Can you believe we only have a couple more weeks left of 2015? Looking back on all that’s happened this year, it’s hard to take it all in! There has certainly been a lot of change and growth, and it’s exciting to think of all the big things that can happen next year.
Before the holidays, it can be challenging to turn our thoughts away from Christmas shopping, baking cookies, and finding the perfect ugly sweater to wear to your friend’s holiday party in order to focus on the new year that’s right around the corner. However, I’m going to encourage you to take a moment and make some plans and set goals for your business. There have been too many times where I’ve gotten caught up in preparing for the holidays and then the sugar/food coma of the post-holidays that I step into the new year without a plan. And, you guys, it’s not fun. I feel unprepared and way behind when that happens.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to start working towards goals for your business. So, before this year comes to a close and the countdown to midnight begins, plan out the big things you want to happen within the next 12 months. It doesn’t need to take a long time, but I promise you the pay-off will be worth it! Go ahead and grab a cup of cocoa, read this post for some insight on setting goals for your business, and then get some help planning for the big things you want to happen next year with the free workbook I designed!
Setting Resolutions vs. Setting Goals
New Year’s is synonymous with resolutions. We start the new year with intentions to improve our lifestyle with a healthier diet and more exercise. Or perhaps we make a resolution to be kinder or adopt an attitude of gratefulness in all situations. I feel like oftentimes people envision their ideal life or the best versions of themselves, and make resolutions based off that vision. Why is it, then, that resolutions so often fail after the first few months of the new year and we revert back to our old habits?
It’s because we don’t turn that resolution into a firm goal with action steps that will help see it to completion.
Let’s use the classic, most popular New Year’s resolution of weight loss as an example of the difference between a resolution and a goal:
When someone says they want to lose weight, they may have made that decision as a way to lead a healthier lifestyle. However, since it’s so vague and broad, keeping that resolution is going to be very difficult. In order to increase the chance for success, the resolution needs to be given a specific end goal with action steps to make it possible. So, “lose weight” really should be changed to “lose 15 pounds in three months” and then the action steps would be finding a healthy meal-planning guide and setting up a workout routine.
So how can we take this classic example and turn it into one that relates to your business? How can you turn a resolution for your business into a tangible goal with action steps to see it fulfilled?
Why Set Goals for Your Business?
I’m sure it’s stating the obvious, but setting goals is important for your business, especially if you want to see it grow. However, it’s easy to start your business and then keep flying by the seat of your pants. If you’re busy with getting things done day-by-day, it can be hard to make the time to plan for the future. But when you run a business without a plan, two things happen:
- You’ll eventually reach a destination you’re not sure you want to be at, which means wasted time and resources getting onto the right track.
- There’s no way for you to mark your progress to see how far you’ve come if you're not working toward a specific goal. This can be really discouraging!
As a business owner, it’s essential to always have a plan with clearly-outlined goals to work toward. When you have an easy-to-follow roadmap, then you can route each day to help you reach your goals. Even in the midst of busyness and the mundane items on your to-do list, you can still see where you’re heading and you’ll be able to mark the progress you’ve made.
For example, if you set a goal to reach 1,000 email subscribers, you’re going to make intentional decisions that will help you meet that goal. You’ll be promoting your newsletter, you’ll be providing content upgrades, etc. With that goal set, you’ll see the growth happening because of the action steps you’ve put in place.
And once you finally meet that goal? Set a new one with higher expectations for yourself.
How to Set Goals for Your Business
Hopefully at this point, you’re ready to make big goals for your business and plan the action steps to make them happen! Before you do that though, there’s one more thing to keep in mind as you set goals for your business: keep them realistic and manageable.
Have any of you ever written up a very ambitious to-do list for a day, only to end the day disappointed with yourself because you didn’t even get half the items checked off? I can’t count the number of times I’ve done that to myself. I think of all the things I want to get done without taking the time to consider the things that can be done in the span of a workday. Those kinds of to-do lists are deceiving. What looks like an unproductive day is really just the result of putting too much pressure on ourselves or underestimating how much time certain tasks will take. This same scenario happens when we set goals. Not being realistic with our to-do lists and goals can be the best way to set ourselves up for failure.
Does this mean you shouldn’t dream big? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I hope that all of you have wonderful, big, crazy dreams! However, in order to make those dreams happen, you need to plan thoughtfully and work diligently. Goals aren’t solely the big end product; goals are the milestones in-between as well. Set your goals with that fact in mind.
For example, if you’re someone who is still working at a 9 to 5 job while growing your side business, your big dream could be to run your own business where you can have an independent lifestyle and do work that fulfills you. That’s a big goal, and it’s intimidating looking at it as that one big piece to tackle So what does look like when it’s broken down into smaller goals and milestones?
Getting your paperwork together to make sure your business meets all the legal standards
Establishing your brand and hiring a designer to create a visual identity to bring it to life
Blogging to establish expertise and plug into your niche
Saving six month's worth of living expenses
And furthermore, each of those goals can have their own sub-goals to make them more bite-sized and help you stay on the track to success. The goal of getting your paperwork together and making sure everything meets legal standards can be broken down into the individual tasks of filing for your LLC, getting your EIN number, opening a business bank account, etc.
A great way to write out your big dreams and then hone in on things that are feasible to accomplish in the here and now is to write out where you want your business to be in five years, in three years, and in one year. I even have this included as an exercise in the free workbook below!
I hope you put these tips to good use while planning your big dreams and goals for 2016. Another great tool to help get your thoughts clear and plan your steps to success is this free goal-planning workbook! What are your big dreams for 2016? I’d love to hear about them along with any helpful ways you set goals in the comments section below! With proper planning and setting goals that will help you easily reach success, I just know that your big dreams will happen!