The Seven Rules of Effective Goal Setting (and the Six “Blocks” Keeping You from Success!)
How much progress have you made on your business this year?
Specifically, by what percentile are you growing (or missing the mark)?
Not sure how to answer?
Well, are you measuring your progress against a predetermined standard, such as your own personal goals?
If yes, that’s fantastic!
If, on the other hand, this is a sore subject because you don’t have specific goals yet, or you simply have trouble accomplishing them, then read on.
You’re about to learn a few tips and battle-tested tricks about the process of goal setting.
Note that none of these tactics are new or unique—they’re simply a combination of everything I’ve read and studied about this topic over the years.
And I think these timeless tools for achieving success will help get you on track faster than anything else I could share with you today.
Why WRITTEN goals are essential
The first thing I want to say is that it’s important to have written goals.
You may or may not know that in 1953, Yale’s class of 1933 was surveyed and interviewed after twenty years in their careers.
The results showed that 3% of the graduates were making more money than the other 97%, combined.
The primary difference?
The 3% had written goals.
And we’re talkin’ Yale grads here!
They were certainly all smart, dedicated, and hard-working, and yet the difference in their results is massive.
There was another study done of Harvard Business School graduates of 1979.
The study showed that at graduation, 87% of the class had no goals at all.
Certainly all of those bright, ambitious people had big plans for themselves, right?
But they hadn’t clearly articulated them, even to themselves.
That left 13% of the class with goals, and only 3% had clearly written goals and a plan of action.
Ten years later, in 1989, this class was surveyed again.
The results were as follows:
The 13% who had goals, on average, were making twice as much money as the 84% who did not.
What’s even more shocking is that the 3% who had written goals, on average, were making ten times as much money as the other 97%, combined!
The point is that the mere act of setting a goal and writing it down greatly increases the odds of success in your favor.
So here’s your first takeaway:
If you have a goal and you want to achieve it, write it down!
The six reasons people avoid written goals
Now, before we talk about my seven specific rules for goal setting…
Let’s talk about the six reasons why people don’t write down their goals, because I think this is equally important.
See, we’ve all heard that you should be setting goals and having a plan of action, yet most people don’t.
They set their New Year’s resolutions, then deviate from the plan (and the whole process of goal setting).
So why is that?
Well, it’s due to one (or more) of these six blocks:
1. Avoiding responsibility
The first reason why people don’t have written goals is to avoid responsibility.
See, when you set a goal and write it down, you’re making a firm commitment.
It makes you responsible for your success or failure.
The reality is that most people just don’t want to take responsibility—whether they want to admit that or not.
It’s easy to claim responsibility for success once you achieve it.
But when you fail, very few people want to take responsibility for their failure.
So if you never write the goals down, you avoid that responsibility.
2. Fear of criticism
Another reason is fear of criticism.
We’re criticized by society and by other people.
As adults, we develop these mental blocks about being criticized.
So we just never set goals to avoid criticism.
But once you see the potential you sacrifice because of fear, it seems somewhere between silly and tragic to miss out on so much because of it, right?
3. Lack of knowledge
Another reason why people don’t have written goals, and don’t set goals in general, is they don’t know how.
As silly as it sounds, it’s true; they just don’t understand how to do it.
If you’re in that group, we’re going to talk about the steps to goal setting in a minute.
So stay tuned.
4. Lack of faith
If you haven’t seen goal-setting modeled, you probably don’t think the process works.
Now, if you were lucky enough to grow up in a home where goal setting was talked about and encouraged, then you’re one of the lucky ones who knows the importance of setting goals.
Most of us didn’t, so we just didn’t grow up with this whole notion that you need to be setting and hitting goals on a regular basis.
Which is a shame!
5. The curse of early success
Another reason is the curse of early success.
If you experienced success with certain things in life early on, without much effort, you may think that you can ride on the wave of that success without really setting goals.
I can tell you from personal experience that you’re setting yourself up for failure!
6. Fear of failure
The final reason is fear of failure.
Most people are really afraid to fail.
This is one of the two biggest fears that are holding people back from going forward.
(The other is fear of rejection.)
Here’s how this one works…
When you set a goal, and you don’t believe you’re going to hit it, you create a chance of failure.
So in order to avoid risking that failure, it’s easier to not set the goal in the first place.
I know it sounds silly, but it’s this thought process and self-sabotage that can actually prevent you from setting a goal.
Just understand and realize that those are the things that could be holding you back.
They are what they are.
If you want to achieve something, if you want to go for it and achieve greatness, then you’ve got to get past those blocks, and not be afraid of rejection or failure…
And just start setting your goals!
The Seven Rules of Effective Goal Setting
Let’s talk about seven specific rules that I think will help you have meaningful goals and make sure that you achieve them.
Now, I’m assuming here that you have already have some ideas for your goals.
If that’s the case, let’s dive in!
The first one is the easiest thing you can do:
Simply write down your goals!
That doesn’t mean you’re going to achieve them, but I would encourage you to not skip this step.
Looking back to the studies that were done with the Yale and Harvard grads, the evidence for writing down goals is clear.
There are actually neurological and psychological reasons why this works.
Just the mere act of writing it down makes an imprint into your subconscious mind.
When you write down what you want, if you’ve ever done it, then you know you’ll feel an instant boost in energy and enthusiasm when you write it.
If you do this over and over again on a regular basis, you’re going to give yourself this ongoing boost and energy.
That energy is really what you need to accomplish your goals and to take action on a daily basis.
When you lack that energy, you don’t want to take action.
But the mere act of writing down goals gives you that energy!
So don’t skip this step.
Rule number two is to be specific.
You need to be crystal clear about what you want.
It’s not enough to just say you want more money.
That’s what everybody says.
People say they want more money, or they want to lose weight, or whatever their goal is, but that’s not concrete.
Let’s say, for example, you made $60,000 last year.
Well, you know what?
$61,000 is more than 60,000.
Will that get you excited?
You made $1,000 more this year than you did last year.
I don’t think so.
If you’re 30 pounds overweight, losing a couple of pounds is still losing weight, but it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference in your health and your physical appearance.
You want to be very specific.
Now, for the last couple of years, my family and I have been driving from Michigan to Florida.
I use my GPS, but my GPS will not get me to where I want to go unless I give it a very specific address.
The goal setting mechanism in your head, your subconscious mind, is a goal-seeking device.
Unless you give it very specific, clear instructions, like an address or a specific goal, it’s not going to know exactly what to do.
You’ve got to be crystal clear.
I’m emphasizing this point because often people say…
“Well, I just want to have a good year.”
That’s not good enough.
If you look at Fortune 500 companies or any big company, they have very specific sales and revenue goals that they want to hit.
They don’t just start the year with the CEO getting in front of the board of directors and saying…
“You know, we’re hoping for a good year. We want to make more money this year than last year.”
Can you imagine that?
They have very specific goals.
You’ve got to treat your goals the same way, because you are the CEO of your business and your life.
Now, despite the self-help teachers who say, “Think big! Don’t put any limits on your thinking!” I’m here to set some limits.
Your goals have got to be realistic.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you’re making $60,000, and you set a goal of making $1 million.
That’s a great long-term goal to shoot for, but it’s very, very unlikely that you will go from $60,000 to a million in the next 12 months.
It’s possible, yes.
But for most people, it’s not very realistic.
Set that as the longer-term goal, but be more realistic about what you can accomplish in the short run, like going from $60K to $100K, or maybe $200K.
This is very realistic depending on your set of skills, and the resources that you have available.
Let me give you this example…
If you want to make $100,000/year online, and you have NO marketing skills, very limited resources, and little money to invest in advertising, while it’s technically possible, the reality is that it’s going to take some time to get there.
You’re simply not going to go from zero to $100,000 with no resources, and no marketing skills, in just a few months, or maybe even a year.
It’s not going to happen in the short-term like a lot of people are hoping for.
Now, if you have, let’s say, $20,000 at your disposal, it will be a lot more realistic to hit six figures online, because now you have more resources…
You can invest a bit more money in your advertising so you can get there more quickly.
What I’m saying is this…
Your short-term goals need to be congruent with the skills and resources at your disposal
If they’re not, what’s going to happen is you’re basically setting yourself up for failure.
Then you’re going to become discouraged and say, “Goal setting doesn’t work.”
And you’re not going to take action.
The whole point of goal setting is just not to get you excited; it’s to give you stepping stones to accomplish your bigger, longer-term goals.
The worst thing you can do is to set a short-term goal that’s so out of reach that it’s just going to demotivate you.
Now, let me be clear.
I’m not saying to limit yourself.
I think it’s perfectly fine to have huge 3-, 5-, and 10-year goals.
But reverse engineer those and say, “What do I have to accomplish on a short-term in the next 12 months, 6 months, and 3 months?”
Make it very realistic so that you can get excited, and you can get your belief level up about your goals.
The next step is to create a plan of action with a deadline.
A lot of people say they’re going to accomplish a goal, but they have no clue exactly how they’re going to do it and no deadline to keep them on track.
As you’ve probably heard, a goal without a deadline and a clear plan is nothing but a wish.
Make sure that you have a plan of action that you need to take on a daily basis and a specific deadline of when you want to accomplish that short-term goal.
We’ve already talked about creating realistic short-term goals, but now it’s time to think big by setting big long-term goals that energize and motivate you.
What motivates you?
- Doubling your income?
- Making a million bucks a year and creating true financial freedom?
Create your vision and create the BIG goals to match it.
They’ll keep you excited.
They’ll give you the drive to do the things you need to do now because of the promise of the future.
Goals without meaning will not keep you energized.
You may think that a million dollars or whatever amount of money that you want will keep you excited.
It will, but only for a short period of time, because the reality is that it’s not the money that you want.
It’s what the money can DO for you and for the people in your life that’s going to keep you excited and motivated to move forward.
If you want to lose weight, it’s not really the weight loss that you want.
It’s what being in good shape and looking healthy will do for your life.
You need to get clear about why you want to achieve those goals and think about the reasons very often, like on a daily basis.
The most important part in goal setting is taking action, because without taking action, nothing will happen.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Because you can have…
- Written goals
- Your plan of action
- All your “whys,” and everything in order…
But until you actually take action, nothing will happen!
So set big goals, think big, dream big, and then, of course…
So what goals really matter for growing your business?
What are the actions you need to take to move your business forward, which you can commit to execute on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
Well, I have good news…
There are only TWO things you must focus when building an online business.
These two things are where you need to focus when setting your goals.
And they are…
- Traffic You must do something to drive traffic consistently. Whether it’s advertising on Facebook, creating YouTube videos, or sharing blog posts on social media, you MUST drive traffic consistently to grow your business.
- Sales Next, you’ve got to do something that can actually trigger a conversion, because you can get all the traffic in the world, but if you’re not making sales, it’s all for naught. So how about writing a follow-up email, connecting with the people in your pipeline, or setting up Facebook retargeting ads to your offer?
These are the things that most people simply don’t do, at least not on a regular basis.
Yet these actions are exactly what’s going to move your business forward, growing your revenue and your income.
Now, may I make a suggestion?
Because, full disclosure…
It can take a fair bit of costly trail and error to learn how to profitably drive traffic and convert visitors into sales.
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