Setting clear goals can help you achieve more. Whether you are looking to advance your career, start a business, invest in property, improve a relationship or lose weight, having something to work towards can give focus and keep you on track.
I have many goals which I work towards; they are broken up into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily targets. This may sound a lot but it actually takes very little time to manage. While my techniques won’t work for everyone I’m going to share how I work towards my goals and I’d love to hear any thoughts or feedback you might have.
A yearly goal needs to be ambitious yet realistic. I like to sit down at the beginning of the year and think about what I want to achieve in the coming 12 months in my business and personal life. To keep my goals concise, I write them in bullet point form and break them up into sections, for example all my goals related to health are together.
A printed copy of the yearly goals are then placed on my fridge meaning I will see it every morning and evening. Seeing it every day really keeps things focused and holds me far more accountable than if it was left in a drawer or somewhere out of sight.
I’m aware that a year is a long time and things can change quickly, with this in mind I review the yearly goals every 3-4 months. By no means is this an excuse to downsize my goals if I don’t feel as ambitious or if I think I’m not going to hit them, rather this is a chance to evaluate. In many cases I’ve hit a goal very early in the year meaning I need to make things more challenging for myself, or the business will have changed in some way meaning that a particular goal may no longer be relevant.
I enjoy spending half an hour evaluating my yearly goals as it can often be inspiring to see how much has been achieved. Even achieving some of the minor goals can be a real confidence boost and spur me on even further to achieve the more ambitious ones.
At the start of each month I’ll spend 10-15 minutes looking at my yearly goals and seeing what I can either work toward or achieve in the coming month. Monthly goals are the ones which I find most challenging, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of planning to conquer more than is feasible in a month or trying to complete lots of different goals across areas such as business, health, investments etc.
Everyone will be different but I like to have at least one significant thing which I want to achieve in a month and then some lower level goals. A significant goal may be something as simple as writing two good quality blog posts for our website, delivering a presentation at a business networking event or starting a new advertising campaign.
My monthly goals will also be affected by the time of the year. In February I may start to put more focus on weight training ahead of an upcoming Summer holiday, December may be a time when I try to spend more time with my family and months such as February and March are likely to be heavily business focused.
I enjoy weekly goals as I feel they’re the easiest to achieve. I wouldn’t advise planning first thing on a Monday morning as this tends to be a very hectic time; I like writing my goals on a Friday afternoon for the following week.
I like weekly goals as it’s a long enough period of time for it to be meaningful. Achieving a goal in a relatively short period of time can also be very rewarding. Weekly goals can range from things such as:
- Going to the gym three times.
- Achieving a sales target.
- Attending a business networking event.
- Spending quality time with my family.
The goals will vary depending on the time of year and what is currently happening in the business and my personal life but having set weekly goals gives me something clear to work towards everyday.
I have a love hate relationship with daily goals. As someone who can struggle to stay on one particular task I find having goals helps to keep me disciplined. Before setting daily goals, I was what many call a ‘busy fool’. Working very hard, getting lots of little things done, reacting to situations as they arose and never feeling like my working day came to an end, the joys of being your own boss!
After reading ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferris I realised I’d been spending my working days all wrong. Instead of jumping in and out of lots of different tasks, reacting to any situation immediately as it arose and feeling guilty when I decided I had to stop working at 10pm because I could no longer keep my eyes open. Setting daily goals gave me a clear direction. Each morning I would sit down and write a list of what needed to be done and what I wanted to get done. I would then rank each item on the list in order of importance. If a daily to do list looked particularly lengthy I would take anything that wasn’t urgent and place it into the following day.
I removed all distractions, if I was working towards completing a task on my to do list I was not allowed to answer my phone, check my emails or make a coffee until it was completed. Between tasks I would then allot myself a short period of time to refresh before moving onto the next. After the first day of doing this I genuinely couldn’t believe the results. In one day I had achieved more than I ever thought was possible and what was more, I didn’t feel as stressed or even as busy. Anyone who works for themselves I’m sure will be able to relate to feeling that ‘the work never stops’ however with a daily to do list you can feel content in closing down your computer knowing that you have done everything that you set out to do that day.
While daily goals are fantastic and something I now live by Monday – Friday they do come with their problems. Unforeseen circumstances can get in the way and destroy your best laid plans for the day, this can range from an extremely urgent task landing which cannot be put off through to getting stuck in a severe traffic jam. Days like this used to frustrate me greatly and while they still fustrate me I understand that life can get in the way of to do lists, which is OK. I’ve learnt to adapt and re-evaluate my daily goals if my time has been restricted meaning only priority tasks will be completed and the rest will go into the following day.
I know a lot of people and I’ve found that the more successful have clearly defined goals and work to set targets. I don’t believe this to be a coincidence. I’ve found that I have achieved a great deal more in the last 2 years as a result of becoming heavily goal orientated and I’ve actually hit every target that I have set. I would recommend everyone to set their own goals and start working towards them.
For anyone who hasn’t read 'The 4 Hour Work Week' I’d very much recommend it, although I feel some of the topics within the book aren’t achievable as a lot has changed since it was written, there are still some absolute golden ideas which have helped me in my business and personal life immensely.
I’ve created some very ambitious goals for 2018 which I’m eager to work towards, I’d also love to hear what goals you may have for the year ahead!