“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
Happy New Year!
As I write this, Walmarts and Targets everywhere are being bought out of planners and notebooks because it’s a new year and it’s time for new goals!
I bet you’ve got your pretty list of resolutions ready to take on the year! Or at least the first 2 weeks of January…
Should we actually be making resolutions though?
Every year, we either say our [generic] resolutions aloud to our friends and family or we write them down, only to be viewed again when we do this ritual all over again next December 31st.
The same goes for our business goals that we create year after year. Some of them get completed, but many get pushed into the “next year bucket”. Those types of goals are called dreams, and without action, those dreams remain unattainable.
Some people dream for so long about creating a solid, sustainable business, and yet, all they do is dream.
You know the people I’m talking about. They attend conferences, sign up for free webinars, buy paid training, and sometimes even work with a coach or two. And yet week after week, month after month, year after year, they fail to make any progress toward their dreams.
Are they just lazy? No. It’s something worse. They don’t know how to move from a dream to a plan, and they’re stuck.
I have been there – plenty of times.
There many crossroads in life and business where we are unsure of what to do next. Instead of choosing a path and figuring out the destination, we sit in the middle of the road or turn around and go back to the familiar route.
Unfortunately, our dreams lie far out of reach – until they grace us with their presence again next year… on that little piece of paper.
Start With the Long-Term
If you’ve ever been on a job interview and were asked, “Where do you want to be five years from now,” you might have thought it an odd question. But as a business owner, that might just be the most important consideration you can have.
Without knowing where you’re headed in the long term, it’s impossible to create a map to get there. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole with no clue of what you need to do to get out. You need to know what your destination is, so that every day, week, month, and year you can check your progress to be sure you’re still headed in the right direction.
Our goals, or plans, for the upcoming year should be more than just “start a business”, “make more income” or “go on a trip”, they need to be more specific with a laid out plan of action.
Once you know your ultimate destination, you can draft a plan for getting there, and create the interim goals that will help you stay on track.
For example, if in five years you want to be free to travel for 4 weeks every year, then you need to have a few pieces in place before that can happen:
- Enough income to cover travel costs
- Passive income to sustain your business while you’re not working
- A staff who can manage the business while you’re away
With this list, you can then work backwards from your five-year goal, and create milestones along the way. If you know you’ll need to earn $150,000 annually in order to fund your travel plans, and right now you’re earning $60,000, then reasonable milestones might look like this:
- Year 1: $70,000
- Year 2: $85,000
- Year 3: $105,000
- Year 4: $125,000
- Year 5: $150,000
With these milestones in place, it’s much easier to figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve them, by setting monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Create Small Goals
If you say to someone, you need to move from $60,000 to $150,000 in five years, that’s a pretty overwhelming task. After all, it’s a $90,000 increase, and most people will look at that and immediately dismiss it as impossible.
But when you break it down as we have above, and then again into smaller steps, it suddenly doesn’t look so daunting.
In the first year of the plan we have outlined here, your income needs to increase only by $10,000. That’s less than $1000 per month!
You can further break that down by week: $1000 per month is just $250 per week. If you sell just one more monthly client package, or five $50 training programs each week, you’ve already reached your milestone.
That might mean sending one more email to your list, or investing an additional $20 per month in Facebook ads, or perhaps reaching out to one more JV partner. The point is, reaching this much smaller goal is far easier than thinking about that five-year plan.
So What Should Your Plan of Action Be and How do You Lay the groundwork?
Here’s how I like to plan my year (and yes, my full year is already planned for blog posts to products to which books I want to read). Figure out what your major goals for the year are. You can choose to pick one big goal to focus on, or three or five (if you’re really ambitious).
I suggest choosing 2 or 3 goals that you can single out and focus on quarterly. Make sure to include goals that are more than just business related – life has to be well-rounded, so if you think you’d get a kick out of watching every single Netflix original drama by the end of the year, then go for it!
Take that goal and break it down into quarterly milestones and tasks. From there, you can easily break it down into monthly, weekly, then daily tasks.
In the case of the Netflix bingeathon (that doesn’t even make sense, I merged two words that mean the same thing!), you would find out the current total number of shows available to watch, figure out how many shows you need to watch each quarter (divide by 4), then the number of episodes per week – or daily if you aren’t doing the weekend thing – and Boom! You have figured out how much binging you need to do to stay on track!
Starting from the big picture and working backwards is really important in order to make your goals not look so daunting.
Go look at that list of resolutions and goals – are they specific enough? Can you break them down into tasks and milestones? If one goal is to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, break that down into smaller tasks you can manage 90 days at a time.
- Work out 3x a week
- Eat 1200 calories and a balanced diet.
- Milestones: lose 5 pounds every 90 days.
Remember you can do this with any goal and I encourage you to do it especially with your business goals and make those dreams a reality!
So what’s your big dream? How can you deconstruct it into achievable milestones, workable goals, and finally, daily and weekly tasks? If you can do this (and you definitely can) then you can achieve anything in business and in life.