How to set your yearly goals, and accomplish them

I hope you set some goals for yourself every year. It’s often said that the only goal you can hit without fail is the one you never set.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins

Today we’re going to talk about my method for setting my goals for 2017. I hope you can use it to help set better goals for your next year and achieve those goals.

It starts with

I’ve said it a few times this month already — every goal needs to be filtered through your 4 Quadrants and be directly connected to your WHY. Setting goals without these two lenses in place to keep you on track is a recipe for either achieving nothing, or achieving your goals but realizing you’re in a place you never wanted to be.

So if you haven’t built out the 4 Quadrants I talked about a few weeks ago, stop now and go do that. If you haven’t started work on your WHY, stop now and do that first.

When you’re ready this will still be here.

Yearly

Your yearly goals are the starting point for a successful year. This is where you dream big. In fact, you should likely dream bigger than you currently are. Most yearly goals I see for my clients need to be about 30% bigger. A goal should not be something we easily accomplish, but should be something we work hard for.

If I told you I had a goal to ride my bicycle 100km this weekend you may think that would be a big hard goal. Then I’d have to tell you that my longest ride ever was 220km. I regularly ride 100km in one shot, some days after working out in the morning. While it’s a worthy goal, it’s one that’s easy for me to accomplish.

Your goals for the year should be your 30k-foot view of the year. Mine for 2017 are:

  • Launch 4 products
  • Make $150k
  • Take at least 8 weeks off work
  • Read 60+ books

Quarterly

Here is where we drill down to some detail on our goals — the 10k-foot view. It’s great to have big goals for the year but if we don’t break them down into smaller bits they’re likely to remain lofty dreams.

If you have an income goal, then break it down into what you need to earn each quarter to achieve the goal for the year.

For me that means:

  • Release 1 product per quarter
  • Make $38k per quarter
  • Take 2 weeks off per quarter
  • Read 15 books per quarter

Now, my year may not break down that neatly. I’ll most likely take time off from around December 15 to January 15, as I have for a few years. I’ll likely take six weeks off in July. That means my eight weeks for the year won’t break down into two per quarter.

I also know that my business usually earns 60% of its income from January to June, so my income goals will likely start the year ahead of the goal and then have two quarters where I’m behind the monthly goal.

The point is to give yourself some benchmarks to measure against your yearly goals.

Monthly

Monthly is where we start to get into some real detail. This is the 10-foot view. From here we can see the dirt on the path. This is where I’d take my goal of launching a product in a month and give myself a main task per month. For example, I would do research for a book in January, write a book in February, finalize all the details and launch a book in March.

Here is where you give yourself 10 tasks for the month to accomplish your big goal. That goal trickles up to your goal for the quarter and from there your goal for the year.

Weekly Goals

Weekly is where the rubber meets the road. Getting to your big, audacious goal is not about some huge single event. It’s about all the little things you do every day to get to the goal you want to hit.

You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there. You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration. In the Internet industry, it’s not about grand innovation, it’s about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better. – Jason Calacanis

Weekly is where you take those 10 tasks for the month and schedule them into your days. If your goal for a month is to do research for a project then the first week is to get a bunch of resources to sort through. Day One is to look for the web resources. Day Two is for looking through the books that may fit with your topic. Day Three is for any podcasts that could yield information for you.

For business owners you’re likely to have two types of tasks. First, you’re going to have client work. You’ll have sites to build, code to write, designs to make, or words to write and deliver for a client’s marketing content.

The second batch of tasks are going to move your big goals forward, like marketing for your business or booking three speaking engagements.

Your weekly tasks should have a tasks in both categories in addition to the regular tasks, like checking your email and responding to it. Here your biggest danger is getting stuck in the fires — also known as the ‘fun’ stuff. When a client has an issue, it’s so easy to drop everything and deal with it instead of sticking to your plan. It’s also easy to work on the parts of business you love, like the writing of blog posts for your site. Neither of these are great options for the long-term success of your business.

To make sure this doesn’t happen you need a plan, and that plan starts on Friday. Every Friday you sit down and take a look at the goals for the week/month. Slot in the specific tasks you need to accomplish in the next week to hit your goals by the end of that week. Then every day before you leave, you write your top task for the next day on a piece of paper and leave it on your desk. The first thing you do in the morning is come in and do the task that’s on your note.

NO, you don’t check email until you’ve put at least an hour into the big task. NO, you don’t check your voicemail until you’ve got that hour in on the task. All you do is come in and move that task forward for an hour every day. With this consistent activity on your big goal every day, you’re going to keep moving forward and are much more likely to accomplish what you want.

Review

So far we’ve talked a bunch about planning your goals, and very little about how you make sure you stay on track. At the heart of any good system is a review process, so you need to factor in a weekly review.

Your weekly review goes with the planning for the week ahead. In fact, planning for the week ahead starts with reviewing the week that just went by. Every week, generate a short report on your business that covers these three categories.

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well?
  3. How are we going to deal with what didn’t go well so it doesn’t happen again?
  4. What is the plan next week?

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius

By engaging in that review process every week you’re going to be able to catch any issues with your goals quickly. If by the end of the first week you only did 20% of the things that contribute to your big book research project then you know you need to rework the project, or the upcoming week, so you can still hit your goal for the month.

A key component of this process is getting some accountability in the form of a mastermind group. These people are going to see the plan for your week ahead, and then the times you don’t hit it, they’re going to challenge you on it. They’ll ask you some tough questions and help motivate you to really hit your goals. Without this accountability, it’s going to be much tougher to get where you want to go.

That’s it! By going through the process above you can break those big goals for 2017 into pieces you can tackle. By having a good accountability group you can stay on track as you walk through the year and help you go further than you’ve been able to go on your own. If you don’t have that accountability group, I’d love to talk about you joining one of the mastermind groups I run.

photo credit: billward cc

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