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#046. 5 Full-Proof Steps to Achieving a Big Goal

February 10, 2021

How do you feel about setting goals? I’ll tell you how I feel – I love goal setting. I love that beginning-of-the-year feeling of having a fresh start – anything is possible! I get super excited to set new goals.

However . . . I am not quite as good at goal-achieving. Yes, I get excited about thinking of the goal and setting it. But actually putting my head down and doing the work is a whole different story!

We creative entrepreneurs often are called out for lacking that extreme discipline necessary to accomplish big tasks and goals in a neat, orderly way. But. I actually don’t think this is a matter of lack of discipline. I think it’s a lack of proper methods and motivation.

So on today’s episode, I’m going to share my thoughts on goal setting along with 5 important (but easy to follow) steps to achieving a big goal. Ok, let’s get started!

I don’t know about you, but I am very much a big picture thinker. This means that I can easily come up with a LOT of big goals, but I have trouble actually putting my head down and getting stuff done. As a small business owner, this can kind of be a problem, right? Lots of big ideas with zero implementation doesn’t get me very far – in fact, it doesn’t get me anywhere.

Understanding business strategy and specifically, setting and achieving goals are skills that I had to work really hard to develop early on. My distractible, always-excited-about-the-next-thing personality had to learn to slow down and get super-focused on what mattered most.

Now I know not everyone is a big picture thinker like me. Yes, it’s definitely common in the creative entrepreneur world, but we creative business owners often fall into two camps – big-picture thinkers and detail-oriented task-achievers. Each of these personality types has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to achieving goals.

Like I mentioned before, big-picture thinkers are often good at thinking about long-term, big results. They can envision the finish line, and they get excited about that end result. But again, as I said before, we often fail to actually put our heads down and get the work done so that we can get to that finish line!

Detail-oriented thinkers don’t have the problem of not being able to put their heads down and get the work done. They actually thrive in the small-task checklist environment. So once a goal is set, checking off all those boxes to achieving it is relatively easy for them! However, for detail-oriented thinkers, the problem is often finding and setting the right goal.

So today, I’m speaking to everyone – both the big-picture and detail-oriented thinkers – to share with you my steps to achieving your biggest goals in a strategic and effective way.

Step #1. Understand Your WHY

Before we talk about actual steps to take, we need to talk about the WHY. The starting point for effectively achieving your goals is actually not setting the goal. It’s taking a step further back to look at your overarching vision for your business and your life. If you want to set a goal that you’re actually going to be motivated to achieve, you need to know the answer to the question of WHY. Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is its larger purpose? What will it achieve for you inside your business? And how will that achievement impact your life? It might sound overwhelming to look at things this way, but I can tell you that this, without fail, is the KEY first step in setting a goal that you’re actually going to achieve.

So my question for you is this – have you thought about your vision for your business before? I’m talking about the biggest-of-big-pictures vision. What, at the highest level, do you hope for your business?

OK . . . now I’m going to take it back even a step further. Do you have a big picture vision for your life? Do you understand yourself and your core wants, desires, and needs deeply? We are getting really deep right away in this episode! Your vision for your business and your vision for your life are where it all starts – truly successful and, more importantly, truly fulfilled business owners understand this. You need to understand what your own personal “success” story is – and you will not find that by looking at anyone else’s business successes or achievements.

So if you’re totally overwhelmed right now and thinking – I need to understand my vision! But you have no idea where to start, it’s OK. I’ve got you. I created an entire episode on this at the beginning of the year – it’s episode #40 – and it comes with a free guide to casting a vision, you can get that guide at HannahBjorndal.com/vision2020.

If you haven’t already listened to that episode or completed that vision-casting workbook, definitely check that out before setting any new goals for yourself this year!

I could talk a lot more about this because understanding your why truly is so essential in the goal-setting process! So like I said – stop right here and work on understanding and casting your personal and business vision before you think about setting and achieving a goal. If you already have an understanding of your vision, great!! We’re ready for step #2.

Step #2. Harness the Power of ONE

Once you know your larger vision for your life and your business, it’s time to align those elements and strategize for your business’s success. Now I think every creative entrepreneur should have a solid business plan, and that is a conversation for a totally different episode, however, if you understand your vision, making a plan starts to fall into place relatively easily.

All a business plan really is, is a how behind your why. At its very most basic level, that’s what a business plan does for you – it gives you the plan of how to achieve that larger vision. A business plan is likely going to have anywhere from 3-7 big and potentially on-going goals. That can be a little overwhelming and even cause confusion, particularly if you’ve never had a business plan before. For that reason, it’s really important to zero in on just ONE goal at a time. Here’s why.

We human beings are much better at focusing on one task than multi-tasking. There have been countless studies that have shown that even the best multi-takers simply don’t get as much achieved when working on several tasks at once. The bottom line is that when you have your sights set on just one thing, you’re able to not only get that thing accomplished more quickly, but also with more accuracy, energy and excellence.

But now, let’s address the obvious. There are elements of your business that you just have to keep running. Sometimes, absolutely essential work pops up, even when you least expect it. As entrepreneurs, we can never expect to be able to focus 100% of our time and energy on just one goal. We’ve got business to run! And that business requires a lot of work!

However, it’s pretty easy to get distracted. We get lost in our inbox for hours. We get distracted by an idea that pops in our head in the middle of the day. We remember that task that we’ve really been meaning to do but haven’t got around to – maybe I should just do it now? It is DISTRACTING to be a business owner, and so often, what is most important gets replaced by what feels most urgent. By harnessing the power of ONE – setting ONE big goal at a time, you’re going to actually be able to achieve it. So that’s my challenge to you – focus solely on ONE goal until you achieve it. But there’s more!

By now you’re probably wondering – how do I choose my goal? That is what we’re going to talk about in step 3!

Step #3. Make it SMART Goal

Some of you may have heard this acronym before, or maybe it’s new to you, but the BEST goals are SMART goals. S-M-A-R-T. If you want to accomplish your goal that makes an impact, these are the 5 factors you have got to consider. Let’s go through them know!

S stands for specific. Get super-clear on what your goal is. It shouldn’t be broad or vague, or you won’t actually be motivated to achieve it. If you’re wondering if your goal is specific enough, here are some questions to ask yourself:

What, exactly, do I want to accomplish?

Why is this goal important right now?

What do I need – whether it be resources, time, money or help – to accomplish this goal?

Making your goal specific gets you set up for success by getting crystal-clear on what you’re actually working towards and why.

M stands for Measurable. Your goal needs to be something that you can objectively measure as a “yes” or “no” to being complete. If you’re anything like me, this can be tough to come up with. But it’s important to have a measurable goal because you need to be able to know for sure when it has been accomplished.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to use a specific metric or number to track your success. Simply ask yourself: “how will I know the exact moment when this goal is accomplished?” The more precise, the better!

A stands for attainable. Your goal needs to be realistic – yes, it should be a bit of a stretch or challenge, but it should also be something that you know you are capable of achieving with hard work and effort. It shouldn’t be something that is totally out of your control that you are just hoping will happen with enough hard work. Making it specific and measurable will help with your ability to know if the goal is attainable. So consider the “how” of accomplishing this goal along with any constraints as you decide if it is attainable or not.

R stands for relevant. For many obvious reasons, including what we talked about in #1 with your vision, your goal should be relevant. It needs to matter to you and make an impact. Otherwise, you won’t only be unmotivated, but you’ll also be spending your energy and effort on something that doesn’t really matter in the long run. Your goals should always align with your larger vision for your business and your life.

But even more specifically, your goal should be relevant to you right now. Think about what is most important in the immediate future. I know that I personally can get caught up in the newest and most exciting idea rather than the most pressing and important right now. So consider what goal is most relevant to your business and life right now before choosing a goal.

T stands for time-sensitive. Your goal always needs a deadline. As a part of my coaching program, all of the wedding vendors whom I coach have to set a 30-day goal right off the bat. I personally always have a 90-day goal that I’m working towards. You absolutely need a deadline – a due date – at which time the goal must be accomplished. And you need to set this deadline the day that you set your goal. Giving yourself a due date is absolutely essential in actually getting things done. In general, would recommend setting goals no shorter than 2 weeks and no longer than 90-days. Anything shorter, and it’s too simple or easy, and anything longer is probably more than one goal combined into one (and might get overwhelming).

We’re going to talk more a little later on about how to be disciplined in achieving your goal by your deadline, so stay tuned for that, but one more thing I want to mention before we move on to Step #4 is that your goal doesn’t always have to be directly related to your business. In fact, I encourage you to start with a small goal that is personal. Remember that as entrepreneurs, we’re thinking ultimately about our WHY. Our lives and businesses are very intertwined – way more than other career paths! This is a gift and a curse, but one of the best parts of having those two things so fluid and intertwined is that we have the flexibility to do things like spending a lot of energy on a personal goal. So consider the fact that occasionally, what’s best for you might be setting a personal goal outside of your business!

Ok, on to step #4!

Step #4. Break Your Goal into Pieces

The bigger and more ambitious the goal, the more that is required. And even small goals have steps to completion! Setting a goal for yourself can quickly go from exciting and motivating to totally overwhelming if you don’t break up that goal into small, clear and easy-to-accomplish steps.

So, once you’ve set the large goal, consider how you’re going to achieve it in that time frame you’ve set up for yourself. Ask yourself – what steps need to be taken to ensure that this goal is accomplished?

In general, breaking up the goal into 3-5 action steps is very effective. Depending on how long or short of a timeframe you’ve set for yourself AND how much effort is involved in achieving this goal, you might find you need more/less action steps, but 3-5 is a pretty good marker that you’ve set a stretch goal that is still manageable.

After deciding upon your action steps to achieving your goal, think about the time each action step will take. It’s helpful to assign mini due-dates to these things as well. I find it’s helpful to set weekly or even daily “checkpoints” to make sure you stay on track. In fact, I start each and every work day by writing out 2-4 major “tasks” that I must complete before the end of the day. Sometimes these are personal and sometimes they are work-related, but I always make sure that I have enough time to do all of them. These also almost always include at least one, if not several, tasks that have nothing to do with my big goal. But, as we all know, being a small business owner requires us to wear many hats, and so the day-to-day job of being a business owner shows up on this critical task list. However, my action steps also show up here, and I am able to assign them in advance to a day or week to ensure that I complete my big goal!

You may find that setting aside an entire day in the week or even an entire week of a month to work towards these action steps is what is most effective and useful to you. You also might find that taking one tiny step each and every day is what gets you to the finish line. But regardless, you need to understand the smaller action steps that will actually make an impact and get you from start to finish, or you could easily get lost in the overwhelming feel of achieving a big goal!

Finally, let’s move on to step #5!

Step #5. Set a Reward

Finally, and this is the most fun step of all – you absolutely must set a reward for yourself if you accomplish your goal. This is the little extra bit of motivation you need to ensure that you continue working hard towards the goal, and it is also a well-deserved treat for a job well done.

Surprisingly, this can tend to be a step that people skip – whether accidentally or intentionally. Often times we, as business owners, just think “it’s all part of the job” and fail to celebrate our accomplishments. But hard work also deserves a well-earned reward.

As you’re deciding on a reward, consider a few things –

First, the size and value of the reward should match the difficulty, time and effort put in to accomplish the goal. A major goal accomplishment shouldn’t be met with a tiny rewards, and a smaller, shorter goal shouldn’t be rewarded with something huge.

Next, make sure you’re setting a reward for yourself that you actually would like. It should be something that motivates you, which means it might be something totally weird or bizarre that another person wouldn’t care about at all! Don’t play into what you see others doing to celebrate here – really think about what you personally would love as a reward to a job well done and choose that thing!

You alone will be the best judge of what, exactly, is the best and most fitting reward to your accomplished goal.

Ok, before we finish the episode I want to include a BONUS step that I think is INCREDIBLY useful and important! My bonus step #6 is achieving your goal is to have accountability.

Accountability for achieving your goal will keep you honest and on-track. It will force you to answer to the question of “why” if you don’t achieve what you said you were going to achieve. And it will prevent you from giving yourself an extension on your deadline or taking the reward before you’ve actually earned it. Finding yourself an accountability partner is an EXCELLENT way to continually stay on track for success in your business.

Within my coaching program, I act as an accountability partner for all the entrepreneurs whom I coach. And I have found that in my own life, my business coach has helped me stay accountable to doing what I’ve said I’m going to do. If you really want to ensure that you achieve your goals, find yourself an accountability partner!

Ok, those are the 5 step to achieving your goals! That was fun! I’m getting excited about my own 90-day goal that I’m currently working towards! I hope this motivated your and inspired you to set a goal for all the right reasons using all the right tools.

My highest hope for you is for you to be strategic and successful within your business to achieve your best and most fulfilled life. I love helping creative business owners do this! I’d love to hear from you and answer questions that you have, so please reach out to me any time – info@hannahbjorndal.com or DM me on Instagram @HannahBjorndal. I love connecting!

I also love working intentionally and strategically alongside you to create that best and most fulfilled life – this is something I’m really passionate about. At the beginning of 2021, I opened up my first ever hybrid 1:1 coaching and mentoring program. It has already been such a joy to come alongside fellow photographers and wedding vendors and help you get clear on the bigger picture, create a strategic and actionable business plan, and answer any and every question you have about the industry. I am opening up a few more coaching spots for the month of March 2021, so if you’re interested in coaching with me, shoot me an email to info@hannahbjorndal.com and I’ll tell you all about it.


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