A Goal Setting Worksheet and a New Year Heart to Heart
This is absolutely NOT the goal setting post that I started out to write. I didn’t set out to share photos of myself with no make-up on, wearing the least stylish walking outfit I could muster. Especially not at the start of 2019.
But that’s what happened, and I’m ok with telling you why.
Christmas was nuts. It was fun, and way too busy and it wiped me out with a whacking, great slap in the face.
Instead of sharing the story of how I used to think setting goals was a tacky, one-way ticket to sure-fire failure and had then found the opposite - with amazing results, I popped Ibuprofen and snuggled up by the fire. Instead of helping you to channel your goals like a hyper-motivated LA gym trainer, I found myself retreating back to the duvet for naps (extremely out of character).
Does that sound good to you? In a weird, not-what-I-planned sort of way, it has been good. It made me STOP (also extremely out of character) and it made me humble because I see that I have limits.
2018 was fantastic, but man, was it tiring. It all caught up - in the first week of a brand new year. These family photos from one of our wild walks show a very tired person, slowly being revived.
All that said, I love January, because I love the possibilities. As long as you don’t feel the pressure and listen to your gut feelings, not what someone else tells you you’re supposed to do, I think January can be alright.
If, like me, you’ve been slow out of the blocks for your business in 2019 and you don’t do complicated, this late-to-the-party, goal setting worksheet is just for you.
Here’s how I’m approaching 2019.
You’re a Human Being, Not a Human Doing
Last year, me and Mr. M had a huge realisation that we are rubbish at resting. We also realised that this is the mother of pride and pride is bad.
If you think you never need to rest, you’re saying that you’re invincible. And that ain’t so. That’s just not the way God made you, friend.
We both read a superb little book called ‘The Art of Rest’ by Adam Mabry and took to heart the words “you’re a human being, not a human doing”. That’s why, if you’re in a goal setting frame of mind, I strongly believe that you need to think about your whole life, not just your creative business.
Who are you actually going to BE this year? How are you actually going to contribute to the world around you, the world that’s on your doorstep? How are you going to stop looking at your own lofty goals and BE a person who does something good for the world?
This is one of the biggest questions I’m asking myself as the year begins and the basis of what any of my own goal setting looks like.
It surprises me that of all the things I did last year, the one that means the most is being able to be there when my neighbour had her baby girl.
I was there. I held her hand as she brought a tiny little person into the world. I think that much more than anything I wrote or did, that was my biggest and happiest and proudest contribution to last year. And it had nothing to do with business.
You’re a human being, not a human doing. So when you think big, don’t think numbers on paper. Think people.
Goal Setting Requires a Bath and Three Questions
Alright, the bath is not mandatory, but it certainly helps me to think more clearly. Perhaps because it’s very hard to risk a digital device near water, and you can lock people out of the room in a way that’s socially acceptable, there are few distractions in a bath. The point is, when it comes to goal setting, get in a place where there’s some head space. If that requires five days of watching ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and drinking tea, believe me, you’ll be better off.
I like to keep things simple. REALLY simple. Before you do any looking forwards, you need to look backwards.
I take a pen and draw three columns on a bit of paper although if you download the goal setting worksheet at the bottom of this post I’ve already done this part for you and added some other bits and bobs too.
To start with I write down what went well during the year. Next, I write down what went badly, and finally, what I learnt.
Here’s how it looked for 2018.
WHAT WENT WELL
I was proud that lots of people personally recommended me and lots of work came by word of mouth.
I had a brilliant time mentoring university arts graduates as part of a local arts initiative.
I consistently exceeded the sales targets I set.
I took every opportunity to get out of the house and meet people and work at the shared hot desk space which led to more, and better, writing jobs.
We went to Spain and I spoke Spanish with a REAL old Spanish man! (I could not say my name in Spanish at the start of the year).
I got to be there at the birth of my neighbour’s baby.
We learnt how to rest better as a family and put rest at the top of our agenda.
Come the end of 2018, relationships with my very best people are in good shape.
WHAT WENT BADLY
I helped to start a new after school club in the village but it was darn hard work and I struggled with having the confidence to lead things.
Working and writing on my own was a challenge.
I sometimes chased money, not my true audience and that was a mistake.
I stressed about not being able to balance work / housework / rest / family.
WHAT I LEARNT
That if you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you’d better say ‘no’ to something else.
That just because you’re stuck in a rut right now (me in 2017), it doesn’t mean that a stormin’ year isn’t just around the corner (me in 2018). Things change and flex - for better, and sometimes for worse - so enjoy things when they’re good and know that all’s not lost when they aren’t.
That it’s a really good idea to know your limitations so you can delegate someone else to do the stuff that you’re terrible at.
You’ll notice that none of the things I was pleased with are seriously world-changing, seven-figure, award-winning achievements. Because I’m not that person.
I’m the person who believes down to her very bones that your quality of life and the people on your doorstep and community are just as important as making money. That’s why my goals for the year were a combination of business and financial (making sales and treating customers like royalty), personal (learning Spanish) and relational (doing the school run, starting the church kids club).
To me, this is what success looks like. A wonderful balance of life and work and people, not just business and money.
Acknowledge Your Wildest Ideas
Ok, time for a fresh bit of paper to throw all your big ideas at. Come on, no one’s looking. If secretly, you want to climb Everest or write a science fiction novel or record your first country music song, you need to scribble it down. Otherwise, it’s only ever going to be a secret in your head.
Make sure you put the smaller things down too. Is playing the French horn reviving to your soul? You should do more of it. Are you honestly at your most creative on 10 hours sleep a night? Then you’re going to need to make getting to bed early a priority.
Whatever, be truthful with yourself. Don’t copy someone else’s ideas or write down what you think you’re supposed to put. Be honest.
Once you have all your wild, not so wild and truthful ideas down, you need to choose - and that’s not easy.
The way I look at it is this - what’s the ONE thing that you want to say you’ve done by this time next year? If you could only pick one, which would it be? That’s your priority. Then keep adding things in order of next importance and make sure you have a mix of professional, personal, big and small goals.
For me last year, 4 professional and 3 personal worked out pretty well so that’s what I’m going with for 2019. It might be more for you, it might be less. The aim is that this time next year you’ve done what you set out to do, no matter how huge or small.
I scribble down every goal in one short sentence. I also write down one sentence to answer ‘Why’ I want to do it as well as ‘How’ I’m going to go about it.
Goal Setting for The Stitch Writer in 2019
I’m not going to lie. I’m nervous about you reading my goals. They are more about the sort of person I want to be, rather than the things I want to do. Some of them are pretty personal. After all, we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.
I’ll compromise and share two professional and two personal, plus the ‘why’ and ‘how’, just so you can see how it goes.
To be an honest, more humble, more confident leader and influencer to others.
WHY? Because I want to influence culture and community positively.
HOW? By stepping up to lead at church, at home, at work, at school, even when it’s scary. By reading and research and maybe even finding a mentor…?
To collaborate with 1-3 writers.
WHY? Because working creatively with other people makes me buzz and I want to enable others to write and start their own freelance businesses.
HOW? By networking and building on the relationships I already have.
To run a marathon (have I really just written this?)
WHY? Because being fit just makes me feel way better. I need a goal to get me there and crazy Gill has already invited me to do it.
HOW? By planning running and fitness into my week just as I plan in my work and family commitments.
To keep investing in my family.
WHY? Because when you boil it all down, these are my most important people in the world. HOW? By being present after school and planning in date night! Yeah!
Whatever you do, leave some space and don’t plan your time to the wire. People get poorly and need looking after or unexpected things can come your way. If you have literally no free space at all this can throw you right off track.
I am a rotter for thinking I can do more that I really can in the time that I have, so BE REALISTIC and leave some space for the unknown. I’ve lost count in the past few years of where I’ve discounted time spent on something as a “one-off”, only for another “one-off” to swoop in and take it’s place.
Goal Setting Is Pointless Unless You Take Action
This is my favourite bit of goal setting. Working out how you’re going to get there and making it happen. In theory you can do literally anything if you work backwards from your main goal, breaking it into manageable chunks.
I find it also really helps to take the emotion out of things and approach from a really practical point of view. For example, this is the way I’m thinking about running a marathon.
There’s no way I can run a marathon. But maybe I can run a half-marathon… And if I do that, then maybe I can go the whole 26 miles.
I’ll get myself a training plan for a half marathon.
Ok, here’s a plan and it says I need to run four times a week.
When I plan my week ahead on a Friday, I’ll plan in all the times I’m going to run and the distances. I’ll never have to think about when or how far to go, I’ll just follow the plan.
I’ll keep a running diary to mark off whether I’m staying on track or not.
I’ll make that diary for myself right now and plan the first week of running.
See what I mean? Work backwards. The marathon seems nearly impossible, but turning up next Tuesday as I’ve planned and putting in a slow three miles. That’s do-able.
The point is that you need to plan how to move towards your goal. Break it down into the tiniest steps possible and be consistent with the action.
Consistency is SO important. If I run fifteen miles once between now and race day I’ll be stuffed. But if I run consistently, to plan, shorter distances much more often, then all that work is going to add up and move me where I want to go.
Measure Your Input, Not Just the Result
It’s a sad fact that although we all want to belive we’re in control, we really aren’t. You can make the most genius product in the world, but you can’t know for sure how much of it you’ll sell.
You can’t be ultimately responsible for the actions that people do or don’t take toward your business, you can only judge yourself on whether you did the work or not.
Believe me, as my own story shows, not giving up is a MASSIVE deal. The work will pay off. It’s keeping going in the meantime that can be the trickiest part.
Yes, you should measure and track how you’re going against the plans you set and evaluate constantly along the way if your approach is working. But ultimately, don’t get despondent and lost if you don’t pull it off. Just do the work. That’s your part in all of this.
So are you ready to get set for 2019? You can download my simple goal setting worksheet here. If you do, you’ll also be subscribed to my email list which is packed full of SEO and copywriting tips and Stitch Writer updates and freebies that you can unsubscribe from at any time.
Right then 2019. I think I’m ready.