In the past, I’ve had some harsh words for New Years resolutions. In the present…I’m still not a big fan. That said, I do set goals for myself all the time, and I have several goals I’m going to be working on for the next month or three. So call those New Years resolutions if you want.
Now, the way most people set goals is whack. They just say “Lose twenty pounds,” or “Go to the gym,” and leave it at that. Good goal-setting is about defining the process, not just the end goal. So today I’m going to show you how I set goals. First off, here are my “resolutions.”
- Skip breakfast 5+ days a week (butter tea OK) until I’m down to a 30 inch waist and stay there for 2+ weeks
- Get 10 guest articles/interviews accepted in January. Send 10+ pitches every Tuesday and Thursday until I reach this goal.
- Email my mailing list every week
- Post to Facebook at least twice a week, Instagram twice a week, and Twitter 4x/week (not including retweets)
- Create Adwords course content in January- work on it 3-4 hours every Tuesday and Friday. (This is for an unrelated business I have, not johnfawkes.com)
Got that? Now here are the principles I’m following with these.
I will follow process X until I reach goal Y, or indefinitely
With every one of these goals, I’ve focused on what I’ll do, not where I want to end up. I’m posting to social media, sending you emails, writing articles, etc. I’m always being clear about how much effort I’m commiting to- not just writing, but 3-4 hours of writing.
I’m also defining how long each commitment lasts. Items 2 and 5 are for January, while item 1 is open-ended. Item 3 has no end-point; I’ll be running this newsletter as long as my business is running. Item 4 is indefinite; at some point I might decide one or more of those social media channels is a waste of time and drop it, but I don’t know if or when that will happen, so I’m going to be doing item 4 for a few months at least.
Most importantly: by defining end points, I’m denying myself any wiggle room to give up later.
Put it in your calendar
Anything that takes a significant amount of time goes in my calendar. Goals 2, 3 and 5 are in my weekly calendar- goal 2 is set for Thursday, if I haven’t already done it earlier in the week.
Goal 1 doesn’t need to be in my calendar because it’s simple and easy to do every morning.
Goal 4, social media, I’m doing on an ad-hoc basis right now, rather than putting into my schedule. Twitter won’t be an issue, I’m sure, but I need to get into the habit of using Facebook and Instagram. In 2 weeks I’ll evaluate how consistent I’ve been with those; if I haven’t been consistent, I’ll schedule weekly social media posting times too.
I’m working on goals 1 and 3 right now, and will be working on goals 2 and 4 right after this. No waiting until January 1st. That’s always been my contention with New Year’s resolutions; the tradition of setting resolutions becomes an excuse to put off until January 1st (or 2nd, ’cause you’re hung over) starting on a goal you decided on two months earlier.
Set ambitious goals
Take a look at goals number 2- get 10 guest articles or interviews accepted in January. For those who don’t know, the primary ways I’ve grown my audience for johnfawkes.com have been to write guest articles on other websites, interview people on my site, or get interviewed on other sites. In a typical month, I’ll write one or two of these. I think I might have done three in a month once, but there have been many months where I haven’t done any.
In other words, ten in a month is at least a 5x increase over anything I’ve done before. A year ago I would have thought that was impossible. Some other online business owners do think it’s impossible, but I’ll prove them wrong.
Don’t settle for 10% improvements like most people do- instead, skyrocket yourself to the next level. A goal isn’t ambitious unless some people say it’s impossible.
Having said that, you have a limited amount of time and energy, so not every goal needs to be ambitious. My social media goal is very modest. But I made this goal ambitious, because it’s the most important to me. Always have one or two highly ambitious goals you’re working towards.
Commit yourself- publicly
Tell people about your goals. Tell a lot of people. Go public with them. Talk about your goals to the point where you’d suffer some public embarrassment if you failed to follow through on them.
I’m sharing all of my goals on Facebook. More importantly, I’m sharing my primary goal- the one about guest articles- with a couple of online business groups I’m part of. Those groups are full of top performers who WILL follow up with me and make sure I follow through. Hell, some of them will commit to the same goal with me.
And of course, I’m telling you. Consider this an open invitation to email me any time and ask me about my progress.
Want to be a high achiever? Think big and start early. If you don’t have defined goals yet, come up with three to five, make one of them highly ambitious, put them in your calendar, tell people about them, and start working on one of them right away.