It’s important to have goals, but if not planned out carefully, we will set ourselves up to fail by not taking steps to ensure our success. Setting general goals without a plan is like planning to go to a new destination without consulting a map; you may get there eventually, but you’ll surely get lost along the way and end up on some detours.
Instead, if you follow the six steps I outline below, you will find ways to create measurable goals, determine the feasibility of actually reaching each goal, measure your progress, reach your goals and set new goals for the future. You will most likely also really enjoy working toward your goals because you know they will be realistic and achievable.
My Six Steps to Setting Reachable Goals are:
Defining Your Goals
The purpose of goals is to create something to work toward and achieve. So logically, the first step of setting and reaching your goals is to define them. By defining goals, I mean to write down what it is you want to accomplish, when you want to start, how you intend to reach your goal and when you plan on achieving your goal.
Making goals measurable is one of the most important ways to succeed. It’s a great goal to want to lose weight or increase sales, but if you don’t set a specific goal with a plan and a deadline, you are destined to fail because you haven’t really committed by stating exactly what you want to accomplish by what date.
Writing these things down accomplishes two things:
- It creates a commitment and a path toward achievement and holds you accountable
- It allows a way to quantify or measure your goals and accomplishments
Maybe you’d like to lose some weight. It’s probably not going to just happen on its own, so by writing down your goal, how you plan to achieve it and when you want to achieve it, you can start creating a plan of attack. The same goes for increasing monthly sales or training for a marathon.
Review Your Goals
While it’s great to set goals, it’s also very important to review them to make sure they are reachable. Nothing will set you back faster than unobtainable goals. This step is a way to logically work through your goals to determine whether they are reachable or if they need revising.
Below are two examples of goals you might be setting and a breakdown of how you can review each type of goal.
Example goal 1: lose 20 pounds in the next two months through diet and exercise
- Generally, a safe pace to lose weight is 1-2 pounds per week
- Assuming there are approximately 5 weeks per month, two months equals 10 weeks
- To lose 20 pounds in two months, you would need to lose 2 pounds per week
- To lose that amount of weight, you will need to burn 7,000 more calories per week than you consume
- If you eat 2,000 calories a day and naturally burn 1,500, you will need to find a way to burn about 1,500 calories a day to reach your goal
Example goal 2: increase sales by 10% from the previous month by focusing on repeat customers
- If your sales last month were $5,000, a 10% increase would set your goal at $5,500
- If an average sale is $100, that means you’d have to have an additional 5 sales
- If there are about 5 weeks in the month, that’s about 1 additional sale per week
- Reviewing your customer list, you see that you have 250 customers that have purchased in the past 18 months, but not within the past 6 months
- If your closing rate with repeat customers is 10% and you contact all 250 previous customers, you can expect approximately $2,500 in additional sales
Revise Your Goals
After reviewing your goals to determine whether they are realistic, now is the time to determine whether you will be able to stick to them as planned. It’s great to have goals, but if they are not reachable or realistic, they are useless. The point of having goals is to have something to work toward and reach.
Perhaps for losing weight, you don’t know that you can burn quite the amount of weight you were hoping to each day, so instead of 20 pounds in two months, you adjust your goal to lose 15 pounds in two months. This is still a great accomplishment and is better than not trying at all. Even if 10 pounds is more realistic, there’s nothing wrong with outperforming your goals.
For the sales example, after running the numbers, you see that you could potentially increase your next month sales by 50%, you may want to increase your goal to grow your sales by 35% instead, or really push yourself to see if you can reach a 50% increase! Just be careful not to set goals that are too high or unrealistic.
Revisit Your Goals
It’s important to check on your goals regularly to make sure you’re on track to reach them. If you find that you have fallen behind (or ahead), it’s always okay to hit the reset button and revise your goals again. As long as you are making progress and learning, you are being successful. You may not reach your goals as planned the first time, but progress is a positive thing. Find a way to measure your results that will work best for you so you will be more encouraged to follow through.
When trying to lose weight, it might be helpful to weigh yourself daily or weekly – whatever works best for you. If you revised your weight loss goal to 15 pounds and halfway through, you’ve already lost 10 pounds, you know you’re probably on track to reach your goal as planned.
In growing your monthly sales, it might be helpful to review each week’s progress at the end of the week so you can create an action plan for the next week. If you’re halfway through the month and have not made any progress, this is the time to find additional ways to reach your goals. Maybe you need to follow up emails with phone calls, send out samples or offer return customer discounts.
By reviewing your progress throughout the process, you will never be caught off-guard if you are under- or over-performing and you can make changes to your original plan to kick it into high gear and make more progress.
Reflect on Your Goals
So you’ve made it through to your goal deadline and hopefully you’ve reached or exceeded your goals. Even if you failed, you’ve gained knowledge and experience so you can better plan next time, which is exactly what this step is about. Now that you’re experienced in setting personal goals for yourself and you’ve made the effort, this is the time to reflect on how it went and what could have been done differently.
For weight loss, perhaps you were working out at home with lots of distractions or you weren’t carefully keeping track of calories consumed or burned. Maybe what would work better next time is to go to a gym, get a calorie counter app or an activity tracking device so you can get more accurate counts.
If your sales goals didn’t pan out how you had hoped, find reasons why that was the case. What feedback did you receive from customers? Were your emails effective? Was pricing competitive enough, were you calling them too soon or too late after their previous purchase? Review all these items to find solutions for the next go-round.
Re-Set Your Goals
Whether you exceeded reaching your goals or failed miserably, you tried and at this point, you should have a thorough understanding of why. Now is the time to plan for the future and re-set your goals so you can continue to grow.
If you reached your weight loss goal, perhaps you want to focus on decreasing your body fat percentage and increasing your muscle mass. For new sales goals, perhaps you want to try growing a customer base of new or conquest customers for one month or trying to increase sales of a particular item.
Keeping goals reachable and fun will increase your likelihood of achieving them and being in the habit of setting reachable goals will increase your success in life. Taking these steps each time you want to set a new goal will make you aware of your abilities and limits and prepare you to set and reach more goals in the future!