On Setting & Accomplishing Your Goals in 5 Easy Steps
No person ever wakes up one morning and says, "I never want to have goals! I want to be completely devoid of all forward thinking!" Or maybe, you do? I, most certainly, cannot speak for you, but is the idea of setting a goal just too terrifying? Generally, for me, I find that the problem isn't that I don't have any goals, but rather, I have too many. I know, I know. That's a horrible thing to have, right? Not necessarily. And, in some cases, I would approach the idea of too many goals in the same ways that I would approach having one goal.
If you've talked to me in the recent months, you've probably heard me exclaim, "I have so many ideas rolling around for the blog! I just need to sit down and get them all out!" Writing is like that, sometimes. Some days, I have so many ideas and thoughts playing a game of Pong inside my head that I think I might go crazy. Other days, when I've planned my whole day around writing for the blog, I find myself staring at the computer screen, woefully lamenting a case of writer's block. It's frustrating, truly, when you have so many things you want to say and do! My business, as well as my blog, have long been huge goals of mine.
Especially when it comes to building a successful personal training business in Austin, I often find that people ask me, "How did you get started? When did it finally start to take off?" That's a difficult question to answer quickly, but I find that it comes down to good, ol' honest goal setting. I've written down some steps to success that I believe can be applicable to any situation, personal or professional.
Make a goal.
Yeah, we got it Ashley. This whole blog is about goal setting. Of course I'm going to make a goal! Right. Okay. But let's get down deep inside your goal. Pretend that I'm going to interrogate you. Are you ready to answer all of the questions? You can't just have a general, vague idea of something that you want to accomplish. For instance, my goal was not just to become a personal trainer, but to be a successful one. What do I mean when I say "successful?" I wanted to be able to be completely sustainable on my personal training and coaching income. I wanted to be able to quit my other jobs (if I wanted to, of course) and focus on personal training full-time. Of course, with all goals, I wouldn't be completely satisfied if I got to said goal and stopped. So now, my goal is world domination. Actually, I'd like to get to a point in my blogging career where I can generate a viable income. Or, well, truly it's to do a lot more things from the comfort of my pajamas. I think that the day would be much better if I never had to put on pants and leave the house. Just a woman and her cats. Those are goals, my friends.
Make sure the goal is measurable.
So, for me my goal was to become a successful personal trainer who was able to exist solely on her training income. That's a pretty measurable goal. You can take your out-of-pocket monthly bills, go wild on an Excel spreadsheet, and come up with some solid, hard-hitting numbers of what your income would need to look like monthly to be able to exist. I'll be honest with you, at first, the number seemed daunting. But, I knew that it was manageable if I took the necessary steps to cut any frivolous expenses and focused on my end goal. It's important for your goal to be measurable because you need to truly see what goes into making a goal a reality. I would love to tell you that "dreams do come true" and that "if you just work really hard, you'll be a star one day," but those things are unlikely if you're not able to get into the dark, nitty-gritty of a business. If you're not willing to put in the leg work when it's less than favorable, how badly do you truly want the final product?
Keep in mind: this goes for any goal. You could have a goal of losing weight. How much weight? 10 pounds. Okay, that is now a measurable goal and we can now calculate out what it would take to reach it. We can calculate out your daily food intake, your daily exercise, and how many calories you need to consume and burn each day to reach your goal in a specified amount of time. The first step in being successful in accomplishing a goal is to be able to look down and truly understand what it is going to take.
Make a list & prioritize.
Lists are my absolute favorite. I feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when I say that, but it's true. Remember when I said that I have so many blog posts rolling around in my head, but I don't know what to do? I write them down. In fact, I have an overly large monthly calendar in my office that lists all of the blog posts for the entire month. Not only that, but I've colored coded everything based on the category. That way, I can stand back, look at the entire month, and pinpoint exactly what I need to be working on and how it can best serve the blog's goal.
Making a list is where you can let your inner perfectionist out. It lets you take the measurable components of your goal and lay them out. With blogging, it's incredibly important to prioritize that list because I'm constantly answering emails, setting up social media content, and scheduling blog posts so that they are as successful as they can be. I want to be sure that I'm providing consistent, as well as varied, content. I want to make sure that people are seeing my posts, so that means posting at specific dates and times. If I didn't rank the blog posts, I would be constantly working on a little bit of everything and never having a cohesive thought.
Making and prioritizing a list could look very different for you. That doesn't matter! What does matter is that you're able to lay down your thoughts in a logical order. When you're struggling with where to begin, you can always revert back to the list. Sometimes, organizing the list in terms of smallest to largest helps me because I'm able to knock out some of the smallest things first, leaving more time for the bigger, time-consuming projects.
Track your progress.
This all goes back to the idea of making sure that your goal is measurable. If you are able to measure the goal, you should then be able to track it. Thinking back in terms of both blogging and personal training, I'm able to track my progress through a variety of analytic channels.
With my clients, I'm able to look back to my online scheduler to see how many clients I've had week over week, the retention rate, and what my normal hours have been. If I've gained clients, I want to pinpoint which of my methods of promoting were most successful. Was it word-of-mouth? Was it through social media? That way, I'm able to target my marketing in productive ways. If I'm continually finding that my rate of return is through one specific channel, I know that I can prioritize it the following month. Why waste energy, when you can channel it into something productive?
Set a timeline.
All good things must come to an end. Your goal. This blog post. Seriously, though, many people spend what seems like an eternity in search of an ending. It's completely acceptable to continually be changing and reshaping the goal as you go along. Maybe you do lose the weight that you wanted, but now you're hungry to lose five more! That's great news. Your goals should always be ever-changing and expanding! But, you also want to set a timeline to work towards. This helps make sure that you're keeping the goals in the forefront of your mind.
This timeline doesn't have to be immediate, but I do find that setting a series of smaller checkpoints in line to the final deadline is a good way to track your progress. This allows you to check in with your where you're at and doesn't feel so overwhelming.
Setting a timeline might feel like you're rushing great things, but it really is a way to keep you honest. If you don't set yourself a deadline, it's very easy to get into the habit of saying, "There's always tomorrow." At some point, tomorrow will never come.
Be realistic (but unstoppable!)
This is my final point in the making of a goal. I always love to dream bigger and better than the time before. But, while having grand goals is great, it is important to be realistic. I could easily say that I want to become the most rich, most beautiful, and most successful personal trainer and blogger in the history of the world. Well, there's a lot of things in that statement that are going to cause me to be let down.
You absolutely, positively, should be in hot pursuit of all things that set your heart ablaze. You should never stop reaching for the sky. But, be realistic, and set concrete goals to get to those milestones. I might never be the most successful trainer, but I can be successful in a way that is meaningful to me. For me, no amount of money or success is worth giving up my personal happiness, so I strive to make each day better than the last.
Don't take steps in the wrong direction. Don't compromise. Ask yourself - is this decision getting me to where I want to be? If the answer is no, don't waste any energy on it. If you don't take a leap of faith, you will never know what is out there. You must be passionately directed at one sole purpose, not focused on a thousand things at once. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Ron Swanson on Parks & Rec, "Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing." It's perfectly fitting for how you should be when working towards something that you truly want. You don't have time to focus on the things that don't matter.
I've been working on my business for the last two years. Nothing that was ever worth it comes easy. I'm happy to say that I've made a lot of progress in those two years. I've made a lot of mistakes; I've learned a lot of lessons. If you have a goal, I implore you to go after it. Take the first step today.
"Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take. The time will pass anyway." - Earl Nightingale
Photography by David Lemon Photography
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