How do you plan for your future?
Realistically, I am still trying to balance my priorities in the goal setting process….but I am getting better. In this post, I’d like to share my transition from aimless to focused goal setting. For a long time, I drifted aimlessly day to day, week to week and year to year doing as I was told or doing what was expected from me. Nowadays, I am getting better at planning for my life and business goals.
Usually, people think hard about making the long term, big picture decisions but the everyday, consistent work tends to be driven by moods and intuition, so it sometimes does not get done. This was me! What I realised I benefitted from was a more organised approach so I do the everyday jobs consistently. What I do now is to manage my time, write down what I am trying to achieve and set specific goals.
- What is your ‘Why?”
First, think hard and ask yourself WHY you want to achieve your goal. Knowing the WHY will give you the motivation to move forward. Think about your personal values. Ask yourself – Whose goal is this – mine or someone else’s? What is your dream? What is your mission statement? This was missing from my goal setting exercises, which meant that even when I did manage my goals, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I realise now that they were someone else’s goals (and I was still doing what was expected from me).
So, my WHY and the reason I get out of bed every morning to work on my business is because I want to say that I made a difference in shifting the mindsets of children and the people that work with children for the next generation. How we treat our children today has a direct impact on how they grow up as members of society and the world and in that process. We must also be mindful of how we treat ourselves too. I help parents to treat themselves better and live a fulfilled life so they can bring up their children to grow up with high self-esteem. I also help individuals who want to make changes in their personal lives.
- Is it S.M.A.R.T?
In other words, are your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and in a Timeframe you can manage? Try to find the middle ground. Bear in mind your enthusiasm and ability. Some of your goals might be to learn the ‘How to…’ to do the next step. I will revisit this in step 4.
- Make a Plan
This is crucial. The way I work is to write down my goal first. This makes it official and shows my sense of commitment. Then I write down the outcome I want to achieve (remember the WHY) and by which date. Then I write all the smaller steps I need to do to reach my destination – i.e. I break down my bigger goals into S.M.A.R.T chunks.
It’s a little like going on holiday. Once you choose and book your holiday destination, you are committed and know where and when you are going. You can then begin to make a detailed step-by-step plan of the major tasks that are needed to get there. For example, which airline, how you will travel whilst in that place, what you will see, what clothes you need to take, sort out what and how much currency you will take, and work out the other costs etc.
- Be Consistent and Accountable.
So, you have your smaller steps written out, with a date and outcome, now you have to JUST DO them – take ACTION. This can be challenging. As I mentioned in step 2, the ‘How To…’ is a goal in itself, which I didn’t recognise. This meant that because I didn’t know how to do something, I began to get distracted which led to procrastination and then I was not motivated to move on because I am a perfectionist and wouldn’t start something until I was sure of the end result.
Learn from my mistakes. If you don’t know how to do something, find someone (take that action) that does know and be accountable to someone so you can report back how you are doing and that way you can also measure your progress. Of course, life happens, so factor in some margin for unpredictable interruptions and delays and be flexible. Be aware that in business, things take much longer than you expect them to.
- Evaluate Regularly
What I am learning is that you need to be evaluating regularly. Like a lot of business owners, I didn’t look at my business or marketing plan regularly so it was easy to lose focus and see how the smaller steps were leading to the bigger goal. This also meant that I was being pulled aimlessly by other people’s agenda’s or attending networking events without a real purpose. Learn to say ‘NO’ to people. It was like deciding on my holiday destination but not bothering to take a map. Leaving it to chance that I will get to the destination!
- Reward your Achievements
For 2016, I have written my top 3 goals, but I will learn from my own reflections. I will now re-assess my goals and activities on a quarterly basis and evaluate monthly. Also, this way I can keep track of my achievements and celebrate my successes. I must admit, this is something I still find challenging to do but I will do it as best I can – maybe I will do a blog post about this in the future?
I plan to celebrate and reward myself whenever I reach a goal, for example with a massage, an evening off to read and relax or a trip to the cinema. It is important you also think of rewards you will look forward to, to help motivate you to reach your goals.
Set your goals now for a successful 2016! Please let me know if I can help you.