3 Goal-Setting Steps for Awesomeness
3 Goal-Setting Steps
I had an epiphany a couple of days ago when I was reading Jennifer Mattern’s post about editorial calendars. It was one of those “I couldn’t see the trees because of the forest” epiphanies and it has totally changed the focus of my blogs. So, here is my epiphany … I need an editorial calendar if I want my content to have a strategic purpose. I love blogging and crafting a strategic purpose never entered my mind when I started this project. But my project, very much like life, has evolved into something bigger. As projects evolve from the infancy stage, so too should the strategy, planning, and goal-setting.
I have used editorial calendars in the past when creating health and wellness content for a gym and a similar planning concept when structuring training programs for clients. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to do the same for my personal blogs. I sat down for an hour and mapped out what I wanted my content to cover and then looked at my current content density to see how well it measured up. It was sad. My flow was all over the place and I have some galaxy-sized gaps in my content. No worries, though. I have an easy-breezy, 3-step plan to correct my content density and it goes a little like this:
Identify my goal
Make a plan
Identify my goal
For me, identifying my goal is the toughest part because what makes me happy today may not make me happy tomorrow. Daniel Gilbert explores this issue in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness. This is one of the reasons people get tattoos when they are 25 and start searching for ways to cover them up or have them removed by the time they are 35. The 35-year-old didn’t like what the 25-year-old did to her body. Good thing rebranding my blog doesn’t leave an indelible mark and I can shift directions anytime I want. However, the time I spend on any endeavor does leave an indelible mark on my available time. Time is perishable and, to maximize efficiency, I need to do a little planning.
One way to discover your ultimate goal is to ask the ‘5 Whys’. You begin with a statement. For this example, let’s use the editorial calendar and my 25-year-old self versus my 35-year-old self.
Current Me (with a serene smile on my face): “I want to create an editorial calendar” Wiser Me: “Why?” Current Me: “Because I want to be more focused in my writing.” Wiser Me: “Why?” Current Me (getting a little frustrated): “Because I want to build a better blog.” Wiser Me: “Why?” Current Me (clearly irritated that my older self is so dense): “Because I want my blog to support my business.” Wiser Me: “Why?” Current Me (kicking chairs and swearing): “Because I don’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life but I can’t cut ties because I don’t make enough to work for myself full-time!” Wiser Me: “Why?” Current Me (yanking the front door open): “Get out!!!”
The ‘5 Whys’ method helps you understand your deeper desires. I don’t want an editorial calendar simply because someone else suggested it. I want an editorial calendar because more focused content will help my clients meet their goals which increases the likelihood of a sustainable revenue flow. Uncovering my ultimate goal shapes how I spend my time, energy, and other resources.
Make a plan
I know my goal (work full-time for myself) and I know my current situation (working for ‘The Man’). The next step is to build a bridge to close the gap. If you have a larger, more strategic plan (such as getting to the point where you work for yourself), create a Plan of Actions and Milestones (PoAM) to break the larger project into manageable and achievable tasks. There is no reason to get fancy. In fact, life is too messy for a detailed PoAM. Use ‘big rock’ milestones for the plan and then switch to scrum for the tactical implementation. Jeff Sutherland’s book, SCRUM, describes how this method accelerates productivity and mitigates waste due to inefficiencies. My favorite part of scrum is the post-it notes. I regularly plan things out on napkins, envelopes, and post-it notes so I feel vindicated in a small way.
The S.M.A.R.T. template is a common tool to help identify your big and small rocks and it sets the stage for the third step: accountability. But, what does SMART stand for?
S – Specific: What is your specific goal? M – Measurable: How will you know when you have reached your goal? A – Attainable: Is this something within your realm of influence? Is your time-bound date achievable? R – Relevant: Does this move you closer to your strategic goal? T- Time-Bound: When will this specific action be completed?
The SMART template goes a long way to defining the what and when of your actions. It even provides a test to see if you have met your goal: “How will you know when you have reached your goal?”. However, sometimes we need accountability while we sprint toward our goal. I really don’t like it when people check up on me but I also know that I sprint harder if I know someone will ask about my progress. I have a friend who asks about my novel and another friend who checks in on my exercise program. I’ve picked these two subjects because I avoid them both like the plague even though they are part of my top 5 priorities.
Another way to implement accountability is to ‘claim it’. To ‘claim’ something means to change your perspective. As an example, someone who wants to quit smoking would start telling people that he/she is a ‘non-smoker’ even if it has only been hours since the last cigarette. They change the voices inside their head while simultaneously changing the world’s perspective.
To recap, identify your goal, make a plan, and implement accountability. What goal-setting strategies have worked for you in the past?