- You grokked the difference between “getting stuff done” and “true & ruthless productivity”
- You got clear on your values
- You created a bright, vivid vision
What’s next, buttercup?
Crafting your goals.
The Art & Science of Setting Great Goals
If values are the dirt on which you’re building your ideal biz+life, and vision is the foundation, then your goals constitute the framework and walls and roof.
I’m not talking about measly little goals, like “I wanna lose 10 pounds.” (Though I totally do.) I’m not talking about weak-assed goals like “I need more clients.” (Though who doesn’t?)
I’m talking about serious, gut-punching, mind-blowing, smart (and SMART) goals.
And there’s both a science and an art to setting great goals that you can actually do something with.
The Science of Goal-Setting
Great goals are the stepping-stones. They’re the benchmarks. The mile markers.
If you want to create that inspiring vision you came up with earlier, you need to make sure your goals are SMART ones.
You’ve undoubtedly heard this acronym before. It stands for:
- Actionable (or Attainable)
- Relevant (or Realistic)
Specific goals are well-defined. “I want to lose ten pounds” is specific; “I want to be thinner” is not.
Measurable goals have a metric attached to them. “I want a 20% increase in consulting clients” can be measured; “I want more work” cannot. (What kind of work? Work can be administrative, for which you don’t get paid, or of the client variety, for which you do.)
Actionable goals are just that: goals you can take action on. “I want to win the lottery” is, to a certain extent, actionable – you can go buy a ticket – but after that point, there’s nothing you can really do to attain this goal.
Relevant goals relate back to your vision. They’re meaningful to you. This is crucial, ‘cause if your heart ain’t in it, you won’t attain it. [/JohnnyCochran]
Time-limited goals are those for which you’ve set a deadline.
A Special Note on Setting Deadlines for Goals
Now, this one’s a wee bit controversial.
Some experts say you shouldn’t set a deadline. That deadlines are soul-killers, and if you don’t meet the deadline, even due to factors beyond your control, you’ll damage your self-esteem.
Um. How can I put this delicately?
You’re a grown-up. You know by now that your self-esteem is a function of what you achieve and produce in your business and your life.
Put a reasonable deadline on your goals. A little pressure is a good thing.
The Art of Goal-Setting
There’s also an art to setting great goals.
To set great goals for yourself and your business, you need to chart out the course between where-you-are and your vision. What you’re looking for: the stepping stones. If you’re on one side of the vast winding river and you wanna get to the other side, you look for the path across. In this scenario, there are many paths — many, many stepping stones. Some will be easy to reach. Others, you gotta jump for.
And, just like Indiana Jones, you gotta watch out for the booby trapped stones. The ones that will collapse under your weight, or send you spiraling out of this dimension and plopping you down in the middle of some other damned river altogether.
You’re looking for the right stones.
And there’s an art to that. Curiously enough, it’s built on a science: the science of reverse engineering.
Reverse Engineering Your Vision
Reverse engineering is basically the process of figuring out how something works or is made by taking it apart.
Applied to your vision, reverse engineering can help you break apart the various elements of your future success and identify the specific steps you need to take to get there. Then you turn those steps into goals.
Yeah, as it turns out, not so much. It’s not a simple task, and it takes some time and major brain effort.
But don’t fret, sweetpea. I’ve got a little trick up my sleeve that might make this process a bit easier and a whole lot more fun.
It’s all right here in this worksheet I use in my coaching practice.
The purpose of the exercise is to get you thinking backwards – from the point of completion in the vision-creating process back through time to where you are now.
It’s usually easier, I find, to think on the macro level first: figure out the broad strokes of what it takes to achieve your vision. Then, once you’ve got the top-level goals down (which could be likened to your “long-term goals”), you can apply the same process of reverse engineering to come up with the mid-term goals and then narrow those down to short-term, immediate actions you need to take.
I’ve been told by clients that the exercise in that worksheet is particularly helpful in sussing out all this complex, interwoven tangle of short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Of course, you don’t have to use the worksheet to figure it all out.
(Though the exercise is really kind of fun. One word: OPRAH.)