How to set “sticky” goals

In our first round of “doing better” exercises, we invited you to reflect on what you’re proud of, who you admire, how you could connect more with customers and last, but not least – how you could do things better for you.

Now it’s time to turn some of your reflections into “sticky” goals. All too often, we set goals that are unrealistic, which can lead to feeling deflated. Sticky goals are so well defined that it’s far easier to stick to them, helping us progressively do better. Plus, we get to feel good as we see ourselves achieving.

Think about the ideas you came up with in the first week’s exercises (and if you’re just joining us, you can take a look here). What are the things you want to do better in? Is it marketing, networking, getting more sales? Or maybe achieving a healthier work-life balance? Whatever your priorities, start shaping them into goals – starting with the big picture, then breaking things down into actionable steps. Below, you’ll find some different goal setting methods to help you – pick the one that works best for you, mix them up or create your own unique mix.

Week 5: Picture success

Before getting into the “how,” think about “what” you really want to achieve and how that would look and feel. By creating a clear picture of success, you can start working towards it. Here are some ways to approach this:

BHAG – A BHAG is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” usually representing a 10- to 15-year plan, but not necessarily. They’re often used by large corporations, but can be just as helpful for small businesses that want to create, say, a five-year plan. Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Google: “Organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
  • Amazon: “Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.”
  • Heinz: “To be the world’s premier food company, offering nutritious, superior tasting foods to people everywhere.”

What would your BHAG sound like? Try writing one now.

One-word goals – Quality, service, loyalty, growth, sales…try brainstorming to define your top priority for the next year, in just one word. Whenever you need to make a decision or get focused, you come back to that word to remember what you’re working towards

Vision boards – If you’re more of a visual or artistic person, creating a vision board can be a great way to keep yourself inspired and focused. It’s likely to include inspiring phrases, but the main components are images or even objects that you can pin to your board.

Week 6: Narrow it down

Once you’ve got your picture of success in mind, you can start figuring out how to get there. Think about whether you can split things up into key milestones, so you have a clear path to follow. Two ways to do this are:

SMART goals – This is one of the most popular goal-setting methods in large businesses, designed to help teams and individuals create realistic goals that can actually be met. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Here’s an example of a business owner who wants to start making the most of events:

  • Specific – I will attend events to reach more customers and make business connections.
  • Measurable – I will attend at least two events during the summer and two more in the run-up to Christmas. I will aim to grow my customer base by 10%.
  • Achievable – I will research the most appropriate events for me and prepare materials to hand out, as well as what to say so I can promote myself confidently.
  • Relevant – Attending the right events can help me reach more of my target customers.
  • Time-bound – I will attend my first event within the next three months.

Backwards goal-setting – This is as straight-forward as it sounds, but very effective. Think about what you want to achieve then start working backwards, thinking about how long you’ll need to prepare, so you can set yourself a realistic timeline.

Week 7: Make it bite-sized

So now that you’ve started to narrow things down, it’s time to get even more specific. And although it might feel like the geeky part, this is actually when the magic happens. Start creating a list of the things you need to do in order to reach your goal, then break them down even further. So rather than “find events to attend,” instead you can, “spend an hour researching every day,” and, “make a short list of five events by the end of the week.” Think about every stage of the journey and break it down into a list of actionable steps, then enjoy the satisfaction of crossing them out! To really get on top of your planning, you might want to try creating a bullet journal.

Week 8: Share your goals

It’s all well and good committing to goals for yourself, but sharing them out in the open and having someone hold you accountable can be really powerful. Also, you might be surprised how much others can help. Nervous about attending an event? A friend who is used to public speaking could give you some pointers. Want to start using social media? Chatting to people can give you ideas about what’s trending and how to attract customers.

Whether it’s sticking them on the fridge at home for the family to see or sharing them with a friend or business associate, making your goals public will be a strong incentive to check that they’re realistic – and most importantly, it’ll help make them extra sticky.

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