Goal setting is one of those things in life that we all too often overlook, but our chances of ultimately succeeding diminish greatly without it. Trust me when I say that I am writing this article as much for me as I am for my readers, because I’m that guy that likes to do all the things. Building a squeeze page, mapping out a funnel, deciding on whether a followup series should be geared towards establishing a relationship or nudging sales; it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of online marketing, while forgetting the part about…online marketing.
If you think that lack of goal setting isn’t that common, take a look at New Year. Sure, people set resolutions, and they mean well, but there’s a very good reason why gym memberships skyrocket in January and tail off during the Spring – resolutions don’t work! If there is something you want to accomplish for the New Year, or for that matter, any time of year, use goal setting techniques.
Goal setting starts with making goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This is something that they teach in business, finance, and organizational management coursework – I count an M.S. in finance among my collection of economics related degrees – and although it may seem somewhat simplistic or corny, it’s a great guidepost in setting realistic and actionable goals.
Specific means that a goal is not something general or esoteric. It has actual substance and meaning. Specific goals answer the questions who, what, where, when, how, and why. For example, if you set a goal to earn a lot of money, it’s not specific. Who doesn’t want to earn a lot of money? If your goal states that you’re going to earn $100 thousand in 6 months, that’s specific. It may not necessarily be realistic, but it is specific.
Measurable means that your goal is quantifiable. Again, a goal to earn a lot of money is not measurable. Setting a goal to earn $100k is measurable because you can use the scale to instantly determine whether you are on your way to meeting that goal. If, after a certain period of time, you have yet to earn your first $100 online, you are below the scale you have set to determine success by a great deal.
A goal is attainable when you can reach that goal within the limits of your unique skills and resources. If you have a goal to play professional football but you’re barely strong enough to carry a suitcase, you might wish to reconsider that goal. In the same vein of thought, if you want to earn $100k in 6 months but can barely afford web hosting, you may want to reassess your goals, or at least determine alternative avenues to transcend your current limitations.
Realistic means exactly what it says. The goal that you set is not some sort of chimera or fancy. For example, if your goal is to earn one billion dollars by tomorrow and you only have three dollars in your bank account, you might be disappointed with your results. That’s not to say that you’ll never reach the billion dollar mark, but it might take you 24 years to achieve, not 24 hours. I know that this is an extreme example, but we often set goals that are only slightly less realistic. I’m a fairly good economist, for instance, but my chances of winning a Nobel…WEEEELLL, not that great.
Time-bound means that your goals have to have an end date. You cannot be open-ended in your goal setting, or you’ll never achieve it. It really is that simple. If your goal has no end date, then it’s not a goal – it’s an activity. A goal to make one million dollars is not a good goal because you can probably make one million total dollars in your working lifetime. A better goal is to make one million dollars in 10 years.
So when you are goal setting, what is an example of a SMART goal? For someone who currently bench presses 100 pounds, a SMART goal would be: “I will bench press 200 pounds by August 31, 2006.”