Most people know how to set SMART goals. The challenge comes in creating and following a plan to make those goals a reality. During the initial days of setting a goal, enthusiasm drives motivation to achieve results. But it isn’t long before it’s life as usual and the goal is a distant memory. Research suggests that less than 10 percent of people feel they achieve their goals. If you’re ready to realize your goals, you need a plan.
#1: Do it at Night – A good day starts with a good night. At the end of the day, get clear on which tasks will move your closer to your goal, and start those first thing in the morning.
#2: Keep it Simple. Keep it Short – Focus on the key tasks that will really make a difference in your business. If your goal is to make money, then only focus on tasks that will support your revenue-generating efforts.
Do NOT list everything that you need to do on your to-do list or you’ll get overwhelmed. Consider using listing your top 6 to-do’s for the day on an index card or using an online task management tool like Teuxdeux to keep track of your list.
#3: Finding your Way Back – A daily action list also serves a busy entrepreneur in another key way. When you get interrupted (and undoubtedly it will happen), you can very easily find your way back to productivity with one glance. Which of the six things were you working on?
Lack of productivity results from a lack of clarity and just as success leads to positive feelings and more success, an unproductive day doing a lot of nothing leads to all sorts of bad feelings and a negative success loop.
Here’s how to create one.
1. Make Sure Your Goals Are SMART.
SMART goals give you clarity and a deadline for achieving them. Here is a basic definition of SMART goals:
Specific: Your goal is clearly defined. “I want to make more money,” is vague. “I want to make $10,000 per month,” is specific.
Measurable: You need to quantify your goal so you know you achieved it. This is where being specific helps. What constitutes “more” in more money? Whereas a specific dollar amount is measurable.
Attainable: It’s good to set goals that make you stretch and challenge yourself, but you set yourself up for frustration and failure if your goal is impossible.
Relevant: Your goals should fit within your ultimate plans in life.
Time: You’ve set a date by which your goal will be achieved.
2. Work Backwards to Set Milestones.
A challenge to reaching goals is that often the due date is so far away, many people put off taking action until it’s too late.
Instead, looking at the amount of time you have and the goal you want to reach, create mini-goals that move you toward the big goal. For example, if it’s your goal to make $10,000 a month in your business within six months, create mini-goals of how much you’ll earn at the end of one month (i.e. $2,000/mo) and three months (i.e. $5,000 per month).
You’ll know you’re on or off track when one and three months comes and you’ve hit or missed your mini-goal.
3. Determine What Needs to Happen to Reach Your Goals.
During this step, get specific on what it takes to reach your mini and big goals within the time frame. Using the $10,000 a month goal example, to make more money, you need to get more clients or customers. In this step, you want to determine how many clients you need to make $5,000 and $10,000 per month in your business. How many prospects need to enter your sales process? How many pitches need to be made to generate a sale?
4. Decide What Actions Are Required to Reach Your Goals.
What tasks do you need to do regularly to fulfill #3 and your goal? For example, if you need to talk to 10 people to make two sales, what actions do you need to take to find 10 people? If you need to have 100 leads to find 10 people to talk to, what actions will it take to find 100 leads?
In business, the tasks in this section usually involve marketing and guiding people through your sales funnel. However, it also involves providing a quality product or service and keeping your customers and clients happy so they’ll keep coming back and/or refer new prospects.
5. Put Your Actions Into a Schedule.
When you complete #4, you should have a list of tasks that need to be completed to reach your goal. Now it’s time to put those tasks into your schedule by making a daily plan. These are the tasks you do each day to generate the prospects and leads. It’s also the tasks you do to create and deliver your product or service. In essence, it’s your job.
If you’re starting a part-time business around an already busy life, it can be a challenge to add more tasks to your daily routine, but it’s crucial to achieving your goals. One way to make it all work is to learn how to manage and maximize your time.
6. Follow Through
Once you’ve completed the above steps, you should have your daily schedule and targets to shoot for during the process of working on your goal. The next step is to follow your schedule.
Do the daily tasks you’ve assigned yourself to do. That seems like a no-brainer, and yet most people don’t achieve their goals because they don’t do the work.
While you’re at it, keep track of your accomplishments and results. Set aside time every month or so to evaluate how well your plan is working, and tweak it if you’re not make the progress you want.