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Today on The Coders’ Startup we’re talking all about goals — why you should be setting goals, how to set goals, and most importantly, how to hold yourself accountable.
In typical fashion, I’ll start off with a brief anecdote about my experience with goal-setting to get us started. Enjoy!
Why Goals Matter
It wasn’t until recently that I started setting any type of goals for myself. Throughout university and early-on in my career, I never really had goals. Sure, I would look at the big picture — I knew I wanted to graduate, and then get a full-time job — but outside of that, I never set anything specific for myself. And even for those looser, larger goals, I never set up any action items or developed a strategy for achieving them. I just sort of went for it and hoped for the best.
Even in all my endeavors as an entrepreneur, I never took goal-setting seriously. Whether it was a podcast, or a conversation, if ever the subject of goals came up, I tuned it out. It wasn’t until 2014, when a member of me and Carter’s mastermind group, Amy, strongly suggested it, that I began to really think about setting goals.
When you look at successful entrepreneurs, you’ll see a number of recurring themes within their personalities, habits, and routines. Goal-setting is one of those recurring themes.
The day I finally decided to sit down set my goals, I did it the old fashioned way — seated at my table with a pencil and paper in hand. Then, I just started writing some things I’d like to achieve in 2015. Some of the goals were personal. For example, I’d like to make more time for my friends and family this year by seeing them more often than I have in the past.
The rest were business-related. I looked at the history of my business and identified the growth pattern. Year-over-year, my business has grown 300%. So I thought, let’s do that again this year. That would make 2015 the first six-figure year for my business.
Doing this has totally changed my way day-to-day thinking and prioritization. Seeing my goals mapped out on a board next to me, and tracking the revenue numbers I need to be hitting quarterly, monthly, weekly, sometimes daily, to hit my annual goal is very motivating. When you can physically see the direction in which you and your business are moving, it spins your brain into new gears and helps you stay focus on what matters — your goal.
As Carter explains in the episode, the only reason people don’t achieve their goals, is because they don’t have clarity around what their goal actually is.
Below are some methods you can use to figure out what you actually want to achieve, and how you can do it.
Tricks and Tools for Setting Goals
When I set goals for myself, I didn’t use too many methodologies to map out my plans. I simply analyzed what had been working in the past for my business, thought about what I wanted to achieve next, and went from there. However, if you’re struggling to find a vision or need systems for helping you narrow in, the following are great exercises to practice. And trust us, they’re worth your precious time!
1. Make a “Decision Tree”
Carter has found this particular method quite helpful in figuring out the patterns that are bound to set you up for success.
Walk backwards through your life and identify any pivotal moments — look at the things, people, and circumstances in your life that make you happy. Now think back — what happened to get you there? What decisions did you make?
For Carter, it was attending events that at first, he didn’t really want to go to. From picking a university, to going to conferences, it was these instances that got him out of his comfort zone, and helped him move closer to reaching success and brought him things in his life that make him happy.
2. The “I Want…” Exercise
This one’s a little bit awkward, but it’s another that comes highly recommended by Carter. You can do this three different ways — facing a partner, looking into a mirror, or free writing on your own.
Start making “I want” statements, and just say the first thing that comes to mind. Inevitably, you’ll have to weed out a lot of the surface-level stuff (I want donuts, I want popcorn, I want a Playstation, etc.) before you get to what you really, truly want.
If you try to get to 100 statements, slowly your ego will allow your subconscious to release the things you should really be working towards. You might be surprised by what you find out!
3. What’s Your “Perfect Average Day?”
This is a popular one, and one Carter and I have both tried with success. Spend some time writing down your perfect, average day. Really go into detail on this one.
Where are you waking up? What would the be the first thing you see? What’s for breakfast? Who are you with?
Go through your day moment by moment, and really envision it as if you have no restrictions — financially, professionally, or otherwise.
Frank Kern has a great YouTube video of a presentation he did on this topic. You can watch his awesome presentation here.
4. S.M.A.R.T. Method
This is another popular method. Use this acronym to make sure the goals you’re setting are solid.
S — make sure your goal is specific.
M — make sure your goal is measurable.
A — make sure your goal is assigned to the right person (most likely, you).
R — make sure your goal is realistic.
T — make sure your goal is time-related i.e. have a specific time frame mapped out for your goal.
5. Mag 7 Worksheet
This is another great resource courtesy of Carter. The first step to this goal-setting workshop is mapping out what you want. But the more important part comes next, thinking about why you want it. Another great element of this worksheet is the Resources section. Once you exhaust your mind of all the different people, places, and outlets you have to help you succeed, you’ll realize that your biggest obstacle is probably just yourself, and failure seems very far away.
Here’s a link to the worksheet here.
Which of these goal-setting methods have you tried? If you do try them after listening to this episode, let us know how they work for you! And if you’re looking for an accountability partner, let us know — we’re playing matchmaker and think we can connect a few people who might be interested.