Many bloggers love to utilize the time period and write about setting New Year’s resolutions. Yet, with the beginning of the year behind us, about 80% of those resolutions have failed by the time you are reading this.
However, the human desire for improvement is not bound to this one specific period of time, in the beginning of each year. I believe we constantly grow, improve and achieve our goals.
During my business education, I have witnessed again and again the importance of setting clear and measurable goals. Having a frame around your achievements will keep you on track, help you make the right decisions and motivate you to work even harder.
Therefore, today, I want to bring you a lesson of how to use simple business tips for setting goals in your everyday life. And you should totally listen to me, I have a diploma now!
So, if you are interested in dropping the New Year’s resolutions (or already have, as my information confirms) and find new ways towards success, keep on reading.
Why is it important to set goals?
As already mentioned, setting goals is highly beneficial for your overall success. According to Edward Locke and Gary Latham (1990), goals are not only motivating, but they help an individual utilize their energy, which leads to higher efforts and persistency.
Moreover, setting goals can give you clarity. Defining what it is you want to achieve will give you an advantage when choosing your actions. Having an overview of your goals will also help you compare and prioritize them. This will aid you in being more efficient with your timing and efforts.
Think bigger! Assessing how realistic your aspirations are may show you that you can want more, do more and be more.
So, how to set your goals?
One of the ways I personally find easiest to set goals is using the SMART framework.
The framework is widely attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. It aims to make goals clearer and more reachable. Since its creation, the model has been constantly evolving and today SMART has a variety of contexts and meanings.
Here is a simple version of it:
While this is far from the only and best working solutions for businesses, the SMART model has the advantage of being so visual and simple. It can be used in many different situations. Here is what all the letters represent:
Specific: In order to define a goal effectively, you need to be specific in what this goal needs to encompass. This can be done by encompassing your idea into a more detailed frame. For example, by answering some of the essential Wh-questions.
- What do you want to achieve?
- Why do you want to reach it?
- What resources are needed?
- Who else needs to take action?
- When do you want to achieve it?
By answering those essential questions, you will keep your path forward defined and it will be harder to mess up. For example, instead of saying “I want to make a blog”, you can make your goal more specific by stating “I want to make a lifestyle blog for students”.
Furthermore, by following the questions above you can define your investment in the goal and decide how much time you need to spend working on it to succeed.
Measurable: To build on the last topic – what you need to invest in a goal, comes the M in SMART. Measurement is key to achieving your goals. If you do not track your efforts, you may end up completely missing your target. Again, you can start by answering some simple questions regarding your goal:
- How much can you invest in it?
- How do you know if a goal is achieved?
- What activities are required?
- How can you measure your success?
If we go back to the example with the blog, an answer to this question may look like this:
“As a student, I cannot invest much in a blog, therefore I will choose a standard WordPress plan. My overall goal will be to reach 100 monthly visitors in the first 5 months. When I reach them, my goal will be complete. In order to do so, my activities will include frequent research, brainstorming and posting 4 times per month. To measure my success, I will use WordPress’ analytics, as well as a content plan and weekly schedule of activities.”
Attainable: Another, important part of setting a goal is thinking if it is attainable and realistic. Is it possible for you to fit 4 blog post per month in your schedule? What about achieving 100 monthly visitors in just 5 months?
Those are questions you need to reconsider in the process and come back to, so you can assure your efforts are put in the right direction. If not, you need to make corrections to your plan.
Relevant: Besides being attainable, a goal needs to be relevant to you, your lifetime goals and the situation you are in. Prioritizing is essential to attain your goals. You may really want to have a lifestyle blog. Yet if your bigger aspirations lay in your education or work, your priority should go somewhere else. Therefore, the goal of achieving 100 monthly visitors on a lifestyle blog may not advance your overall goals. So, it is an important aspect to consider.
Keep your eyes on your true goal and don’t let yourself be distracted.
Time-bound: Finally, something we mentioned in the first step, is deciding on a time frame for your project. When do you want to start this blog? Do you want to prepare some content in advance? When is your deadline for achieving your goal?
Binding your goals to a specific time frame will give you the sense of urgency and keep you working. Otherwise, the idea may stay stuck in your head for months or even years.
Overall, following the SMART framework will give you a great new way of being more detailed in your goal-setting process. In general, answering the relevant and important questions of how to achieve a goal are the first step towards achieving it. Therefore, it is a great idea to start SMART.
Who said "tracking"?
We mentioned in the measurement section that tracking your success is a great way to analyse where you stand at a certain situation. Are you getting closer? Do you progress with the right pace? Will you be able to reach the finish with the deadline you have set?
Only by having this analysis can you make informed decisions and adapt your plan according to the situation.
Another secret weapon of the business world for tracking success is the use of KPIs.
What are KPIs?
KPIs stands for key performance indicators. Those are a set of quantifiable measures, which point at your performance. They can widely differ in their use: from financial, to different business and non-business actions and their results.
Going back to our previous example, blogging KPIs have a lot to do with marketing and can sound a bit complicated. Those include the number of views, visitors per day/month/year, number of likes or comments. Moreover, the financial return on investment with how much of the money you put into your blog come back from ads or sponsored posts.
In the case of personal goals, KPIs can be very simple measures to keep track of. Depending on your goal they can include number of times you did a certain activity, how long did you spend on it, etc. For example, if your goal is to develop your stamina and cardio, you can start tracking the number of times you run, how many kilometres and for how long.
To sum up, KPIs can be your tool to track your achievements and developments on the path of achieving your goals.
Following frameworks like the SMART model or keeping track of your KPIs may sound like something too complicated for you. Yet, those tools show us one clear truth about success: you need to have a clear idea of what the final destination is. Otherwise, there is the risk of the path leading you instead of you making your own path.