I’ve always loved the idea of setting goals, but it’s only been in recent months that I’ve developed a true passion for goal-setting! I have been part of a goal-setting group for women entrepreneurs since starting my business a year ago. However, a few months back, I started to feel dejected because I always seemed to miss my goals or only achieve 50% of what I set out to do. I decided enough was enough, and I dedicated the time to figure out what really works and why the traditional SMART goal-setting methods weren’t working for me (and why they might not be working for you,too). Here is what I’ve learned so far about setting and achieving goals:

1. Clarity of Purpose: Define Your Version of Ultimate Success

One of the first things I did when I set out to discover why I wasn’t reaching my goals was to look at the goals themselves. I quickly realized that they all seemed kind of random and lacked direction. Many of them were also vague and conditional upon other circumstances or people. In order to give my goals direction, I needed to clearly define what success was to me. I had been defining success as the achievement of each goal, but I realized that was entirely backwards. Each and every goal should be helping me on my road to success! Start by defining what success looks like to you and how achieving each of your goals will lead to your success. This will help you set individual goals that have direction and clarity of purpose.

2. Deadline v. Timeline

Deadlines never worked for me. Every time I missed one, I always felt as if I took two steps back with all my negative and discouraging self-talk. With a timeline though, my mindset has completely shifted. Stretching a timeline is much more “acceptable” to me than missing a deadline, and reducing this stress has helped me in so many ways, both personally and professionally. Clearing your mind will allow you to focus on the decisions you need to make to reach the ultimate goal you’ve set for yourself, no matter how many times you need to stretch that timeline.

3. Balance Business and Personal Goals

When I first started my business, every single goal I set for myself was business-related. It took me nine months to realize that I had essentially put my personal life on hold while I focused on building my business. And guess what? Every time my business would grow, I felt like I needed to sacrifice more and more of my personal life to grow my business even more. I then began to resent my business for taking away from my personal life. As you can probably see, this is a terrible cycle to find yourself in. I realized that I needed to start balancing my goals for my personal life alongside my goals for my business. When I started valuing my personal goals on the same level as my business goals, my level of happiness skyrocketed and I started to have fun in my business again. Oh, and my business also began to grow again!

4. Monthly Goals

So now that you have your definition of success, a better understanding of balancing personal and business goals, and the awareness that goals should have timelines and NOT deadlines, it’s time to actually set those monthly goals! I typically set three main goals for myself each month: one business-centered, one personal-centered, and one community-centered (okay, so the community-centered goal is somewhat business-related, but it’s mostly about engaging with my community for the long-term). However you categorize your monthly goals, they should either complement one another or be easily managed alongside one another so that they don’t end up distracting you from your purpose.

5. Break it Down: Mini-Goals

One issue I have with the SMART method is the lack of focus on the “what now” once a goal is set. The SMART method was originally meant to be used within a team setting, and delegating tasks to reach team goals is completely different than achieving goals as an individual. Back when I kept missing my goals, I would often lack a plan of action. Even when I did make one, it was usually very vague and when the first step wouldn’t pan out the way I’d planned, the rest of the goal was completely derailed. By determining what activities will allow me to achieve my monthly goals, I’m able to break each goal down into mini-goals with clear action steps. I usually set these mini-goals on a weekly basis so I can clearly see my progress.  

5 ½. Outsource the Rest

Understanding the action steps I should be taking to achieve my goals has also helped me determine which tasks should be outsourced to my team. Knowing exactly how having assistance can help you reach your goals will allow you to achieve them faster!

6. Reward Yourself

I’d recommend setting rewards for yourself for reaching these mini-goals. I’ve made it a priority to reward myself for reaching my mini-goals every single week, even if I just treat myself to a bath or a movie night. Personally, if I go one week without consciously making time for myself, I’ll fall into my old patterns of self-neglect–the opposite of self-care.

7. Progress is Perfection

The reason I suggest rewarding yourself for achieving your mini-goals is because I know from personal experience how harmful it is to forget the importance of progress. This is why I prefer using the timeline method rather than setting a deadline. I believe that one of the reasons I had so many half-achieved goals is because once it became apparent I wouldn’t achieve them “on time,” I’d give up and move on to the next goal. Now, I understand that there is no such thing as achieving a goal “on time.”

8. Repeat Consistently

The process of goal-setting in business and in life is constantly evolving. Once you reach a certain set of goals, once you attain the level of success you’re dreaming of now, you’ll realize that there’s more out there. One of the most amazing things I discovered throughout my most recent goal-setting journey has been that these principles are truly universal!

If you’re ready to put these lessons into practice for yourself, DOWNLOAD my “Goal Setting Checklist” below!