How to set and accomplish your biggest goals
It was about 1 year ago today that John and I were walking along the bay here in San Diego, talking about the SMART goals we had set for ourselves for 2015 (those are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound).
I was really excited about my SMART goal of landing (and doing) 3 speaking engagements in 2015, along with my plans for massive growth on Kate’s Take (30k downloads per month by the end of 2015).
When it was John’s turn to share, he told me about a new idea he had for a physical product he wanted to create and have ready for launch by the end of 2015: a journal.
I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea; honestly, my first thought was “how will you differentiate this journal from the ones that are already out there?”
I should have known John had already thought about this… but more on that later in this post.
On January 4, 2016 that physical product was shared with the world via a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s called The Freedom Journal.
How to set SMART goals
When I think back to our walk along the bay here in San Diego at the beginning of 2015, I’m reminded of the process John and I both followed in order to actually set these SMART goals we were sharing with each other.
It’s not difficult to set goals, but it can be tough to make sure they’re SMART, and most people skip this step. You might skip this step because:
- You don’t know how to set SMART goals;
- You don’t think it’s that important to set SMART goals; or
- You don’t feel like doing it.
None of these are legitimate reasons for someone who truly wants to create success in their life.
I know you want to create success in your life.
If you agree, then reading this post is a great use of your time, because in it, I’m going to teach you exactly how to set SMART goals AND accomplish them.
First, let’s start with the 5 steps you can follow to get started with setting goals for yourself. I detail out each of these steps in our 2015 Year in Review post. The 5 steps are what I like to call the 5 Steps of Reflection.
5 Steps of Reflection
1. Revisit your previous goals
2. What worked?
3. What didn’t work?
4. Biggest lessons learned
5. Looking ahead (set goals based on your reflection)
But once you’ve set these goals for yourself, it’s time to make sure they’re SMART goals so you can actually track and measure your progress on your way to accomplishing them.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Setting SMART goals is a process
You can get to the goals you want to set by following the 5 steps of reflection above. Then, it’s about reviewing and refining each of your goals until you’ve confirmed they are in fact SMART:
Taking a goal, making it SMART
As I sat down to set my SMART goals for 2016, I followed the exact 5 steps listed above. Once I had somewhat formulated my goals, I started testing each of them against the SMART criteria.
Here’s an example:
My somewhat formulated goal: to create a content strategy that will help us better leverage our existing content.
Sounds like a pretty solid goal, right?
But the problem is, there isn’t anything specific enough to help me put a plan in place to execute this goal, and without a plan to help me execute it, my goal is as good as… nothing.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Luckily, we get to choose how we set our goals, so just because this goal didn’t start off SMART doesn’t mean I can’t make it so.
So next, I started testing my goal against each of the SMART criteria, and I found that I hadn’t even met half of them yet:
- Specific – no (I haven’t defined what a “content strategy” means for me)
- Measurable – no (I haven’t defined in measurable terms what “better leverage” means – what’s the actual outcome I’m looking for?)
- Attainable – kind of… (but I can’t attain what I don’t know how to accomplish, and I can’t accomplish something that I can’t put a plan in place to execute).
- Relevant – yes (I know from my 5 steps of reflection that this is definitely a relevant goal for us because leveraging our existing content in 2015 worked really well for us – we just didn’t do it consistently).
- Time-bound – no (I don’t have a deadline or date set)
Now that I know what I’m missing, I can start filling in the gaps and digging deeper to make this goal SMART.
- Specific – To create a content strategy for the blog that consists of repurposing blog content on 3 new, set platforms at least 1 time per week. Now THAT’S what I call Specific!
- Measurable – As a result of this content strategy, I want to see 500 new email subscribers every month over at EOFire.com. With this number, I’ll have something to measure my progress with.
- Attainable – Now that I know exactly WHAT I’m trying to accomplish, I can confirm that this is attainable; we average upwards of 100 subscribers a day currently, and so to say that we’ll increase that by 500 per month with this content strategy is definitely attainable.
- Relevant – yes; I know from my 5 steps of reflection that this is definitely a relevant goal for us because leveraging our existing content in 2015 worked really well for us – we just didn’t do it consistently.
- Time-bound – I want to have this strategy implemented by the end of February 2016.
So far, I’ve gone from the 5 steps of reflection and setting a goal:
To create a content strategy that will help us better leverage our existing content.
To making that goal SMART:
To create a content strategy for the blog that helps us better leverage our existing content by repurposing it on 3 new, set platforms at least 1 time per week starting in February 2016 with a goal of bringing in 500 new email subscribers per month directly from these platforms.
How to accomplish your goals
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, it’s time to put a plan in place so you can actually accomplish them.
Remember earlier, when I talked about my initial reaction to John telling me about his idea to create a journal? I couldn’t immediately see or understand how he was going to differentiate the journal from what was already out there.
Then, he said a single statement that changed everything for me – not just my own outlook on goals, but also my feelings towards his idea for the journal.
He said, “Every single one of the guests I’ve had on EOFire – all of whom are successful entrepreneurs – has one thing in common: They know how to SET and ACCOMPLISH goals.”
A Unique Value Distinguisher is found
This would be the differentiator: The Freedom Journal helps you set AND accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days. It was at that point I realized what John was formulating wasn’t just a journal with blank pages for your musings – it was to be a guide, your accountability partner to helping you accomplish the goals you set.
When you think about it, setting goals isn’t the true struggle; anyone can set a goal. Most never make it SMART, and therefore they’ll likely never put a plan in place to execute… And ultimately, as a result, very few will ever accomplish the goals they set.
So if we know what sets successful entrepreneurs apart (their ability to SET and ACCOMPLISH goals), then what can we assume (and later research) are the reasons most never accomplish their goals?
John came up with 4 things that stand between an individual and that individual actually accomplishing their goals – these are 4 things most people don’t do once they’ve set a goal.
So, I’m going to list these 4 things as “4 to-do’s” – these to-do’s represent your plan – because once you set your SMART goal, and put a plan in place to execute, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing that goal.
4 To-do’s to accomplish your goals
1. Set SMART goals
If it’s not SMART, then putting a plan in place will be impossible; accomplishing your goal is not attainable without it being measurable. How will you ever know if you’ve accomplished it if you haven’t specifically defined what the goal is and given yourself a number and a deadline to hit?
See above for how to set SMART goals.
2. Set micro-goals
Goals are not accomplished by starting at Point A, and then jumping to Point Z (your goal). Goals are accomplished through a series of smaller achievements and milestones being consistently met.
Once you’ve set your micro-goals, you’ll have a clear picture of exactly what needs to happen at Point B, Point C, and so on in order to accomplish your bigger goal.
3. Set review periods (reflect)
Just like in the 5 steps of reflection we used to set our goals, this is also an integral part of accomplishing our goals.
Without looking back at what’s working well for us and what’s not working well for us, we’ll never be able to double down on the positive or correct course to avoid the negative as necessary.
4. Hold yourself accountable
Have you ever told yourself you’re going to do something by the end of the day – or the week – and then the time comes and you haven’t done it yet?
If you said no, then you’re lying to yourself, because we’ve ALL done this; most of us probably do this on a daily basis, and then we wonder why we’re not making the progress we’d like.
This happens because we don’t have any accountability in place – we don’t have someone checking in with us to make sure we’re doing what we said we were going to do. YOU can be your own accountability partner, but you have to be consistent in order to achieve success.
The Freedom Journal addresses every single one of these points through:
- Starting w/ helping you set a SMART goal;
- Daily accountability;
- 10-day sprints;
- Quarterly review periods;
- Daily affirmations and recommended resources.
Now that you know how to go from absolutely no idea of what your goals might be, to setting goals, to then making sure they’re SMART goals, and finally, the 4 to-do’s to helping you put in a plan in place so you can accomplish your goals, the sky is the limit.
Ready to do it all in just 100 days? Head over to TheFreedomJournal.com, grab your own copy of The Freedom Journal, and get ready to accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days.
“Life is short, fragile and does not wait for anyone. There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your dreams and goals. ” ~ Unknown