My Business Goal-Setting Process

In my last post, I talked about some of the questions I reflect on when evaluating my previous year in business. After I’ve finished looking back, I get to do the fun part…looking forward and planning the future!

When I threw out the idea of starting new year’s goals on January 1, I also threw out the notion of settings goals for an entire year. Because in a small business, priorities can change really fast!

I tried monthly goals for a few years, but that was too high maintenance. Last year I read “The 12 Week Year” and settled on quarterly goals. This system seemed to strike the balance I was looking for between short- and mid-term goals, so I’m sticking with it this year!

Goal-Setting Process

Once I’ve finished my reflection process, my goal-setting process looks something like this:

Generate Ideas

post-it notesThe reflection phase usually reveals a few ideas that get me so excited that it takes all my energy to keep myself focused on completing the planning phase rather than jumping right into the new project. I accumulate all these ideas in one place. I also give myself time to just sit with these ideas and think about my long-term vision for my studio/business and what goals will help get me there.

Identify Top Ideas

I choose the two ideas that I think will do the most for my business. I always want to pick three goals or more, but I discipline myself to only choose two. It seems like once I add that third business goal, the extra administrative juggling required to maintain three active goals isn’t worth it. I’m better off just working on two simultaneously and picking up the third when the first gets completed.

Now, I have a hard time saying “no” to good ideas. (FOMO, anyone?) While I am choosing the goals I will work on, I also choose the ones I won’t work on. These ideas get moved to a “Not To Do” list.

When they pop into my head and try to tempt me away from working on the priorities I’ve already established, I remember that they’re just that: temptations. I already spent time choosing the most important goals and these weren’t them. They can wait until the next round of goal-setting. For now, my goal is to not work on them. 😊

Establish a “Why”

why sign

Once I’ve settled on my top goals, I write down why it is so important that I achieve them. I used to underestimate this step, but now I can’t imagine skipping it.

Most of us naturally choose the comfortable thing unless we have a compelling reason to make ourselves uncomfortable. My most rewarding goals (like finishing a music degree or starting a multi-teacher studio) have always required some discomfort along the way.

Keeping perspective of my “why” makes it easier to stay motivated to do the hard or intimidating things when my comfort-seeking self would rather be doing just about anything else.

Make a Plan

Next, I make a plan. I write out the key actions I need to take to accomplish each goal and then map these actions out on my calendar over the upcoming twelve week period. I have a tendency to plan as if I have 48 hours in a day, even though I’m well aware that I have only 24 hours. Planning with a calendar helps me be more realistic about my time constraints and not overbook myself.

Follow-Up and Track Progress

When all the planning is done, I get to dive into my new projects, confident that they are the things I should be spending my time and energy on. Each week I schedule a meeting with myself to review my progress and make plans for the next week.

Be Flexible

My system is not static. I make little tweaks (and sometimes big tweaks!) when I notice something is not working or not having the impact it could. A good system should make life easier, not more complicated, so if it’s not doing that I know it’s time to make an adjustment. For now, this is working.

What tips do you have for setting and organizing goals?

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