Now that we know why we’re going on this journey of self-bossery (just made that up- don’t think it’ll be catching on), we need to get crystal clear on what we want to achieve so that we can remain focused and keep the momentum and flow going when our schedule gets hectic. This module will be looking at how you can set intentional and purposeful goals on your own terms and how you can ultimately use those goals to help define your time management, scheduling and business/life.
Lesson One: Setting Intentional and Purposeful Goals
Before we dive in, I want to talk about the pressures of goal setting (as remember, the reason this course exists is to show you that you can create a business on your own terms without burn out, overwhelm or stress).
Personally, whenever I know I need to create a new set of goals for the year, quarter, month or week- I get really excited. The idea of creating new boundaries that will help me stay on track to my version of success thrills me. But, I also know and appreciate the feeling we get when we don’t reach those goals we were so excited about. That feeling that somehow wedges itself into your stomach; a mix of regret, disappointment and just plain sadness. That sort of feeling is one I want to eradicate from female entrepreneurs because it can so dangerous. It can stop us from continuing our journey when we have hiccups and bumps in the road, as well as stop us from viewing those moments as lessons, rather than failures. I truly do not believe we fail (I know that sounds very life coach-y but hear me out). I believe every hiccup, bump in the road, mistake or error is there to tell us something; a lesson or a prompt to change direction. I know that the moments where I thought I had failed and that I was going to have to tell everyone I was shutting down shop were actually lessons. I’ve learned something from every single unreached goal, ‘failed’ idea, bad reaction or missed opportunity. Hindsight is, of course, our best mate but let’s try and shift the negative narrative from failures and turn it into lessons. If you don’t reach some of the goals you set in the next few modules, keep this in mind. You’ve got this.
Goals help you create boundaries that help you stay on the path for what you’re working for. When you have very specific goals, you’re able to make decisions a lot faster as you know where you’re going. They help you focus and get you to where you want to be.
To set goals, I like to use the SMART method. Under this method, goals should be:
S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Attainable
R — Relevant
T — Timely
Keeping all of the above in mind, an example of an unhelpful goal would be:
1. Be more careful with money
2. Be mindful every day.
These aren’t specific enough, you can’t measure/track them nor can you put a deadline on them. A focused goal that follows the SMART method would be:
1. I will save £500 by April putting £125 a month into savings.
2. I will write in my ‘5 Minute Journal’ every morning for 2 weeks/a month/ two months to start the day in a mindful way.
These are specific, measurable, reasonable, actionable and timely.
For goals to be specific, they need to be clear and well defined. Vague or generalised goals can be more of a hindrance than a help as they don't provide sufficient direction, and end up confusing you down the road (the main cause of overwhelm!). Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.
For example: Say you’re a maker selling your wares and you want to increase sales. Putting ‘I want to increase sales’ is just a bit too general. Specify the goal. ‘I will increase sales this month by £300’. You now have a specific number to work with and head towards. Then, specify the strategy that you will use to work towards accomplishing the goal. ‘I will increase sales this month by £300 by engaging and connecting with my ideal customer on social media and offering a new customer discount’. By getting specific with your goals and then following them with the specific actions you’ll do to make it happen, you’ll know exactly what to focus on.
Sidenote: I’m not really one who believes in discount codes. I feel they dilute your brand and all of your hard work by attracting the people who are after a ‘deal’, rather than those who value and appreciate your work. I’ve used this example to further explain the method but I encourage you to think of ways you can increase your sales without offering discount codes or sales (like showing up online in a truthful, authentic way or connecting with influencers who would love your stuff).
Including precise amounts, dates and so on in your goals helps you measure your degree of success. Say one of your goals is to grow your business. If you define your goal as simply ‘to grow my business’, when will you know you’ve reached it? When you’ve got X amount of customers? When you start selling your products through wholesale? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something. A more actionable way of defining that goal would be to say ‘I will grow my business by getting X amount of clients. I will do this by increasing my marketing and content efforts’.
Now, I personally take this section of SMART with a pinch of salt because I believe our capabilities are limitless- but I do also see what it means (plus if I took it out of the anagram, it would spell SMRT and that makes no sense). What I would say is make sure that your goals are possible within your current energy levels. For instance, if like me, you suffer from depression or anxiety or any other sort of mental health illness, be wary of setting goals that are so, so far out of your comfort zone you have one bad day and it goes to pot. It will only demoralise you and erode your confidence, equalling to no work being done and no goals being reached. Push the boat out. Strive for goals that you know will require some work and determination and will leave you feeling satisfied, fulfilled, excited -- not overwhelmed and disappointed.
Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take (i.e. your version of success). By keeping goals aligned with your version of success and your Why, it will help develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely-scattered and inconsistent goals and you'll fritter your time – and your life – away. Say your version of success is to run a sustainable and consistent copywriting business. If you set goals like ‘create branding packages to further customer reach’, they’re inconsistent to your vision and frankly, a waste of time. A vital part of goal setting is to ask every single goal if it’s consistent and aligned with your vision. When thinking of new goals a little further into this module, ask yourself the question: 'does this align with my version of success?'.
I’ve found that the times I’ve actionably worked for and achieved my goals, they’ve had a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success, but also, your sense of urgency increases and your tendency to procrastinate or get distracted will lessen. Your deadlines should be sliiiightly out of your comfort zone so that you don’t assume you’ve got lots of time to get something done- but they should also be reasonable. There’s no point in adding more pressure by giving yourself unrealistic deadlines- you’ll just end up stressing even more and then not doing the work because it’s just too overwhelming. You are still worthy even if you're not hitting your goals in a self-defined timely manner.
Outside of the SMART method, I also encourage you to write or type down your goals, rather than just think them in your head. There’s something about the physical act of putting pen to paper/key to board that sets our goals and makes them real, tangible things (and the Universe is always listening!). Use words like ‘I will’ rather than ‘I’d like to’ or ‘might’.
To simplify, it helps if every goal you set follows this basic goal setting formula:
‘I will (specific goal) by (specific actions I will follow to accomplish the goal). I will do this (deadline). This will help me get closer to my version of success by (how it will help).
Now, let’s think about what goals you want to strive for in your business, life and wellbeing in order to reach your version of success, and why.
Perhaps you are a designer and you want to earn £3000 a month so you can pay for your essentials with money left over to spend on what gives you pleasure, in order to feel financially secure and free (a big part of your version of success). A goal in alignment with this would be:
‘I will take home £3000 next month by booking X amount of freelance clients and selling Y amount of prints. I will do this by increasing my marketing and content efforts, offering an exclusive look at my new collection to my newsletter subscribers and promoting my freelance skills and availability online. I will do this by May 2018. This will help me get closer to my version of success by giving me the financial freedom and space I deserve and desire.’
How does that feel? Good? A bit scary? That's ok. Creating goals and carving our path is a big thing but let's stay with the excitement right now. You're making steps towards your version of success and that's great. Let’s get creating some goals.
Life, business, wellbeing goals.
Now, we're going to answer the following questions to help prompt and encourage some goal-setting.
- What goals in your life do you want to make happen in order to reach your version of success?
Here, I encourage you to think of goals you’d like to make happen in your general life -- your time here on Earth. Don’t worry too much about deadlines or, in fact, any part of the SMART method here. These are goals you'd like to make happen in general throughout your life -- they can be long term or short term. Do you want to buy a house? Travel around the world? Start a family? Eat pizza in Italy (that’s no.1 on my list)? Write them down.
- How will they bring you closer to your version of success?
Think about how you would feel if you achieved these goals. Thrilled, motivated, great? (visualise those feelings). What would happen if you achieved them? What would change?
- What goals in your business do you want to make happen in order to reach your version of success?
Now, let’s think about the goals in your business you’d like to achieve. What income goals do you want to reach? What opportunities do you want?
- How will they bring you closer to your version of success?
Again, think about how you would feel if you achieved these goals. Excited, grateful, engaged? Try and get specific on that feeling as that helps to motivate you to get it done.
- What goals with your health and wellbeing do you want to make happen in order to reach your version of success?
Do you want to start exercising daily? Eating more healthily? Making more time for mindfulness and meditation? Living a balanced, spacious life? Let’s get those goals down.
- How will they bring you closer to your version of success?
Again, think about how you would feel if you achieved these goals. Thrilled, motivated, great? (visualise those feelings). What would happen if you achieved them? What would change?
Don’t worry if you have tonnes of goals or hardly any- we’re going to work on the quantity and the priority next.
lesson two: enforcing your goals
Now that we have some intentional and purposeful goals created- let’s get thinking about how we can plan those goals into our schedules. It’s all well and good deciding what you want to achieve but the real magic happens when we get clear on when we’re going to make them happen.
New Years always feels like a great opportunity to reset your goals, right? The turn of a calendar, the excitement around going back to work after the festive period, the last of the Quality Street’s and cheese. As exciting as New Years can be, it can also bring up a lot of overwhelm -- especially if you feel the previous year didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. There’s a whole 12 months in front of you, waiting for you to plan and plot and goal set. Sometimes, that can be a lot to handle. This is why I encourage my clients to try and plan quarterly, and to not go far too ahead.
We can’t predict a whole year. We have no way of knowing what will happen in the next 12 months -- that’s just life. That’s why planning in quarters can have a lot more purpose than going the full hog. By having your version of success firmly in the forefront of your mind as well as a rough plan for each quarter of the year, you’ll still have the focus and clarity needed to hit your goals but without the pressure of hitting forecasted targets; as well as the flexibility and room to move if something in life comes up. I also find it's quite helpful to try and keep your quarterly/monthly goals to a maximum of 4. That way, if unexpected things pop up throughout the year, you’re not going to get derailed or overwhelmed.
Now, I’m going to show you what I mean (as I know it can sound confusing at first!). Here, you can use the SMART method to make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. These can be from your business, life and wellbeing goals above. If you’re struggling to whittle them down to just four, remind yourself of your answers to the very first lesson. What’s your version of success? Why are you doing this? What are you passionate about? What do you want to be known for? Those answers should be able to help you get even clearer on what you truly want to achieve.
Let’s say your four big goals are to:
- Start a podcast to further your brand’s message and give an insight into your personality
- Book a speaking event or workshop or trade show to show up in a new, exciting way and further your brand’s recognition.
- Make X amount of money a month to feel financially free and stable
- Exercise regularly to allow yourself time for you and to build your fitness and wellbeing.
You’ll then place those goals into specific quarters -- Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 (or start from wherever in the year you are now!).
Then, starting with your first big goal, break it down into 3x monthly goals. The big secret to goal-setting is that by breaking your goals down into little actions, you still have time for day-to-day business whilst making sure you’re always growing, evolving and getting closer to your version of success.
Let’s take that first example goal and break it down:
- Q1: Start a podcast
- M1: Research
- 2: Record
- 3: Launch
And then finally, break those monthly goals into weekly actions.
- W1: Decide on the name
- W2: Figure out your niche + define your target market
- W3: Research and buy equipment
- W4: Learn to edit if you’re not sure how/hire an editor
M2: Start recording.
- Schedule in calls with guests or start writing your episodes if it’s a solo show
- Buy or create your jingle
- Record and edit 3 episodes to start
- “ “
- Create your artwork
- Submit to iTunes and other podcast platforms
- Create marketing material + plan
- Tell the world and LAUNCH!
Do you see how breaking that one big goal into little actions over three months doesn’t seem as overwhelming and scary? Goals don’t have to take over your schedule or life; they can be used as boundaries to help you get to where you want to be and still have time for business as usual. I’m going to do one more example just to make sure we’re super clear on the exercise at hand -- I’ll choose the money one as I’m sure that will be one you relate to.
Quarter Goal: Make X amount of money a month to feel financially free and stable
- M1: Develop my money mindset
- M2: Get clear on the numbers
- M3: Show up
M1: Develop my money mindset
- Start researching money mindset: buy books, listen to podcasts, hire a money coach if possible.
- Keep researching
- Learn about and shift my limiting beliefs when it comes to money
- Keep learning
M2: Get clear on the numbers
- Get super clear on how much I spend and how much I need to be earning
- Change your prices to reflect those numbers if need be
- Start manifesting that specific number. Write it down everywhere.
- Reevaluate your ideal customers
M3: Show up
- Create engaging and inspiring content that cultivates trust and value within my customers/clients.
- Get personal (within the boundary that you’re comfortable, of course) on socials. Talk about your Why.
- Promote yourself! Don’t be afraid of being sales-y. You need to tell people you exist, they don’t just know.
Now, let’s try it for yourself. On the worksheet above, there’s space for you to write down your 4 ‘big’ goals for the following quarters, 3 ‘medium’ goals for the months within those quarters and 4 ‘small’ goals for the weeks within them (not all months have 4 of course but stick with 4 so you’re not overwhelming). Start on the Quarter you’re in at the moment and follow through to the next two- goals aren’t just for New Years and you don’t have to plan the whole year, remember!
How does that feel? Like you’ve just changed the direction of your business? That’s ok. It’s ok to be an evolving person. In fact, it’s human. You don’t have to stick to a set of goals that you once desired but now realise that perhaps they aren’t in alignment with your values or version of success. And it’s also ok if that exercise freaked you out a little bit. Sitting down with ourselves and asking what we truly, truly desire is a big thing. It’s a brave thing. So give yourself a pat on the back and some time for doing that.
lesson three: celebrating your wins
Punishing ourselves for bad behavior usually comes very naturally to us. We don’t have any problem feeling guilty about what we felt was a poor performance. It doesn’t matter how small the screw-up was, we’ll never let ourselves forget it. For some reason, we’re not as fast to celebrate and pat ourselves on the back when we've done a good job.
The more clients I’ve worked with, the more apparent this has become:
When we make a small mistake, we almost always feel bad about it. But when we accomplish a small goal, we almost never feel good about it.
We’re very fast to punish ourselves for a bad performance and yet very slow to celebrate a good performance. This is a huge problem as it decreases our motivation and makes it much harder to achieve our long-term goals.
The key to success is realising that our big goals aren’t going to happen overnight, in the next week or maybe even the next year. But that is okay. We tend to focus on the end goals rather than the small and significant steps we take to get us to that goal, and this is why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate small wins. The problem with not doing this is we end up diminishing our motivation, drive and spirit -- and those are the things we need to get shit done.
Demotivation usually comes because we are unsure of how far we are to our goals. We sometimes blindly believe that the goal is still so far away when it could actually be just around the corner – something we will never know if we give up.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure you celebrate your small goals along the way. Acknowledging these sparks the reward circuitry of our brains and when this pathway is opened, key chemicals are released that give us a feeling of achievement and pride (and makes us want to feel it more). To always be focused on “what's next?” can deplete you. Once you make an effort to start noting and celebrating your wins, it can increase your sense of self-worth and your happiness.
No matter how big or small you think the goal is, celebrate your achievements. “But I haven’t achieved the big juicy milestone yet -- I might jinx it/I don’t deserve to celebrate it” is something I hear from clients a lot (and what I used to say). The thing is, you’re not celebrating because you’ve made some huge achievement. You are celebrating because you’re successfully changing your habits. You’re celebrating because of who you are becoming. And you’re celebrating to reinforce the good behavior and prove to yourself that you’re progressing.
The big, life-changing achievements will come as a result of your daily, tiny actions in the right direction.
It could be as simple as giving yourself a pat on the back for getting out of bed in the morning before 8am or celebrating with a glass of prosecco/lemonade after acquiring a new client. You’re worthy of celebration. Nothing is too small.
Here are a few ideas as to how you can celebrate your wins:
- Write down what you achieved at the end of the day
At the end of every work day, I write down 3 things I accomplished for the day in my notebook, underneath the morning’s to-do list (more on that later). I started doing this when I noticed I had a tendency to finish a day and feel like I had got nothing done. Writing down 3 things makes me realise what I have accomplished in the day and makes me feel much better about my progress. By switching your focus from the undone to the done you can celebrate the completion of small tasks on the way to completing a bigger project.
2. Reward yourself.
Why don’t you treat yourself to some flowers from the supermarket after completing this module? Or maybe even a massage after a massive project you’ve been trying to conquer for awhile? You’re worthy of treating yourself.
3. Bring others into your celebration
Tell other people when you hit a goal and feel good when they say ‘well done’. You’re allowed to have validation for your achievements!
4. Just notice it.
You don’t have to physically celebrate with champagne and balloons (although who wants to miss an opportunity to get the party poppers out!?) -- just noticing that you’ve achieved a win is sometimes enough. I make sure to plan a Reflection Moment in at the end of each week. This is when I go over what the past week has looked like, what I’ve achieved and what I might need to work on the following week. Sitting down, reflecting on the tasks you’ve completed and saying ‘good job, *INSERT YOUR NAME HERE’ is celebrating too.
Now, have a think of some other ideas and write them down. Start to think how you can make them a part of your schedule.
module two recap
PHEW- I know that was a lot to get through but well done -- you did it. To finish, complete the sentences below in order to reflect on what you’ve explored and discovered in this module.
The SMART method means that goals are specific, ...
The goals I want to make happen in my life in order to feel like my version of success are…
My 4 goals for the next 4 quarters are…
I will celebrate achieving or working towards my goals by...
Now, onto Module three!