This article originally appeared in SmallBiz Daily.
How are you doing on your personal New Year’s resolutions and business annual initiatives? Have you already given them up? Or are you thinking about it? That list you scribbled down at the end of December – it’s time to make it a serious plan.
This time of year can be tough because the novelty of the new year has come and gone, but the motivation of spring is still a few months away. I encourage you to stand fast. Your goals for the year can still be achieved, whether you’re trying to shed some pounds or grow your business.
The key is to set achievable goals that you can stick to. The steps below may be things you’ve heard before, but that’s because when they are done correctly, they work. Follow them to make your resolutions happen:
What do you want to achieve this year? I’m not looking for a list of vague phrases, such as “lose weight” or “grow my business.” While these may be things you want to achieve in your personal and professional life, there’s no plan to reach them. What does it look like? What needs to happen to carry them out? How do you know when you’ve hit a milestone?
To define your ideas, use the S.M.A.R.T. goals method. This means each goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. For example, if you want to grow your business this year, think about what that looks like. Maybe you want to increase your revenue by 10 percent by the end of the year. When December 31 rolls around, you are able to say “yes, I did that” or “no, I didn’t.”
Once your goal is clearly stated, you can back it up with a strategy. This is the plan you will execute to reach your goal – the overall roadmap to get you where you’re going.
Lay out the ways in which you will reach your goal. For example, to increase revenue by 10 percent, you may want to bring on new clients or launch a new product or service. Once you decide on a strategy, you are able to focus on the path to achievement.
Objectives are the steps you take to achieve a strategy. They must be specific and measurable in order to help lead you to accomplishing your goal.
If you decide on a strategy to bring in a certain number of new clients by the end of the year, figure out what that number is to reach the 10 percent growth mark. Then break it down quarterly – how much new business do you need per quarter to reach 10 percent by the end of the year? Those are the specific and measurable markers you will hold yourself to.
Tactics are the tools you will use for each objective, which in turn helps you achieve the strategy. They’re the building blocks of reaching your goal.
Some tactics to bring in new clients could be to research and pitch new business, upsell current clients, revamp your marketing strategy or even change your business model.
We often forget these four steps, but without them, goal-setting means nothing. If you don’t have strategy, objectives and tactics, your goals are at risk because there is no defined plan.
Here’s the bonus tip to ensure you stay on track: Don’t set goals and keep them to yourself. Share them with others so they can hold you accountable and make sure you do the work.
Take a look back at the notes you scribbled down when you were thinking about what you want to achieve this year – do you have a S.M.A.R.T. goal, a winning strategy, a measurable objective and detailed tactics in place? If not, think about what you can do to carry out your strategies and meet your goals for this year and beyond.