas and get excited about lots of new opportunities but prioritising and pacing is key. What are your priorities and what goals need to come first before the next set? It's tempting, especially at New Year or September, to simply write a long list of goals with enthusiasm and energy. This may just have the effect of scattering your efforts too thinly. It might be better to perfect the art of doing one or two things brilliantly than to try and push all the snowballs up the hill at once. If your list of goals is a bit long, go back and try to order them so that you can focus on key goals first.
Don't forget our Forum is the place to hang out and talk goals setting with your fellow team simply folks. Check out what others are doing, ask questions and share your success or challenges. Wherever you are on your goals setting journey, there are resources, workshop recording, planners and people to help.