As the new year rolls in, many of us are working on reviewing the direction of our business and planning for the future. How to set achievable goals that will help you to get closer to your dream lifestyle and will actually be sustainable?
I’m not much of a planner and setting up any long-term goals usually turns out to be quite challenging. If I do end up setting my goals, sooner or later, I realize that the list is just too overwhelming and give up. In other cases, I just vaguely follow it along, deep down knowing that I won’t reach it anyway…
So how to set achievable goals for the year ahead? How to stay realistic in your business vision and not overwhelm yourself? Here are some actionable tips to follow!
Before we get started, I want to say that my main message with all of this is simple – have fun with your year! And plan it the way that feels the best for you.
How to set achievable goals for the year ahead?
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
– Bill Gates
A few quick tips before we’re getting started:
- Make your goals meaningful and relatable FOR YOU. Just because everyone seems to be running for $10K months doesn’t mean it’s something you need to do as well.
- Keep them alive! What good does a goal do if you set in your planner and never work on it? Instead, align your daily actions with your goals and make sure you’re heading right to it, day by day.
- Don’t stress it. Things change and we’re not in full control of everything that happens in our lives. Goals are important for achieving your dream life but don’t stress it if things don’t work out as you’ve initially planned.
STEP #1: Be realistic
This is a tough cookie for many but, first of all, step away from your ambitions and just take a moment to look at your year in a nutshell.
How many bigger projects would you, realistically, be able to carry out, without feeling overwhelmed?
See, fitting all our months full with exciting projects make our year look AMAZING. But, in reality, we just know, by default, that several obstacles will come our way.
First of all, recognize which usually is the most active time of your year. It might a few months per year when you truly feel like your environment is perfect for work! For me, it’s usually spring. I really blossom in the spring and have a new kind of energy. So some of my biggest projects usually are born around that time.
Spot your possible vacations or downtime. Do you tend to wind down around Christmas (which can cut out as much as 2 weeks/per year)? Do you go on regular vacations or, possibly, travel long-term which also slows you down? Are you planning to move? All of this should be taken into consideration.
Including just the simple fact that each month you might have at least a few days off when you’re not full of energy to move along with your work. You might get sick in between as well.
I’m not trying to set up a doomsday scenario here and there definitely are things we can’t predict (hello, Corona!) BUT being realistic will help you realize that maybe instead of 10 major goals you should focus on 3 this year!
TIP: Reduce the number of goals you want to achieve in the next year. Dream big and be bold but don’t overwhelm yourself with the list alone!
STEP #2: Choose quality over quantity
This also leads us to the next point. Quality over quantity!
Would you prefer making happen 5 – by the way – projects that are carried out in rush and under a big amount of stress OR, instead, making 2 bigger projects happen that both get the necessary care and attention?
For example, let’s look at the possible timeframe for creating an online course.
I’ve always been an intuitive business owner so I just go along with my new ideas.
So, for example, I can come up with a new course idea and make it happen within a month.
But even with this action-based mindset, I still have other things to carry out: warming up my audience, creating a relevant freebie or masterclass to get more eyes on the product, creating a launch sequence or promoting on social media. No matter what it is, such course execution would take around 3 months at least. And jumping right in the next adventure might be plain exhausting!
So if creating such a project is on my to-do list, I have to keep in mind that for 3-4 months that might be my main focus. Which blocks out already 1/3 of the year!
TIP: FOCUS ON THE QUALITY when planning your year. Think in terms of 2 super products you can put out there instead of 5 things people won’t care about.
STEP #3: Write it all out
Before setting your goals in the actual calendar, write them all down in one big pile so you can see the bigger picture.
This will help you to organize your ideas better and be more clear on your overall vision.
Ideally, you could start doing this before actually planning the year. I gather this list through the year, whenever each new idea comes along.
Later on, you can start prioritizing or maybe combining some of the ideas or projects. Remember, that you don’t have to do everything within one year! If you’re not sure about your capacity of getting things done, plan it month by month and whatever stays on the list can go into the next year – if it’s still important and makes sense for your business!
TIP: Before the next step, make sure to separate your big goals into smaller chunks as well so you understand the work that goes behind it & celebrate these small achievements as well! Step by step, day by day!
STEP #4: Choose what makes you truly happy
Sometimes we FEEL like we MUST do some things.
For example, you might’ve talked about a new project with your audience a few months ago and now you feel entitled to make it happen.
Once you have your list ready, take a caring look at it and understand which of these goals and ideas TRULY MATTER.
Our businesses change and they go along with times. Just because you had a new idea 2 months ago, doesn’t mean that it’ll still be sustainable now. Or maybe you’re just over it…
Let yourself choose what makes your heart sing. It’s YOUR business! And if something doesn’t feel right anymore – let it be!
STEP #5: Leave yourself room to be flexible
This brings us back to being realistic. You need some wiggle room just because you never know!
For example, if you’re planning to execute a project within 4 weeks, instead make it 5. In the “worst-case scenario” when everything gets done in time, you can have one additional week off!
I also like starting some projects on the spot so I usually leave quite a lot of time for any last-minute decisions. To be fair, most of my calendar is last-minute decisions… But it definitely doesn’t work for everyone!
MY ABSOLUTELY GO-TO TIP: Do what makes you happy
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I don’t like planning per se. I do plan some general things I want to do but I usually focus on my micro plans instead of macro – planning in days and weeks instead of months.
Find a way to plan that makes YOU happy. After all, it’s your year to come!
Do you want to focus on 1 major goal and align all year with that, letting the rest flow? GO FOR IT.
Do you want to do it digitally and plan out each day? Or do you prefer having it all in a brainstorming mode, picking new projects as you go? YOU DO YOU.
Often, I talk on my Instagram about my lack of planning skills, how I just like to flow with the times and see what happens. I don’t consider it the best way to run the business but it works for me!
Therefore, my main message here truly is to not put yourself into any MUST-DO frames but find the best fit and go along with that.