You know the feeling: You’re motivated, excited and focused as you work toward your dream. Then, life happens.
The initial excitement you felt fades away. You want more traffic for your blog or website, but it becomes harder and harder to make yourself sit down and write.
You find yourself creating excuses. Days and then weeks go by. Those ambitious goals you dreamed up are nothing but far-off fantasies dancing around in your head.
You feel guilty for not following through, and you say to yourself:
-I’ll never be able to stick to my goals.
-I don’t push myself hard enough.
-I need to stop being so lazy.
-I’m a failure.
But, I have great news for you: Your dreams don’t have to fizzle out like a defective Fourth of July firecracker.
In this post, you’ll learn:
-Why getting crystal clear about your goals will amplify your results
-How to achieve goals by measuring your progress to stay on track
-How to break goals down into smaller, manageable chunks (so you don’t feel overwhelmed)
-How to prepare like a pro for inevitable setbacks that could derail you
-Three word-for-word scripts that you can use to find an accountability partner
-A quick step-by-step action plan that you can implement today to start reaching your goals
-Here are three steps for creating goals that matter to you:
Step 1: Use This Secret to Craft Great Goals
Determining the outcome you want to achieve is the first step. An outcome goal is the end result, and it sets your direction. When thinking about your outcome goal, it’s extremely important to be crystal clear about what you want to achieve. And as a rule of thumb, you should know these two facts:
Vague goals will get you mediocre results. Specific goals will get you amplified results. Why? Because vague goals aren’t goals; they’re wishes.
"I want to blog regularly" is an example of a vague goal. Here’s how to turn that wish into a specific goal with two questions:
-"What is the outcome I'm hoping to achieve by blogging 'regularly'?"
-"What does 'regularly' mean to me? Every day? Once a week? Once a month?"
These questions would turn that vague goal into a specific goal, like this:
I want to write two guest posts per week, so I can grow my email list to 500 subscribers within the next 90 days.
By getting specific, you’ll get a better idea of what steps you need to include in your plan of execution. This way, you can take your goal from wish to reality.
The 90-Day Timeframe
In the example above, I set a timeframe of 90 days.
Our brains have a difficult time envisioning anything beyond 90 days in the future. In the book, "The Entrepreneurial Instinct: How Everyone Has the Innate Ability to Start a Successful Business," Monica Mehta explores the role of brain chemistry in entrepreneurship:
"Your short-term goals are the motor that drives you toward your aspirations, little by little. To harness the motivating power of the green light, set only a few short-term goals at a time. Each should ideally take no more than three months to achieve."
Next, you’ll need to track your progress.
Step 2: A Simple Method to Stay on Track
"Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so." – Galileo
Performance goals help you track and monitor your progress toward your outcome goal. It’s impossible to improve performance without measurements. So, your performance goals need to be measurable and trackable.
Take a look at your current situation. How can you increase the likelihood you’ll reach your goals?
For example, if your outcome goal is to get 500 subscribers within 90 days, one performance goal could be:
I will increase the number of guest posts published per month from zero to two.
When setting performance goals, ask yourself these two questions:
-What benchmarks can I use to measure my progress?
-How will I know if I’m on the right track?
Breaking your goals down into smaller, more manageable parts is the final step.
Step 3: Think Small to Achieve Big
You have no direct control over outcome goals, which can be challenging.
For example, you can’t control how many new subscribers you get each month. Even if you create amazing content and promote it on popular websites, there’s no way you can force readers to physically push the subscribe button. Another challenge is that outcome goals can feel unreachable.
Refer to the previous example of growing your email list to 500 subscribers. If your list currently has 50 subscribers, the idea of a 900 percent increase (from a psychological standpoint) seems daunting. That’s because growing an email list involves many factors, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
You have to write guest posts, get traffic, create opt-in offers, etc. Man, just thinking about everything you need to do feels downright scary. Once fear starts kicking in, it's difficult to take action.
That’s why breaking a goal down into actionable steps you have direct control over makes it a lot easier to focus your efforts. This is where process goals come into play.
While you can’t force people to subscribe to your email list, you can do these three things:
-Create the best content on the planet
-Write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche
-Develop a good reputation by reaching out to other bloggers
Process goals are the stepping stones that will lead you to your goal. If you consistently work on them day by day, you'll successfully reach your larger goal.
Here is an example of a process goal: Every Monday between 8 pm and 10 pm, I will research bloggers, find out what their needs are and draft four email pitches that include three ideas for guest posts.
Supercharged Goal Setting in Action
I know, that was a lot of information to take in. Don’t worry, though; I’m going to walk you through this process step-by-step.
Let’s say your outcome goal is to have 500 subscribers on your email list within the next 90 days.
Since I’m just starting out, and I don’t have a lot of content or traffic yet, my best bet is to focus on getting more traffic to my website.
One way to do this is by guest posting on sites that have a lot of traffic. So, my performance goal will be to write more guest posts.
I haven’t written any guest posts yet, so I’m starting from zero and working my way up to two posts per month. Now, I need to think about what I can do each day to meet this performance metric.
-Every Sunday between 5:30 am to 7 am, brainstorm blog post topics and add them to my blogging plan.
-Every Monday between 8 pm and 10 pm, research bloggers (find out what their needs are) and draft four email pitches that include three ideas for guest posts.
-Every Tuesday from 5:30 am to 6 am, send the email pitches to three bloggers.
-During the week (Monday through Friday), write 500 words per day.
Step 4: Prepare for Setbacks By Creating a Contingency Plan
If you’re busy like the rest of us, you can expect any number of events to throw you off your game.
Proactively planning for failures can boost your chance of success.
When I started planning solutions to my potential roadblocks in advance, I gained the confidence that — no matter what happened — my progress wouldn’t be completely derailed.
Instead of having to make a tough decision during a moment of weakness, I simply referred to my contingency plan.
Using the process goal, "During the week (Monday through Friday), write 500 words per day" as an example, two potential roadblocks immediately come to mind:
1. I’m too distracted to write.
If I start getting distracted by Facebook, Reddit and social media while I’m trying to write, then I will purchase a special notebook for my writing projects. I will use it instead of trying to write on my laptop. That way, I won’t be tempted to constantly check my Facebook.
2. I don’t know what to write about.
If staring at blank sheet of paper causes me to freeze up, then instead of trying to write, I will explain the concepts out loud and use my iPhone to record myself. Next, I will play back the recording, transcribe exactly what I said word for word and edit as necessary.
Step 5: Reach Out to Others
I’ve found it extremely helpful to have an accountability buddy. This is someone who shares similar goals, so you both have each other to lean on and keep each other accountable.
How do you find an accountability partner? Well, I’ve got great news for you: It’s a lot easier than you think. The best way is to connect with like-minded people is in the Unsettle Facebook group.
Reaching out to people can feel awkward and uncomfortable. You may be thinking to yourself, "What do I say? How do I reach out? What if we don’t have anything in common?"
That’s why I’ve put together three word-for-word scripts you can use to start connecting with people today.
Script 1: Finding an accountability partner
Hi [name], My name is [your name], and I’m a fellow member of the Unsettle private Facebook group. I set a goal for myself to achieve [your goal]. I noticed that we both have very similar goals, so I decided to reach out to you. I’m looking for someone to keep me accountable. This would include weekly 30-minute check-in calls to make sure we’re both on track to reach our goals. Would you be interested in being accountability partners? If so, I’m available for our first accountability call: -Tuesday, after 7 pm EST -Thursday, between 5 pm and 8 pm EST -Sunday, any time after 2 pm EST -Thanks, [your name]
Script 2: Asking for advice
Hi [name], I saw your post on the Unsettle private Facebook group about how you were able to build your email list to 1,000 subscribers in such a short period of time. I have a couple of questions about [add your question]. Is it okay if I sent them your way to get some feedback? Thanks! [your name]
Script 3: Adding value to the community by sharing your knowledge
Hi [name] I saw your post on the Unsettle private Facebook group, where you said you needed help with figuring out the best way to approach bloggers about guest posting. I've successfully pitched four bloggers this week and have received four guest post opportunities. I'd be happy to share my tips with you! Would you be interested in having a 30-minute Skype call? I'm free: -Tuesday, after 7 pm EST -Thursday, between 5 pm and 8 pm EST -Sunday, any time after 2 pm EST -Please let me know if any of those times work for you. My Skype name is [your Skype name]. I’m looking forward to chatting with you! [your name]
Your 5-Step Action Plan for Crushing Your Goals
Step 1: Grab a sheet of paper or create a new blank document. Spend no more than five minutes writing down where you want your life to be three months from now.
Next, circle one goal you can reasonably achieve within the next 90 days. Remember to make it specific.
Example: I want to lose 10 pounds within the next 90 days.
Step 2: Do an assessment of your current situation. What’s one thing you can start doing right now that will increase your chances of successfully reaching your goal? How will you know you’re on the right track? What benchmarks can you use to measure your progress?
Example: I will increase the number of times I go to the gym each week from zero to one.
Step 3: What steps will it take to get there? Take two minutes to break your goal down into smaller steps.
Example: I will attend Zumba class on Wednesdays from 7 pm to 8 pm
Step 4: Write down one potential roadblock that could derail your progress. Decide how you prepare for it, using the if-then framework of preparation.
Example: If I encounter X, then I will do Y
Step 5: Go to the Unsettle Facebook group. Find one person you’d like to connect with. This could be someone who has given you advice in the past, or someone who is working on something similar as you.
Send the person a friend request (so your message doesn’t get sent to their spam folder). Reach out to him or her using one of the three scripts above.
You’ve completed the action plan and are well on your way to crushing your goals this year. Give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve earned it!
I know staying motivated isn’t easy, but try not to get too down on yourself. Success takes time.
Brittany Trama is a Productivity Coach who helps ambitious entrepreneurial women with soul-sucking jobs, find the time and focus to build their side business so they can earn enough money to finally kick their 9-5 to the curb. Get her free 4-page guide: “The Quick Guide to Creating Bulletproof Goals” — free.
This post was originally published on Unsettle.org