Mindset Reframe: How To Set Goals as Guideposts In Your Creative Business

6 Steps To Setting BETTER Goals in 2023

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?

I picture them like mile markers on our journey showing us how far we’ve come, where we currently are, and the possibilities for how far we can go.

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. 

  • Goals that smartly build upon each other instead of standing in isolation. 
  • Goals that can point us in the right direction and guide us as we grow. 
  • Goals that, when we reach them, never again leave us hanging, wondering, “what’s next?” 

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. 

Look Back To Move Forward

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:

  1. Check out your numbers. A lot of business owners shy away from this information because it can feel intimidating or overwhelming. But, getting familiar, and even comfortable with your business numbers can become one of your biggest assets. Look at the real tangible data you have. Assess your finances, client retention, new client acquisition, profitability, and offer pricing. What story are your numbers telling you?

  2. Review your past goals. I love taking time to reflect on goals I’ve set in the past. It not only lets you see how far you’ve come, but it can also shine a light on how your values and priorities shift over time. Consider which goals you’ve hit, missed, abandoned, or changed. 

  3. Reflect on what’s going well in your business. When we’re able to pinpoint what feels GOOD in our business, we can better lean into those experiences to help us focus our goal setting. Which projects or clients have been your favorite? Which offers light you up? What do you love to do that you’d like to do more of? What systems have you put in place that truly feel supportive?

  4. Think about what’s not going so well in your business. Remember, you’re the boss. If something isn’t working or feels off, you have the power to DO something about it (or sometimes even toss it out altogether). Don’t be afraid to rewrite the rules! Ask yourself what you’d like to do less. Be sure to consider what your biggest pain points or stumbling blocks are in your work.

  5. Explore opportunities ahead of you. This is your time to be forward-thinking. Don’t shy away from the possibilities! Is there a new product, service, or offer you’ve been itching to put out into the world? Would you like to tap into a new market? Is there anywhere you can improve what you’re already doing?

  6. Do a gut check. At the end of the day, everything might look good on paper, but if YOU don’t feel good in your business, what’s the point? Remember, you are building your dream business, not someone else’s. Check-in with yourself to make sure you’re on the track YOU want to be on! How are things feeling for you? Does your business and the way you serve your clients still excite you? Do you feel aligned with your offers and how you manage your business? Trust in yourself!

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!

The 3 Types of Goals You Can Set

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.

While I try to avoid “shoulds”, I do highly recommend that you set these three types of goals in your creative business:

  1. Financial Goals. At the end of the day, your business needs to be profitable in order to be more than a glorified (and very expensive) hobby. Consider what numbers you’re aiming to hit. 

  2. Success Goals. Success is a broad term and looks different to each person. This is your opportunity to define what success looks and feels like for YOU. To do this, complete the sentence, “I am successful when I…” (and remember, it’s NOT all about the numbers!)

  3. That One Big Ultimate Goal. What’s that goal that equally excites and scares you? Consider what your vision is for yourself and your business. What are you genuinely working towards? It may take years to get there, but when you truly know what you desire and why, your other goals can support you.

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.

Goal Setting Can Be Creative!

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.

How To Create A Roadmap That Leads You To Achieve Your Goals

At this point you…

  • Know where you’ve been
  • Know where you are
  • And know where you want to go

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…


Yup– we’re working backward once again. 

  1. Start with each of your different goals and then break them down into the exact, bite-size steps you’ll need to take to make them happen. 

  2. Then, break them down again. See how specific you can get so that each step is small enough that it can be achievable in a short amount of time (aka days or weeks, NOT months). This will cut back on the overwhelm and help you build momentum and confidence.

  3. Make sure each step is clear and actionable, not broad and vague! Be sure to include specifics (I’m a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals) like dates to hold you accountable and keep you moving forward.
Let’s see this in action:

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!

Grow Intentionally

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. 

You’ll gain

  • Clarity around what you want, why you want it, and HOW you’ll get there
  • a way to reorient yourself as circumstances, values, and priorities inevitably shift over time.
  • and the ability to measure your progress

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.

More Goal-Setting Inspiration

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!


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