Setting goals is relatively easy. You think about what you want to achieve in a certain period of time and set a specific and measurable metric around it. For example:
- Meet sales quota of $450,000 this quarter
- Lose 5 pounds in 4 weeks
- Exercise 4 out of 7 days
- Launch the new product by May 15
- Grow a specific account by 3x this year
Reaching your goals, however, is a bit more complicated.
You need to create a goal and action plan to set expectations and to hold yourself accountable.
In our Goal Setting Worksheet, we outline a 5-step process that not only helps you set goals, but also gives you the best chance to reach them. Here we provide some goal setting examples, accompanied by visuals from the worksheet, to give you a sense of how to set goals and put actions in place to achieve them.
5 Steps to Effective Goal Setting: Worksheet and Examples
1. Set Your Goals
The first step in the process is to set goals for yourself. Think about your goals in terms of the big picture. Over the long-term, what do you want? Categorize your answers into big picture, 3-year, and annual goals.
Here's an example from our worksheet:
2. Plan Your Actions
Once you're clear about your big-picture goals and know where you want to be, you need to create the path to get there. This is where you answer the question, "How will I reach my goals?"
It's important to think about action planning not only in terms of what you're doing today, this week, or this month, but also in terms of your priorities each quarter that will move you toward your big picture goals. Your priorities in the short-term should all tie together, building upon one another to realize your longer-term goals. Keep this in mind as you plan your monthly, weekly, and daily actions.
An important, yet rarely talked about, element of any action plan is accountability. In our Goal Setting Worksheet template, we include a section to name an Accountability Partner. This is a person you’ll check in with each week, sharing your priorities and reporting on what you accomplished (and didn't accomplish) the week prior. You're much more likely to achieve what you set out to do each week when you:
- Write your priorities
- Share them with someone
- Check-in on progress with an accountability partner
3. Identify How You Will Change Your Habits
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
- Albert Einstein
The most effective people are highly productive at work and live by certain habits that fuel their productivity. If you want to achieve your goals, there are certain behaviors and habits you're going to need to change. (For more on this, download our ebook, The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity.)
It's essential that you identify the habits you need to change and the strategies needed for changing them. Here are a few examples:
4. Obsess Over TIME
Goal achievement and success is directly related to how you spend your TIME each day. The best goals and action plans are for naught if you don't control your TIME and spend it on the activities most likely to give you outsized returns.
You can think about TIME in 4 Levels:
- Treasured: Time spent doing what you love or what makes you happy
- Investment: Time spent investing in activities that will move you toward your goals and generate outsized returns
- Mandatory: Time spent on activities and tasks you feel like you have to do
- Empty: Time wasted or lost
The keys to happiness and productivity are to maximize Treasured and Investment TIME and to minimize or outsource Mandatory and Empty TIME.
Here are a few examples of activities at each level. Note that categorizations are highly individual. What may be considered Mandatory time for one person could be considered Investment or Treasured for another.
5. Set Boundaries and Avoid Distractions
If you're committed to reaching your goals, you need to become impossible to distract. Too often, we don't achieve our goals because we get sucked into other people's priorities. When we do, we sacrifice our own.
Identify what distracts you. Learn how to say no to people and tasks. Do this by becoming impossible to distract and by keeping a "to don't" list. Here’s an example:
All the examples above are from our Goal Setting Worksheet. You can download it here for free. The worksheet includes step-by-step instructions along with goal setting examples.
Whether you use our Goal Setting Worksheet or your own, make sure you cover these 5 areas to ensure you not only create a solid goal and action plan, but also use it.