A mere 5% of small businesses complete all their yearly goals. Are you part of the 95% that don't?
It's okay, you are in good company as I have been there *many* times before. My downfalls in the goal setting and achieving department made me want to crack the goal code to once and for all.
I have compiled all my tried and true research on how to accomplish small business goals into this handy dandy article.
Even if you already know how to set effective goals and achieve them, here's a refresher with some helpful tips to make it less of an ordeal.
It's good to see and thoroughly understand where you have been. Your past, good or bad, gives your present self important information for your next action steps.
Additionally, the past helps you examine why or how you accomplished your past goals or if you fell short. Sometimes failure truly IS an accomplishment because it facilitates self-discovery and professional growth. When you fail to reach a goal it can be an important lesson in where you need more training and education, to trust yourself more, to delegate or manage differently, or to identify if the goal was something you genuinely wanted.
Make these 3 lists to get a well-rounded understanding of your successes and failures, as well as WHY you succeeded or failed.
List 1: Identify Your Strengths
Reflect on what is unique about you. How do you stand out? What about your nature is useful and valuable to accomplishing goals? Go all out here and bolster every strength you can think of.
List 2: Resilience and Resourcefulness
Reflect on how you have been resilient and resourceful in the past. Be specific. Goals are hard to accomplish (*hint: if they aren't, you are playing it too safe). Write down how you have overcome personal and professional obstacles. How does your resilience and resourcefulness reflect your strengths?
List 3: Challenges, Set-backs and Road Blocks
Often our greatest strengths can also be our greatest challenges. For example, I believe one of my greatest strengths is compassion and understanding. My compassion strength contributes to deep relationships, establishing rapport with clients, and attuning to the less obvious parts of problems. It can also be a challenge for me to have adequate boundaries because I can be too understanding of others and not compassionate enough for myself.
Look to your list of strengths and consider how they could be overused or unhelpful in some areas.
This list is also helpful in seeing patterns and trends of what gets in your way most often. That information will be used in a later step.
Identify Your Core Desired Feelings
Danielle Laporte defines core desired feelings as "generative feelings that originate deep within us and make themselves known when we take the time to listen." Her book, The Desire Map, is all about identifying your core desired feelings and designing your life (and your goals) around what you want to feel.
The concept of shaping business goals around desired feelings further supported the notion that goals must be holistic to work. We can't define whether a goal is "good" by the numbers we insert or the accolades you may receive. If the goals doesn't resonate deep within your soul, the goal will fall flat and either fall short or feel like a let down.
Identifying your core desired feelings takes pressure off the outcome and places the focus on the process of execution.
Envision and lean into how you want to feel throughout the process of completing your goals. Do you want to feel energized or calm? Creative or strategic? Free or structured? Listen deep for the answers as they may surprise you.
Lastly, don't discount this process. Your behavior is determined by your emotions.
Not just you, but ALL humans.
If you want to sustain the energy it takes to accomplish your business goals, they need to generate from the deepest, most honest, part of you.
Another way to think about your core desired feelings is developing your "why." Simon Sinek, a thought leader in the leadership and business development space, talks about why your WHY is so vital to the overall functioning and success of your business. You need it to remind you of the deepest reason you do what you do. Running a business is incredibly challenging. Your WHY is your touchstone of aspiration when the going gets tough.
You need to wear your why like a pair of underwear - always on, very personal, and uncomfortable if you forget it.
Channel Your Vision & Create a Vision Board
Now that you know about your unique strengths, challenges, and core desired feelings, you can move to the envisioning (or dreaming) process of goal setting. According to an article in MindTools Magazine, visualization offers at least 2 key benefits:
Visualizing outcomes that you want can increase your confidence. "Seeing" yourself succeed helps you believe that it can – and will – happen.
Visualization helps you "practice" success. When you imagine every step of an event or activity going well, you get your mind and body ready to take those steps in real life.
Imagination is key here! Let it run wild and dream big, bIG, BIG!
***You will harness reality and logic in later steps***
How to Visualize
Carve out uninterrupted time in your schedule; 30-60 minutes should be enough but make it longer if you like.
You can meditate, utilize writing/journaling or art, even go for a walk or be in nature if that speaks to you.
Then, focus on the future and what you want. Don't censor here - remember imagination is key! Really get a deep sense for how you want your future to look and feel. Who is there? What is a part of your life? What does success in your business mean to you? What do you want to make/create and how does that impact your life and others?
Once you are clear on a vision, apply more sensation to it. What do you feel? Hear? See? Taste? Touch? Create the sensory experience in your body as if it is happening right now.
From there, imagine yourself walking back from the ultimate life dream to the moment you are currently in. Develop a loose understanding of what the process would look like to get there. Identify specific actions or milestones you need to implement. For each part of the process, create a sensory experience for each as if it is happening right now.
Visualize your ultimate dream and the steps you are taking to achieve it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.
"The law of manifestation is based on the principle that your thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions can transform into physical reality through focus and supportive action." Visualizing your desired reality sets your body, mind, and heart in the direction of your goal. You will focus better and make decisions easier because you will be aligned with your ultimate dream.
Create Your Vision Board
Vision boards are a great way to get your creative juices flowing and organizes your dreams onto a poster you get to look at everyday.
Gather photos, magazine clippings, words, and phrases that represent your vision for the year ahead.
You can paste your inspirations on a poster board or in several places in your home or office.
If you are more techy or waste savvy, you can make a vision board on Canva.
Add to your vision board as you go through the next steps. You can add to it throughout the year as well.
Create Your Annual Goal(s)
Here is where we get more technical. It is time to clearly articulate your annual goal(s). It is more than alright to focus on one goal but most of us overachieving small business owners like setting more than one.
Just please do not make it more than 3 solid goals. Anecdotally, I have been guilty of creating too many goals....only to get overwhelmed and abandon them all.
If you like structure, below are guidelines and a template for articulating your goal(s).
Make your annual goal big picture. Examples: "Increase sales," "grow social media following," "open a new location."
Don't put numbers on it quite yet. You can do this in the next step.
Make sure your goal reflects a deep desire - Do not forget your WHY!
Template: "In the year 2022, I will [insert goal], in order to [how it will impact your business], because [insert your why]."
If you are having trouble with identifying your annual goals, refer to this list of the top long-term goals businesses and entrepreneurs use to focus on the year ahead.
Break It Down - Write it Down
Now comes the nitty gritty details and "that point" in the article where I mention SMART goals.
If you are naturally inclined to see things big picture and/or you are super creative, this step is probably the hardest. If you love to zoom in on details and adore strategy, this will be a breeze.
Either way, I'm going to walk you through it so you feel successful....
....hey! look at that! already completing one goal! Go you!!!
Create bulletproof goals
*Use this Goal Setting Template to make your goals bulletproof!
1. Make a plan for completing each of your annual goals
EXAMPLE: Annual Goal #1
"Increase sales of signature service package"
2. Make your short term goals SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound
EXAMPLE: Short Term SMART Goal
"In 30 days, I will sign a service contract with one new customer for my signature service package."
3. Identify the action steps you need to complete to meet the short term goal.
EXAMPLE: Action Steps
- Update sales page on website to make the signature service package stand out and be more enticing.
- Call or email past clients that have used another service of mine and sell them signature package
- Advertise signature package on social media accounts to build awareness and interest
4. List barriers or issues that could derail your progress & make a plan to overcome them
"Personal negative beliefs around failure, success, balance, competence, etc."
5. Identify internal & external resources you need to accomplish your goal
"Training & Education"
"Fast problem solving and decision making"
"Knowledge and Experience"
6. List your core desired feelings and/or your "why"
This step is C.R.U.C.I.A.L.
Do NOT skip this one. Knowing and connecting to your core desired feelings through the goal process determines how successful you will feel both during the process AND the outcome. Your core desired feelings are your lighthouse. If you are disconnected from or not in sight of your lighthouse, that means you have drifted too far from the meaning these goals have in your life. You will be less likely to succeed because you will be floating aimlessly.
Aimless = Anxious
Trouble with this step? Schedule a coaching call with me so you can have a partner in this process!
7. Write is all down
Remember, aimless = anxious.
The more you laser focus all your senses on your goals, the more likely you will be to achieve them.
Writing down your goals, barriers, resources, and desired feelings activates your brain's capabilities of creativity and imagination as the sensory memory of your goals grow within your body.
Many people visual learners. Writing down your goals and process helps you learn because you see it. For those that are kinesthetic or hands/on learners, writing down your goals helps you learn because you feel it in your body.
Create a Goal Tracking & Accountability Process
The beginning of the year is a great time to set goals. But, how do you maintain them? Better yet, how do you achieve them?
You need a and accountability process that you can stick with!
Personally, I find that carving space on Sunday evening or Monday morning to reflect and plan works best. For some, you may need to do this daily or biweekly.
There are 3 important aspects to a goal tracking and accountability process that make it worth your time.
Reflect on success - Give yourself a boost that you are much further along than you think. Reflect on what you have accomplished already; tasks, milestones, core feelings, or new information. Nothing is too small to celebrate! Remember - WRITE IT DOWN.
Plan daily action steps for the following week - Break each short term goal down into bite size chunks and insert those tasks into each work day. You are more likely to complete something that is planned out and manageable.
Tell someone or something - Accountability is huge! Do not do this alone as it truly takes a village for dreams to soar. Tell a mentor, a colleague, a friend, or someone you trust that can both celebrate your wins and challenge you if you are falling off the rails. If you are more introverted, or just really private, download an app that can track your goals and hold you accountable through reminders, celebrations, and challenges.
Maintain Flexibility & Be Resilient
Sometimes being a business owner can feel like this little girl trying to hula hoop!
Life happens. Unforeseen circumstances pop up. A goal ceases to have the same meaning it did at the beginning.
Whatever the case, it is important to remember that you are human, living with other humans, in an imperfect world. That means you need to be nimble, as well as get back up if you fall.
Sometimes you need to pivot or regroup. It does not mean you have failed if you change course or don't quite hit the numbers you were looking for. It means you are working hard and hit a pinch point.
If you are at an impasse, take the time you and your goals deserve to make a different plan.
Gather other resources.
Find a new accountability partner.
Create new goals.
Envision something more workable.
Whatever you do....DO NOT GIVE UP! Your business is worth so much more than what you will ever be compensated. Your business is there to thrive and provide the necessary services or products that make a person's life better.
Do not forget your "why." Come back to your lighthouse.
I am here to help you achieve your business dreams. Want to partner up? Schedule a coaching call with me so you don't do this alone.