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Starting 2012 Right: Goal Setting

Set goals for your business—and achieve them—with this step-by-step plan.

So far in this series we have talked about clearing your head and making a clean sweep of your workspace to start 2012 with a fresh outlook. Now let’s talk about setting goals to help you start the year right.

I know folks groan at the thought of goal setting but, really, if you were starting a trip, wouldn’t you check the map? Goal setting is simply deciding where you want to be.

Goal setting: Step 1

The first step in setting your goals is to dream a little. I know people who actually check into hotels for a day or two near the end of the year to brainstorm and plan. I think this is a fantastic idea, if you can swing it.

If not, just turn off the computer, the phone and all distractions for an hour or two. Go outside if you can, or at least to a place where you can relax and think. Don’t worry about falling asleep; that might be good. Don’t even take a paper and pencil for this. Just sit and think about where you are and where you want to be.

Goal setting: Step 2

Turn off the computer, the phone and all distractions for an hour or two. Go outside or to a place where you can relax and think

Next, take out that piece of paper and pen. Or, if it’s your style, open up a Word document. Or better yet, open up a Workflowy document (thanks Janelle Elms) and put your dreams onto paper.

Remember, right now they are dreams. When we put “work boots” on them they will become goals. For now, just get them out of your head, your dream space.

Goal setting: Step 3

Step three takes place at least 24 hours after step two.

Open up the document, or take out the piece of paper and look at your dreams. None of them get crossed out. But the ones you think you can accomplish or make good progress on in the next 12 months get put on your Yearly Goal Sheet. This, again, can be whatever you’d like—a Workflowy document, a Word document or even a poster board mounted on your wall, whatever works for you.

These are yearly goals, and you should look at them daily, so it’s a super idea to print these out and put the list someplace you stare at every day.

Goal setting: Step 4

Step four is to break down those goals into smaller, bite-size goals. Take your yearly goal and divide by 12 (or 10, if you are working on 2012, since we are in month two). Then take those monthly goals and divide by 30. These are your daily goals.

Keep in mind, this method works for quantifiable goals but not for more abstract objectives like “revamp my eBay store,” “open a website,” find a new wholesale product line,” etc.

This is where Workflowy can help. It will help you break down each big goal into smaller and smaller and smaller chunks, until the steps that are left are something you can easily put on your daily list.

What is the first step to opening an e-commerce store? Research! So, on Monday you could do a search for e-commerce or website providers and save that list as a document. On Tuesday—and onward—you could look at one option each day and make a list of what they offer and how much they cost. After you’ve researched them all, you could spend a couple days asking peers for advice. Then schedule a day or two to make a decision and get started. That is just an example, but every big goal can be broken down into smaller and smaller chunks until it feels doable. Try it, you’ll like it.

Goal setting: Get motivated

There is nothing like ‘putting it out there’ to motivate you to work harder toward achieving your goals

One final thing: When you finalize your goals, tell someone—a friend, a co-worker or even, gasp, post it on Facebook! There is nothing like “putting it out there” to motivate you to work harder toward achieving your goals.

I’ll close with some quotes from the very smart members of the eBay Radio Super Secret Chat Board, and a few others:

“Plan your work; work your plan.” —Del Paeske

“Know your numbers before setting future goals. Too many folks don’t have a clue what they’re doing and yet make huge plans for the future.” —Bev England

“Find a niche with products that have a credible profit margin, make a plan to build a brand and do your homework. Goals have to be tangible to be successful. Set realistic goals, write them down and create a daily plan to implement them. Then do it without flinching.” —Joyce Banbury

“I always figure out how much money I need, or want, and then I figure out how to get at least that amount. I start at the top, in other words.” —Lee Mirabal

“Remember, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything!” —David Allen

“Whatever you would do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” —Goethe

“Eighty-eight percent of life is showing up.” —Sign at the car wash

“Luck is the residue of planning.” —Holiday Inn marquee spotted back in the ’70s by Betsie Bolger

“Successful people make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. I forget who said that.” —Betsie Bolger

“Every month I decide how much money I need so I can play the slots at Cripple Creek.” —Anonymous

About the author

Kat Simpson
Respected as a trusted e-commerce speaker, educator and entrepreneur, Kat Simpson has been a successful e-commerce merchant for more than 10 years. Simpson is an eBay education specialist and Silver PowerSeller, who also maintains stores on Addoway, Bonanza, Buy.com and iOffer. She is the co-host of the popular weekly e-commerce podcast, eCom Connections. Connect with Simpson on Twitter and Facebook. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • David-Thomas Trains and Toys

    I have never had a problem dreaming about goals and putting the dreams into a plan on paper and breaking them down to be more manageable..however when I talk about my goals to others… friends, families usually I get the “rolling of the eyes” and the “there he is dreaming again” with the business now I am turning some heads because I have proof that I’m making it work and everyday it is getting better. Where I struggle is I often find myself either “biting more off  then I can chew” or getting sidetracked with day-to-day issues. I need to become better organized and more focused. I thoroughly enjoyed the article though and feel it can be a good thing for new sellers and even established sellers to read and apply not only in their business but in their everyday life…We all have dreams and goals and what better way to achieve them then to break them down to smaller goals and keep working your way up. Great Article Kat…as usual I learn something else from you 🙂

    • David – keep dreaming – thanks for the comments and encouragement 🙂

  • Senshimo

    I find Wunderlist to be a great tool to help prioritize the smaller tasks!

    • Thank you for the tip Senshimo – I am checking out Wanderlist now 🙂

  • Alchemyofsoul

    I think many of us avoid any kind of goals or wish lits because we think it wont make a differennce or we like to wing it. I made a goal list and worked at it for the first time in October and so far ive achieved almost everything. I didnt know about breaking the goals down that is really helpful info thanks!



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