Achieving your new year goals doesn’t have to include finding a new trick or fad to assist. If you failed in the past, chances are your failures weren’t because your goals were unobtainable. Likely, your approach lacked some key ingredients to ensure success. How we set up our goals will determine whether we’re going to achieve them before we even start. [Tweet “How we set up our goals will determine whether we’re going to achieve them before we even start.”]
Because I write about and for marketers, I decided to put the Full Cycle Marketing model to the test and use it as a process to help me define, track and achieve my personal 2015 goals.
I’m going to get personal with this post because I want you to see how I walked through it. What you’re about to read is me going through the process in a real-time discovery process. While the numbers aren’t real, the need and the goals are.
One thing to note: In using the Full Cycle Marketing process to help me with my goals, I immediately recognized that my steps need refinement and my model needs optimization. I’ll be posting the revised process next week with some explanation.
Now, let’s get to work on using the Full Cycle Marketing model to set myself up for success.
My 2015 goal is to “increase my personal income.” If you’ve been following this blog for any time, you immediately know that this is not a real goal! And you’re right. However, it is a need and one that I’m going to use to help me define my goal.
Let’s get started…
Step 1: Define the Need
During this phase, I’m working to discover what I want and why? In order to reveal that, I need to ask a lot of questions, like:
Q: What problem am I trying to solve?
A: I’m too focused on making ends meet every month. I’d like to focus on other, more important, interests.
Q: What factors have lead to this need?
A: My monthly income doesn’t always meet our demands, and our personal savings account is dwindling.
Q: What is/are my biggest frustrations?
A: I’m tired of living with sharp income fluctuations.
Q: What have I done already?
A: I bought an existing small business, but it’s just starting to cover it’s costs. I do some consulting and side projects.
Q: What is the purpose behind the need? In other words, why?
A: I want to better provide for my family, build my savings and buy a house.
Q: What could hinder you from achieving this goal in the future?
A: Time (which means, lack of commitment—ouch!)
Q: What happens if I don’t reach this goal?
A: Reconsider employment.
“The clearer you are about what it is you want, the easier it is to achieve it because your brain can figure out how to get there…If anyone is successful at anything, and not just once in a while but on a consistent basis, they are not lucky, they are focused. They are crystal clear about what they want.” —Tony Robbins
Identifying what you want and why you want it is a critical step in the goal setting process. Furthermore, identifying what happens if you don’t achieve what you want is also important. In fact, it may determine if you have the grit and determination to achieve your goal in the first place.
Step 2: Define the Goal
The next step in the process is, defining the goal. This step is where we get realistic and specific about what we want.
“Increasing my personal income” is a subjective goal and one that isn’t measurable. Truth is, if I made $50,000 last year, making $50,001 would be achieving the goal, right? No, because I have ideas about what the increase needs to include. In fact, in my need discovery, I identified a few things to help me define the goal:
- I want to “better” provide for my family. That means that I need to bring home more. Ideally, I’d create a budget to define this number specifically, but for the sake of time, let’s say that I need to bring home $25,000 more a year.
- “Build my savings” – Now I need to identify how much is enough. Let’s take Dave Ramsey’s model and say we want three months of income saved: $18,750
- “Buy a house” – All I need here is a downpayment, ideally 20%. 20% of what? Back to my budget. Let’s plan on buying a $350,000 house with a $70,000 downpayment. In reality, we’re only required to have 5% down, so the minimum downpayment would be $17,500.
Now, the reality of my goal is beginning to take shape. In order for me to “Increase my personal income” and achieve the goals I have in mind, I now have a number:
+ $18,750 (savings)
+ $17,500-$70,000 (downpayment)
= $111,250 to $163,750 a year of income needed to achieve my now defined goal
As Tony stated above, now that I’m crystal clear on what it takes to achieve my goal, my brain can begin to “figure out how to get there.”
Step 3: Develop a Plan
At this step, it’s time to put together a realistic strategy and plan to accomplish the goal.
INSIGHT: During this process, you may come to realize that your goal is either too easy or unrealistic. That’s okay; change the goal. The beauty of this process is that it will help you clarify what, why and how as you walk through it.
For me, I’ve decided to focus on building income in the following income categories:
- Owned business – 25% of annual income
- Consulting – 60%
- Selling products on my blog – 15%
Because my strategy is to divide my revenue by each income stream, I can now put a strategy in place to help me achieve those goals. For example:
- Owned Business – Launch second location in 2015 and grow student base to 75 students by 12/31/15—this will achieve my percentage goal.
- Consulting – Increase client load from one to three by March and shift from time-based to performance-based income model.—this should achieve my percentage goal; likely exceed it.
- Products/Blog – Launch first paid product in January 2015. Launch additional product in July 2015 in time for the highest trafficked months of the year—this is an unknown strategy (i.e.: risk). Only time will tell.
There are more strategies to create for each of those categories, but for the sake of time and length of the post, you can see how I can begin measuring each income category goal.
INSIGHT: Proper goals are ones that have a starting point (X), and end point (Y) and a deadline (Z). The equation looks like: From X to Y by Z. In this example, my goal would be to “increase annual income from $50,000 to $115,000 by 12/31/15.”
Now, I have clearly defined goal and a plan. It’s go-time.
Step 4: Execute
Once the goals and strategy are clear, take a moment to write down at least one actionable step to help you get closer to your goal. It’s important that this step moves you forward and doesn’t make you feel good for being busy. Once that action item is complete, write down the next one and get back to work.
When projects and campaigns become foggy, we get paralyzed and stop making progress. You don’t have to map out every step required toward achieving your goal. Just do one thing that will help you move closer towards it.
TIP: If you need help with execution, I highly recommend David Allen’s book: Getting Things Done. It will revolutionize your work and productivity habits.
Step 5: Optimize
The only way you know how to optimize your goals is if you’ve created a way of staying accountable to benchmarks along the way. Because I used a specific income goal by a specific deadline, I can now track my successes.
Using our example: I need to make $65,000 more a year than I’m making now. That equates to an additional $5417 a month. By April, I need to have had an additional $16,248 in income in order to stay on track with my goal. If, by April, I’ve made $6500, with no immediate projects or campaigns in the works, I’m starting to see that my goal may not be realistic.
When your goal tracking starts to indicate failure, it’s time to step back, review your plans, strategies and make adjustments.
“20% of what you do in life makes 80% of the difference. In other words, most often, you don’t have to accomplish every action item on your to-do list in order to achieve your desired outcome.” —Tony Robbins
During the optimization step, I recommend reviewing and optimizing on a quarterly basis, at minimum; ideally, monthly. Regular review will give you a chance to look at your key metrics to ensure that you’re on target to achieve or exceed your goal.
Step 6: Analyze the Results
This one of my favorites steps because it gives you an opportunity to look back with 20/20 clarity and learn—a lot.
At the end of next year, you’ll have the gift of being able to look back on the year and analyze what happened, why it happened and strategize ways to improve. You’ll want to break down your goals by the key metrics—percentage of business, consulting and product income—that you established.
Using our example, I’ll want to know what exact percentages each of my income categories achieved. Did my business bring in 25% of my income or 38%?
You’ll also want to ask questions like:
- What did work?
- What didn’t work?
- What would I do differently?
- What income categories were most effective and efficient at building income? (Consider doing more of these)
- Which income categories took too much of my time and financial resources? (Consider eliminating these)
- What do I want to remember about the process?
- What impact did current and life events have on the success or failure of achieving my goal.
The intent of this step is to ask a lot of questions so you can learn as much as you can about the process. Be sure to write them down in a safe and trusted place so you can review them in the future.
TIP: New York Times bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, has a great post on using Evernote to track your goals.
The most important thing to remember is this: You only fail when you stop learning.
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(Some links in this post are affiliate links and I do earn a commission when you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.)