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Small Steps Lead to Big Wins

Reviewing your previous successes and failures laid the groundwork for setting SMART goals. Setting compelling goals is one thing; getting the goals accomplished is another.

When you craft big goals, it can often seem overwhelming when you think about how to accomplish them. In reality, you won’t know all the “how.” And, you don’t need to know the how. When you are ready for that knowledge, it will show up.

Here are some tips I find that are helpful when striving to reach your goals.

Keep your why at the forefront. You probably have a big why for what you want to achieve in your life or business. A handy tool here is to print it out and keep it where you can reflect on it daily. For each of the individual goals, you may have a strong conviction about why it is important to you. For example, on a personal level, maintaining healthy habits may be about living long enough to see your children or grandchildren get married. On a business level, writing a book may be important to you because sharing your message will help you expand your reach to meet your larger vision. The clearer your position, the more successful your goal attainment will be.

Chunk it down. By that I mean … determining what action steps are needed to complete the task. And, yes, you might not know all of them, but you do know the first few. If you are not a linear thinker, use mind mapping for this part. To mind-map, start with a center circle where you write the project name. Then create a series of circles out from the main circle where you will divide the goal into the big groups of tasks you know need to get done. Then you add spokes out from each small circle where you will write smaller tasks. It lets you picture the whole project, both in the big picture and in the little details. It makes it not so “big.” And, as you discover more about what needs to be done, you can go back to the mind map or task action list and add to it.

Work backwards and create milestones. The big goal can seem daunting if you think you must accomplish it by 12/31 without an idea of how to spread it out, or sometimes how to take action on it. Create a spreadsheet for the year and put your end goal at 12/31, or its due date. This is something attendees at the Creative Arts Business Summit do each year to reach their goals. With an end goal in mind, set milestones to track your success. For example, if you know you need to make $120,000 in revenue this year, that means you need to make $12,000 each month. You would set that as your monthly milestone. If you prefer, you could do this on a quarterly basis. You could break it down further to weekly or even daily targets. If you are trying to increase your Facebook Business Page likes from 2000 to 3000, then you know your monthly milestone would be 84 and your weekly milestone would be 20. It’s much easier to focus on these short-term goals than it is on the long-term annual goal. And, if you pay attention to the milestones along the way, and adjust based on your results, you are more likely to hit your target.

Schedule the entire year. What you don’t schedule likely doesn’t get done. I would guess we all have experience at that one! Use your “working backwards” spreadsheet and your “chunk-it-down mindmap” to put activities in your calendar. You may use a digital calendar or a paper calendar, which is my preference. I like to start with a large calendar — you can try a 24″ by 36″ wall calendar or print out monthly calendar sheets. Note any promotions, launches, events, or ongoing activities that you have. And, block off vacation or personal time. Self-care is critical for the creative arts entrepreneur.

Time block your tasks. You’ve got your goals. You’ve got the stepping stones to your goal, aka milestones. Now you need to time block the tasks you need to accomplish to reach your milestones. Today you won’t know all the tasks for June, but you will know the broad categories. Create a routine, e.g., 9-12 on Mondays for business development; 9-12 on Tuesday for content creation; 3-4 daily for social media postings and connection. 4-5 daily for extensive emails, etc. You will know the schedule for some tasks. For example, if your newsletter/blog comes out on Thursday every week, you can block a time to work on it on Wednesday. Because this puts you in control of your calendar, it will cause less stress in your life. It also lets you accomplish more — or get done what you need to get done to accomplish your goals.

Take the next action. Of course taking action is key to accomplishing your goals. At the end of each day, take time to do a wrap-up of what did and did not worked for you. Then identify the next few actions that you need to take to move toward you goals the next day. These are simple small steps that you can do. The thing is that when those simple, small steps are stacked on top of each other, you reach the milestones and you reach the goal.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to  conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Dale Carnegie

This is the fourth in a series on goal-setting. Read Part One here. Read Part Two here. Read Part Three here.

What would it mean to you if you completed your big goal this year? What is stopping you? Please leave your comment below.

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