The Secret To Setting Goals You'll Actually Achieve (+ Free Worksheet To Plan For Success This Year)

Isn’t there something undeniably exciting about the clock turning 12 on January 1st? Personally, I love the idea of new beginnings and a fresh start that comes with each new year. While I try setting goals every month, I know I feel the most driven at the turn of the year. Since this year is no different, I’m taking the time after the excitement of the holiday season to let the dust settle and map out my goals for the year. This time around, though, I’m using a different approach to setting goals, so that I'll actually achieve them.

how to set goals that you will actually achieve - free worksheet included

You see, every year I attempt a 12-month planning session with long-term goals that are large, often generic, and really overwhelming. You know what follows, right? Analysis paralysis. While I have done projects in the last year that have been challenging and lucrative, I have mostly worked to promote others and haven’t dared to promote myself online to a new audience, which is ironic, and a real shame for my business. That’s why I’m buckling down this year, and resolving to put myself out there.

My one and only long-term goal for this year is to be persistent and show up every day for myself and my business.

That’s the overarching core value I want to embrace this year, and every thing I plan and do this year needs to be aligned with it.

Here’s the thing, though. Persistence is an end value I hope to achieve, and while that’s well and good, I need to know what I’m actually going to do to attain that goal. I have three ideas that I’ve already planned out:

  1. I want to blog once a week because I have a lot to share and I have a lot to learn.
  2. I want to offer one-on-one online business and content coaching services to help those that need an actionable brainstorm session for when they can’t afford an entire custom website kit or to supplement their brand new website. The coaching sessions will provide the clarity and action steps required to take your business and website to your own custom “next-level”.
  3. I want to create an eBook that addresses an issue most of my readers face (Topic to be decided when I’ve heard from YOU what you most need help with)

As you can see, all of my goals need me to show up for myself every single day and demand persistence and tenacity. I’m here to commit to it (on the Internet no less, for some added public pressure) and ask you to join me by sharing 1 - 3 goals you’re committing to this year.

As for the plan to achieve my three goals? Here’s the secret.

I'm dropping all daunting 12-month grand schemes and I’m going for a simpler, more intentional approach to fulfilling and meeting my goals throughout the year.

I’m assigning each of the goals listed above to a quarter of this year, and I’ll leave the last quarter free (for now) for any future goals I come up with as I review my other goals as time goes by.

how to set goals planner for entrepreneurs

So how does it work?

Simple. I’ll take each of my goals, respectively, and assign them to:

  1. the first quarter - January to March (Q1)
  2. the second quarter - April to June (Q2)
  3. the third quarter - July to September (Q3)
  4. the fourth quarter - October to December (Q4)

I’ll begin with establishing a regular blogging schedule and work my way towards the eBook over the course of the year. At the start of each month, I’ll set small actionable tasks that need to be completed in order to keep me moving towards my goals. At the end of each month, I’ll do a goal review to see how I’ve fared on the tasks I set myself, carry forward any pending work, and set the tasks for the coming month.

How can YOU plan for success?

If you want to make this year the one where you finally stop thinking and actually start doing (like I do), then follow the process to set yourself small and measurable goals that will act like your own personal manager (an idea I picked up from Lisa Jabob’s planner) and keep you accountable on days when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what needs done next.

To begin with, download the goal-setting workbook so that you can follow along with the rest of the post and discover your own goals and plans for 2016. 

1) Describe your intention for the year in one word, a short phrase, or one sentence: I choose this year to be my year of persistence and showing up for myself. To attract new customers online and offer my coaching services, I know I need to keep going even when it feels like no one is reading, listening, watching, or following along. You may choose words like embracing and mindful, you may choose to ‘kill it’ with your business this year, or you may choose to describe an overarching core desire for your business in 2016. 

For the sake of this post, let’s say you are an infopreneur (thank you, Regina, for this amazing word), and your intention for this year is to be creative. That could mean being creative in the services you offer, creating more products, creating diversified content, thinking creatively about existing business processes to free up more time for you to actually create, or heck, all of it.

2) Map out 3-4 goals that will help you achieve your larger goal for 2016: In our example, as an infopreneur, and with your core desire to be more creative, you could come up with the following targeted goals to help you move towards your intention for the year:

a) Developing an online course that helps you to systematically get your information across to your existing and new audience

b) Reducing how frequently you blog to free up more time to create longer and more robust posts that are even more useful for your readers 

c) Hiring a virtual assistant or automating more business tasks so that you can replace the endless scramble with some much deserved down-time 

d) Planning in a ‘me-day’ every week so that you’re not spreading yourself too thin, because if you’re your business, you need to be healthy and present to grow it

3) Now, assign each of the four goals to a specific quarter of the year: Don’t overthink it. Since all the goals are moving you in the right direction, the order won’t necessarily bring you down. If you already know, however, that you want to launch something on a certain date, make sure you incorporate that into your schedule. 

4) Use your monthly planner to schedule individual sub-goals to meet each of the quarterly goals: Use the 3-months time you have to define specific tasks for each individual month to help you achieve the goal for that quarter. If I was to focus on Goal A, creating an ecourse, I would break down my tasks in the following way: 

Month 1: Conduct a reader survey to find out what my audience most needs help with / use FB groups and other communities to do research on the most asked questions related to my field + Finalise idea and develop a course outline 

Month 2: Build a marketing plan and prepare for a pre-launch by creating blog content related to my course to prime my audience and setting up a landing page to pre-sell the course. Use half the month to begin writing the first few modules of the course. 

Month 3: Write, edit, repeat. Carry out activities mapped out in the marketing plan. Launch at the end of the month. 

Think of what works for you, it’s your plan.

5) Use the monthly sub-goals you defined above to come up with a maximum of 3 tasks for each week of the month: You might have less tasks for each of the weeks, and that’s fine, but avoid the temptation to go beyond three. There’s only so much you can get done in a week


how to set goals planner for entrepreneurs

At the start of each month, plan out the individual tasks for that month and assign them to a week, so that you know what you need to be working at every step of the way. This might seem obvious, but often we stop at large-level goals, like annual or monthly goals, and never stop to think about the work involved daily or weekly to get to the goals, and that’s where most of us trip up. To overcome that, and to hold yourself accountable, use your goals as your manager (a useful tip by Lisa Jacobs, especially for those of us working for ourselves). Monthly reviews and weekly task breakdowns give you clarity on what you need to focus on each day, increasing the likelihood of you actually accomplishing your target for the month, which gives you the thrill of knowing you actually finished what you set out to do, and in the event it didn’t work out as planned, gives you the opportunity to reccaliberate your goals and tasks for the month to come.

That’s why month-end reviews are also important. It is a moment for you to reflect on the month that has passed, assess what worked, what could have been done better, and what still needs to be done in the month(s) to come. 

Schedule these two dates for every month, block out the time in your calendar, and make it a non-negotiable process in your business, because not working on your business only means you’ll get caught in a ‘headless chicken’ situation, where you’ll be running behind on tasks, and won’t make any headway in accomplishing your goals for each month, the quarter, or the year.


how to set goals planner for entrepreneurs

How to set goals for your online business and blog that you'll actually achieve. Free goal-setting worksheet included. Read and get it now >>