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As we're nearing the end of 2015 (I can't believe it either!), it's time to start setting goals for the new year. If you've been reading for a while, you know that I like setting intentions more than goals because intentions allow for more grace, but there are times when you need to at least take a look at the things you want to accomplish and make a plan.
Instead of writing your goals down on random sheets of paper or keeping them all in your head, it's time to invest in a real goal planner. Some place where you can write down your goals, both big and little, and make a plan to accomplish them.
Trust me, seeing my goals written out and creating a step by step plan has really helped me meet the goals that I have for Lemon and the Sea.
For a long time, I was afraid that if I told someone what my goals were or if I wrote them down, I would just be memorializing these ideas when they failed. But I finally realized that I had to stop being afraid to plan and dream big.
Types of Goals
Creating goals and reaching them can be tough, especially when you're not used to it. So I would start by picking a few important areas of your life or business and set goals for those.
- Financial Goals: These are big for those of us running our own businesses. We know how much we need to keep going and what we would like to earn. There are lots of articles out there about figuring out what to charge and how to starting earning more, but you can start by setting a financial goal and then make a plan based on that number. Even if you're happy with the money you're earning, you can set other types of financial goals: savings, debt payment, or retirement are great places to start.
- Blogging Goals: Pick a type of post you would like to write more of or a number of posts you want to publish each week. If you're happy with your blogging already, take a look at how engaged your readers are and how you can provide them with new information that they can benefit from.
- Social Media Goals: This can be about the number of followers you have, but if you're not much of a numbers person, try setting a goal based on engagement on social media, frequency of posts, or getting people back to your blog.
- Content Creation Goals: Want to create a course or write an e-book? This is the place to start making a real plan to accomplish that. Figure out how best to serve your audience and then plan out steps to make that happen.
- Client Goals: (One of my biggest goal areas) If you're in a service-based business, you may want to get more clients, a consistent number of clients, or a certain type. If you create products, maybe you can create something that appeals your ideal client or build up a new collection that can sell more.
- Education Goals: Want to go back to school or learn a new skill? Make that a goal and then find a way to fit that education into your schedule.
- Work/Life Goals: Maybe you're totally rocking business (yay you!), but you want to spend more time focusing on something else. Family, exercise, self-care, and networking are all great goals that get you out of your head and off the computer.
Things to Consider when Creating Goals
You can make all the goals you like (New Year's Resolutions anyone?), but if you're not being at least a bit realistic, you're just setting yourself up for failure. There are a few things you need to take a look at so that you can make goals that you can achieve, but that will still push you.
- Where you are now: Take a good look at this and be realistic about your current circumstances. If you've only had one client since you started your business, getting 50 by next month might not be the best number to set. You also need to consider the resources that you have available: monetary, equipment, time.
- Where you want to be: Your goals should move you in the direction you want to go. If you want to get booked out for a few months in advance, find the best way to accomplish that. It probably won't be helpful for you to spend all your time on social media building an audience that doesn't need your service.
- Your audience and message: Your goals need to line up with the people you're serving and the impact you want to have. I won't make a goal of learn tax law because I don't want to help business owners manage their taxes (I love design and I'm sticking to it). If your goal is to change your audience so that it's a better fit for your message, that's okay too, just make sure that you're aligned with the overall focus of your work.
- Your priorities: If you're focused more in one area than another, that's normal. Just recognize this and work with it. If you're a mom and want to be able to spend time with your kids, your goals need to reflect that. It doesn't mean you can't also be successful in other areas, it just may be that you get there by a different path.
- Who you are: Please hear this: be true to yourself when you set goals. Just because someone you admire is creating e-courses and running webinars, doesn't mean that you have to. The best way for you to reach your goals and be satisfied with the outcome is to make sure that you're really being authentic. I'm not setting a six figure goal for my business because as much as I would like to make that kind of money, I want to focus more on creating fantastic designs while working with individual clients.
Realistic Goals vs. Reaching for the Stars
I'm all for reaching for the stars and really going big when setting goals, but I also believe in being realistic. It's a balance you have to figure out for yourself, but I recommend making most of your goals realistic and then setting one go-for-the-gold, reach-for-the-stars, crazy-big goal. The realistic goals will give you a good indicator of how you're doing and will keep you motivated as you reach them. The big goal will push you forward and give you something to strive for.
Reaching Your Goals
I can't guarantee that you'll reach your goals, but I can give you some tips on getting there.
- Create a plan: Set a timeline and write out each step you will need to take in order to accomplish your goal. Breaking it down will help you evaluate what you'll need to do and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
- Work on one piece at a time: You can't do everything at once and you probably won't accomplish your goals overnight, but you can take things one step at a time and mark off each thing as it's done.
- Don't focus solely on your goals: Please don't make reaching your goals your whole focus. You need to take time to do what you love, take care of yourself, and spend time with those you love. If you're always working, you're going to burn yourself out and reaching your goals won't mean as much.
What if You Don't Reach Your Goals?
Sometimes you won't reach your goals. If that's the case, I forgive you. I understand you. And I want you to forgive yourself. Your worth does not depend on reaching goals. It does not depend on how much money you make or how many followers you have. You are worthy already and there is no reason to be ashamed of failing. In fact, if you truly tried to reach your goals, I don't believe you're a failure at all.
Accept that not everything works out the way you planned. The timing may not be right or maybe something was missing that you didn't even know about. Maybe you put in hours of hard work and it didn't seem to pay off. That's okay. You tried and you found something that didn't work. That's not failure, it's life.
Take some time, eat some ice cream, evaluate what did and didn't work, and reflect on all the small successes you had along with way. Then get back to work and make another plan.
Goals and God
You may think that making goals in not biblical because they mean that you are trying to control your life instead of giving it to God. This is something I struggle with on occasion as I set goals for my business. God doesn't want us to set goals and strive towards them in pride and selfishness, but He also doesn't want us to be lazy and wait for Him to do everything (Proverbs 6:6-11).
God has given us talents, passions, and skills for a reason. He has also called us to do good works (Eph. 2: 8-10, Romans 12:4-8, Matthew 25:14-30). As Shana Shuttle puts it in her article for Focus on the Family, "Forging ahead without seeking God or sitting back and doing nothing can stem from fear or a lack of faith. However, setting goals and consulting with Him shows that you trust Him and believe that He is able to lead you while you are moving forward."
Accept that your goals may change as God reveals His will to you. Recognize that God has created you as a whole person who needs to grow in every aspect. Remember that your goals should always reflect God's teachings. And give yourself grace when you realize that your goals are not in line with God because He is forgiving and will lead you back to the correct path.