Have you ever noticed that goal setting advice on the web and in popular Planners sounds oddly similar?
After starting my own business I began researching goal setting and I noticed a trend. Everyone seemed to be talking about a similar goal setting formula AND everywhere I looked someone was selling a version of it.
Before I spent another dime on someone’s claim of the “Ultimate Goal Setting Success Planner” I wanted to know more about this formula and if it really works. (Spoiler Alert: Its real, it works and you can download my SMART Goal Setting Checklist FREE below!)
Goals vs Must Dos
The last big something I set out to accomplish at my traditional job – before taking the leap and starting my own business – was to find a new job.
Honestly, I never considered finding a new job a “goal.” Finding a new job was a must do. You know what I’m talking about, right? The moment you know something has got to change and you start plugging away at making that change?
What was your most recent must do or must change?
If you are like me you formulated plan in your head to make that change and you just keep working toward it. When something didn’t work you regrouped and tried something new. But you just keep going until you achieve that change.
We were setting GOALS. You and I were unconsciously making our way through a goal setting formula that would yield the outcome we desired.
Goal Setting Rebel
Before becoming a solopreneur I considered myself a goal setting rebel.
My goal setting rebellion started early in my career path in and was continually reinforced. The thought of setting goals for an entire year always seemed silly to me. And I thought my professional goal to do a great job and exceed expectations was the only goal I needed.
Yearly performance plan exercises always felt like a joke to me.
Year after year I would quickly copy and paste from the year before, delete what I’d accomplished in the current year, and add a few new timely items. I’d send it off to my boss and HR to be filed away.
When performance review time came no one actually looked at that document. Performance was rewarded, or not, based on archaic work place rules.
This yearly ritual of creating a performance plan that served no purpose only served to reinforce my goal setting rebellion.
Giving Up the Goal Setting Rebellion
When the opportunity came to go out on my own the weight of that responsibility – of being responsible for EVERYTHING – gave me a new perspective on the need for setting goals.
As a new solopreneur business owner I saw goal setting through a different lens. It took on a new level of importance.
I began to understand that goals can serve a bigger purpose than being just words on paper. They could be more then just a checkbox for a boss and the HR Department.
As a solopreneur goals can be used to manage your time and your budget.
Goals are what keep your business profitable and growing.
SMART goals are part of a smart business strategy.
So how, fellow goal setting rebel, can you use the formula everyone is selling in a Planner or online course to grow YOUR business?
And what actually is the formula?? (Reminder: You can download my SMART Goal Setting Checklist for FREE below)
What are SMART Goals?
It turns out that the goal setting formula that pretty much everyone is selling – whether they know it or not – is based on research done in the late 1960’s.
This goal setting formula goes by the acronym SMART.
In 1968, Edwin A. Locke published an article “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives” that he and others have continued to research and expanded on over the years.
He found that employees were motivated when specific goals were given. A key finding was that these goals were also challenging. He outlined his findings using the acronym SMART.
According to Locke there are five key drivers that motivate employees to succeed at their goals.
The goals needed to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Goals that fit these parameters, for example, would be to increase the number of lead generation calls you make each month by 50%. Or to increase the number of monthly newsletters you send for the year from 2 to 4. Or to create and release a new online course by March 1 that generates $5,000.00 in income the first six weeks.
Using the SMART Formula
The smart formula isn’t complicated but it does create a little bit of anxiety for me and maybe for you too.
Anxiety isn’t all bad. It’s a signal that something is challenging. And challenge is very important when setting goals.
S = Specific goals are allow you to define what you are working toward. And equally important, because you know what you are working toward you will know that you have achieved it.
This one is a no brainer even for a goal setting rebel like me.
M = Measurable. I don’t know about you but this is where my chest tightens and a little bit of anxiety pops up.
I often remind myself that these are business goals. YOU are setting these goals for YOUR business. There is no wrong answer here except for one that causes you to lose money.
Goals can be measured different ways. If you measure a goal by checking the box that says completed then that is your measurement.
And if your goal is measured by increasing or decreasing something that then is your measurement. It’s your business you decide. Just be sure to challenge yourself!
A = Achievable is next and is one of those words that you should be careful about. The tightening in your chest that measurable caused is probably starting to relax, but don’t relax too much.
Give yourself a goal that is a stretch to achieve. You will work harder to achieve something that takes effort. Locke proved that theory through his research.
R = Realistic helps to keep you from setting yourself up for failure. If you have a BA in Political Science and set your goal to become a pediatrician in three years you are going to fail. The same can be said for overly complex goals like figuring out the algorithm to the winning Mega Millions lottery number in 6 weeks.
SMART goals should be a challenge but also something that you have a shot at realistically achieving.
T = Time-Bound is the final word in the SMART acronym. This word is exactly what it sounds like. Your goals need a timeline, a time certain, that they will be achieved by.
Time can be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. It’s your business you decide.
As a recovering goal setting rebel, I use a quarterly goal setting system for my business. One day I hope to be able to plan out yearly goals but, since my business is my business, I choose to use what works for me.
Using Time to Your Advantage
I see the fifth word in the acronym, Time-Bounds, as the secret weapon in SMART Goals. The “T” is where I was able to let my goal setting rebel free to create a goal setting system that actually works. Feel free to give my system a try!
I break out the year into its four quarters and give each quarter an over arching goal. I also give myself permission to adjust that goal if it’s to the benefit of my business and family.
Before I start a new quarter, I make sure the overarching quarterly SMART goal still fits. Then I break out each of the three months and give each month a SMART goal that builds of the anticipated successes of the previous month.
For example, based on previous experience and the season of life my family is in, Quarter 4 (Q4) October, November & December will have an internal facing goal.
I use this time to push hard to complete existing projects and to learn new skills. I select moderate external business growth goals in Q4.
By assigning internal goals in Q4 I allow myself to realistically achieve challenging goals such as learning new skills AND implementing them. For you it might be creating a new product or service to launch in January.
Allowing Q4 to have inward facing goals also gives me flexibility and time with my family during the fall holiday season. Because that’s why we have our own businesses, tight? For the freedom and flexibility to spend time with the people who are important to us.
Don’t be afraid to build who and what is important to you into your SMART Goals for the year!
This is YOUR business – make the best choices for YOU.
Setting SMART goals for your business IS worth the time and effort. Goals are more than your internal motivation to change something in your business or life. They are a simple strategy that will allow your business to grow.
If you are a goal setting rebel, or a recovering goal setting rebel like me, now is the time to leave behind your bad experience with goal setting and give it another try.
You are the boss so plan YOUR best goals!
Use the SMART Goal formula as a tool to guide you. Make goals that are challenging so that you have something to really work toward.
Choose goals that will help you grow your business how and where you want to it go.
One more thing, SMART goal setting has been proven by years of research so don’t spend your time re-inventing the wheel. Your to-do list is already long enough!
And before you invest a lot of money in a course or Planner download my SMART Goals Checklist below for FREE and give goal setting a new try.
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