Planning and Goal Setting For Success

Are you someone that makes resolutions or sets goals?  

Personally, I’m not a big fan of setting New Year’s Resolutions. The problem with resolutions is that they tend to be radical or unrealistic.

For example, we decide we’re going to go to the gym every day or make a dramatic change in our eating habits, and they simply aren’t sustainable.  The next thing we know, we have a bad day and our resolutions fade all too quickly, leaving us feeling like we’ve failed.  

So while I don’t love resolutions, I’m a big believer in the power of planning and goals setting.

You may have heard the quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.”

This quote is so true for most of us, so as we start into the second month of 2018, it’s important to take stock of where your business is so you can plan for the future.  

Sure we can have a vision, but without looking at where we actually are, our goals can lack meaning. Taking inventory of where you are at this moment requires you to think about how your business and life has developed over the past year.

Conducting a Year In Review

As a business owner, we’re often faced with many things on a day-to-day basis, and it’s easy to let things get away from us, but a simple exercise you can do is the year in review.

Personally, I’ve always taken the first part of January to review my business by asking myself these questions:

  • What was my greatest accomplishment that I’m most proud of?
  • What did I love most about my business this year?
  • What marketing efforts worked well this year?
  • Did I achieve my sales targets?

Taking the time to do deep dive on what’s happened in your business the past year isn’t a task that should be overlooked, and it doesn’t need to always be done in the calendar year either. It can be done whenever it is warranted throughout the year.

Part of ensuring future success is looking at what is or isn’t working so you can adjust accordingly, so the year in review process is something well worth making the time to do!

As part of this exercise, I encourage you to take the time to really appreciate and celebrate your own accomplishments. When you run your own business it’s very easy to skip over the celebration, but if you don’t take the time to recognize what you’ve been able to do, no one else will.

Those of you that know me, know that work/life balance is very important to me so as part of this process I also take stock of my personal life as well:

  • What did I love most about my personal life this year?
  • What was my greatest learning experience in 2017?

I’ve been a big fan of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map since I saw her speak at an event in 2012. If you’re not familiar with the Desire Map, it’s based on what she calls “core desired feelings” and focusing on how you want things to feel.

I’ve been using her Desire Map process and planner since 2015, and what I’ve learned from this methodology is that when you’re clear on how you want to feel, decisions become much simpler.  You’ll know when to say “No, thank you” and when to say “Hell, YES!”.

After my review of the year, I move into planning the next year.  From a business perspective, I created my 2018 plan and forecast back in October to ensure I start the year off right.

Then, I use the time at the end of the year to reassess and ensure those goals and targets are right for the current state of the industry and any other variables that may affect my plan.  

Setting Your Goals for the Year

Next, I create SMART GOALS.

If you’re  new to SMART goals, SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely (some people say trackable)

SMART goals are designed to bring structure to our desired objectives.  Best of all, SMART goals are specific and highly focused on our important objectives.  Since they’re timely/trackable, they provide us with milestones as move through the year.

The key to SMART goals is that they shouldn’t be too broad, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to refine them enough to be attainable.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

Let’s say your goal is to grow your business in the coming year. To translate this into a SMART goal you’ll need to decide on HOW you’re going to make that happen.

  • Specific: My store will improve its average sale by 5%.
  • Measurable: I’ll measure my progress by tracking the sales data on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
  • Attainable: I’ll merchandise my store with add-ons included in the merchandise stories and at the cash desk.  I will train my staff to suggest the add-ons.
  • Relevant: Adding additional add-on to each sale will enable me to grow my business and increase my revenue.
  • Time-Based: I’ll increase the average sale by 5% by year-end.  

Once you’ve got your SMART goal set, you’re ready to start making it happen and you’re much more likely to follow through as you’re clear on the steps involved.

Sharing Goals Makes Them Real

As business owners we usually have no shortage of big goals, but when’s the last time you actually shared that goal? I know that idea can be scary, but sharing your goals is powerful and something I highly recommend.

Sharing your goals with trusted individuals such as a mentor, accountability group, peers or your boss is a way to make your goals really come to life. When you share your goals, you’re setting your intention and asking for accountability.  And when you share your goals with others you can bet that your overall commitment to that goal will be considerably higher.  

Sometimes we don’t share our goals out of fear. We’re scared of being judged or looking like a failure if we don’t get where we planned. Or we’re fearful that people might rain on our parade.

The reality is that when I share my goals I find that I get valuable input to improving my approach or am introduced to a business or connection that’ll give me some guidance. Letting people support you and provide feedback is simply making good use of your resources.

I recently watched a great TED Talk. According to the speaker, Barbara Sher, we have to change our common understanding of why we so often fail to bring our dreams into reality and failing to share is a big reason. Sher believes that isolation is what kills our dreams, not our attitudes.

Finally, sharing our goals gives us motivation. When you share your goals, the mere fact that you tell to somebody else can act like an incentive. And not just from the accountability, but about being motivated and ready to act.

So are you ready to start planning and set some goals?  

Download your free copy of my goal setting workbook here to get started now.