Let’s begin looking more deeply at each stage of this powerful and proven 4-step method.
To recap, the 4 stages are;
- Discern your starting position before you begin the goal-setting process
- Set your SMART goals and define any characteristics you feel will be needed to attain them
- Take constant and focused action only in the direction of your goals
- Be accountable and take full ownership of results and outcomes generated in step 3
Collectively, these 4 stages provide you with a super effective template for goal setting, goal planning, and goal achieving that always delivers.
You will find following each step leads you to generating success momentum – the specific type of momentum that ensures your actions move you towards the outcomes you want and away from pursuits draining your time, effort, and attention.
One last quick thing before we dive in…
This goal setting template has been designed as a flexible and universal process to apply anywhere. Use it as is, in part, or as a foil for other approaches you already employ – adapt it as you see fit!
OK – let’s begin!
The 4-step, goal planning template – Success planning that delivers
Step 1. Discern your starting position before you begin the goal-setting process
Knowing where you are right now and before you begin planning is critical!
Because building success requires you to plot a course towards your destination that starts from a reference point. Without that reference, you have no context for where you are going.
Here’s a quick analogy for you…
Imagine driving to your best friend’s new house deep in the countryside, when all of a sudden you realise you’re totally lost. You pull over on a deserted country lane to check your mobile – “Damn!” – you’ve just run out of battery and you threw out the old A to Z roadmap last month. “Doh!”. You can see no signposts and there’s nobody else around for miles. Thankfully, you spy a phonebox in the distance (they still have them in the countryside!) and call your friend…
“Hey Stephen, it’s Jennifer – I’m totally lost. Can you give me directions to your house please?”
“Sure Jen” replies Stephen. “Where are you right now? – I’ll figure out the best route from there”.
To be continued…
Now clearly, you get the point because the analogy has made it obvious. However, it’s certainly not an obvious point in real life, because if it were, there wouldn’t be so many people always overlooking it!
So to avoid falling into this goal-setting trap yourself, make sure you measure the relevant parameters, core metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) of where you are before you begin. E.g. measure;
- Website traffic
- Company capabilities & resources
- Health indicators
(The data points will of course need to change to fit your specific scenario and if possible, should be averaged over a long period of activity, e.g. 6 months or a full year.)
When you have these measured, they give you your “what” – a quantitative “situational analysis” of your current position.
With your “what” established, move to identify the factors that most likely contributed to your current performance. You need to determine what things happened historically that led to “why” you are where you are today – these provide you with a qualitative benchmark and make it easier to identify what needs to change moving forward.
Once you’ve established the “what” and the “why” of your current scenario, your “what next” and “where to next” questions immediately become easier to plan for.
Step 2. Set your SMART goals and define any characteristics you feel will be needed to attain them
With your situational analysis completed, it’s time to do your goal setting the SMART way and plot a course towards your new success destination.
Setting goals is an exciting time for any business or individual. It’s the point at which we turn our eyes skyward and imagine our future.
To begin, follow the guide to setting SMART goals and remember…
|Your goals should stretch you, they should inspire you, and most importantly, they should make you grow as a person or your business evolve as an entity.|
Once you have finished, review them, write them out in full and clear detail so you can easily reference them every day, and make sure they meet the 3 criteria mentioned above.
The final criteria – to ensure your goals make you grow as a person or your business evolve as an entity, is achieved by having a…
Focus on the transformational journey as well as the goal destination!
Because here’s the thing…
The traditional goal-setting mindset is one that solely focuses on what you will have once you’ve achieved your goal.
The progressive or growth mindset, is one that focuses on what you will have become once you’ve achieved your goal.
That single word “become”, means those of a progressive mindset are a world away in their thinking compared to those of a traditional mindset.
For the traditionalist, failure to observe the transformation occurring as they pursue their goals means successes tend to be more one-dimensional. For the progressive, however, this observance illuminates how they are beginning to adapt, evolve, and transform, such that their successes will always tend to be multi-dimensional and more profound in nature.
One approach is akin to running and winning a race, whereas the other is more of a caterpillar-into-butterfly transformation.
Yes – attainment of things and statuses are all elements we want and strive for, because that’s part of our human condition. For those with eyes to see, however, it becomes evident that the goals we strive for and achieve are actually the by-products of a deeper process that is really going on – the process of unfoldment and becoming.
That said, then, the method by which we focus in on the transformational goal journey, is by first considering what likely characteristics need to be exhibited by us or our company in order to best hit our goals. When we do this, we are identifying future attributes we need to make manifest; we are making it clear in our minds what type of person or company would be the one we would expect to be achieving these types of goals.
Let’s quickly clarify what we mean by way of an example…
You set a personal SMART goal of losing weight:
- I am going to lose 10 lbs in bodyweight so I can move down 1 trouser waste size and I will be doing this by purchasing and following the Belly Buster DVD exercise regime – I will start on 1st May
- I have all the space and equipment I need to be able to do the workouts and will be exercising 3 times a week for 20 minutes first thing in the morning for the next month
- My progress will be tracked by me weighing myself once a week on my bathroom scales
- This is something I know I can do because I constantly see professional sports people losing significantly more weight in way less time to make the cut for competitions – within days in fact and not weeks!
- By 31st May, I will be able to slide effortlessly into the pair of 34-inch jeans I bought last year during a shopping trip where I was clearly in denial
With your SMART goal laid out, you now think about what characteristics someone who has gone through such a regime and succeeded would likely be. You conclude, it’s most likely someone who;
- Is happy to spend some time researching things online (hence they were able to find the Belly Buster program)
- Gets at least 6-8 hours solid sleep a night (they take steps to facilitate the things they want to achieve the following day)
- Rises early and immediately once their alarm goes off – no snoozing (they create enough time so they can work out first thing in the morning)
- Uses simple tracking aides like tick charts to provide constant visual feedback of the things that have been completed (they realise that reminders of past successes spur them on to do more, so they find simple ways to leverage this)
- Investigates what foods and supplements constitute a healthy diet and what harmful foods should be cut back on (through researching they’ve learned that diet not only impacts your physical health and vitality, but also your psychology in so many ways)
- Tends to use significantly more positively focused words than negative (through experience they’ve learned that positivity lends itself to becoming more successful)
- Watches and reads inspiring videos and stories on a regular basis (leads to regular contemplation of what else could be achieved in their life)
By doing this exercise, you are mentally laying out the stepping stones that create the path of your future transformation (the same process is, of course, applicable for company goals).
Now that you have your list of characteristics, spend a few more minutes thinking about the type of life this ideal person might be leading;
- How might they look?
- How would they walk?
- What type of voice would they have?
- What clothes would they be wearing?
- How do they think?
When you do this, you’ll very quickly realise that what you’re actually imagining is really a future you.
Currently, you are not the person you’ve described because that person has been imagined in line with a goal you are yet to achieve. However, once you embody those characteristics and wider attributes, and take the necessary steps towards your goal as defined in part 3 – the next part of this process, then you will have been transformed into that imagined person and that will be why you succeed.
This is the reason this process is so powerful – it sets you up to understand the wider scope of who you will become and delivers much more than the goal itself. When you apply and focus yourself in this way, your future successes start to become inevitabilities as opposed to dreams!
Step 3. Take constant and focused action only in the direction of your goal(s)
Having ascertained either your personal or your company’s starting position, set your SMART goal(s) and defined the necessary characteristics for their achievement, it’s now time for you to execute the actions that will propel you towards the goal finish line.
The steps you take here are the most crucial of your entire goal-setting process, because it is what you actually do that will see you build the success momentum that ultimately will lead you to hit your goals.
Probably the most common error that occurs at this stage of the process, is not being granular enough regarding the steps themselves – the key is to work backwards from the goal and finish at the starting point. It’s as if the future you left a trail of breadcrumbs outlining the exact steps you need to take in order to move forward and get to your goal.
As with the goals themselves, writing down what you need to do is the answer – the only difference this time being you write down the steps on your calendar, and not in your goal diary.
Many of us are still very loose with our calendars (if we use them at all – you know who you are!) – and the entries we make are often very general, e.g.
Yes, “work on goals” is in your diary and that’s an important start – but let’s be honest here, those entries are nothing more than placeholders; they’re not telling you exactly what you need to do.
Remember, most online diaries allow you to schedule time right down to the minute now, so use that function to get granular and layout the specifics.
With that said, here is the method to help create your trail of breadcrumbs that reach back in time from your completed goal to the present day;
- Start by taking your goal timetable, i.e. how long you have set yourself to achieve it, and divide that numerical (measurable) goal value by the sum of the next biggest time units that make up that timetable
- Let’s say you set a goal for a year, the next biggest time unit is therefore a month, and there are 12 months in a year
- Dividing your yearly value by 12, then, means each month you will need to complete 1/12 of your goal value on average
- Repeat the process and break the values down again by the next biggest unit, so in the case of months, the next biggest unit is a week, and on average there are c.4.33 weeks per month
- To calculate your weekly goal value, take your monthly goal value and divide that by 4.33
- Repeat the process again dividing your weekly value by 7 to get your average daily value
This is the first part of the method completed – but, there are some caveats to consider, namely;
- People invariably have some time off from working – most commonly the weekend or at least 1 day during the week, and generally at least 1-2 weeks holiday each year, rising to at least 3-4 with public holidays
- Here in the UK, 3 weeks’ holiday per year is probably the average with an additional c.5 public holidays on top
- Most businesses exhibit some degree of seasonality, and so certain times of the year are better than others
- As a result, you will need to account for these “off” periods and ensure certain weeks and months overperform when compared to your calculated averages so you stay on track
The 2nd part of the method is all about calculating what activities you need to get done per day, in order to hit your monthly, weekly, and daily average values.
Let’s work this through by using another SMART goal example.
You set a business goal of doubling your website’s average, monthly, lead generation rate from 60 to 120 leads in 6 months.
(Because we previously ran through the SMART goal-setting process in full, we’ll assume you now understand that approach and so will only be working with the timetable (T) and the measurement value (M) in this example. If you are still not 100% clear on the method, we recommend revisiting Step 2, re-reading the example, and then returning here to continue once you fully understand).
The first thing to do is use the calculation from part 1 to figure out the new daily lead average you need to achieve.
- Current monthly run rate – 60 leads per month
- Current weekly run rate – 60/4.33 = 14 leads per week
- Current daily run rate – 14/7 = 2 leads per day
Therefore, your average daily run rate needs to increase from 2 to 4 leads, in order to go from 60 to 120 leads per month.
OK – next step…
From the situational analysis you ran before you started setting your goal, you found the core metrics driving your website’s current lead run rate of 60 per month (based on an average monthly calculation over a 6-month period) were;
- 4,400 visitors from organic search traffic (i.e. people finding your website on Google’s free listing results, not the ads)
- 48 leads per month
- Conversion rate of c.1%
- Current cost – £0
- 1,200 visitors from Google paid search traffic (i.e. Google Ads – aka Google Adwords, Google Pay Per Click, or Google PPC)
- 4 leads per month
- Conversion rate of c.0.3%
- Current cost – £940
- 904 visitors from email marketing (i.e. those people who, for example, downloaded a PDF from your website by inputting their name and email address, and then went into you email marketing software, e.g. Mailchimp)
- 6 leads per month
- Conversion rate of c.0.7%
- Current cost – £12
- 256 visitors from 12 LinkedIn posts
- 2 leads per month
- Conversion rate of c.8%
- Current cost – 3 hours of your time per month
In order to move from 60 to 120 leads in 6 months, then, one or a combination of things need to happen regarding current performance. Either;
- Each marketing channel’s traffic needs to double
- The conversion rate of each marketing channel needs to double (i.e. traffic stays the same but conversion becomes twice as good), or
- A combination of traffic and conversion rate across each marketing channel needs to increase
The most logical way to approach this would seem to be option 3.
Whilst the first two options are achievable, there are considerations and practicalities associated with them that could make them less straightforward to implement, e.g.
- Doubling your organic traffic means investing in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for some amount of time
- SEO is definitely a tactic that should be applied to every website as a matter of course, and the degree to which it is needed is dependent on the condition of your website right now
- Assuming there are multiple issues with your website (and there invariably are), addressing them all may well require more than 6 months to fix, and SEO is a tactic that takes at least a 2-3 weeks to start to gain traction
- You’ll, therefore, need to assess the potential cost of getting the site optimised to a level that will deliver the extra traffic and leads you want, and then compare that to the dollar value of a converted lead to your business – doing this will clarify how commercially viable SEO is an option for you to pursue
- Doubling your organic traffic means investing in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for some amount of time
- Doubling your Google Ads traffic means you’ll need to double your ad budget
- This could be a commercial option, but does it make sense to double your investment in your lowest performing marketing channel – would it make sense to invest that money elsewhere?
- A common mistake advertisers make is they think ad exposure = leads and sales as a 1:1 ratio. Whilst that ratio can be true, it often isn’t.
- The reason it often isn’t is because not everyone is ready to buy when you’re ready to sell. And if someone who is not ready to buy clicks your ad, then that click has cost you money for no immediate sale
- Yes, they may come back and buy/contact you later, but there needs to be elements in place to maximise the chance of that happening. The reality, more often than not, is those elements are not in place and so when your prospects have gone – they’ve gone!
- Doubling your email traffic means either acquiring double the number of signups for your PDF downloads, doubling the number of emails you send, or a combination of both. Considerations here are;
- Your email marketing software costs are due to increase to £39 per month as the database size will have rolled over into the next price threshold if you take on more than 50 new signups (this is simply an example of a scenario you may face)
- You’ll either need to rely on SEO to deliver the traffic increase to get more people to signup, need to create double the content for the current number of visitors to download, or do a combination of both
- In the case of doubling the content, you’ll also need to do some backend management within your email marketing platform to accommodate the new content and account for the fact some people may already have signed up with different content
- Applying the program logic and creating the necessary new email sequences will take time and ultimately money
- And sending twice as many emails out could be overkill and put people off, meaning you’ll end up losing prospects!
- Doubling the conversion rate of each channel is going to require time to figure out exactly what experiential aspects you need to change
- This will require you to have an understanding of the mechanics of marketing and the process known as Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
- If you’re unfamiliar with CRO, you’ll need to engage a company that understands the process
- Again, and as with the options, you’ll need to assess the potential cost of working with a company to get that done, vs understanding what the dollar value of a converted lead is to your business, and then see if CRO is a commercially viable option to pursue
What we are seeing here, then, is that doubling your leads is going to take time and money no matter what route you take, and that doubling only 1 aspect of performance is not always that straightforward – there are many considerations.
Therefore, it makes sense to take a hybrid approach, spread the load to minimise risks, and increase both the traffic and conversion rate from all channels in order to deliver more leads.
Because when you improve a number of performance elements at the same time, they tend to create a synergistic effect that results in more overall value than the value delivered by the individual parts.
With the hybrid approach agreed, and the new, daily, average lead value of 4 established, you can begin adding in specific actions on your calendar for you to take each day.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s imagine your company has all the internal resources to deliver;
- CRO, and
- Email Marketing
Your calendar may now end up transforming from this…
Into something like this…
There is clearly a massive difference between the two as you can see!
The actions you will now be taking each day are clearly defined and are those you have discerned as necessary to start improving your website’s lead generation based on your previous calculations.
And of course, your calendar entries will need to cover at least the first few weeks of your 6-month timetable so you are clear on what you have to do in advance.
During that initial time you will constantly be reviewing how the performance is changing and taking notes on anything that may need to be tweaked or dropped for the next activity sprint. If something is not working and contributing to your goal outcomes, it’s critical to identify it asap, rectify it, or replace it with something that works in your favour.
Step 4. Be accountable and take full ownership of results and outcomes generated in step 3
You’ll no doubt be pleased to know this last step is a very short, albeit invaluable one!
The path to success requires you to own all the so-called failures as well as all the positives that occur on your path. No matter whether you are executing tasks yourself or briefing and delegating tasks for others – the outcomes and results are YOUR responsibility. You need to OWN them and be ACCOUNTABLE for them – ALL of them!
Because when things do not go as we planned, the all-too-often default position is to blame someone or something outside of ourselves.
How many of you have heard or said the following types of responses when things went wrong?…
- “Well, if XYZ hadn’t happened, then the project would have worked!”
- “If we had more budget to keep up with the competition, we’d have been able to generate greater market share and pull back the business we lost!”.
- “I gave that report to Janice to run do but she didn’t do it!”
- “I simply didn’t have the time to get everything done!”
- “We never get the support we need from the Marketing team so how were Sales supposed to deliver that increase in performance?”
- “O, I didn’t know that was what you wanted me to do”
And the list goes on!
So here’s the bottom line folks…
- If you run a business – everything that happens in your business is ultimately on YOU!
- If you run a department – everything that happens in your department is ultimately on YOU!
- If you’re an individual – everything that relates to the activities you undertake are ultimately on YOU!
That may be an extremely tough way of looking at life – but ask yourself this question – “If I had that approach to my life, what quality of life would I have compared to the quality of life I have now?”
Yes of course things go wrong in life – that’s how we learn and grow. It’s how we react to these challenges that maketh the person!
Use your “failures”, setbacks, and challenges as beacons of light to illuminate opportunities to do these things better the next time. Own your mistakes – don’t put them on somebody else. Admit your shortcomings – don’t blame others for them.
See the things you missed the first time around – plan better for them next time so they don’t happen again!
You now have the final piece of how to leverage…
The 4-Step Goal Planning & Goal Setting Theory That Delivers You a Template for Success
With your success plan now in place, it’s time to discover how to significantly grow your business…