So, Happy New Year to everyone! I am writing this blog on January 1st, after spending quite a few hours raking up bark from under the 40 odd white gums that line our driveway (beautiful to look at, not so beautiful to maintain)… and yesterday, I spent many hours tidying/reorganising my pantry and plastics cupboard, putting in new racks and a wire draw in the cupboard. The day before that I spent working on a marketing plan for my business, along with a budget and reviewing my profit and loss statement, and entering a ton of dates and things in my diary so I can be a little more organised this year. Just now, I had a little look on Facebook and everyone is talking about de-cluttering, setting goals, things they want to do better, and a lot of people wanting to lose weight.
All this organising, sorting and planning! It got me thinking, why do we do all of this at this time of the year? I have never been that fond of the way new years resolutions work, because most people word them like they have failed to do things this year and want to do better next year, and also because, I personally feel like if you want to make a change, there is no time like NOW! You do not need to wait until January 1st to do things. I guess people like a deadline, a date to work towards, and I get that.
Anyway, back to wondering about why we do it now? Is it that we are all so frazzled after a few weeks of manic preparation and celebration, and in some cases, angst, surrounding Christmas that we want to feel under control again and de-cluttering and organising things is a move towards control? Is it that work goes very quiet or some people are on holidays so they have spare time to plan ahead and think about where they are going? Is it that the weather is often super hot at this time of year and some choose to stay indoors and do things in the cool?
Whatever the reason, we all seem to do it, so let’s make it constructive. Writing a bit long Facebook post about all of the things you are going to do is a great start, but if that’s all you do and you never make any firm plans of what to do and when, here is a little tip, goals don’t magically happen once you write them down. They need to be worked on and reviewed regularly.
Whether you set goals, resolutions, whatever, the trick to goal setting is simple. There is a commonly used mnemonic acronym in the business goal-setting world that I think is of value. It is called SMART Goal Settling. The SMART stands for
Specific goals outline the 5 W’s. What, why, who, when and where. Essentially, it is not a vague airy fairy statement, it is very specific and to the point.
Measurable. Measuring your progress on a goal is really important. This element of your goal will have a quantifiable question answered, like how much, how many, that kind of thing.
Achievable means to set goals that are realistic. Dream big by all means, but have a plan of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Making your goals attainable will make it something you are more likely to continue to reach towards.
Relevant goals are ones that can take you towards your long term ideals. They are goals that fit with what you are about and what you stand for, and they also work in with or alongside of other goals.
Time Bound. Set a timeframe or deadline for your goals. It’s all very nice to set goals, but give yourself a timeframe for it, otherwise, the pressures of day to day life will get in the way of your goals.
How many of you get totally caught up in just ‘surviving’ your life and sometimes feel like writing goals is just going to add to the pressure that life brings you, and that you may just feel more disappointment when you don’t reach them? Don’t be afraid to admit that to yourself, because I can tell you with firm confidence that you are not alone. Many, many people feel the same.
I can tell you though, hand on heart, that if you set some goals, write them down, and regularly review them, you will be ahead of more than 95% of the population. In fact, between 1 – 3% of the population actually write down and review their goals regularly. You will find a way to put your goals ahead of the small things that crop up in your day (often, a good question to ask is ‘is this taking me towards one of my goals’ and if the answer is constantly no, perhaps you need to reconsider where you are spending all of your time!)
Once you have written your goals out, the next step is to break them down into bite-sized chunks. What I mean is small achievable steps that you can schedule in your diary so you can meet the deadline you set for your goal. What are all the things you need to do in order to reach your goal? Write them all down somewhere and then decide when you will do things. Do one small thing every day towards a goal. And there is no ‘I don’t know’ in there. If there is something you don’t know how to do then that step is ‘find out/research/ask for help’. A lack of knowledge about something is no reason to halt your goal, it is simply a reason to go find someone that does know!
So I will tell you a little story about a few goals I wrote down in February 2015, to show you that the power of a written goal can be huge even if you don’t follow my advice of breaking it down into actionable steps. I already had a set of goals written down that were to review, but in Feb when I was presenting a workshop and the participants had to write goals down themselves, I wrote a few goals on a piece of card just for something to do. I then promptly lost that card and ever saw it again for ages and thought no more of it, though I recall commenting to my mentor at the time that I was surprised at myself for writing down one goal in particular, as it was big and scary.
So then a few days before my book launch even in November (2015) I came across this card and I was amazed. I had written 3 goals just to fill some time. One of them was along the lines of ‘It is September 1st and I have just sold my business (not Equine Entrepreneurs, my other business) for an amount of $xxx’. At the time, selling that business was not on my radar at all, I had been doing it 11 years, had built it from start up to a household name that was respected in its field, it was my ‘baby’ and it was what I knew, my comfortable place. However, late September, settlement went through for the sale of that business (for more that I had put down as a $ figure on my goal). The second goal on the card was ‘It is November 1st and I am celebrating the publishing of my first book’. Back in February I had no idea what I was going to write about nor the first clue of where to start, yet there I was, November 13th, celebrating my first book launch. So the dates were so close it was not funny. As I said as I told this story on the night of my book launch, I am looking forward to July this year because it my goals are on track, I will be driving a new car by then!
Now, neither goal magically happened let me assure you. There was a TON of hard work, planning and preparation into both thing, all of which I had to keep track of on a big list of things to do, with dates allocated to everything. I hadn’t quite made the connection to those goals I wrote in February, however, they were things that I decided in the year that I wanted to do and I made them happen for myself. It is no mean feat to sell a business, or publish a book, and I managed to choose to do both at the same time… Not something I recommend to be honest, it was a little cray cray around here for a month or more.
Ok enough about my goals, what are yours? Don’t be afraid to set goals, in fact it is the best thing you can do for yourself for the next year.
It’s 2016 so if you haven’t already got a diary (if you are a paper diary kind of a user, I am, and I know a lot of entrepreneurs that are too) then it’s time to go get one. Spend the money on a really nice one that you like and suits your needs, and spend the time putting things into it that you need to know, including reminders for your goals and action steps!
Don’t look for the reasons why you can’t do something, look for the reasons you CAN!
YOU CAN DO THIS!
If you need help with goal setting or something else to do with tarting or managing your small business, I now offer one-on-one sessions (phone or in person) and one-on-one coaching, drop me a line to find out more details.