In the third of a four part series, we continue the theme of Planning for 2021. Today I will take a look at goal setting for the new year. If you missed the posts on Deadlines and Dead Certs, or Site Content Planning, I recommend you click through and give those a read too. Let’s take a look at setting goals for the year ahead …
What Sort of Goals Should I Be Setting?
This is really a question of personal choice but examples of areas where you could be setting goals are:
- personal life
I am not advocating that you set goals for all aspects of your life, although this does work for some people. Remember that when you set goals, you need to be able to track them, evaluate them and ultimately achieve them. If you set too many goals you’ll spend most of 2021 trying to keep track of them rather than achieving any. Choose the most important goals for you that take you to where you want to be.
Goal Setting the SMART Way
A well-established way to plan goals is by using the SMART method. The basic definition of this acronym is that any goals you set should be:
- Time Specific
I’ll take a look at each one of these in turn:
Every goal you set should be clear and specific. Goals should not be too vague or too lofty. For example, if we look at a goal for writing, you might have decided that this year you want to write a novel. That’s great but it’s a really big goal. Instead of setting that as your goal, think about making it more specific, such as “I want to write a chapter of my novel every month” or “I want to write for an hour a day” or “I want to write 1000 words a day” etc.
You should be able to track where you are with your goal and how much more you need to do to achieve it. By quantifying your goal it is easy to know if you are succeeding with it or failing. If we take one of the writing examples above, if your goal was to write 1000 words a day but you’re actually only writing 500, you are not achieving your goal. In that instance, you either need to up your game, or readjust your goal to make it more achievable.
Your goals need to be realistic and attainable. Do not set fantasy goals. There is nothing wrong in dreaming, but you should realistically be able to achieve any goals that you set. You need to be able to devote the necessary time and energy to your goals in order to achieve them. Can you realistically write 2000 words a day if you have a full time job, a family to look after and a baby who doesn’t sleep at night for example? Think about what goals will work for you. And if you set a goal and find you’re not able to devote enough time to achieve it, then readjust. There is no shame in that. It’s not failing, it’s simply adjusting to circumstance.
In some versions of the SMART method, the A is for Accountable rather than Achievable and this can work too. By telling someone else about your goals you will more likely feel that you need to achieve them as those people you have told will want to know your progress.
Goals that you set should be relevant to where you want your life, business or writing to go. Do not get distracted by shiny things – make sure your goals are relevant, realistic and keeping you on the right path.
You need to identify a period of time in which you reasonably expect you can achieve the goal you set. Deadlines keep us focussed and help us to move towards the achievement of the goal incrementally. You need to be able to measure and evaluate your actual results against your desired results and see where you need to adjust. It might help you to set mini goals en route to a larger goal. So if your large goal is to write a chapter a week, you should have mini goals to write x number of words a day etc. Those small steps towards the big ones helps to always see progression. Remember to always celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones to keep you motivated and on track.
Making an Action Plan
Start with a large overview and timescale (e.g. 2021) so you have plenty of time to achieve your goals.
Break each large goal down into smaller goals and those again into smaller goals. So for example, you want to write a 100,000 word first draft of a novel this year? You need to write 8333 words per month. And that means you need to write approximately 1923 words a week. That sounds do-able! However, if you want to write that novel and look to get it published, you need to think about the deadlines of when you need the first draft done by, when the edits need to be done, when it needs to be sent to an editor etc. etc. Those deadlines will help you plan for the year and set the mini goals along the way.
Add all of these deadlines to your planner to keep you on track, make sure you evaluate the goals often and readjust where necessary, and ensure you celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones.
Mistakes to Avoid when Goal Setting
When setting your goals, try to avoid making these mistakes:
- setting goals that not specific or relevant
- setting goals that are too ambitious (or are too unambitious)
- settings goals that are unachievable unless you burn yourself out
- setting goals that are reliant on third party input – you need to be able to control the process.
Setting goals for yourself is a great way to stay on track and to keep up forward momentum. It is important however to make sure the goals you set for yourself are realistic and that you continually track them, evaluate them and readjust them where necessary. Ensure you celebrate achieving the small goals on the way to the larger ones, not just the accomplishment of the larger goals. Track your goals, use a daily mantra if it helps you to keep yourself focused, and ensure you plan for deadlines in your annual planner.
How is your planning for 2021 going? Have you started? Have you thought about your goals for the new year? Do you have goal setting plans in place? Let me know what your goals for 2021 are in the comments.