Blog & Business Planning Guide + My 4 Step Action Plan to Achieve Your Goals this Year
Who else loves to have a fresh start?
Doesn’t a new year just get you giddy and excited to plan for the upcoming months. I love to organize and plan out where I want to be in 3 months, 6 months and even a year.
It’s like having a clean slate. A brand new opportunity to dream big and plan for the future. Ahh, its like a fresh of fresh air.
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The hard part comes when I have to narrow down my goals and figure out all the steps I need to take to accomplish those goals. Setting achievable goals and having a plan is difficult.
This past year was a big year for my business.
I learned a lot from my success and failures.
In 2015, I changed the focus of my first blog, launched a second blog, wrote two books, create an awesome planner and much, much more.
Even though I get all excited about planning for the upcoming year it is hard narrowing goals and figuring out how I can accomplish each one. Staying motivated throughout the year is difficult.
Today, I wanted to share with you my process for choosing goals and how I create an action plan to make sure I achieve each one. Being able to stay focused on each goal helps me to figure out my daily tasks for my business.
#1 - Brainstorm & Dream Big
The first part of the entire process is just sitting down and brainstorming. Often times, we are rushed and limited on time so we quickly jot down a few half-hearted goals and think “oh, I’ll just figure out as I go.”
This is how we set ourselves up for failure. You need to set aside time to literally just think. It may sound odd, but grab a pen and paper and literally dump anything that pops into your mind.
What do you want to do this year?
Where do you see your business at the end of the year?
What are three major things you would like to accomplish?
What are a few specific projects you would like to conquer?
The purpose of this is to just dream. Even if some of your ideas may seem unrealistic just jot it down on paper. It does not matter how big or small it may be. Keep in mind that you want to reflect back on the goals that you accomplished in the previous year.
You want to challenge yourself but you do not want to go overboard. Some of the goals you listed may take you longer than a year, and that is okay. Compare your accomplishments from last year and align your dreams and goals with them this year.
#2 - Nitty Gritty Details
The next step is getting specific. A lot of bloggers tell me that their goal is to increase their blog traffic in 2016. Well, that is good and all, but how do you expect to do that? When do you want to accomplish that goal by?
This is where you dive into the nitty gritty details and figure out precise goals that you want to focus on for this year. I like to use the SMART criteria. It helps me be as specific as possible when outlining my goals. You always want to have a deadline otherwise you will keep putting it off.
For example, a more specific goal would be to —- Increase my email subscribers by 500 people by April 30th.
Here is the criteria I use when setting blog goals:
Specific – try to really figure out exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
Measurable – You cannot achieve a goal if you cannot measure it. You may not be able to ‘measure’ every goal but when it is possible try to quantify the goal. For example, I know a lot of bloggers set an income goal for the year. I am sure most of you could agree that you would like to make more money than you did last year or even last month. Set a number to that goal and figure out exactly how much more money you want to make.
Attainable – When planning your goals you want to make sure they are achievable. You do not want to plan for goals that are impossible or unattainable.
Realistic – you obviously want to challenge yourself, but you do not want to make a goal that is unrealistic. Think of big goals without going overboard.
Time – Each goal you set forth for your blog must have a time length. Without an end date you will keep putting it off. Some of your goals may be by year end, but be specific and list that date with each goal
#3 - Dig Deep
Now that you have created more specific goals it is time to dig deep. This part may be a little bit more difficult because you really need to figure out why you are doing these things. You do not just want to increase your traffic for the sake of having higher numbers. Think about your business and where you want it to be. What are your business’ values?
Make sure your goals align with where you want your business to be in the next year.
Why do you want to increase your email subscribers?
Why do you want more traffic? How will it help you?
How will accomplishing this goal affect your business?
Once you have narrowed down your goals it is time to figure out how you will accomplish each one. Depending on your goals you may have to do a few simple tasks and voila you achieved something small for your business.
Other goals may not be that easy. This is where the hard work comes in. You need to ask yourself, “Do I really want this [insert goal], “What I am willing to do to accomplish it?”
Even though it may seem like a logical goal to accomplish you need to consider what it will take to get there. There are SO MANY things I want to do with my blogs. I have HUGE goals, but I often need to take a step back and think of the toll it will take on my life.
How much time will I be taking away from my three boys and my husband? What sacrifices will I need to make to accomplish my big goals?
Evaluating what it takes is a major step in the process of planning for the upcoming year. Although I would like to tackle each of my goals, some of them may not be worth it because of the affect it will have on other aspects of my life.
#4 Creating an Action Plan
For each goal that you decide to take on this year you need to create actionable steps. This is the process I use to create my daily blogging and business tasks. Once I have a goal I will break it down and list the actual steps I need to do to accomplish it.
For example, if the goal is to increase my email subscribers then I need to list exact things I will do to increase my subscribers. That may include going back and making content upgrades for old posts, hosting a giveaway with a specific niche product or even adding my email sign-up link to more posts.
If that is one of your goals then your action steps may include:
- Creating the incentive/content upgrade
- Writing the post or updating old blog post
- Promoting the post to get people to sign-u
- Adding link to these posts: X,X,X
- Creating a sign-up box in my header
I will break down each of my goals into actionable steps and then place them on my calendar. Not only does this hold me accountable but it keeps me focused because I am slowly working towards each of my goals throughout the year.
I personally use Asana and the Productivity Planner. I like to have my tasks organized digitally and with a hard copy that I can check off on my desk. I am a fool when it comes to organization, so I like to color-code, use post-its and different colored markers!
Once I have written down all of my action steps I then start filling in my calendar. I write important dates like blog posts, product launches, events, series, emails, etc. One of the best things that I have done is plan my entire year in advance.
Even though I will move around dates throughout the year it is good for me to visualize what I will be doing each month. I absolutely love using Asana because I can assign exact dates for important things in the future and then I do not have to worry about it.
This is the time when you actually place all those important dates into your system.
Go ahead, I’ll wait… Ok, now that you got that out of the way it is important to schedule in time to do each of those taks that you have created.
I struggled with this step for years. I would out a task like creating a content upgrade to an old post into Asana but I would never set an exact date. Nor, would I schedule the time to do it into my calendar.
It might sound silly, but you actually need to write in the exact dates and times that you will do the things you have listed. For example, if you need to create an email sequence for your launch, you need to schedule in times on your calendar that will be devoted to only that task.
Even though I have a to-do list for each day, I like to schedule a certain time for major tasks. This is one of the things I do to stay focused. If you are truly committed to a project then you will make the time to actually do it.
There really is not much I can say to motivate you to accomplish your goals. This is something that you are doing for yourself so only you can make the initiative.
I would love to have more time every single day. But obviously I cannot make more hours so I make better use of my time. I often have people ask me how I run a business from home while having three young kids. Trust me, my time is limited, but instead of saying that I will find time to work on my business, I actually make the time.
Managing your time is all about your priorities. You need to decide what is and is not important in your life. Being about to rank your to-do list can help you to manage your day. If you struggle with this, I recommend you take a few days and literally write down everything you do. Literally EVERYTHING.
This will help you to better grasp how much time you are wasting. You will be surprised with all the time you have when you cut out unnecessary activities like watching TV or spending countless hours on Facebook.
Trust me, I am guilty of doing both of these. I used to think to myself “where did the time go?” And then I would reflect back on my day and be like, “oh, well, I spent an hour on Pinterest and I got caught up on The Bachelor.” Just these two things alone would have given me two hours that I could have put towards my blog.
Now, do not get me wrong, you definitely need to have some ‘me-time.’ I know how important it is for your sanity to take time for yourself every single day, but if you are setting big goals this year, then you will need to make some daily changes to utilize your time better.
I would love to know what you are planning for the upcoming year for your blog or business. Please share your goals in the comments below!