In this article, I’ll share with you the most important things I know and tested about how to set goals to be more productive. I’ll tell you how I went from being a lazy person who did everything in the last minute to being a self-disciplined person, who makes to-do lists daily and works almost every day to achieve her biggest goal. It will be a long article and you’ll get a free printable goals planner at the end, so make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy it.
Most of the people tell themselves a lot of lies when it comes to setting goals. “I like to be spontaneous”, ‘I know what I want, I don’t need to write it down”, ‘I have an artist soul, I can not make lists”, “Setting goals and writing them is a bullshit” or “I don’t like to set goals because I don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t achieve them” are the most common excuses I’ve heard so far, and I have to admit that some of them were in my mind also.
I was extremely lucky to participate in a workshop named “Achiever” where I learned a lot of strategies to achieve all the things I really want. One of the biggest revelation from that workshop was that setting goals and writing them on paper is not for people who live boring lives. On the contrary, designing your life is the highest form of creativity. And of course, it’s possible to realize after a while that your goals don’t represent you anymore, or some things are different and you want or need to change the direction. That’s normal, just adapt your strategy and enjoy the ride.
The most important thing is to learn to enjoy the process, without being attached to the result. I know this phrase seems to be the opposite of this article’s title, but it’s not. When you have goals and objectives, what you become in the process of achieving them is far more important than the actual finish line. What you learn, what you let go, the people you meet, how you react to your obstacles are lessons that change a part of yourself forever, so that’s your biggest achievement.
How to set goals to be more productive?
1. Define your goal
The first step is to define a specific goal and the results you expect from it. Most of the people tend to set results, not goals. For example, wanting more money is a result, creating a strategy to have more sales is a goal that will bring you more money. And continue to be more specific than this, how much money do you want? How many sales do you need to have to obtain that money? What job will bring you that amount in the next year? Do you see the difference? Wanting more money could mean different things for different people. You have to think about what it means to you, how much money are “more money” for you and what you can to obtain them.
Specific goals examples
- Post twice a day on Instagram, to achieve 1000 followers
- Sell 1000 candles, to make about $10000 earnings monthly
- Wake up every day at 8:00 AM, to have more free time
- Eat a salad daily, in order to start having a healthier life
- Write 2 blog posts every week, to reach 500 visitors daily
Unspecific goals examples
- More followers on Instagram
- I want my candle shop to bring me more money
- More free time
- I want to be healthier
- More visitors on my blog
2. Define a deadline
Ok, now you have a specific goal, you need a deadline for it. I know you may have a lot of deadlines on your work life and maybe this word sounds scary for you and you don’t want to use it for your personal goals, but you can not measure your results if you don’t have a deadline.
A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline. — Harvey MacKay
Let’s take the candle shop example from above. You make $1000 profit each month from selling homemade candles and you want to make $10000 earnings monthly in the next year (you have to be specific with the date also). At the end of the next year you realize that you didn’t achieve your goal, but now you make $6000 profit monthly, you sell more than 700 candles each month, your customers love your products, and you have received amazing feedback the entire year.
You didn’t achieve your goal, but in the process of doing it, you became better at selling and you created amazing products. Now you earn in a month what you used to earn in a half a year, that sounds like a success for me :D. And you were able to measure your results because you set a deadline, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see your progress.
3. Define your current situation
Write who are you and what you have in comparison to your goals. This step is as important as setting a deadline. Because here you write about your start line. If you don’t know what was the beginning situation, how will you be able to see the differences during the entire process?
Let’s continue with the same example as above. In this step you’ll write that you own a candle shop, your average earnings are $1200 monthly and you sell about 120 – 150 candles every month and, after taxes, your profit is about $1000.
4. Resources and abilities
It’s the time to write down your resources and abilities. We recommend you to make two lists (or to simply download our free printable goals planner): one for what you have and the other for what you need. This step offers you clarity and makes you think about how to use what you have to achieve what you want. This is the step when you realize you actually can do it because you have all the resources you need.
What you have
- a functional candle shop with existing customers
- 3 candle scent types
- 1500 Instagram followers
What you need
- to send a little gift for every customer
- special offers for the returning customers
- 10 more candle types
- to have Instagram giveaways to achieve 5000 followers
- to negotiate with 10 bloggers to post a picture with your candles
5. Set your milestones
In this step, you’ll have to divide your goal into smaller goals. This will make you feel like your goal is not that big and scary and it will be easier to know that you’ll have to achieve your next milestone, not the final goal.
- sell 200 candles and earn $2000 monthly
- double your sales to 400 candles and earn $4000 monthly
- sell 700 candles and earn $7000 monthly
For example, if you sell 100 candles each month now, it’s a big difference to want to make 1000 sales and it can frighten you. But if you think that you have to make 200 sales, it sounds more reasonable, doesn’t it? And if you can make it, it means that you doubled your sales and you’re closer to reach your next milestone: 400 candles and $4000 earning. And of course, you’re closer to achieve your biggest goal.
6. Measure your results
You need to measure your results periodically to see if you’re in a good direction or if you need to change the strategy. In this step, you’ll have to write a few methods that will help you doing this. And don’t worry if you realize your plan needs changes, that’s the point of tracking your progress. Just start writing your new strategy as a new goal.
It’s important to reevaluate your goal and to write it again every once in a while. Why? Because your current situation will be different every time and you’ll have new abilities and resources. For the example from above, writing your stats every month it’s a good way to monitor your results.
7. Write down the first step
Write here what’s the first step you can do to achieve your first milestone. Don’t think about something too big, you need to think about the smallest step you can do today to start working on your goal. For example, you can make a list of 10 bloggers you want to contact to collaborate with. Remember, it has to be something you can do today after you finish setting your goal.
8. Think about what you would like to do after you will achieve your goal (optional)
Most of us are subconsciously afraid of success. We’re scared to achieve our biggest goals because we don’t know what to do next. With a big success comes a big responsibility and that’s a reason why we are our biggest limitation. What helped me a lot in the process of setting goals, was to write down what I want to do after. In this way, I knew that after having what I want, it will come only another achievable goal, not an unknown territory full of big expectations and responsibility. This step offers me clarity and builds a long-term vision of what I want to become/have.
For example, having a lot of sales means having a lot more work to do by yourself and a lot more taxes to pay. So, maybe the first thought is that you’ll feel overwhelmed and you won’t be able to handle the situation. And that can be pretty scary, right? But what if, instead of thinking this way, you would clearly write down that you will need to build a great team to help you with your homemade candles, your taxes, and your sales. Thinking about building a team that helps you is not as scary as the first version. That’s because thinking of solutions always brings us clarity and makes our anxiety disappear. And that’s a very realistic long-term goal for somebody who wants a successful, growing shop.
The strategy of thinking seriously at my goals and making plans helped me a lot in the last year. Starting a blog with no previous experience while working full-time as a web developer is not easy. I wanted to have beautiful pictures for my blog, so I started learning Photoshop. That made me falling in love with graphic design and wanting to learn more about it. I work at nights and on the weekends, I read a lot of things about blogging, social media, and business because I know what I want to achieve. When I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I remember what’s my direction and that helps me a lot.
I hope you’ll find this article helpful and you’ll have the courage to dream big, to write down your goals and to achieve them. Because that’s new to you, your brain will try to find a lot of reasons to stop you from starting to set your goals, so I have a free printable goals planner to make things easier for you. Now you know how to set goals to be more productive and to achieve the things you want. It’s time for you to imagine and create your life because you can do it. Remember to enjoy the process and to embrace the opportunities life gives to you. You won’t be happy when you’ll have it if you aren’t happy now.