If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing online and enjoying it, I’d have laughed myself silly and most probably recommended that they visit Mathare Hospital for a check up.
That was my mentality about being online…until a mentor coach practically forced me to create a website for my business and write 3 articles for the website.
It took 2 weeks to complete that assignment and the only reason why I didn’t drop out of the coaching program was because I had paid my coach in full and there was no refund.
I still remember how scared I was when I finally created a website and my fingers were hovering over the “Publish” button that would make my website go live.
The next part of my assignment was to SMS all my friends and family members, give them the website address, and ask for comments on the 3 articles.
I had shivers I tell you.
Fast forward to 2016…and I spend a lot of time writing online and openly share my knowledge and experiences with strangers.
What is interesting is that publishing those 3 articles gave me the confidence to start writing. So I set a goal to write a book by 2017.
The 3 articles turned into a book that was ready and selling by May 2015. The book then became the foundation of a coaching program. The coaching program led to the creation of a business blog…and brought me to Mombasa.
Dream big, but start small
Setting and achieving goals is a challenge for many people. Almost everyone will tell you that they have big goals.
However, people get stuck, procrastinate, and never achieve their most desired goals. New Year Resolutions die off within a week, or before January is over. Big dreams quickly turn into ashes with time.
The trick to achieving your big goals is to dream big, and then break your goals into small steps that you can work on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
A 5-step goal achievement process that actually works
This process is what helped me write my first book a book 12 Weeks to Startup: How to Turn Your Skills, Talents, Knowledge, and Experiences Into a Business. The 5-step process is the secret behind my business management and growth.
I’ve used it to:
- turn the book into a coaching program.
- become a blogger and writer.
- become a better networker and public speaker.
- start hosting teleseminars.
- move my business from Nairobi to Mombasa.
The system works so well that I’ve taught it to my clients with amazing results. One of my clients was able to triple her business income in one year.
Best of all, using this process consistently will help you reduce overwhelm and procrastination because you’ll work on your goals one step at a time.
Simply put: the process works!
And here are the 5 steps…
Step 1: Look into the future
Think beyond the goal and fast-forward 5 years into the future:
- What is your vision for the goal at that time (5 years from now)?
- Where do you expect this goal to have taken you?
- What will you do when you have achieved the goal – 5 years from now?
- What achievements will this goal have helped you make as you worked on it?
Once you’ve answered these questions, break the overall goal into 5 main steps so that you have yearly goals for the next 5 years.
Step 2: Backward goal setting process
Work backward to further break down your yearly goals set in Step 1 above. This will give you a clear idea of what you need to work on each year. To do this, ask yourself
- What do you have to do in Year 4 in order to realize your Year 5 goals?
- What do you have to do in Year 3 in order to realize your Year 4 goals?
- What do you have to do in Year 2 in order to realize your Year 3 goals?
- What do you have to do in Year 1 in order to realize your Year 2 goals?
Answering these questions will also help you see your line of sight, which includes the targets you should focus on during Years 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
Step 3: Create a Line of Sight
My first mentor, the one that helped me overcome the fear of going online, taught me how to use a visual line of sight to keep track of my yearly goals.
Here’s an example of my current line of sight that was created in 2013:
(To create a similar Line of Sight using Microsoft Word, go to the Insert tab, select SmartArt, then Processes. Scroll down and pick Upward Arrow.)
Your line of sight will keep your goals at the top of your mind. Each year in the line cumulatively builds onto the next one and you take slow steps per year to achieve your goals.
You’ll notice that my line of sight has no financial goals although it is for my business. This is deliberate because when I focus more on finances and not on business development, I end up losing sight of what’s important for the business. I do have financial goals which I keep track of weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly.
If you’re in business and want to set financial goals for your business:
- Start by deciding how much you want your business to earn by the end of the 5th year.
- Next, evaluate how much the business is currently earning or will be able to earn in the first year.
- Finally, create your line of sight using your financial goals as the tracking points for Years 2, 3, and 4.
The first year in business will give you an indication of what to expect in Year 2 and you can edit your goals accordingly.
For a new business, I’d advise that you keep your line of sight the same for the first 2 years as you learn more about your business and industry.
If by the end of the second year your line of sight is still too ambitious, then create a more realistic one for the next 5 years using the knowledge and experience you’ll have gained by then.
Step 4: Create your goals for Year 1
It will now be easy to set your goals for the next 12 months.
You simply use the system in Step 2 and work backward from the end of the year to identify what you need to do each month. This will break down your goal into manageable bits that you can work on slowly per month.
As you can see, the goals in my line of sight aren’t completely SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound). This too is deliberate as I’m only using the line here as an example. My real line of sight has numbers and dates.
For example, for 2015, I had a number of books to sell, a number of workshops to conduct, and a targeted number of people to coach in my three main coaching programs. And for 2016 and 2017, business growth will also include hiring other staff such as an assistant and content creator. My yearly plans contain the breakdown of 6 sub-goals that will help me achieve the main goal for that year.
So when you set your goals for each year in your line of sight, also take some time to find out exactly what is required in order for you to achieve that goal and add these requirements into your yearly plans.
Step 5: Take Action
Setting goals and getting clear about your line of sight will not help you achieve the goals. You need to take deliberate and consistent action daily, weekly, and monthly. Here’s how I do it:
- Monthly: Break down your monthly goals into 3-6 targets per week. Do this at least one day before the beginning of the month.
- Weekly: Evaluate what you’ve done that week and compare it to your goals for the week. Pick up whatever’s pending and add it to your planned targets for the next week. Then create a new plan for the next week – keeping within the 6-target limit. I do this on Friday afternoon.
- Daily: Each evening, evaluate what you’ve done that day and compare your achievements to the weekly targets. Pick up what’s pending and add it to tomorrow’s to-do list. Again, keep to 6 main to-do’s per day. Keep your main goals at the top of this list so that you remember to do them first each day.
Once your plan is ready, the most important next step is this: Work your plan. You have to implement this plan if you expect to have positive results from it. To do this:
- Start by scheduling activities in your calendar, diary, or planner.
- Take consistent daily action in the direction of your dreams.
- Track your results and continue to refine your plan over time.
A few more things…
Remember to evaluate your progress daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. If you want to, you can also do quarterly and mid-year reviews of your goals.
This will help you keep track of progress and make changes fast when you see that you’re veering off track. It will also help you identify areas where you need to grow, learn, or gain some experience in.
To do this, set aside 1-2 days each year to evaluate your achievements for the year before updating your plans for the next year. I do my yearly review in November and create my final goals for the next year a week or two before Christmas.
Don’t wait until you have a perfect plan before starting on your goals. Start with what you have and edit your plan with time and experience. As the saying goes, a half-baked plan that’s implemented consistently produces better results than a well-thought plan that’s not implemented.
Setting up this process may seem like a lot of work, and it is. It takes time, persistence, and determination to get it right. However, once the process is set and you’ve made it a regular practice, you’ll be amazed at how well and seamlessly it works.
I’ve tried a lot of goal setting systems and I picked up what was working from each system and incorporated it into this 5-step process. So while I cannot claim it’s total originality, I can claim to have come up with something that works not just for me, but for other people too.
If you’re struggling with your goals for this year, take a few days and create your 5-year goals, a line of sight, and goals for this year. Then narrow down to your monthly goals for the year and get started working on your goals each day, week, and month. 2016 will be a totally different year if you take these actions today.
Over to you now…How has goal setting worked for you? Do you have a tip or trick that’s made it easier to achieve your goals?
(Image credit Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos)