Goals are incredibly important to achieving your dreams. If you don’t set any goals, how do you know where you are going and how can you gauge your progress? This is a three-part series with sub-sections. Feel free to skip to the parts that interest you.
As I write this, I have already surpassed most of my goals for 2008. While my computer was being repaired last week, I decided to make the most of the time by working on my 2009 goals. Normally I would do this a little closer to the start of the new year, but since I am so close to completing my 2008 goals I figure it would be good to reflect on what worked and what didn’t for last year and set some new benchmarks for this coming year.
A few folks have asked me about my little system, so I thought it would make a good topic for the site. I’m not going to give anyone a lesson in how to set “smart” goals or anything. I’m just going to explain what works for me and how I do it. It’s not rocket science, but it does involve a teensy bit of math and a calendar. If you can manage basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division AND you use a typical monthly scheduler or day planner, then you can succeed at achieving your goals. Are you ready?
I’ve read a lot of personal development books that suggest making goals for every area of your life. While I understand the philosophy of “covering all your bases”, I find it is much easier to just select a handful of really important goals and go with a smaller list. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and most likely we only need to improve a few select areas of our lives at a time.
When I first started Girls Can’t WHAT?, the name of the game was survival. If I broke even every month, I was happy. For several months, I had only one goal. I strove for nothing more than to just come out in the black every single month. Gradually, I increased my monthly goals until I was able to set aside money for an actual salary. Rather than making too grandiose of a financial goal and then burying my head in the sand when I failed, I set the bar low enough that I could see it, but high enough that I had to stretch to reach it. Each time I grabbed hold of it, I moved it up a notch and tried again.
Since that first year, I have moved beyond having a single goal of survival and branched out into having goals in several areas of my life. For me personally, several of my goals for 2009 revolve around my business. As a web site owner, my ambitions involve things such as monthly sales dollars, weekly site visitors, Alexa rankings and other methods of rating how well my web site is doing. As a freelance artist, one of my most important goals is setting my “salary” and determining what I need to do to get to that number. Money is not that important to me, but freelancing is a “real” job and it helps when the money is real, too, since the bills I get are just as real.
One method that has always helped me to select the best goals is to choose whatever is eating at me the most and make that into a goal. When I was out of shape and feeling unhealthy, I made a few goals that centered around my eating habits and exercise routines. Once I reached those goals, the nagging feelings disappeared and I moved on to conquer other challenges in my life. My latest challenge is typing. I really want to improve in this area because I am annoyed at my many, many typos and the time I waste by having to go back and correct so much. I know I can retrain my fingers to type properly and once I do, my mind will be clearer and I will be much more efficient as I work. Think about parts of your life that are the most challenging to you and write down the end results you would like to see.
To begin goal setting, pick a single goal or a small number of goals you think you can collectively manage in a week, month or year and write them down. Start small. If your goal is to move from #73 to #1 in a very competitive field, start small and work towards #50 for a few weeks or months. When you reach that benchmark, set the bar a little higher – say #20 – and so on. It’s easier to achieve the smaller numbers in shorter intervals than it is to try to go for the gold over a long period. You can also setup a long-term yearly goal and break it down into months or quarters. You will find goal-setting much more rewarding when you are hitting the smaller marks on a frequent basis. Waiting a year or longer for the payoff isn’t very motivating.
Did you like this post?
Get awesome tips, free stuff, inspirational stories and discounts on Girls Can't WHAT? gear. It's Free!