I’ve never cared much for resolutions. Within a few weeks you’ve generally given up on them and as the days get further from the New Year an excuse excuse seems to exist for waiting until next year. In the end little changes and you are the person you were in the moments before the calendar changed.
I used to run my business the same way. I’ve always had a vision for it, but never set specific goals to get me from here to there. Then I started setting a few major goals I hoped to accomplish in the coming year and my business started growing. I haven’t necessarily accomplished everything I set out to accomplish, but setting goals has kept me more focused on the big picture of my business and helped keep me moving in the right direction.
photo credit: lululemon athletica
Why Set Goals?
Goals give you direction and purpose. They help you prioritize what is and isn’t important. They get you thinking about your business at a higher level and help you grow.
Most of us need to work toward something to get to that something. It’s much easier to follow a path when the path is in front of you. It keeps you from wandering aimlessly. While there’s something to be said for aimless wandering, it generally doesn’t help you get somewhere quickly.
As I mentioned above I haven’t always accomplished all of the goals I set out each year and I don’t mind. I also like to adapt to whatever new opportunities present themselves.
For example when 2008 started I had no intention of running a forum. That summer the opportunity arose to start one with an existing and active community, many of whom are ideal clients for me. It was a no-brainer to start that small business forum even though it meant putting off one of my planned goals from the start of the year.
I find it best to set 2 – 4 realistic goals for the year. Starting with what I think most important I begin setting smaller tasks within the larger goal. The larger goal is never something that can be accomplished in a day or two. The smaller tasks within can usually be accomplished in a few days.
With that said let’s take a look at my year that was.
photo credit: h.koppdelaney
2009: The Year That Was
When 2009 began I listed three things I wanted to accomplish during the year.
- Get more organized and be more productive
- Develop a business model around WordPress
- Follow through on changing the direction of this blog in order to grow
I accomplished 2 of the 3 and made progress on the third.
Organization and Productivity
In January I immediately started creating small and large process to help me be more productive. I can do my work quicker now than I could last December and have added a level of organization to many aspects of my business.
This was the most important goal for me. I’d seen the previous year how difficult it could be to find time for things and thought priority one was getting back some of that time. I reread a couple of books on productivity and began automating and developing processes wherever I could.
If you’re interested you can read more about my process for creating new processes.
Of course organization and productivity are both ongoing. This goal was loosely defined. It was more about paying more attention to where I could save time and be a more efficient web designer.
A WordPress Business Model
photo credit: odysseygate
While I made progress with this goal I didn’t quite finish.
Given I had set a similar goal for 2008 that went unfinished, I have to consider this one a failure.
On the bright side I have learned quite a lot about working with WordPress in the pursuit of this goal and so on that front can consider this goal a success of sorts.
I also learned or at least reinforced a couple of things about myself.
- I don’t get as much done during the summer.
- It’s easy for me to get lost in planning and being a perfectionist.
With the first I’m simply outside more and enjoying life in the nicer weather. The same thing happened to me last year and I’ll have to remember not to expect more than is realistic this summer.
The second is something I need to work on more. I think a certain amount of planning is not only good, but necessary, however it’s too easy for me to over plan. In fact it’s this realization more than anything as to why this goal was never accomplished. Somewhere along the way I decided a new approach was needed to allow me to get started without the need to have things be perfect.
Part of that depended on my third goal for last year and so I rearranged priorities as the year went on.
photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski
Changing the Direction of This Blog
Those of you who have been here awhile know I used to write more about marketing and seo.
A couple of years ago my energy for writing those posts waned. I felt I’d said most of what I wanted to say about both and there were others far better equipped to say the rest. I consider myself more designer/developer than marketer/seo and thought this blog needed to reflect that.
Another consideration was that most of the posts here that had done well long term with traffic were design or development posts.
It wasn’t easy for me to switch gears, but I managed. I dove right in, lost my way a little as spring turned to summer (that summer thing again) and a few emergencies like having to move this site to a new server sprung up. Overall though I’m much happier with the content I produced this past year than in any previous year.
You’ve mostly seen longer tutorials here, which required me to finally developing a process for writing blog posts that worked for me.
Again this is an ongoing goal and I’ll have more to say about it in a future post. I’m happy with the tutorials, but would like to offer other types of posts as well. Not something I’ll list specifically as a goal for next year, but growing this blog will continue to be an ongoing goal.
Do You Set Goals for Your Business?
I hope seeing the success and lack of success I’ve had in my goals helps you see the value in setting your own goals.
Goals help me get things done to keep my business moving forward and also teach me something with each failure. If you don’t currently set goals for yourself, I highly encourage you to set some this year.
I’ll save the goals I have planned for 2010 until tomorrow and for now ask you how your year was. Did you set any goals for your business last year? How well did you do accomplishing them? Do you find setting goal helpful? Are you setting goals for 2010?
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Setting goals is very productive. Without goals, I find projects to be daunting, which makes them seem more difficult than they really are. Goals puts the project into perspective and outlines a clear and doable path for completion – now if only I can get myself to practice more of what you and I are preaching.
Same here. There are always things we want to accomplish, but they can seem daunting. I didn’t specifically talk about it here, but once I have the major projects set for the year, I break them down into manageable tasks and schedule time every week for those tasks.
Completing the project is still off in the distance when you get started, but you feel good getting the smaller tasks done and if you keep at it you do complete the project.
One of the keys is making sure to schedule the time to work the smaller tasks and then actually work on them. Easier said than done I know.