If you’re like 92% of people, you have trouble reaching your goals (according to study reported by Inc.com). I’m not going to lie. On occasion, I’m among the 92%. While I have smashed some goals out of the ballpark, there are others that continue to elude me. After exhaustive research and a honest (and brutal) look at my life, I’ve come up with the answer. How to never reach your goals. And the converse…how to reach your goals. And- though it’s hardly news these days- I’m sharing the goal setting system that really works.
I’ve combined all the advice and research to make a free printable goal-setting worksheet. While it does incorporate smart goal setting, it goes above and beyond that. We’re going to go everything in detail, so print out your worksheet and get ready to read. Let’s get started!
If you’re looking for more information on evaluating your year, your goals, and more, you should check out this GREAT article: “Your End Of Year Guide“. It has some great information that you might find useful.
Instructions for worksheet:
• Print options: regular paper works.
• All of the files are in pdf below. Or click on the image. It will open in a new window and you can either print directly or save to computer.
• The default size of these is full-page. However, if you want smaller, simply reduce the print size! If you’re looking on how to resize printables, check out my post: “How to Resize Printables to Fit Your Planner.“
Why You're Not Reaching Your Goals...
There are one of two reasons you’re not reaching your goal. I’m going to be brutal, so bear with me. I said it to myself first (and didn’t like hearing it).
1. You don’t really want it. If you want it, you’ll go for it. You’ll drive yourself. You’ll give up sleep to get it. Do you really want it? I thought I wanted it. But then I got a small, tiny taste of success…and then I really wanted it. And was staying up late to log another hour into the product I’m creating. And was researching selling platforms. And thinking: “Me? Who is this person?”. But success required it. So I did it. If you want it, you’ll know it.
2. You don’t know how to get there. You may really want it, but you have no idea how to get from point A to point B.
Luckily, we can fix both of these things.
Know Your Motivation...
Why is the goal important? You need to know your motivation. You have to have a clear idea of what you want and why. Without a clear picture, you’re going to lose motivation on a day-to-day basis. In fact, I wrote a whole post on “How to Be Your Best Self” that touched upon envisioning who you want to be.
And you have to change the day-to-day to reach your goal.
Goal setting is supposed to motivate you towards ACTION. Unfortunately, some people seem to believe in magic. They believe that writing a goal down and focusing on it will cause it to happen. Without any effort. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry, but success requires effort.
You’re aiming for systems, not goals. You want to set up a system- day to day actions you repeat- for success. Not a goal you might or might not reach and that you’re not “successful” until you’ve reached it. “Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.” (Check out “Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.“)
Yes, you’ve probably heard of this. But smart goals are mentioned everywhere because they work. I’m going to cover smart goals here in the post and give examples of smart goals. On the worksheet, I have a checkbox for you to make sure your goal is smart.
S- specific. Your goal must be clear. It must be well-defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide direction. Remember, our goals are supposed to motivate us to specific action. We can’t get from point A to point B if we don’t know where point B is.
Example- specific: I want to launch a product this year and earn at least $1,000. Non-specific- I want to launch a product at some point.
M- measurable. Include precise amounts and dates. Without a measure for success, you don’t know when you’ve succeeded.
Example- measurable: I want to have $1,000 in savings by the end of the year. Non-measurable- I want to spend less and start saving more.
A- attainable. This one is a fine balance. We want a goal that is attainable- something we could actually succeed at. But we don’t want to limit ourselves! You have no idea what you can achieve until you try.
Example- attainable- I want to earn at least $1,000 by July 1st, and $2,000 by end of year with my product. Non-attainable- I want to earn $100,000 this year launching my first product.
R- relevant. Your goal should be relevant to the life you want to have. It needs to be relevant to your career, lifestyle, etc. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try new things. But your goal to relate to your life.
Example- relevant- I want to lose 50 pounds because I’m currently overweight and am feeling the impact. My goal is 1 pound per week. Non-relevant- I want to become a fitness coach even though I’m currently overweight, don’t workout, know nothing about fitness, and I don’t have the time to it.
T- time-bound. This is related to measurable. I already mentioned we should have dates. A date for completion helps keep urgency and keeps it front and center in your mind.
Example- time-bound- I want to lose 50 pounds by the end of the year (rate of 1 lb/week). Non-time-bound: I want to lose 50 pounds eventually.
Know potential problems and solutions...
There are inevitably going to be bumps on the road on the way to success. Some we can’t predict. But some we can.
The best way to make sure we don’t get detoured is by already having a system in place to deal with problems. (There’s that idea again…systems in place for long-term progress).
So write down potential problems that are going to arise. And write down potential solutions.
Since I’m very familiar with the weight struggle, I’m going to share some of mine.
Potential problem: I overeat before bedtime.
Potential solutions: 1) A strict “no food after 7pm” rule. No exceptions. 2) A set snack to have late every evening to fight the cravings.
Potential problem: I overeat when I go out to eat.
Potential solutions: 1) Look at the menu and nutritional information before leaving the house. Pick what I’m going to order in advance! (This one works, by the way). 2) Plan on only eating half of whatever I end up ordering.
Potential problem: I never have the motivation to workout.
Potential solution: Um….if you have a solution to this one, let me know. (See, I don’t pretend to know everything…haha).
We’ve mentioned multiple times now that action is the key to success. Well, we’re finally going to sit down and plan those action items.
The key to successful goal-setting (as you’ve heard from me before if you subscribed to my free 2018 planner!) is starting big and working down to small. A lot of people try to work the other way.
I’m going to use the example that I used in the 2018 Planner for my readers.
Yearly: My goal for the year was to launch my own product and make $1,000 off the product. Since I’ve NEVER sold anything of my own before, this seems pretty crazy to me. Also, I have no idea what I’m going to sell. Printables? A course? An e-book?
First, I broke it down into quarters:
First quarter) Decide on a product. Develop product. (Done, by the way!)
Second quarter) Research exactly how to sell- what platform will I use (WooCommerce, Etsy, Gumroad, Shopify?). Set it up on my website.
Third quarter) Give out a few free products. Make sure process works. Get testimonials. Start selling.
Fourth quarter) Aggressive marketing to sell. Read customer feedback, change product if necessary. Start planning for next year.
I’m going to be honest. This system was so successful I’m already way ahead of schedule. It’s May 2nd (as of me writing this) and the second quarter and most of the third quarter are completed. In fact, fourth quarter items, I’m starting on June 1st. Unless this product completely tanks, I’m going to have achieved my yearly goal by July 1st. And reader feedback and beta testing has shown the product should do well.
Monthly: But back to the example. Let’s pretend it’s first quarter. I need to do the breakdown for that. Well, looking at my quarterly goals, it is easy to see that a couple of them need to be done before the others. Obviously, developing the product is impossible until I’ve decided on a product. And I can’t make a GOOD decision until I’ve brainstormed and looked at pros and cons. So, first month I’m going to brainstorm ideas and look at the pros and cons.
I’ll leave actually deciding on the product and developing it for months 2 & 3.
Weekly: Okay, I know what I’m doing this month…but what am I doing this week? I’ve got one month to brainstorm ideas and look at the pros and cons. So this week, I’m going to write down every idea that comes to mind and in as much detail as I can image. For example, if I think of doing a course, I’m also going to write down the various options: video or e-mail, 7-day, 14-day, or 30-day. And those are the details for just one item.
I’m also going to write down pros and cons as I go along. But it’s the secondary priority this week. If it doesn’t get done, I’ll do it next week.
A final note on setting action items. Be honest about the skills and knowledge needed to be successful. If you need to acquire knowledge, make this an action item! For blogging success (in the long-term), I needed to learn more about blogging. I have a weekly recurring task on my planner to learn about blogging and learn more about food photography. Every single week of my life, I dedicate time to this. Because I WANT IT.
Reassess when necessary...
On a regular basis, re-visit your goal worksheet and what you’re doing. Goals change over time. You can’t control the external, and ignoring it does no one any good.
You might be so successful that you need to move up your time-frame (like happened to me!). You might discover that your goal no longer aligns with your life. If so, discard it. Don’t fight to achieve a goal that no longer means anything to you.