Do you wish you could consistently achieve the goals that you set for yourself?
If you’ve ever struggled to set or achieve your goals then I have good news for you!
Here are 15 proven strategies you can use to dramatically improve the likelihood that you actually accomplish the short term goals you set for yourself.
If you apply one or more of these strategies in your business or your life, you’ll be able to absolutely crush your short term goals.
1. Create The Perfect Plan to Dominate Your Goals
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Without the proper plan, achieving your goals is going to be incredibly difficult.
That’s why planning is the first and most important step towards accomplishing your goals.
When it comes to planning, you must have a written plan in order to effectively tackle your short term goals.
I’ve found that writing this plan on your computer is helpful because you can easily update it and access it online.
So to get started creating your plan, open a new document in your favorite word processor.
At the top, write “Goals” in big, bold text. You can make this fancier later, but for now let’s charge ahead.
Next, add a new heading for your first goal, “Goal 1: <put your goal here>”.
Below that heading, write out each of these questions and make them bold:
- Why do you want to accomplish this goal?
- What are the benefits of reaching this goal?
- What skills, knowledge or tools will you need?
- What are the obstacles or challenges that you can foresee?
- Who needs to be involved to help you reach this goal?
- What is your plan for reaching this goal? Seth Godin suggests telling it like a story; what will you do at each step of the way?
Repeat this for each of your short term goals so that you have a heading and a list of bold questions for each of your goals. Or, save some time and click here to download this goal planning worksheet.
Now that you have the structure, it’s time to go back and answer each of these questions.
This can take a good amount of time and lots of thinking, but that’s completely fine. Planning is a process and not an event; it will take careful consideration to construct an effective plan.
Spend the next week devoting a little time each day to think through and fill in your goal planning worksheet. Once you have a solid plan, you’ll be confident in your ability to accomplish your goals.
Another great resource for planning your short term goals is the Pick Four workbook by Seth Godin based on Zig Ziglar’s work on goals.
2. Get Ahead Of Your Goals With A Scheduled Review
Before even starting on any of your goals, you should schedule a goal review session.
Having a set time and date for a scheduled review of your goals creates accountability and allows you to step back and examine your progress.
First, decide if you’re going to review your goals monthly or quarterly. If you’ve never done a scheduled review of your goals, starting with a monthly review is best.
Next, you need to schedule the review on your calendar. I live by Google Calendar, so let’s walk through the steps to schedule a goal review session using Google Calendar.
Open up your calendar and create a new event named “Review Goals” and choose a day of the month and a time that is convenient for you. I’ve chosen the first Wednesday of the month at 4:00pm for my scheduled review.
Select the “Repeat” checkbox and choose to repeat the event Monthly and also select “Repeat by” and “day of the week”. This way your scheduled review will always be the same day of the week, even as the months change.
Finally, click the “Done” button and then the “Save” button and you’re all set!
Now you have a recurring time blocked out to review your short term goals.
When it’s time for your scheduled review, here’s what to do:
- Review any progress that you’ve made
- Identify what has worked well and how it has helped
- Examine what hasn’t worked well and what has inhibited your progress
- Identify what you have learned so far
- List out what you will do differently going forward
By reviewing your goals on a recurring basis, you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable, gauge your progress and make any necessary adjustments along the way.
3. Reinforce Your Goals Using This Trick
There are lots of well-documented benefits of keeping a journal and keeping track of progress towards your goals is certainly one of them.
Not only does the act of writing something down reinforce it in your brain, it also allows you to slow down and reflect on what you’re actually doing.
You’ll need a dedicated place to record the daily action that you take for each of your goals. This could be a document on your computer or a small notebook but I highly recommend the Pick Four workbook previously mentioned.
If you’re using a document on your computer or a small notebook, here’s how to set it up:
First, write down the week as a heading, like this: “January 1 – 7, 2017”.
Below that, write out today’s date: “Sunday, Jan 1st”.
Next, make a heading for each goal and briefly mention the goal: “Goal 1: Implement a backup system to protect documents and data”.
Underneath the goal heading, write this sentence: “Action I took today to achieve this goal:”.
Now list out any actions you took that contributed to your goal. If you didn’t take any, simply write “No action taken”.
If you don’t take action on a goal for a couple of days in a row, you’ll certainly notice it. If that happens, take some time to reflect and examine why you’ve been unable to take action (and review your plan).
Repeat this with each of your short term goals, writing down the goal and the steps you’ve taken towards the goal for today.
Tomorrow, write out a new heading for the day (“Monday, Jan 2nd”) and each of your goals along with the steps you’ve taken.
At the end of the week, write out a new heading for the next week so that you can keep going.
If you stick with this and dedicate yourself to recording the actions you’re taking every day, you will be much more likely to make progress and achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible.
4. Ask These 5 Questions To Gain Deeper Understanding
Too often we create goals for ourselves without clearly understanding the WHY.
Achieving your goals would certainly result in a desired outcome or improvement, but there is also deeper meaning to why we want to accomplish certain goals and what impact it would have on our lives.
By applying the 5 Whys to your short term goals, you can understand the deeper meaning of why you care about the goal and what it would truly mean for you if you were to accomplish it.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine that your goal is to increase website conversions by 5%.
Start by asking “Why?” to figure out why this goal is important and continue to ask “Why?” until we’ve uncovered some deeper understanding.
Here’s what that looks like in practice:
Goal: To increase website conversions by 5%.
- Why? To get more online sales
- Why? So that we can create a consistent stream of revenue from online
- Why? To diversify our sources of revenue
- Why? In order to reduce the impact of seasonal sales
- Why? So that we can have consistently strong sales regardless of the season
In this example, we can see that increasing website conversions isn’t just about selling more online. It’s also about the business impact of seasonal sales and how this will have a significant impact to the business and the bottom line.
By figuring out why a goal really matters to us, and what the implications are if we achieve it, we can gain a renewed perspective and greater insight that will motivate us towards achieving the goal.
5. Use The Carrot And Stick Approach
A great way to motivate yourself to achieve your goal is to give yourself a reward once you complete the goal.
This is really effective because you get to decide on the reward and, once you choose a reward, you’ll have something enjoyable to look forward to.
Choosing a reward for achieving your short term goals is simple yet powerful, just follow these steps:
First, grab a piece of paper and a pen.
Next, brainstorm at least three things that you would really enjoy and can afford, but that you wouldn’t normally indulge on.
How about a day off, a $100 shopping spree, a massage or dinner at your favorite restaurant? Nothing is off limits here, so be creative.
As you come up with different ideas of things you want or would enjoy, write each of them down on your wish list.
Now that you have your wish list, examine your goal and pick one item on your wish list that you think is worth getting once you reach your goal.
Once you’ve chosen your reward, get another piece of paper (or a post-it note) and write down your goal and the reward by completing this sentence: “When I <put your goal here> then I will reward myself with <put your reward here>.”
In order to constantly remind you about your goal and your reward, attach your goal/reward statement on or near your desk or an adjacent wall – somewhere that you’ll see it every day.
Finally, tell someone close to you (spouse, partner, friend) about your goal and the reward you’ve assigned. Doing this will make sure you don’t reward yourself without reaching your goal while also having someone else to encourage you and remind you about your reward.
Once you reach your goal, treat yourself to the reward – you’ve earned it!
6. Carry Your Goals With You
If you’re serious about achieving your short term goals, this is one of the most powerful methods for staying focused.
Here’s what you need to do:
First, grab a piece of paper and a pen.
Next, write down each of your goals on the paper.
Now, fold up the paper so that it’s the size of your driver’s license. You may need to tear the paper down to size or use a smaller piece of paper to start with.
Once the paper is folded up, place it in your wallet (or purse), wherever you keep your driver’s license.
Whenever you need motivation or feel stuck, simply take out the paper and remind yourself of your goals.
Another benefit to this approach is that you’ll see this paper on a daily basis, every time you open your wallet. And each time you see it, you’ll be reminded of your goals.
7. Optimize Your Goals With the Right Balance
An important, and often overlooked, factor of creating goals is to be sure that they’re balanced. Without the proper balance, achieving your goals can be impossible.
In order to balance your short term goals, you need two things: a list of goals and the categories that are important to you.
Here are some categories that goals often fall into; choose the ones that are important to you: (these are borrowed from the Pick Four workbook)
Once you’ve decided which of these categories are important to you, grab a piece of paper and a pen and create one column for each category. In other words, if you’re using all seven then you should have seven columns.
Next, write each of your goals underneath the category that they belong to. If a goal belongs to more than one category simply write it under multiple categories.
Now step back and look at the columns that are empty. Are they empty because they don’t apply to you? Are you happy with that area of your life?
If not, consider reevaluating if you want to have a goal that relates to that aspect of your life. But don’t feel obligated to create goals that you’re not passionate about or invested in.
Be sure to also look at the columns that have the most goals in them. Are you focusing too much in one area of your life? Can you combine or simply any of those goals?
Finally, look for imbalances across the categories. For example, do your goals for Career conflict with your Family goals? Do you want to travel the world but also save and invest?
Use this process to reevaluate and adjust your goals accordingly. Doing so will help you create a balanced set of goals that can coexist and support each other.
8. Make Your Goals Easier to Think About (And Accomplish)
Most people set big goals but often forget to break them down into smaller goals. Smaller goals are easier to think about, less daunting and you can make progress on them much quicker.
If you want to make quick progress and get motivated about your short term goals, this is a great place to start.
There are two simple ways to break your goals down to make them easier to achieve:
The most obvious approach to breaking a goal down is to identify the steps you would need to accomplish in order to complete the goal, then turn each of those into their own goal.
For example, imagine your goal is to get 20 new customers this year. Even with a deadline and a detailed plan, that can be an overwhelming goal.
By identifying the steps you’ll need to take in order to make that happen, you can see that you’ll need to attend more networking events, create and run a marketing campaign and follow-up with interested prospects.
Now you can break your goal into sub-goals, treating each of these as it’s own goal.
By having sub-goals, it makes it much easier to think about your goal, monitor progress towards the goal and helps you understand what you need to focus on the most in order to reach your goal.
Another simple way to make achieving your goals more manageable is to use timeboxing.
With timeboxing, you choose a period of time in which to accomplish your goal. Using a monthly or quarterly time box is a highly effective way to time box your goals.
Using our previous example goal of getting 20 new customers in a year, we could create a quarterly time box for this goal. That means we would split our goal up into quarters and track each as it’s own goal for every quarter.
In other words, our new goal would be to get 5 customers in the first quarter of the year and another 5 customers in the next quarter, etc.
Breaking goals down into time boxes makes them easier to visualize and less daunting, but it also gives you the ability to adjust course. At the end of a quarter (or month) you can evaluate your progress towards the goal and identify what needs to change, adjusting as necessary for the next time box.
This makes timeboxing with goals an iterative process that you can learn and grow from and will help you get better at achieving your goals.
9. Apply These Proven Criteria For Setting Goals
You’ve probably heard of the SMART criteria for goal setting, but it’s worth repeating because it’s practical and helpful.
When you’re figuring out your short term goals, make sure that each goal meets the SMART criteria:
Specific – Be clear and detailed about your goal so that there is no ambiguity
Measurable – Make your goal quantifiable so that you can track progress
Assignable – Identify who is responsible for the goal and who needs to be involved
Realistic – Consider how attainable the goal is using past knowledge and your best estimates
Time-related – Specify the deadline or time box for the goal
As these criteria reveal, the key to setting short term goals you can achieve is to be thoughtful and careful about what you commit to achieving, in addition to having a clear vision for how you will reach your goals.
10. Don’t Go At Your Goals Alone
Telling someone else your goals can be a scary thing to do, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to hold yourself accountable.
Find someone you trust who you see on a regular basis, like your spouse, business partner or a close friend.
Ask them if they’d be willing to keep you accountable towards one or more of your goals. If they say no, don’t be offended – just find someone else who agrees to help you.
Once you have someone you trust who has agreed to help keep you accountable, share one or more of your goals with them and explain why it’s important to you, your plan of action and any challenges you expect.
It’s highly likely that the person you share this with will be excited for you and will also have some insightful feedback or questions that you may not have considered before. If applicable, you can use this feedback to tweak your goal or adjust your plan of action.
Since you see this person on a regular basis, your goals will be a topic of conversation from time to time without you even having to mention them. However, don’t be afraid to share the progress you make and the challenges you encounter along the way.
Having someone “along for the ride” helps keep you accountable but also makes the journey towards accomplishing your goals much more enjoyable.
11. Remember That Less Is More
When it comes to setting short term goals, it’s easy to get carried away and create a dozen different goals. But the more goals you have the harder it is to focus.
Think of it like juggling. You might be able to juggle a few things but as you add more the difficulty increases exponentially.
With this in mind, be careful about choosing more than a handful of goals. Three or four goals is good place to start.
If you have more than four goals, see if you can combine them or simply any of your goals, if they’re related.
With a small number of carefully selected goals, you’ll be much more likely to accomplish the goals that you commit to.
12. Set Your Goals Like Google
OKRs stands for “Objectives and Key Results” and it’s a method for setting big goals and tracking your progress towards them.
In fact, OKRs encompass many of the best practices of of goal setting and are highly effective, which is why companies like Google, Intel, Spotify and Eventbrite use OKRs.
Within an organization, OKRs can be used to create a hierarchy of goals so that individual goals are aligned with departmental goals, which are aligned with corporate goals.
In other words, it’s a great way to align the short term goals of everyone in your business so that the whole company is on the same page.
There are two components that make up an OKR: an objective (O) and it’s key results (KRs).
The objective is what you’re trying to accomplish; the aim of the goal.
The objective should be ambitious and far-reaching because the expectation is that you’ll reach 60-70% of the objective. (If you hit 100% then your goal was too easy!)
Each objective has several key results which are used to track progress towards the objective. A key result is a quantifiable and easily measured indicator that can be graded on a scale of 0 – 1.0.
Key results represent milestones that, if reached, contribute significant progress towards the main objective.
You can see how this would be ideal for a business environment because your key results will most likely align perfectly with projects and milestones within your business.
This way, you’re able to ensure that your milestones are reached and track progress towards your short term goals using the same methodology!
There are many benefits to OKRs and if your serious about learning more and applying them in your business and personal life, I highly recommend Google’s guide to OKRs.
It includes a thorough and detailed explanation, instructions and tips, as well as tools for tracking and grading your OKRs.
Be sure to watch the video presentation first; it will help you get the big picture quickly before diving into the guide.
Here’s the video presentation from Google, if you’re looking for a good overview of OKRs:
13. Get Pumped Up About Your Goals
Achieving your short term goals requires consistent effort, intense discipline and a constant source of motivation.
You will hit roadblocks and challenges while trying to accomplish your goals, so it’s best to be prepared.
To stay motivated, find an audio book, YouTube videos or podcast that energizes and motivates you.
On a regular basis, and as you need it, use these resources to renew your motivation and get you back on track and excited about your goals.
Remember, however, not to substitute motivation for action – you achieve your goals by continually and consistently applying effort towards your goal.
Here are some of my great sources of inspiration and motivation and I hope they can help motivate you to achieve your short term goals:
Zig Ziglar Goals Audio is an excellent Audio CD by Zig Ziglar that shares loads of practical advice and wisdom on setting and achieving your short term goals. Zig Ziglar is a legend and it’s nearly impossible to not feel inspired and motivated after hearing him speak. You can also watch Zig Ziglar videos on YouTube to boost your motivation.
The Daily Vee Show by Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most inspiring and practical YouTube shows for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike.
You’ll no doubt feel inspired after watching Seth Godin videos on YouTube. One of the most brilliant marketing and business thinkers of our time, Seth Godin has a keen ability to translate his observations into valuable insights.
These are just a few of the resources that motivate me, but I encourage you to find something that motivates you and draw from it as needed to keep you focused on your short term goals.
14. Maintain Your Momentum By Visualizing Your Progress
Being able to visualize progress that you’ve made towards your short term goals is extremely rewarding and helps you maintain your momentum.
This is why creating a dashboard, or goal tracker, is a great way to track your progress and keep yourself motivated.
Here are two great ways to visualize and track your progress:
1. Strides App
The Strides App is a free app for the web and for iOS which allows you to track your goals and habits with a simple, clean interface that features beautiful charts.
2. Interactive Goal Tracking Worksheet
Another option is to use the free, interactive goal tracking worksheet that I’ve created just for you in Google Sheets.
This goal tracking worksheet lets you track your goals and has a colorful progress bar that updates automatically as you make progress on your goals.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
Here’s how you can start using this interactive goal tracking worksheet to track your progress:
Next, click on the “File” menu option and then click on “Make a copy…”.
Give your goal tracker a name, like “Goals 2017”.
Once you click “OK”, your personal copy of the goal tracking worksheet will open up in a new browser tab.
Now you can edit your goals and track your progress instantly!
Each goal has it’s own progress bar to show how close you are to completing the goal.
To the right of the progress bar is your goal value – a quantifiable value that represents your goal. For example, if you wanted to increase website traffic by 15% you would put 15 as your goal value.
To the left of the progress bar is your current goal value – the number that represents where you’re currently at towards achieving your goal. As make progress towards your goal, and update this value, the progress bar for your goal will automatically fill in to show your progress!
15. Stay Focused On Your Goals Every Day With This Simple Trick
One of the main reasons most people fail to achieve their short term goals is that they forget about them.
That might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Life is full of distractions that will take your mind away from your goals.
Having a daily reminder helps keep you focused on your short term goals so that you never lose sight of what you’ve set out to accomplish.
The good news it, setting up a daily reminder takes no time at all. Here’s how:
First, open your calendar app; I use Google Calendar but this also works for Outlook or Apple Calendar (or virtually any calendar software).
Next, create a new event by clicking the “Create” button.
Name the event by describing your goal and set the time of day to when you are most likely to take action on the goal.
For example, if your goal is to focus on an important task and not check e-mail until later in the day then you’d want to be reminded of this first thing in the morning when you’re likely to want to check e-mail instead of focusing on your priorities.
This way, you’ll be reminded about your goal when it is most relevant to you which is extremely powerful.
Now select the “Repeat” checkbox and set the event to repeat daily. You can set an end date for the end of the year (or the quarter or month if you’re timeboxing your goal) but that’s optional.
Now scroll down and click “Add a notification” to setup a notification every time this event happens.
By choosing an SMS notification, you’ll get a text message right before your goal event happens.
That’s it! Now you’ll have a daily reminder sent to you to help you stay focused on your short term goals.
You can repeat this for each of your goals, but if you have more than a few goals it might be best to only do this for the most important ones.
How to Dominate Your Short Term Goals
Hopefully you’re feeling encouraged about how you can achieve your short term goals using these strategies.
If you’re ready to get serious about your goals, pick one of these strategies to implement today (or schedule it on your calendar to take action).
Leave a comment below and let me know which of the strategies you’ve chosen and when you’re going to get started with it.
If you do this, you’ll have a head start on crushing your short term goals in 2017.
Now go and make your goals happen!