How to Set (and Stick to) Goals for Self-Employment Success

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Throughout our lives, we’ve been taught the value of goal setting. Whether it’s for the personal or professional arena, it’s been claimed that goals sets you up for success. This is true, but only if you have a plan, timeframe, dedication and ambition to see it through to success.

Strangely enough, according to a Staples study, more than 80 percent of small business owners admit they don’t monitor their goal setting or enlist the proper “coaches” and advisors to help them achieve their goals. Studies such as this one confirm what we all know – that setting goals is easy in and of itself, but seeing the goal through to achievement is where most individuals and businesses fall off the cart.

So how can you make (and stick to) goals that push your business forward? Using our Goal Planning Worksheet, try these tips for best results.

Make a List of Short and Long-Term SMART Goals

The first thing you need to do is identify a handful of short-term and long-term SMART goals. SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely, so consider these facets when planning. When jotting down these goals, consider monthly goals, half-year goals, yearly and multi-year goals.

Ask Yourself Why Each Goal is Important

If you don’t think about and write down the importance of each goal, it’s a lot easier to forget about it altogether or not devote yourself to achieving it. Next to each goal that you write down on the worksheet, write down why it’s important to your business. Consider how not achieving this goal will impact the future of your business. This will help you prioritize the goals.

Set a Date for When Each Short-Term and Long-Term Goal Should Be Achieved

Short-term goals are tactical steps that keep us on track to the achievement of our longer-term goals. Utilize a calendar like our Monthly Goal Tracker template and list out one to three short-term goals for each month. Put this worksheet somewhere where you will look at it daily, like on a cork board above your desk.

Do the same for long-term goals, but rather than listing specific dates, mark down the years. Then, as a year inches closer, shoot for a specific date. For long-term goals, it’s a good idea to plan in spans, such as yearly, every 5 years, 10 years etc.

List out the Steps You Need to Take to Achieve Each Goal

For each goal that you’ve set, ask yourself what it will take for you to achieve it. List out specific steps as well as a date each step needs to be completed. On the Monthly Goal Tracker template, you can write down your action steps in the corresponding weeks you are aiming to complete them in.

Identify How You Will Celebrate When the Goal is Achieved

What good is an achieved goal if you don’t observe the success of it? Celebrating your accomplishment boosts your confidence and morale and keeps you on track to pursuing additional goals.

For long-term goals, focus on external celebrations, such as taking your family on a great vacation. For shorter-term goals, focus on internal celebrations such as purchasing something new for your business that you want or need.

Keep Track of Your Goals

Once you have all of your goals compiled, it’s time to organize them in a way that you will to stick to them. If you leave your goals sitting in an Excel spreadsheet buried within your business documents, you’ll never follow through with them.

Buy a monthly planner (or use our Monthly Goal Tracker template) and spend a few days writing down your goals in the planner along with the respective steps and measurements to make them a reality. That way, as you pass through the weeks, you’ll know you’re on track because you’re checking off the steps.

Without Goals, You’ll Never Move Forward

As a self-employed individual, the last thing you want to do is forgo goal setting. Despite what the Staples study taught us about small businesses, it’s important to set and stick to goals to propel your business forward.

Make it a point to keep track of your goals on a weekly and monthly basis so that you don’t fall into the trap that other small businesses have fallen into. Like a good workout, goal setting skyrockets motivation, morale and ultimately, success. It may be a lot of work, but well-worth the end reward.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.