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The Key to Setting Goals (and Achieving Them!)

Alex Keller
Jan 21, 2020 8:02 AM

I spent quite a bit of time setting goals last year, but I really can't tell you what they were. I'm not keeping secrets from you—I'm sure there was probably something about fitness, something about my career.

The reason I can’t tell you is that...I don't remember.

What I can tell you is that I got a lot done, and feel great about my progress.

Ready for my secret? It's all about your mentality. I focus on the process, on change—not the result.

You've heard the adage "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." It's kind of the same thought process. Even if you miss your goal, you've built better habits along the way.

Ask yourself:

  • Did you achieve all the goals you set for yourself last year?
  • Are you relisting some of the same ones for this year?
  • Do you feel any closer to achieving those goals?

We all enjoy setting goals, but sometimes lose sight of what it takes to reach them.

Setting Goals is Not a Plan

Every goal you set needs a plan, and that plan needs to be actionable and measurable:

For example, "I'm going to lose 25 lbs this year" is not a plan. It's a goal, a simple end-result.

Consider this instead:

"I'm going to step foot in the gym for at least 25 minutes of elliptical work, 3 times a week. I'll also drink at least 80 oz of water a day, and make sure 2 of my lunches each week are a salad." Now that is
a plan.

Let's break it down:

  • Actionable: Something being done, providing practical value in and of itself.
    • Water is great for hydration
    • Cardio exercise releases endorphins in the body
    • Salads are full of fiber and nutrients
  • Measurable: Completion can be determined in a binary
    fashion (Yes/No). Completion is not subjective to emotion
    or interpretation.
    • I went to the gym 3x this week? Success!
    • I went to the gym 1x this week? Fail.

Even if the action items don't lead exactly to your goal like the example above, successfully executing them creates positive habits, which will only get you closer to your goal.

It's also important to remember you shouldn't set more goals than you can execute on. If you set more goals than you know you can practically make actionable progress towards during the set time frame, you're setting yourself up for failure from the beginning.

Time Blocking: The Key to Setting and Achieving Your Goals

Yes, it's better to focus on completing each step it takes to reach your goal, but the whole point of following those steps so closely is to ultimately achieve your end goal(s), right?

To make sure you make the most progress towards your goals, proper time management is critical.

Read: Time Management Tips for Busy FEC Owners
and Managers

After goal setting, one of the most powerful time management tools you can use to achieve them is to time block.

According to Doist, "Time blocking is a time management method that asks you to divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks."

Time Blocking helps you break down get what you need to get done throughout the day, the week, the quarter, etc., into manageable chunks. When you complete each task you designated for each block of time, you're making consistent and measurable progress toward your desired goal(s).

First, you need a daily/weekly calendar.

Digital Options:
I love having a digital calendar because I'm able to update it through the week on my desktop, but still have it with me on my phone. The screenshots you'll see in this article are from Gmail.

  • Does your email address offer a calendar service? If you don't know, try to Google the name of your email provider and add the word calendar to it. Example: "AOL Calendar".
  • What about the calendar on your phone? Is it one you could log into on a computer, or is it mobile-only?

Physical Options:
For some folks, it's not official unless the pen has touched paper. I understand where you’re coming from—I keep a pad of paper on my desk in case of emergency checklist making.

As you pick one, bear in mind that it needs to be something you can keep on you... or at least have close-by.

Taking Action

Your first step is to decide what day and time you'll dedicate to scheduling out your week, such as Monday between 9:00-10:00 A.M.

Don't skip your planning time!

How to Time Block

Consider what you need to get done each day/week. Record them in your calendar with a specific amount of time allotted for
each task.

What are your consistent daily/weekly work tasks? For example:

  • When do you need to arrive for the day?
  • When are you completing your pre-open checklist?
  • When do you run cash-deposits to the bank?
  • What time does the closing checklist start?

Calendar your daily/weekly work tasks

What are work-related items you want to ensure get done this week, that might not be part of the normal routine?

  • Do you need to call a vendor this week?
  • Are you hosting a private party during the week?
  • Are there any special cleaning tasks that need to be completed?
  • What days do you post on social media?

Calendar tasks that you  need to get done, but that might not be part of your normal routine

What personal to-do's do you need to take care of?

  • General appointments (Dentist, Doctor, Haircut, etc.)
  • Visiting with family and friends

Calendar your personal to-dos, too!

Whew. Great job!

Looks good, but one tip that will help your productivity even more is to color code your activities. For example:

  • Consistent daily/weekly work tasks will be blue
  • Special work tasks will be orange
  • Personal events will be green

Always COLOR CODE your activities!

Looks so much more organized, right?

If you're going to use a physical planner, this last part could be completed with different color ink. Whatever helps you stick to this process and stay organized.

Putting Process into Practice

Setting your goals and following through with them are two different things.

The reality is, real life is going to be much more chaotic than the nicely-colored checklist I shared above. Unwanted distractions, emergency tasks, and more will certainly pry their way into your schedule, too.

To help you stick to your plan as closely as possible:

  • Don't skip the planning time because you're too busy. Pencil in more time to figure out what happened that lead to you being "too busy."

  • Be flexible. Sometimes you'll need to adjust the schedule as the week develops. That is why it is great to use time blocking and have that schedule to adjust in the first place. Update your calendar in real-time as much as possible.

  • Avoid professional distraction. We're all guilty of checking our phones or answering a call now and then. What I'm talking about is a professional distraction, where we do the tasks we're comfortable with as soon as they come up and delay more important things we're unsure how to do.


    Let's say a social media post results in a great weekend for your facility. You see the front desk is overloaded with customers, so you open up an extra register and run it yourself.

    To avoid this distraction to your plan, you should anticipate that your social media posts will attract more families to your facility. Be prepared by putting an extra employee on staff to open a second register if needed.

    Whether they end up being needed or not, it’s better to be
    over-prepared than to concede time on YOUR calendar you designated for making progress towards your goals.

Get Started!

Set your goals. Create the plan. Use time blocking to schedule it. And, be prepared in advance to handle potential distractions.

Use the tips highlighted in this article, and I have a good feeling setting goals (and achieving them!) will look a whole lot different for you this year. And by different, I mean BETTER.

Additional Content

If you're looking for more content relating to planning for the new year, be sure to watch our on-demand webinar, Intentional Planning for the New Year: A 4-Step Blueprint to Create Your Sales and Marketing Strategy.

Complimentary Webinar - Intentional Planning for the New Year: A 4-Step Blueprint to Create Your Sales & Marketing Strategy

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