goal setting

So, you are ready to make some goals. In order to discuss goals are going to use the analogy of a vacation that you are traveling to by car (picturing the station wagon from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is perfectly acceptable). The goals that you set are like the ultimate destination, the place that you’re going.

The vehicle that you’re going to use to get there are the short-term goals that you’ll be achieving along the way but without an ultimate destination, a very specific ultimate destination, you aren’t going to get anywhere. That’s like trying to drive to Florida on your vacation and saying that it is somewhere “over there” east of you.

What Are Specific Goals?

What exactly are specific goals? Let’s take one of the goals that you probably have because everyone trying to achieve success as an entrepreneur has this goal; to make more money. You can’t just use the goal of making more money, becoming rich or financial independence either, because those things mean nothing specifically. How are you going to know when you get there? How will you know if you’re on the path to get there?

Unless you make your goals specific you’ll have no direction; no specific place on the map that you can arrive at and know that you’re in the right place. So, let’s take our example of wanting to make money. Instead of having a goal that is this general, try creating a goal with something like increase income by $10,000 per year by the end of the year, or by month 12 if you happen to be in the middle of the year.

So, you’ll know if you’ve actually achieved that goal because you can look in your bank account, or at your financial information, and see that you earned an extra $10,000 in the past 12 months. Also, when you get to month six you’ll be able to look and see just how on track you are. If you are around halfway there, you know that you’re on track. If you haven’t made anything, you really need to step up during the next six months.

Aim High, like the Air Force

Do you know what you’re capable of? You might think you do, but for most people what they can actually achieve is quite different than what they think they can achieve. You have probably heard the axiom: whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. People have set world records in athletic events, and experts have deemed some of them the fastest or best the human body is capable of, and then someone from a remote part of the world didn’t get the memo that there was a limit as to what the human body was capable of until after they’d already broken the record.

Set your goals higher than you think you can achieve. Of course, don’t set them outrageously high to the point where they’re unrealistic, but set them higher than you think you’re probably capable of. For example, our previous goal of earning an extra $10,000 in 12 months is pretty reasonable and probably achievable depending on what you do to make it happen. If your goal is to make $100,000 over the next 12 months, that’s pretty unrealistic.

But what if your goal was to make an extra $15,000 in 12 months? You might think that you’re only capable of making an extra $10,000 but by setting the go higher you have something to aim for and suppose you only make $12,000; that’s still $2000 more than your original goal.

Putting Goals into Action

You want to make a list of around five goals to start with. The number is not important; it is arbitrary. What is important is that you create enough goals that will allow you to accomplish something substantial in the next 12 months, or five years, or whatever your time frame is, and not so many goals that you have no chance of achieving them all. Then, for each goal, you’re going to make a plan of action. Earlier we used the analogy of driving a car to a vacation destination. Your plan of action is that car; it is the vehicle that is going to take you all the way to the end where your success waits.

Your plan of action is going to take you from where you are now all the way to the end result, which is your goal. It is going to include milestones or places that you stop along the way to check your progress as well as specific small goals that you’ll need to achieve to get to the big goal. It is sort of like playing a video game – you have to beat all of the easy monsters before you get to the big boss at the end of the level.

If your goal is to make an extra $10,000 in the next 12 months then you need to know what specific things you need to do to make that happen. Are you planning to start an online store? Are you making investments? Whatever your method is, you’ll have specific things that you need to accomplish, and that makes up the framework for your plan of action.

What If You Don’t Know How to Get There?

Sure, you might be saying, this is all well and good, but what you do if you don’t know how to get to your destination – or achieve your ultimate goal. There are several ways that you can figure it out. You can do research online, you could write to some of the people that you admire and that you know of had success and asked them how they were able to achieve their goals. You can read a few books or get advice from family or friends. There are many things that you can do to learn how to get from point A to point B.

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