Goal setting is set on a pedestal.
Like, a really really HIGH ONE!
Especially this time of year.
It’s no wonder we’re left reaching, stretching, and striving for these lofty goals that leave us so overextended, we ultimately give up.
It’s natural for you to start considering new goals in your personal life and in your business as you prepare for another trip around the sun (can you believe it’s almost 2023?!)
In the business world, we tend to focus on goals a lot.
Whether we’re setting or working towards sales goals, marketing goals, or something else, we tend to measure our success by how quickly we achieve the results we were looking for before we move on to the next shiny thing.
Sure, goals can be great motivators. But they can also cause us to have blinding tunnel vision as we strive to achieve, achieve, achieve.
This year I want to invite you to think about your goals a bit differently.
While goals are usually treated as endpoints or destinations that we want to get to as fast as humanly possible, what if instead we stepped back and started to see and approach goals as GUIDEPOSTS we set along the way as we grow?
In my own experience, I’ve found that by thinking of goals as guideposts instead of destinations, we can set more impactful and meaningful goals.
When we view goals in this light, we take back our own power instead of giving it away to some idea of what we think we’re supposed to achieve.
In fact, it can make working towards your goals feel lighter– even fun!
For me, it brings to mind the classic improv exercise, “yes, and…”
The “Yes, and…” approach keeps us open to opportunity, curious, and willing to take risks as we explore how our goals can evolve as we grow.
By thinking about it this way, our goals get bigger and better each time as they further our dreams and vision. It removes the sense of “it’s all or nothing,” which makes us less likely to wander off track, more likely to stay the course, and better equipped to see the bigger picture and life beyond the goal.
So how do we set goals as guideposts for ourselves and our businesses?
I’m so glad you asked.
Let’s explore the 6 steps to setting better goals, the 3 types of goals I recommend you set as a creative entrepreneur, and how to create a roadmap to achieve your goals in 2023 and beyond.
Sounds a bit counterintuitive I know.
But stick with me for a moment!
I truly believe that you cannot possibly know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been (or where you currently are for that matter).
This is as true in life as it is in goal setting for your creative business. It’s especially true as we start using our goals as guideposts to move forward toward our big-picture aspirations.
As you begin to set your goals, establishing a baseline will help you get an idea of where you are so you can estimate and measure how far you have to go. This will right-size your expectations and help you to form a solid action plan to guide you along the way.
When you’re ready to set some new goals for your creative business, start by looking back at the following:
After working through each of these questions, you’ll likely start to notice some patterns emerge and get a sense of what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past. More importantly, you’ll be able to gain some clarity around how you feel about it all and develop a more solid sense of where you want to go next!
COO Tip: I am a big-time journaler, and find that brainstorming these prompts with pen and paper gets the stream-of-consciousness juices flowing and allows me to really dig deep into each of these steps. Try it out for yourself!
Goals come in a wide variety of forms, shapes, and sizes. But more often than not something I see across the board as a business coach for creatives is that people tend to lean hard on one specific type of goal (i.e. sales numbers).
Instead, I find goal setting to be much more effective when you are able to set a few different types of goals to guide your growth in a more holistic way.
COO Tip: Keep in mind that One Big Ultimate Goal will most likely grow and change, or at least become more nuanced, as you progress.
Together, these three types of goals give you a bigger picture of what you want for yourself and your business. Your Big Ultimate goal serves as a gateway. It’s the furthest point you can imagine for now, and the other goals act as a support system to lead you there.
As a whole, they help eliminate tunnel vision. There are many different ways to achieve any one goal, but when you look at this group of goals together, the way that works best for you and your business will seem much more apparent.
Let’s look at an example:
Say your financial goal is to earn $10K in revenue this month, and your success goal is to feel less stressed, less rushed, and have more time with your kids. These two goals help make it clear that while you’re striving to earn more money, this is not the time to add more clients, more products, and more time-consuming programs.
If you did these things, you might hit that financial goal. But in doing so, you’d move further away from your success goal in the process (and sacrifice your values and priorities along the way).
Instead, you’ll need to think about how you can hit that $10k goal without sacrificing your success goal. This is where you get to be a bit creative and think outside the box.
Maybe you add more passive income streams, raise your prices, or hire a team to help increase your revenue without adding to your workload or taking time away from your family.
These goals complement each other and keep you aligned with what you truly want and value, so you don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.
At this point you…
You ALSO have clarity around the paths you are NOT going to take to get there.
So how can you determine the direction you DO want to go?
The answer is…
REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR GOALS.
Yup– we’re working backward once again.
For example, “grow my email list” is too big and broad to be a step. It needs to be more specific and measurable, like “grow my email list by 250 subscribers by the end of next month.” And even then, it still needs to be broken down further.
So, you might start with “create a new lead magnet by the end of the week,” and then “promote lead magnet in 5 social posts each week for two weeks,”…and so on, until you have a clear plan.
There are so many ways you and your business can grow and develop. The idea here is to be intentional about the goals you set. Doing this activity and getting clear on the steps you’ll need to take to move toward your goal, allows you to identify not only what you want but how you’re going to pursue that vision.
This will provide you with a clear and custom roadmap making it easier to see if you are on track to reach your goals at any given time.
COO Tip: Remember, each goal and the steps you take to reach them should align with all of your other goals, not get you closer to one but further from another. Secondly, what got you here won’t get you there. As your goals grow, your tactics will need to adapt. Be prepared to level up and find new ways of working to hit your bigger, better goals! This is when working with a coach, consultant, or your trusted team can come in handy. Different perspectives and accountability make all the difference in planning realistically (but ambitiously) and executing!
Setting goals as guideposts allows you to grow intentionally.
This new way of thinking and approaching your goals will give you clear targets to focus on while ensuring you are headed in the right direction.
So, rather than setting goals as destinations you’re hurriedly trying to get to, I encourage you to set a variety of specific goals as guideposts to keep you on track as you and your business evolve.
These guidepost goals will illuminate your path and help you get closer and closer to your dreams each and every day.
I know there can be a lot of toxic goal-setting content out there this time of year. If you’re looking for more positive, actionable inspiration to help you as you lay the foundation for your business in the new year, I urge you to explore my previous blog posts that dive into topics like Business Audits, Systems Cleanups, S.M.A.R.T. goals, and Rhythms Over Resolutions so you can approach your goals in a healthier, more sustainable way this year!