This is a follow-up to my post on how to make 2012 your best blogging year. As I’ve stated in that post, I am not big on New Year’s resolutions. I am big on goal setting and feel it’s one of the keys to success. However, most people go about goal setting the wrong way and as a result, will fail to achieve the goal.
Every blogger has an ultimate goal. It’s usually something big and will take quite a bit of time to achieve. Let’s say your goal is to have your blog makes enough money to quit your job, and when that is achieved you plan to reward yourself with a new car or a month long vacation.
You put everything you got on achieving that goal. As time passes, frustration sets in because you’re no closer today than you were six months ago. When this adventure started, it was fun. Now it seems like a chore. What went wrong?
It’s Not The Destination, It’s The Journey
While it’s great to keep the end goal in mind, you have to remember to stop and smell the roses along the way. Most bloggers have an end goal, or destination, but they don’t have a map. They just want to get there but don’t know how to. It’s great to have a goal of making a living off your blog, but you also need an actionable plan to get you there. Without the plan, the goal is nothing more than a dream.
The real kicker is after you’ve achieved the end goal, you’ll discover that it wasn’t the end goal that was important. It was the journey along the way. The journey is where you’ll learn and grow. I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of lottery winners who ended up broke again after a few years. They had “success” dumped on them, but they never took the journey and as a result were not ready for it. This applies to blogging as well. If I were to give someone off the street a blog making $40,000 a month, chances are it will go to making zero within a year. You have to go through the journey.
The SMART Formula to Goal Setting
The best way to do goal setting is to use the SMART formula. The formula says that for goal setting to be effective, it has to be:
- Specific. Drill down to the specific by asking the 6W: who, what, where, when, why and which.
- Measurable. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. How could you possibly know you are making progress if you don’t measure?
- Attainable. What attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity do you need to achieve it? How could you grow to match your goal?
- Realistic. A goal has to be realistic. Set it too high and you are living in the bubble.
- Timely. The goal must have a time limit. “Some day” is not good enough.
Reward Every Success No Matter How Small
One of the ways I keep things fun along my journey to world domination is to remember that success is cumulative and every success, no matter how small, should be celebrated. What I like to do is have a bunch of mini goals that accumulate up to the final end-goal. I don’t just celebrate at the final goal. Instead, I celebrate the achievement of each mini goal. This keeps thing fun and keeps me motivated to keep moving forward. Each mini goal is set using the SMART formula.
For a new blogger starting out, a set of progressive mini goals may look something like this.
- Register a domain name
- Order web hosting
- Install WordPress
- Make at least one posts a week
- Start a mailing list
- Get 500 subscribers
- Get approved by an ad network
- Make the first $100
- Insert about 50 more mini goals here
- Quit job
Now, you might think that registering a domain name or setting up WordPress isn’t much of a goal but for some, it is an achievement that should be rewarded. The point is to reward yourself with the achievement of each mini goal. The reward should be proportional to the goal – you shouldn’t reward yourself with a new car for getting approved by an ad network (I tried that once, but the wife overruled it).
As an example, you might take the family out for a pizza night when you make your first $100. When you make your first $1,000, go on a fine-dining night. My rewards usually involve my family because they’re on this journey with me. It’s a lot more fun sharing a journey than to go on it alone.
As the goals get bigger, so does the rewards. Because the rewards are getting bigger and because the next mini goal seems a lot more achievable than the final end goal, you are far more motivated to keep building. Doing it this way is a lot more fun than just trying to reach the big end goal. You reach the top of the success ladder one rung at a time. It’s impossible to hit the top rung without going through the lower ones.
2012 has just started. Now is the time to write down your goals and map out your journey. Remember, it’s not the final destination that is important, it’s the journey along the way. Enjoy the journey, set up a bunch of mini goals and reward yourself along the way. I’ll see you at the top!