Tips for setting and achieving your goals
I just recorded a podcast with my dear mama, Susie Davis, and in that we were discussing goal setting. Susie knows I’m really big about goal setting, so she asked me to explain that a bit. You can listen to the Podcast here and read all about my experience here. I wanted to write a little bit about why I think it’s important to set goals, how I set them, and just some overall tips on how to set them where you can actually achieve them!
I did a little research and did you know that only 5% of Americans set goals for themselves for different areas of their lives? This statistic blows my mind because I’ve always been someone who sets goals and goes after them with everything in me. I’ve recently learned that this is part of my personality type, and I’m very motivated by challenge, so setting a goal and going after it is what totally gets me fired up.
Want to know a funny story?
About 6 months after I started this business, we were still doing all we could to make ends meet financially. There was this giveaway on a very popular mommy blogger site where all you had to do was comment so many times, before anyone else, and you’d win this stroller that was valued at about $500. At the time, my daughter was still under a year old and we could have really really used that stroller, but I knew winning that stroller meant we could actually sell it and apply money to our bills. I saw winning that stroller as a big huge challenge, and I didn’t care what got in my way… I was going to win that thing! Thirty minutes later, I won it. Honestly, it’s the only thing I’ve ever won. Right after I won it, I listed it on Craigslist and sold that beauty so we could pay our bills and keep the roof over our head. Mama… if you’re in those shoes… I’ve been there… and I promise you there is an end in sight!
Why set goals
This pretty much sums up why I always set goals for myself. I have to be striving for something or else every day that I’m blessed to be here, I’m aiming at nothing and that’s kind of a lonely place to be.
So first, if you’re that person who sets a goal and does nothing with it… or maybe you’re someone who has actually never thought of setting a goal for different areas of your life… I want to encourage you to start! I promise you, it will change your life!
The question I’ve seen come up quite a bit lately is, well if I set goals how do I know what to set them at? This is a really great question because I’m a big believer in setting big goals, but not too big that they are simply unattainable. So how do you set a goal that is big in your mind, yet still attainable?
Types of goals you should have
First, before we dive in to how to set these goals, let’s talk about the types of goals you should be setting for yourself.
- Spiritual Goals
- Marriage Goals
- Family Goals
- Personal Goals
- Financial Goals
- Career Goals
I bet when you first started reading this post, your immediate thought was a financial or career goal, but goals also need to be made in order of priority. If your career or financial goal comes before your spiritual, marriage, family, or personal goals, then you have your priorities a little out of line. I say this because I’ve been there.
For years I focused on career and financial goals and all at the expense of my marriage and my family. Friends, that’s a really hard lesson to learn, so can you just learn from me and not make that mistake?! Mmmm.. k! Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s get a little more specific about how big of a goal to set.
Setting attainable goals
No, really, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Not just in business or financially, but in all those other areas I mentioned above that you should have some goals in?
For example, if you knew you couldn’t fail at your marriage, what types of goals would you have for it? To be a loving, happy, peaceful, harmonious couple? To be married forever happily? To set an example for your children and their children, and many generations beneath you?
So often though, we view these goals as something as if we’re just trying to survive the next year because we aren’t looking at our goals like something we could quite possibly achieve.
Our society today teaches us that we should be striving for instant gratification. Instant overnight success, and if we don’t attain that then we are a failure.
Girlfriend… this is all wrong! Failure is just an opportunity for growth. But you also have to have realistic expectations that you won’t have the perfect marriage tomorrow if it’s a little rocky today. That you won’t lose all the weight tomorrow. That you won’t make a million dollars tomorrow… unless you win the lottery… which less face it is like one in a billion. Or, that you quite possibly won’t become a viral sensation tomorrow. Whatever that big thing is for you, it won’t happen tomorrow.
All this to say, that in order to set goals that are actually attainable, we need to be realistic about our expectations, give ourselves ample wiggle room, all while still dreaming big.
Dreaming Big, realistically
Too often we see these words “Dream Big” and we think… “One day I’d like to have a million dollar home.” Well first, good luck cleaning that sucker. And secondly and in all seriousness, when is “one day?” These words are just thrown about and it’s not a clear, defined, and well thought through goal.
I want you to dream big, in a realistic amount of time, and then do all you can to reach that. That’s the goal here. (Pun absolutely intended)
Let’s work through some realistic goal examples
We are going to use some examples here that work around financial goals because they are a bit easier to demonstrate through this section
Say you’re a photographer. This is your second year in business. This year you’ve brought in $30,000. Now, let’s break this down a little bit into bite size pieces. If we made $30,000 this year, this means we brought in $2500 a month, which means $625 a week, which means if we are charging around $300 per session, we are doing 2 sessions a week.
This is a totally bogus example because if you’re a photographer you should absolutely be charging more than $300 a session but that’s a topic for another blog post.
But you see how I just did that? I took this big number that may seem totally astronomical and I split it down into really small bite size pieces. So if I had a goal for this year to make $30,000 I would have ended with, “I need to do at least 2 sessions a week in order to reach my goal.”
So now this year, I’ve made $30,000 but how do I know what to set my goal at for next year and still be realistic about it?
In a scenario like this I would say that your goal for next year is to increase your revenue by 50%. So next year you’ll be aiming for $45,000 or more. In a photographer situation it’s a little more involved because your time is spent in every session, editing, emails, etc and by increasing that revenue means you have to spend more time shooting. So you’ll balance this goal out with what you can realistically take on in a week, or you can factor in hiring an editor or VA to begin taking part of your workload off.
But to answer the question of, “how do I know how big to set my goal for next year?”, this is the model I go after.
Now let me show you a real life example of what I have done here at Restored 316.
A little over 3 years ago I began shifting our business model away from custom website designs and more into a theme shop to provide more residual revenue through our site. I had already tapped my toes in the water of theme development and selling themes through StudioPress, so I knew this was certainly the model we were going after, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect from a financial perspective. So this example will be great for someone just starting off.
Shortly after deciding to gradually shift our business model, I set a goal to make enough every month in just theme sales to cover what would have equaled 2 custom website designs. I made that goal and set it a month out, with the intention of starting to shift the income I was making from custom design clients over to the theme sales.
Guess what? The next month I hit that goal. How did I do that you might be asking? I split that big number in my mind into small bite size pieces. Let’s say that my goal was $2000 a month. This is $500 a week, which means 10 sales a week at $50 each.
See that? $2000 seems so big, but 10 sales a week… I could aim for that easily! How do I get 10 sales a week? I use my newsletter list, offer a discount, post in social media, etc. Through some trial and error, find the avenue that works best for your business and your market to drive the sales that you need in order to reach your goal. These goals eventually grew from a monthly goal to a yearly goal once I knew what to begin expecting by looking at the level of growth.
Take a goal that feels like a stretch for you and 10x it. Now take action on a level that matches the bigness of your vision.
Let’s Dream Bigger than Big, reverse engineer our goals into attainable tasks, and then take massive action.
Reverse Engineer your goals
In my examples above I’ve been showing how to “reverse engineer” your goals to make them into something that is more attainable. The first step to attain any goal is to create a task list for that specific goal. Get incredibly detailed in this task list, and if you need sub-tasks in order to attain it, then do what works for your specific goals.
Because I love examples and love to give you real life scenarios, let’s walk through an example together.
- Family Goal
- To eat dinner every night as a family
- Plan weekly meals – Create meal plan and grocery list every Sunday for the week
- Begin cooking dinner every evening at 6pm
- Have the children set the table at 6:30
- Have meaningful conversation at dinner with everyone
- Have a family dance party once a week
- Create a Spotify play list with family friendly music
- Pencil it in on the planner
- Take a family vacation to Disney
- Research Cost – If this is something you need to save for, divide the total approximate cost by the amount of months you have between now and the time you are leaving. Then put a tasks list together about how to save that much money each month.
- Book Flights
- Book Rental Car
- Book Hotel
- Purchase Disney Tickets
- Organize care for the dog
- Request time off work
- To eat dinner every night as a family
Get as detailed as you can for each of these goals so you can physically plan for it. Even my note above about “having meaningful conversation at dinner with everyone”… when you specifically write this down you become more intentional about this at dinner. If you don’t have a plan in place, you and your husband could easily spend this time discussing what needs to be done around the house or what bills are due. When you write a plan down and are intentional about it, then this dinner time will have a meaningful conversation with everyone.
Obviously this is an example for you, but my bigger point is that you’re being very intentional about even the smallest detail. Get super specific about what needs to be done to achieve your over arching goal and then work it backwards until you finally reach the goal!
Celebrate the small victories
I mentioned this post in a couple Facebook groups to get some feedback, and consistently the struggle with goal setting is hanging in there through the failures or when you find it’s too hard. I can totally understand this, and my answer is going to be a little backwards. When you don’t set goals for yourself you will consistently be overwhelmed which only leads to procrastination. Therefore, you don’t go very far. It’s just the way it works.
To combat the feeling of giving up, know that the goal you set for yourself has to be something that isn’t optional in your mind. Do you know that in this business I’ve faced a lot of failures and set backs, but it has never been an option for me to fail. Sure I’ve had moments where I wanted to just throw my hands up and give up because things were hard or I was beyond tired of dealing with certain situations. But what does it say about me if I throw my hands up and quit? It says I’m a quitter! Is that what I want to be known for? No ma’am! I’m going to persevere and God is on my side to carry me through the difficult seasons.
The biggest thing you can do to combat this feeling of giving up, is to celebrate your small victories. In our example above, celebrate the first week you sit down on Sunday and plan the meals for that week. Celebrate by buying yourself a treat at the store while you’re shopping for the groceries for the week. Celebrate by grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way to the grocery store.
View failures as an opportunity for growth
If you tell yourself “Well, I only did it this week and it’s probably not going to remain”.. what do you think is going to happen? You will fail. Don’t make failure an option in your mind. Will you likely have failures along the way? Absolutely! But like I said earlier, failures are just opportunities for growth. Don’t stay down in the pit of failure.. pull yourself back up and give it another shot next week.
Strive for a standard of excellence and no excuses. I understand that life happens, and in those moments there is room for grace (or in the words of my wise friend Emily Ley – Grace, Not Perfection). These are the times to hit the reset button and offer yourself grace upon grace, and start tomorrow with a fresh clean slate.
Get some people around you that are holding you accountable for achieving the things you’ve set out to do.
Goal Setting Worksheets
I can write this post and put all the perfect words in here, but until you begin actually following these steps and implementing them into your life, nothing will change. If I were to tell you, “You have to get this Planner… it will change your life!” the act of buying the planner won’t change your life… the act of USING the planner will change your life.
So instead of just reading this blog post, I want you to also print off these free (and beautiful!) worksheets that I’ve created that will help get your 2017 off on the right foot!
Your advice is golden – thank you! Really great advice, simple to understand examples and takeaways to help me to take action – you are an inspiration <3
Thank you so much Stephanie! You’re amazing yourself! I’m so happy you found this post helpful!
This is an excellent blog post and very timely. Goal setting is so important if you want to achieve anything. Success doesn’t come by accident!
Thank you so much! I’m so happy you found this post helpful!
Wow. This is amazing. I’ve read so much about goals: why they’re important, tools and systems to reach goals, etc. etc. But no one has laid it out so neatly and in a way that I can understand and grasp like you just did. I historically have become overwhelmed with fear because I have these huge goals, but have no clue how to make them happen. I can’t break them down into manageable and attainable bits. At least, I didn’t know how until now.
I love this line: “If your career or financial goal comes before your spiritual, marriage, family, or personal goals, then you have your priorities a little out of line.” It hit me hard. So much am I focused on my career and dreams, but family and God need to come first. When that is solid and I am solid in it, I can start to expand. <3
I’m so so happy that this post was helpful for you and I’m so excited to see what 2017 will bring for you!
This is a great post Lauren! I’m a goal-setter as well but with all of the social media ‘noise’ it’s easy to lose sight of just setting nice, calm, reachable goals. Balancing downtime with work is my goal for 2017 (it’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in coding because I get in the zone).
Thanks for thoughtful posts like this – you do make a difference. xo
Thank you so much! I’m so happy this was helpful for you!
It’s very very easy to let the “noise” be a distraction but I’ve found that when I’m super focused and determined to reach a small specific goal, it’s easier to put that aside and really dive deep into that project/task to get the job done! Set some things for yourself that get you fired up!
Hi, I found your post really helpfull but I can not get the worksheet as I allways come to the document of guide to theme choice.
Great blog as well.
I emailed the worksheet to you directly. Let me know if you have additional questions 🙂
Oh my! Thank you so much for this advice! This is really, really helpful. I just started my blog but I am hoping, scratch that, aiming to have one like yours. Design is really something I totally enjoy doing. I started with Tumblr. I have designed custom themes there for free. And after reading your post, I am now super motivated to upgrade it into wordpress. I’ll still have to buy my own domain though, to fully customize themes. I hope I will be able to purchase one very soon. Your motivating posts are something that I will always go back to. Thank you so much!