Goal setting is one of my favourite ways to make sure I am consistently moving my business forward. Small steps lead to big results, so I set my goals regularly and always at the beginning of a new year!
In this guide I share my exact framework that you can use to establish your 5 year goals and vision and then break this down into what you want to achieve in the coming year. This framework will allow you to set specific tasks and milestones to meet that will ensure you reach your goals this year!
Before you dive into setting your goals make sure that you have completed your end of year small business review. This will help you look back at what you have done in the past year financially, professionally and personally and will set the stage for you to then create you goals and intentions.
Step 1: Establish Your 5 Year Goals
Do you have a 5 year plan? If not, its time to create one!
My favourite way to do this is to take a set of post-it notes and a marker pen and on each post-it write something that you would like to accomplish or do in the next 5 years. You can use different coloured post it notes for each of the categories of goals below.
Use the prompts to guide you:
- Your Financial Goals. This can include things like buying a house, improving your credit rating, buying a car, adding to your savings each month.
- Your Experiential Goals. This includes lifestyle goals such as holidays you would like to take, experiences with friends, flying first class etc.
- Your Personal Development Goals. These could be related to your work or your personal life. Such as taking a specific course, hiring a business coach or learning a new language.
- Your Business Goals. Specific measurable business goals, such as to be featured in Forbes, reaching 25 clients, making $10k passive per month.
On separate post-it notes, write down Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5. This is where I suggest you find a wall or a table to lay these out horizontally. Now take your set of post-its from all the goals above and begin to organize them into each of the years. For example, you may have had buying a house as a goal, what year would you like to do this by? Add it beneath that years post-it. Keep going until all the post-its are categorized into each year.
Be realistic, you may want all these goals to happen in the next year, but we are making a plan so you can actually achieve these goals so space them out into years that make the most sense.
This method of goal setting really helps you to focus on what’s important to you and why you are doing what you are doing. Clearly outlining your 5 year financial, experiential goals, personal development and business will help to keep you motivated in your business and moving forward so that you can achieve these.
Step 2: Pick Your 1 Year Goals
In the first step you identified your 5 year goals and also your near term 1 year goals. The goals in this category are the ones you will focus on and make a more immediate plan for.
You are not ignoring the other goals, but if you do the work to achieve your one year goals then it is likely that you will be making some great steps towards your other goals in doing so.
Analyse and Identify Your Why
To ensure that you actually work to achieve these one year goals you need to analyse each of them and most importantly come up with your “why”. The why is the reason behind the goal, why you want to reach this goal, why you are aspiring to it. Understanding your why will help you to make sure that you actually work hard to achieve it.
For example, lets say I had buy a Jeep on my 1 year goals (I do!). I would ask myself why do I want this car, how will it make me feel if I get it, why do I need to buy it? My reasoning and my “why’ behind this goal would be explained as “it would be the perfect road trip car that I could take on local adventures allowing me to take regular breaks from work, giving me better work life balance”.
Now I better understand this goal, its not just an aspiration to own this car, or a financial goal to be able to afford it. It’s a lifestyle goal, that will have a positive impact on my life.
For each of your one year goals dig deep into why these are meaningful for you. You can write the 1 year goals and the why for each on a note pad or in a document.
Step 3: Break The 1 Year Goals Into Quarters
Your 1 year goals are likely big picture goals such as publish a new blog post every week, or create my first digital course. To make sure that you achieve these you need to break them down into smaller goals that can be accomplished in the 3 months of the year.
For example, if you want to create your first digital course, you could set yourself the quarterly goal of achieving the following things:
- Define the course objective
- Identifying your exact ideal customer and the learning outcomes you want them to achieve
- A rough curriculum
- Research and select the platforms to host and sell the course.
Breaking the big goal down into these smaller more achievable elements makes it feel less daunting and more achievable. Plus, once you get started you may find you go well beyond these initial goals you set for that quarter!
For each 1 year goal, break out all the components needed to achieve the goal and then mark down which of those components needs to be done in Q1 and move on to Step 4.
Step 4: Break Down The Quarterly Goals Into Specific Tasks
Now you have your quarterly goals, you need to break this down into very specific tasks that need to be completed in each quarter. At this point I turn to a project management system, I use Trello and Asana.
In the project manager I create projects for each of the 1 year goals, then within each project I create a task for each of the quarterly goals identified in the previous step. From here I create a set of very specific tasks for each quarterly goal that once completed ensure I am on track to reach the overarching goal.
Then on a weekly basis I will add some tasks from these Asana lists and put these into my weekly desk planner.
The best thing about this approach of breaking down the tasks to achieve a big goal is that it completely cuts out the overwhelm. Overwhelm can lead to inaction, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen!
Step 5: Reflect On The Quarter
At the end of each quarter take some time to reflect on the work that you have and have not done that would move your business closer to the 1 year and 5 year goals that you have set yourself.
You can use the project manager to reference quarterly goals and see what is not ticked off. But I also suggest taking a blank sheet of paper and marking a line horizontally and vertically so that you have four individual boxes.
In these boxes you will add the following:
- Top-Left – Tasks Completed: This list will tell you everything achieved in the last 3 months from your quarterly project list. Now take a look at that list and use a highlighter to go over which of your achievements or tasks completed will move your business forward or earn you additional income. The highlighted list should ideally be about 70% of the items.
- Top-Right – Not Achieved (Yet!): Write down all the tasks that are incomplete from your quarterly project plan. Take time to ask yourself ‘why’ you didn’t achieve these things? A lack of time, lack of focus, or did other priorities emerge? You need to understand what prevented you from doing these so that you can make sure that they get done in the next quarter.
- Bottom-Left – Wins: We need to see progress and wins to help us keep pushing forward so write down the things that happened in the month that might have been unexpected, this could be a press feature, an excellent testimonial from a client or finishing a project you thought would run into the next month.
- Bottom-Right – Room For Improvement: No one is perfect, not me and not you and the chances are every quarter there will be at least one thing you can reflect on and think you could improve. Use this list to help guide you in the following months to do better in specific areas that you were weak in over the last quarter.
Taking this time to reflect on the past quarter will help you to celebrate the wins and accomplishments, identify what can be improved and set new realistic goals for the coming months. All of this together will increase your chances of achieving them in the next quarter!
Step 6: Remind Yourself Of Your Goals and Your Why
Our goals will not be achieved if we lose sight of them. If you write down your 5 year and 1 year goals on January 1st then put the notebook in a drawer and ignore it until the next year you are not going to meet the milestones that are needed to get you to your goals.
So an important and ongoing step in your goal setting is to make your goals visible to you on a regular basis.
How can you do this?
- Write them on whiteboard in your office
- Make a list in Canva with your big picture goals and then save this as a screensaver on your phone – then you are seeing them and reminding yourself of them several times a day
- Make a list, again in Canva, that can be used as your desktop computer background and / or screensaver
- Add all your stick notes to the wall in your office
Having the goals visible regularly will remind you why you are doing what you are doing, it will motivate you to work that extra hour or two at the end of a long day and will push you to excel in everything that you do!
Step 7: Immediate Action
Now you have done all this planning and mapping out how to get your goals accomplished this year, why not get started immediately?
Write down some immediate actions that you can take to start moving towards your business and personal goals. For example, you might have said you want to read more business books, an immediate action would be to go to Amazon and purchase a couple of books to read this month.
Consider the following and take action right away!
- What can you do right now?
- What can you do in the next 24 hrs?
- What can you do in the next week?
Resources and Planners
I am a firm believer in using a variety of different planners and project management systems to ensure that you keep on track. I mentioned a couple of them though out this guide. In this section I am sharing the planners and tools I use to manage my work and get my goals actioned! For more of my office essentials you can visit the shop.
Use the whiteboard to plan your big picture 1 year and quarterly goals so you are regularly reminded of them as you work
Use desk planners to map out the tasks that need to be done each week to move you towards accomplishing your quarterly goals
Daily Task Pads
A daily desk pad is a great way of adding the days priorities, must-dos and non negotiable’s. Keep it simple with 3 must-do tasks so that you have the highest chance of getting these done!
That’s it! That’s how I plan out my goals and intentions for the new year so that I have the best chance of achieving them. I regularly look at these goals throughout the year to keep me on track and ensure that everything I am working on will have a direct effect on whether my goals are reached! I hope this helps you to do the same!
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