5 tips for effective goal setting

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Have you written down your goals for 2017 yet? Wait…is this yet another post about goal setting in January? YES. Yes, it is, and here’s why: goal setting is one of the most effective (and fastest) ways to achieve success in business and in life. I recently read some stats on goal-setting that blew my mind, and led to me wanting to write about it. Harvard did a study on their business grads that measured the power of goal-setting, and the data collected is pretty impressive. Did you know that people who write down their goals make up to 10 times more money over the course of their lifetimes than people who don’t? I was really shocked to read that, but it actually makes perfect sense. Most of us at least think about what we’d like to accomplish at the beginning of a new year, but the physical act of writing down (or typing out) our goals is actually the most important part. The moment that you get clear enough about your vision to put it into words, you start the process of achieving your goals. I have done a lot of experimenting with different goal-setting methods in my own life over the last 3-5 years, and I’ve learned a lot about what works best for me, so I wanted to share the five things I do that give me the best results.

1. Write down your goals (or type them out) and read through them every day. Just look them over. If you have 10 minutes to scroll through FB and Instagram, then you have 10 minutes to read over your goals. This keeps them active in your mind, and keeps your energy focused where it needs to be. If you write them down in January and don’t look at them again until December, your chances of achieving them are pretty slim…speaking from experience, lol. Reading your goals keeps you accountable and motivated throughout the year.

2. Separate your business goals and your personal goals. For me, these are two different lists that require different action steps for achievement. For example, on my list of business goals this year is “complete and launch new coaching packages by May 1st, 2017.” The business list is all very serious and task related stuff. On my list of personal goals for this year, is “spend more in-person time with friends and family,” and “read five books.” Those are things I need to do to be a better person. I have to focus my energy in different ways to accomplish different goals, so I find that I’m more successful when I keep them separate.

3. Be very specific with dates and quantities. Last year, one of my goals was to “read more.” Well, I may have read more, but I don’t really know whether or not I achieved that goal because I had nothing by which to measure it. This year, I wrote down “I will read FIVE books,” and so far, I have one started and four to go. I know I will achieve this goal because I assigned a number to it; a way to measure my progress. I also assigned deadlines to all of my business goals this year so I can create an action plan and a timeline to achieve each one. This brings me to my next tip!

4. Create a three step action plan for each goal. I don’t do this with my personal goals, but I absolutely do with my business goals. Goal-setting for me is a month long process. I scribble things down to get clear about my vision. Then I type out my goals into two separate lists. Then, I create an action plan for each business goal. Then, I create a vision board. This process takes me all of January, so I’m not even done yet, but I can tell you that focusing that much time and energy into goal setting will 100% set you up for success! One of my business goals for this year is to blog twice a week – one personal post (like this one) and one photo-related post. So, just to give an example, my three step action plan for this is: 1. Make a list of blogging content. 2. Create a blogging calendar. 3. Pull photos and write content weekly to stay on track with calendar. It’s not a perfect solution, and I’m sure there will be times that life gets in the way, but it does give me a road map for success. I am much more likely to blog twice a week with this system in place!

5. Take one small step toward accomplishing one goal on your list every single day. I am a mom of a toddler and I work out of a home office. We have a babysitter who comes to our house two to three times a week, so I can get work done, but there are days when it’s just me and a clingy, needy child and I feel like I will never accomplish anything ever again. If you are an entrepreneur who works from home with small children in the house, I KNOW YOU FEEL ME. I struggled so hard with this last year. There were times that I even felt resentful toward my baby because all I wanted to do was work and she wasn’t having it. I recognized those negative feelings in me and knew that I didn’t want to feel them, so I had to create a workaround. For my own sanity, I need to feel like I am doing something to move forward every single day; even if it isn’t the kind of progress anyone else can see. Reading through my goals every day allows me to choose one small action step I can take toward achieving my goals, which keeps me on track (and sane). Example: one of my personal goals for this year is to visit my best friend in Philadelphia. On a recent day when I felt like I had zero time to be a person, I read over my goals, saw that one jump out at me, and took the action step of researching flights from Buffalo to Philly on my phone while Elsie was watching Sesame Street. Aside from being a mother and a wife, that was all I was able to do that day; but, it satisfied my need to feel like I took a step toward achieving my goals, however small that step might be. All of those tiny steps might feel insignificant, but they keep you moving in the direction of your goals. Progress is progress.

If you still need to write down your goals for 2017, it’s not too late! We’re only half way through January. I hope these tips are helpful to you! They have certainly made a huge difference in my life. If the idea of getting clear about your vision or writing down your goals seems overwhelming to you, just start small. Even if you write down one goal for this year, and apply just one of these goal-setting strategies, you are well on your way to making your dreams a reality.

Which of these tips resonated most with you? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Ayres Photography SAYS...

    Awwww, YAY!!! So glad they were helpful to you, Catherine! And, I’m so happy that you’re going to write down your goals. It feels so good to get things down on paper. xoxo

  • Catherine Hood SAYS...

    Love these Jenn! I have been meaning to write out my goals this year and this has motivated me to do just that so thank you! I especially love tip #5 because IT’S so true about TAking small steps towards our goals! Before we know it, we’re almost there to achieving it ???????? thanks again for these great tips!