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How to Set Goals

By | Goal Setting | No Comments

If we all knew how to set goals that excited us and motivated us to the point where taking action was easy and felt natural we would all be achieving  great things.  I want to achieve great things – what about you?

One of the important criteria for setting SMART Goals is that your goals should be realistic and relevant.  A relevant goal is one that improves your finances or your life in some meaningful way.

A relevant goal will be important to you, it will be aligned with who you are at your core and it will excite you.  Working towards a relevant goal might involve some hard work but it won’t seem like hard work because the thought of achieving your goal will provide you with all the motivation you need to get it done.

This focus of this page is how to set goals that are relevant  and meaningful to you.

how to set goalsNo One Goal Can Operate in Isolation

The subject matter through out the pages of this site is how to make significant positive changes in your life or business, and you probably expect a page on how to set goals to focus on how specific goals.  Sorry to disappoint…

Although I firmly believe that having goals is important, I also know that you cannot successfully achieve your goals if you fail to take into account how that goal is going to impact on the other important areas in your life.  Areas like work or your career, family, health and well-being, relationships, and your sense of self for example.  Before you start working on developing a particular goal, it might pay to look at all of the significant areas of your life and evaluate the areas that need to be worked on.

Try the Wheel of Life First

The wheel of life is a powerful tool for looking at the major areas of your life and determining which ones need some work.  The wheel is like a pie chart and usually has either eight or ten segments.  What you are asked to do is to rate each one of these segments from 0 (being non-existent or really, really bad) to 10 (being as good as it could possibility be).

Wheel of life: how to set goals

Then you draw an arc on each segment at the number you have selected to represent your wheel of life pictorially.  Most of us end up with a rather mis-shaped wheel which would have no hope of rolling anywhere!  Seeing the shape of your wheel can help to illustrate why your living your life is perhaps a little less like smooth sailing and more like being tossed at sea!

The ten life areas I have on my version of the wheel are:

  1. Money & Finance
  2. Career & Work
  3. Health & Fitness
  4. Fun & Recreation
  5. Environment (Home)
  6. Community
  7. Family & Friends
  8. Partner & Love
  9. Growth & Learning
  10. Spirituality

Bear in mind when you look at the results, none of these life areas are totally independent of the others and you will notice some overlap or relatedness.  For example, often the type of environment you find yourself may well be related to money & finance, career & work, family & friends and your partner.

If nothing else, by doing this exercise you will have identified those areas of your life that do not need to be made worse by chasing after a poorly thought out financial goal!

When you are working on identifying and developing your goals, please do keep in mind the areas on your wheel of life that may be impacted.

Now for Some Ideas on How to Set Goals…

Do you already know what your goals are?  If so, well done.  You can skip down to the next section and go to my page on SMART Goals to make sure that the goal you have selected is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a specified Time Frame.

For the rest of you, let’s get comfortable.

Many people I come across are not really sure what their goals are or what they should be, they just know that things need to change. So let’s do a bit of brainstorming.

Get yourself a piece of paper (or two) and a pen.   Now let’s gt started, take a couple of deep breaths and find your centre, then read the first question below and write a short answer to the question on your piece of paper.  Do it quickly, without thinking about the answer too much.

1.  What is happening at the moment that you don’t want or is not working?

Now go a bit deeper and answer this question:

2. What specifically is happening at the moment that you don’t want or is not working?

Did you manage to write a few things down?  Good, now take a minute or two to check and see if there is anything else you could write down. Is there anything missing from your list?

Perfect.  Now, without thinking about how you would get it, answer this question for me:

3. What do you want instead?

One more question:

4. What specifically do you want instead?

So from your list of things that you do want, pick one that has a bit of a kick to it.  What I mean by that is, read through the list one item at a time, and pick the one that makes you feel ‘more’. It might be more ‘anxious’ or more ‘excited’, the kind of emotion doesn’t really matter, just the strength of it.

Once you have done that, you have found the particular area of your life that your goal needs to address.  The next step in how to set goals is to envision the end result, this allows us to check that we are working on the correct area of our lives and to make sure that we will be able to recognise our state when we have actually achieved the goal.

How to Set Goals – Defining Your Future State

Okay, sit back now and relax for a minute or two and take yourself forward in time to a time and place where you have accomplished your goal and you have everything that you want. You can use your imagination or visualisation – which ever process works best for you.

Envisioning the result: how to set goals

Close your eyes and visualise or imagine the scene in the future when you have what you want and write down what the answers to each of the questions below:

5.  What do you see happening around you?

6.  What do you hear people saying about you or to you?

7.  What are you feeling?

Once you have answered these questions take a minute soaking in those sights, sounds and feelings and write down the answer to the following question:

8. If you had all of that, (the sights, sounds and feelings) what would be the result?

Don’t be surprised if the result is quite different from what you started out thinking it would be.  Sometimes we think one thing will solve all our problems, but realise part way through the process that what we thought we wanted and what we actually want are two different things.

For example you might start the process thinking that if only you had a bit more money, everything would be great.  But really what you see, hear and feel when you imagine a future state is more about spending more time with your kids. And that might or might not be related to the amount of money that you have.

And remember the most important thing about understanding how to set goals that bring us the results we want – the only person we can change is ourselves.  Developing a goal that requires someone else to change their beliefs or their behaviours before you can have what you want is doomed to failure.  In that kind of scenario, all you can change is how you behave around that person and how you react to their behaviour.

How to Set Goals – Developing the Goal Statement

Okay so now you know what you do want, it is time to work out what will get it for you.  So again, get comfortable and take a few deep breaths to centre yourself.  Then, think of and write down as many ways you could get or do that on your piece of paper.

Do it quickly, without thinking about the answer too much.

All done?  Great, now write down another way you could do or get that.

Good.  Now I want you to think about someone you admire, someone who would always give you great advice.  Now write down what they would tell you to get that result.

One more.  If there was any other way of getting that result, that you hadn’t thought of before, what would it be? Got something? Good Write it down.

Now look through your list.  You should have several options to choose from, which one do you think will work the best to get you the result that you want?  Write it down on a new piece of paper – and look, not only do you now know how to set goals but you have developed your first goal!

Creating Winning Business Plans

By | Business Planning | No Comments

Business plans are not just an academic exercise, or something you need to do to satisfy your bankers, your suppliers, or your investors. They are more than a just a carefully crafted document that sits on a shelf in the managers office as well.

A business plan is a road map for your business. One that you have sweated over and poured your heart and soul into. The process of writing the business plan was probably long and difficult – if you did it properly that is…

The real value of your small business plan is what you learn about your business and yourself during the process.
creating winning business plans

The Benefits of Developing Business Plans

When your brand new shiny business plan has been bound and is sitting there on your desk, you should also be in a position where you:

Are able to clearly and concisely describe what your business does and who it does it for

Developing a mission statement is a vitally important step in either strategic management or developing a small business plan.  The statement should articulate clearly and concisely what your business actually does and for whom. One way to start working on developing your mission statement is to start with your business name and a short statement that outlines why the business exists.

[Insert business name] exists to [insert a short purpose statement] for [insert target market] so that [insert value proposition].

Don’t expect your statement to be perfect at first. Fill in the sentence and then read it out loud, share it with significant others and ask for their opinions. Keep rephrasing your statement until it sounds and feels right.  If you feel that your statement needs to be further clarified you can add another line:

by [insert details of how you do what you do].

Identifying what you do and who you do it for (your target market), also enables you to work out who your clients or customers are, what some of their defining characteristics are and where you are likely to find them.

Will know where your business sits in your market

If you know where your business sits within your market, you will be able to develop a comparison with your major competitors so that you can determine whether or not your business model is the most appropriate model for your business.  It will also make it possible to look at your strengths and weaknesses of your business and theirs.

Your strengths may be competitive advantages, which can make the difference between success and failure, but only if you can identify it (or them) and actually take advantage of them.  Their weaknesses can indicate areas that need to be address in your business, and opportunities that can be exploited to your advantage.

Have a clear idea of where your business is now and where you expect it to be in three to five years time

If you don’t know where you are going or how you plan to get there, it is highly unlikely that you will go anywhere.

Have a well thought out plan of action for at least the next twelve months

The action plans should address the finances, marketing and operational aspects of your business and be actionable plans with well thought out concrete steps to move your business in the desired direction.

Are you planning on growing the business, or entering a new market?  Whatever your objective, creating small business plans allows you to develop step by step actions to achieve the outcomes you want.

Have recovery plans in place should the worst happen to your business

Do you have plans for the continuity of the business if the worst should happen?  With many small businesses, if anything happens to the founder or owner/operator the business is in danger of failing.  What would you do if all of your staff became victims of a pandemic or if the infrastructure (electricity, water, sewerage) failed?

How about the internet?  What would you do if the net went down and you could no longer access your bank accounts or process payments from customers?

Some of these examples might seem a little extreme, and the chances are that if some of the worst did happen closing the business might be your only choice.  But it would still pay to think about what your priorities are and how you would deal with a disaster or severe disruption to your business operations.

Have a set of key performance indicators to monitor progress

One thing that often gets missed when small business owners are working on their small business plans, is how they will know when they have actually achieved their goals.

Key performance indicators are just that and should be developed as you work on your plan and then reported on regularly so that you have the opportunity to assess whether your action plans are moving your business in the desired direction.  And to make adjustments to the plans, if necessary.

So, are you in that position?

If not, maybe it is time to revisit your business plan or if you don’t have one, start working on one right now.

Developing New Business Skills

By | Business Skills | No Comments

It is a fact that the personal characteristics that make you a great entrepreneur, will also make it difficult for you to ‘maintain’ a business in the long term. Over time the drive and creativity that enabled you to build the business in the first place will turn into restlessness and frustration.

Your ability to think on your feet and make fast decisions, a bonus in the start-up phase, will make it difficult to share the decision making with your employees through delegation when the business has grown and stabilized.

Working with a Business Coach on this small business coaching topic can help you to develop some of the skills you will need as your business grows and matures. This might include

  • leadership or business management skills (and no they are not the same thing!),
  • communication skills,
  • conflict management and negotiation skills,
  • people management skills,
  • competency based skills like organizational management, records management or financial management.

Do you have all the skills required to manage the business?

This is one of the important questions you need to ask yourself as you go through the process of evaluating the performance of your business.

Whether you are a one person business or have hundreds of employees, the main business management skills you need to successfully coincide with the main functions you will find in most Organisational Structures.

Business Management Skills and the Org Structure

The CEO or Chief Executive Officer in a larger organization is the head of the organization. They generally set the strategy and direction for the organization, represent the organization in the external environment and hold the ultimate responsibility for organizational performance.

Under the CEO there are a number of specialized functional areas that support the organization. They generally include functions like Marketing, Sales (and no they are not the same thing!), Accounting and Finance, Human Resources, ICT (Information and Communication Technology), Business Support or Administration and finally, Operations where the goods or services offered by the organization are actually produced.

developing new business skills
It is unlikely that you will have a business structure like this one when you start your business. Your organizational structure is more likely to have only one or two boxes on it, representing you and your partner (if you have one). If you are a technician (i.e., a plumber, or a hairdresser, or a business consultant etc) you will probably be focused on the roles performed by the CEO and Operations Manager in our ‘typical organization’.

But that doesn’t mean that you can avoid doing the tasks normally done by the Marketing Manager, the Sales Manager, the Finance Manager, the ICT Manager, or the Business Support Manager.

Unless you are an employer you can probably get away with not doing the tasks generally done by a Human Resources Manager, but if your business is going to succeed all of the other functions need to be done by someone.

These functional areas are described as ‘specialized’ for a reason. In a larger organization, people with extensive experience, and more often than not, discipline-specific qualifications manage these functions.

For Example…

I am a Finance Manager for a large organization. To win that job, I had to have post graduate qualifications in accounting and business management. I was also required to demonstrate that I had relevant ‘hands on’ experience.

Can you, as an entrepreneurial small business owner, develop the same level of knowledge, skill and experience overnight?

Of course not!

It took me at least ten years of university level study to get where I am, and the same would apply for the Marketing and Communication Manager, ICT Manager and Human Resource Manager in the organization that I work for. But would-be entrepreneurs do have some other options.

If you do not possess all of the small business management skills you will need to start your small business, you could improve your own skills in these areas by doing a course on small business management, or you could buy in the skills you need but don’t have.


  • still have to be the ‘head’ or CEO of your small business.
  • cannot outsource developing a business direction and strategy and for that, you are going to need to develop some new small business management skills. You are, and should be, the public face of your business, and you will be ultimately responsible for your businesses performance.
  • should also be the one determining the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ of your marketing strategy, but you may be able to hire in skills to implement your strategy.