How many of you set goals? And do you keep yourself accountable? Do you write up a list of goals (or resolutions) in January only and then forget about them by January 23 AND THEN you even feel like crap about yourself because you couldn’t follow through on a goal? Well that’s just BS and there IS a different way to create your goals to grow your business.
As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught in the flow of what’s in front of us right now, which is absolutely acceptable and necessary. But when we can create specific and achievable GOALS and a PLAN of how to get there, we are more apt to not only keep going but to be successful. Think of any big business and of course they have goals and timelines and yes a full staff of 12 people to make it happen. Three months and boom! Done! They’re moving on to the next thing. But really, it’s not going to be any different for a solitary business owner (minus the huge staff of course).
Believe me, I know about the lack of goal setting personally. Most of my own life has been without goals and aspirations. I’m by nature a creative, artistic person who likes to just be in the flow of where life takes me. It’s not always the best for living in a 3D world. I do have strong work ideals, however, and have created three (or more) successful businesses on my own over the past 15+ years. Most of that success has been created from lists (don’t make me count my notebooks!), hard work, and support from other friends and businesses. But what I didn’t realize until recently was my lists weren’t things I was AIMING for, but they were what I had to DO in my immediate future. When I did start creating actual goals for my businesses, EVERYTHING changed.
Our brains are WIRED for success. Small wins and accomplishments actually create the chemical dopamine in our brains, which is our center of pleasure, learning, and motivation. We’re inspired to re-experience the same activity that caused the chemical release in the first place! How cool is that? Our brains want to experience the same feeling again, so we will do whatever we can to create that feeling again. We don’t really learn from our failures anyhow … research shows that our brain cells learn from experience when we do things RIGHT and failure doesn’t even register in our brains.
Cultivating smaller goals on a quarterly and monthly basis that are actually achieved can propel us towards bigger successes. If we tend to create yearly goals, it’s possible to become overwhelmed, we ignore them, and we feel like we failed. This isn’t to say that not everyone can create yearly goals, it just depends on how much of a Type A personality you may be and how much you want to accomplish.
At the end of 2009 I left my successful longtime healing practice and the office I adored. My gut told me to do this (for many reasons), and because of the recession my clients were declining anyhow. Two days after I announced it to my office partners, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I suddenly became her caretaker for the next 18 months, and in my head I really thought I could continue my practice. I bought a really cool artsy business planner from an artist, thinking I’d revamp my business. Well, obviously life went elsewhere and I couldn’t sustain a business while also caring for my mom. I never touched the planner. And felt like crap about myself.
A year later, I bought the same planner, seeing as she had made huge progress in healing and I could now focus a little more on my own life. Never touched it. By the end of that year I was deep in studies in the online world and reframing my whole life and business.
January of 2012 I bought the planner again, and spent part of a day in early January filling it in, thinking about what I wanted. I wrote in little things, vague things, like “sell more products” (which I did), “rewrite website” (which I didn’t), and “be confident” (which I wasn’t). By the end of that year I stopped exhibiting at events with my product business, which was my main bread and butter at the time, gave a huge grand sweep to a lot of other things in my life, and then went, “Huh, well now what?” And yes, I bought the planner again for 2013.
This time, however, I was smarter. I knew I really had to change HOW I did my businesses rather than continuing to not make any money and continue on the burnout path. In early January I set aside a whole day and created an environment in which I could focus on what my heart wanted to tell me about my business. My favorite music, essential oil candles burning, and lots of coffee and snacks were mandatory. I got focused and specific. I wrote things like, “create new website for business mentoring by February 28: pages include about, services, contact, blog” (which I did), “write PDF as opt-in for email list” (check), and “gain 3 healing clients a month by April” (yep). By the end of the 2013 I had much more clarity about where I was going, was celebrating all the little successes, and knew that this goal setting stuff was something BIG I had to do for myself and my businesses. It was a HUGE eye opener. My business has changed dramatically since I have started using goal setting.
What do goals actually DO for us as small business owners?
A: Goals force us to move ahead. When our motivation starts to wane or we forget WHY we do what we do, it can help us refocus.
B: Goals can turn what we might think of as our mountains into much more manageable hills that we can easily walk. Think about it, if we had to suddenly run a marathon tomorrow after you’ve never even walked a mile at a time, you would freak out, right? It would be physically impossible. Having a set of goals with the steps and timeline to help you get there make it much easier to fathom and actually DO.
C: Goals help us believe in ourselves. It fuels our ambition and helps us see a higher potential. When we succeed, we feel good (our brains like it!) and want to do more. Our confidence grows.
D: They keep us accountable. Especially when we tell other people, they keep us on task.
F: They help us LIVE life to the fullest. We can do what we are passionate about and balance it with the desire of why we do what we do. (Travel, time with family, volunteering for charities, etc)
HOW to create our goals?
Let’s start WIDE. We can certainly think about our 5 year plan, keep it in mind, know what we want. But for successful business and feeling accomplished, start small.
*Longer term foundational plans, things that take a little more work and planning
*Examples: Create webinars, annual retreat, travelling to teach
*More immediate, can be easily accomplished on your own
*Examples: $ income this month, number of clients, adjust my website, grow the email list, create video’s
HOW to we get there?
1) WRITE THEM DOWN!
This is kind of a DUH, but not everyone like’s writing. People who write them down are 33% more likely to achieve them! Use a method that works for YOU, be creative, use an app, write a spreadsheet, etc. Keep it short.
2) Share with a friend!
When we can verbally tell someone else, and even request that they check in with us about our goals, we are much more likely to stay accountable and on task. For a few years I have been lucky to have a friend who is as business minded as I am, and we yammer about ideas all the time. She shares lots of ideas for my business (of which I actually do maybe 20%, since she has a ton!) We brainstorm and scheme. And when we can keep each other on task, we’re both more successful. It’s been such a lifesaver for me.
3) Refer to it OFTEN! Put them in a binder, tack them on a board where you can see them daily, or keep it in your phone with pop up reminders.
Of course, there are so many more ways to do this all and many more details about how to write your goals. And if you want to learn more in person, I am facilitating an interactive workshop on how to create your goals from a right-brained perspective in person in St Paul, Minnesota, in mid-December. Click here for all the information.
Regardless if you can attend the workshop or not, these tips should be a great starting ground for you. Have FUN with it above all. Thinking of it as a dreaded “task” or a pressure of “OhmygoshwhatifIdon’tmeetmygoals” isn’t a way to even start. If you don’t make your goals, big deal. They might be pushed back a month, they might have a few rollercoasters to actually completing it, BUT if you JUST DO IT, you’re so much further ahead than if you did nothing at all, right?
I’m cheering you on from the sidelines, knowing you’ll make a goal SOON!