Set Your 12-Month Goal
We're going to dive into what I call setting your chief initiative. And this is really a whole process of naming your focus, your long-term focus, that narrow, single vision, focus, that you need to have to really lead your business the way you want to lead your business, to take control of your business and stop letting it control you. But it's also the process of integrating that long-term focus with shorter-term targets and then with planning out projects and action planning so that you know what your deadlines are, what your metrics are, what resources you're going to put into play. So you don't have to feel like you're lost in the weeds, but instead you have a clear path that you are forging all the way to the top of the mountain where your goal is. And so that's what we're gonna be doing in the final two lessons today and this lesson is gonna be all about choosing those goals and understanding what resources you already have at your disposal. So this is Set Your Chief Initiative.
Now, before we really dive into this, I wanna make one thing clear, because there is kind of a pervasive problem that I see happen with goal setting. And Nilofer Merchant talks a little about this in her book, The New How. She says, "Perhaps people fixate on execution" "("doing what's required")" "instead of finishing up strategy" "("choosing the direction")" "because it's easier to see progress during execution" "than during strategy formation and development." And I see this happen with small business owners all the time. They put the emphasis on checking things off the list, on figuring out how to do stuff, instead of actually choosing a direction, but then where they find themselves, and where you have probably found yourselves in the past, is that they've got a whole list of things that they have done, but nothing they've really created or accomplished because they didn't know what all of that was in service of. It was something they were supposed to do, something they should do, something that they had to learn because everybody else was learning how to do it too. But at the end of the day or the month or the year, they're really not much closer to what their goal was because they didn't really take into account their goal in the first place. The other thing that I see kind of related to this that happens all the time is that people, small business owners, entrepreneurs, will not set goals they don't know how to achieve. Right? They don't set goals they don't know how to achieve. And the only way you can get ahead in your business, the only way you can get closer to that five year vision, is if you are willing to set goals you have no idea how to make happen. Because that's what stretches us, that's what challenges us. That's what changes the way we think, the way we behave, the way we approach our business in the first place. So today before you actually set your goal down on paper, which I'm going to ask you to do in like 30 seconds, I want you to remember that effective goal-setting requires that you forget what you don't know how to do. Effective goal-setting requires that you forget what you don't know how to do. There is a time and a place for remembering all the stuff you don't know how to do. There is a time and a place for learning. There is a time and a place for figuring things out. But when it comes to goal-setting, it's not that time. Because you're not gonna be able to set a big enough goal. You're not gonna be able to set a challenging enough goal. You're not gonna set a goal that actually changes your behavior, changes the way you're going through the weeds or walking down the path, if you try and do it with the resources, the knowledge, the information that you have right now. Because if you already knew how to do it, you would have done it by now. And so I want you to start setting goals that you don't know how to achieve and then creating the plans that will allow you to figure that out. Does that make sense? Yes, okay, good. Thank you. (laughs) So, without further ado, let's set some goals down on paper. The first goal that we're going to set as part of your chief initiative is your 12-month goal. Now, just like with your five-year goal, your five-year vision, I know that it can be really hard to look that far out and say, "here's where I want to be a year from now." So I don't want you to put too much pressure on yourself. Again, I don't want you to feel like this is a projection. What you're not trying to do here is to figure out where you're going to be a year from now. I don't care where you think you're gonna be a year from now. I care about where you want to be a year from now. And more importantly, I want you to think about what you wanna create, or what you wanna accomplish. And we'll get to that in just a second. But Brian Moran, who wrote The 12-Week Year, do we have any 12-Week Year fans in here? Yeah, we've, this is a biggie over at CoCommercial. We've got a whole lot of people who are working their 12-week years quarter in and quarter out, I suppose you could say. But Brian said, "To be truly effective," "your daily activity must align" "with your long-term vision, strategies, and tactics." Which is why we have to set a 12-month goal, why we have to understand what our five-year vision is, because in order to take real effective action today, we have to know where we're going. Just like Nilofer said. If we keep just acting on today, on the to-do list in front of us, and we don't tie that to long-term vision and strategy, we're just gonna be executing for no good reason. And we'll have done a whole lot of stuff without producing a whole lot of real results. So that's why we have to start specifically with this 12-month goal. You have to force yourself to look that far. You know what? If you don't reach that 12-month goal, or if you change your mind at some point, you will have been doing it with real information behind it because you set one in the first place. So it doesn't matter if it changes, doesn't matter if you don't reach it. But what that 12-month goal does for you is it gives you clear direction and focus for now. And that's what's important. Before we do that. I know I keep saying "almost there, almost there." But before we do that, I want you to remember what your five-year vision is. Because another big problem that people run into is that they're not actually thinking about how they're going to get closer to that vision. That vision is sort of like a horizon line that they're never able to get closer to. But when you have a five-year vision, and you have a one-year goal, you can actually say, all right, well, what do I need to do, what are my five pieces of this, that are gonna get me closer to that vision? Here's the thing: you don't know what those five pieces are but you can know what one of those pieces is. So that's why we're going to re-visit your ideal business five years from now just like we did in the first segment. There's nothing new you need to do here unless something new has come up, but I want you to remember what it was. You have to set your one-year goal in light of your five-year vision. So what products are you gonna be offering five years from now? Where are you gonna be working five years from now? Who are you going to be connected to with your business five years from now? Who is gonna be on your team five years from now? Who's gonna be helping you out? What milestones will you have crossed five years from now? And how much revenue are you gonna be generating five years from now? (exhalation) Take a moment and kind of breathe in that vision. Own it, live it. The more you can say, "that's not just what I want," "but it's reality, the reality is that five years from now," "this is where I'm going to be." It's not something you're working toward. It's something that's already happened, five years from now. We can talk about all the science fiction behind time-space continuums and all of that, but, in our particular timeline, in this quantum universe, that thing's already happened. Okay? That's all your nerdiness for today. I'm sorry, I have no special nerdy slides, no special geeky slides this time. No jokes, this is all serious except for that. (laughs) But that five-year vision's already happened. So if that, if you are living that, if you know that your reality is that you're creating that five-year vision, what do you need to have created or accomplished 12 months from now to get you closer to that? What is the one thing, not two things, not five things, not ten things, what's the one thing you have to have created or accomplished 12 months from now, to hit that goal? Think about that for a minute. What is the one thing you want to have created or accomplished 12 months from now so that you are in the best position to make that five-year vision your reality? To be ready to live that? What's the one thing you want to have created or accomplished 12 months from now so that you are in the process of living that five-year vision? Now, as you're thinking about that, and as you're naming that, I also want you to ask yourself how will you know when you've achieved it? There is this horrible thing that happens with goal-setting where we set goals not that we don't know how to achieve them, we don't know when we've achieved them. You know, people will say, "Well, my goal is to be more influential in this industry." Or, "My goal is to be the go-to speaker for this." Or, "My goal is to have a steady stream of clients" "day in and day out or month in and month out." Like, okay, you might know when you've achieved that. But I also know how you guys all think. You're all overachievers, and when you set a goal like that, you're always going to say, "Well, I'm almost there." And you'll never have celebrated it. You'll have never realized that yes, I hit that like three months ago! (laughs) That thing that I wanted so desperately. And so that's why it's really important to say not just what you want, but how you'll know you've achieved it. Is it a feature in a magazine? Is it a particular stage you want to be on? Is it a particular number of clients per month, a particular dollar figure in your business? What is that metric that is going to be the indicator of success on that one goal? So everyone needs to know what that one thing they want to have created or accomplished 12 months from now is, and that you will know definitively when you have achieved that goal. Then I want you to think about, again, how does that goal get you closer to your five-year vision? This is not just a box that we're checking off. This isn't just an exercise in strategic challenges, although it is that as well. But this is a stepping stone to this big, scary thing that you've put out into the world as reality now. Patrice is gonna have law offices in what, five different cities?
Three, okay, sorry I'm pushing you now. That's the six-year goal. (laughs) Three different cities. BJ is gonna have a four million dollar business, consulting practice for psychotherapists. That's a big goal! Those are both big goals. So what is it about this one 12-month goal that's gonna get you a stepping stone closer? Now your 12-month goal should be extremely motivating. This is the kind of thing that's gonna get you out of bed every day. Because honey, there are gonna be times you do not want to do the things you need to do to make that goal a reality. Sometimes it's answering emails. Sometimes it's dealing with customer service issues. Sometimes it's forgoing a little bit of your profit to make a hire before you're really feeling like you're ready to, and sometimes it's just work that's boring. (laughs) And that's why your goal has to be extremely motivating. Because we all have to push through those hurdles, those barriers, that get in our way. And if you don't have that goal that's pushing you and motivating you in that way, you're not gonna do the hard things that you have to do whether they're hard because they're boring or whether they're hard because they're hard. My challenge is definitely the things that are boring. I need really big goals because I don't like to do things that I find boring and there's a lot that I find boring. So it has to be really really motivating. So make sure that as you're thinking about this one 12-month goal, that it's enough to get you out of bed every day and doing the boring stuff when you have to. Ideally you do less of it by the end of the year. It also has to be quantifiable. Okay, so in other words, it has to be something again that you will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, when you have accomplished it. Whether that's simply saying, "It's that one talk that I'm gonna sell for $10,000," or "it's that three features that I'm gonna get" "in major media," or "it's those ten clients that I'm gonna book" "in this package by the end of this year." What is that quantifiable kind of bound that you're putting on this goal so you know exactly when you're going to achieve it, or how, when it will have been achieved? Your 12-month goal also needs to be incredibly aligned with your ambition and your vision. Does this 12-month goal allow you to make that ambition statement that we started today with a reality? My 12-month goal right now is getting a thousand members in our community at CoCommercial. When I have a thousand members in our community at CoCommercial, I know that I'll be able to start doing the work or continuing the work, up-leveling the work, of shining a light on people like you, the digital small business owners that are going to transform our economy into the truly new economy. That's part of my ambition. That's part of the goal of turning today's small business owners into tomorrow's economic powerhouses. I want people to recognize the power that you have right now. And so my goal for this year is completely tied to that ambition. Make sure yours is as well. And it also should be the culmination of your work for the year. With a 12-month goal, there is no straight line path. It isn't a linear process. There is no, follow these 100 steps and you will have gotten to the end point, right? There's a lot of different things that need to fall into place. There's a lot of different projects that need to be completed. There are other goals, other targets, we're gonna get there, that will have to also be accomplished. And your one-year goal, that 12-month goal, is the culmination of all of that work. Now I'd love to hear from some of you what immediately came to mind or what have you landed on when it comes to this 12-month goal. Melissa.
Yes. I have had a vision for a very long time and I think this is the year. I want to license my intellectual property.
So I wanna create a thing. (laughs)
So you wanna create the vehicle for licensing your work.
So you don't know what it's called yet, you don't know what it looks like yet, but you know that by the end of 12 months, you want to have created and sold, presumably, the vehicle for licensing your IP.
Yes, that makes me sweaty to think of.
Good, it sounds like you need to talk to Patrice.
(laughing) Fantastic. Who else, what other 12-month goals, Lizzie?
I'd like to have my first home decor line in stores. And if I could add a little thing in there, I want to be featured in a major French home decor magazine.
Okay, which one of those is going to be the top goal?
Well, I'm probably not going to get featured in a home decor magazine unless I have something for sale.
Right, so I guess what I'm thinking is, whichever one you choose could dictate other action. So for instance, you could get featured in a home decor magazine with an e-commerce site, but that's not necessarily having your line in stores. So which one is more important to you, getting things in stores, or getting featured in a home decor magazine? There is no correct answer, it's your choice.
Getting featured, okay! But right there, you could see how, when that becomes your focal point, you might choose different actions or different projects to get you to that point. Great, so that's your 12-month goal. Who else? Yeah. Oh, do you have a microphone? (laughs) The microphone chain...
Okay, mine is a little complex, so hopefully you can help me with this. So my 12-month goal is to develop an effective team, business practices, and processes that allow me to manage three high-profile clients.
Okay. So it sounds like three high-profile clients, that's your 12-month goal, and those other things are gonna be targets for you. So we're gonna get into setting quarterly targets after that, or after this, and that's going to be, yeah, you're gonna want to pick one of those things as a project to start, and so it might be getting all of your internal processes into a project management tool like Asana that then your team will be able to use. And then the next piece of that might be creating an org chart and actually hiring a team. I don't know if you have one already or not. But yeah, so it sounds like ... Maybe it's even, you could get a little bit more specific maybe and even say having the infrastructure to support three high-profile clients. Right, yeah, and then you can take infrastructure and break that down into the pieces of that infrastructure and kind of lay that out for yourself piece by piece. That way you're not trying to eat the whole elephant, right? You eat an elephant one bite at a time. (laughs) And so the elephant in this case is the infrastructure that supports three high-profile clients and you can break that down into bites.
Yes, awesome, thank you.
How about one more? Yeah, Megan.
I have a monthly digital subscription that I've been working on behind the scenes and it's scary, like I'm not ... It needs to be front and center and so my goal would be, a year from now, to have 50 people signed up for that. Like, have it done and have people enrolled.
Fantastic, perfect, all right. Excellent, you guys feel good about your 12-month goals? Now I have a really scary thing to talk to you about. (sighs) Trade-offs. You know, any time you set a goal, there are things that are gonna come and there are things that are gonna need to go. Just like what we were talking about with Lizzie, just a second ago. You may face some trade-offs. Not may, you will face some trade-offs. There are things in the service of your goal of that 12-month goal that you will need to decide, some is gonna stay, some is gonna go. I'm gonna go this way, or I'm gonna go that way. It's just the way it is. And I know, I know, guys, you're all creative people. You all value flexibility, or many of you value flexibility the way that I do, and it's hard to close a door. It's harder still to take a different fork in the road. Right? Because we like leaving our choices open. We like having that kind of flexibility. But the truth is, in business, there are trade-offs. So, like, you know, I should have asked somebody how you say this guy's name, but the guy that wrote Essentialism, we're all familiar with Essentialism, said "We can try to avoid the reality of trade-offs," "but we can't escape them." "We can try and avoid the reality of trade-offs," "but we can't escape them." And so there will be trade-offs that you need to make on the path to your goal. And so the question that I'd like you to consider, the question that I'd like you to pose to yourself so that you can anticipate what some of these trade-offs might be, is, what if you had to reach your 12-month goal in 12 weeks? What if you had to reach your 12-month goal in 12 weeks? What would you do differently? What would you do differently? Melissa, if you had to reach your 12-month goal of creating the vehicle for licensing your IP, what would you do differently today?
Well, it's very interesting that you asked that, Tara, because I wrote a book last year in three months and I had to radically change my life in order to make that happen, and I cut out so many things that I was doing. I was doing these little videos every day on Instagram that I was posting, that was gone. I was, the way I was producing my podcast, I radically streamlined that so that I could get it out so much more efficiently and effectively, I just, like, cut out so many things so that I could work on the book. It was like three or four hours every day I had to be working on the book, so I would go through my, I would look at my day, and I would just cut out everything that wasn't working towards that goal. It was just what I did for the book, so I would do exactly that.
All right, what would, in terms of, so I love the negative action there. In other words, not doing things, I am a huge fan of not doing things. What about the positive action side? What would you do this week if it was the first week in a 12-week sprint to start licensing your IP?
I would call Patrice. (laughing)
Good, good, step number one. We'll facilitate that at the next break, no. What else?
I would block out time on my schedule so that I would make sure that I would get probably morning time to be meditating and journaling every day so I'd be planning my day every single day and block out probably like three or four hours every day to be spending on this particular project. I would look at what I could delegate to get other people to be doing so that I wouldn't have to be doing. I would probably set up an auto-responder on my email to be saying 'I am working on this big project' 'so I'm not gonna be getting back to you' or, you know, set up some relevant thing on my auto-responder, so set up expectations management. (laughs)
And is there any of those actions, are there any of those actions that you couldn't do this week even if you maintained it as a 12-month goal?
No, and that's the beauty of that question, because what Melissa realized when she was writing the book and what she realizes with this project right now is that the trade-offs that are in front of you aren't worth it. The things that you, you know, the videos that you're putting on Instagram, the extras maybe that you were doing with your podcast, they're not worth it. When you have this kind of a goal, when you have this kind of a focus, all of that other stuff that's just stuff, fluff in your schedule, it's not worth it anymore. It's not a real trade-off. When you're looking at that kind of productivity, that kind of progress, that kind of forward momentum toward your goal, you don't care about that other stuff. Which is why, to me, this question is so effective. It gives us that immediate permission to completely and radically change our behavior, our action, on a daily basis. For some of you, you might have thought, why, I need to reorganize my team. Or I'd need to hire someone. You might also think, I need to fire three clients because they're not paying me enough to do the work that I'm doing. I saw a lot of nodding for that, so there are gonna be a lot of unhappy clients after this. (laughing) Or you might say, you know, I'm gonna kill that little baby course that I was gonna put out, because that little baby course isn't going to get me what I need and instead, I need to put all my action, or all my effort, all my energy, on that bigger goal, that bigger project. This question is the key to radically changing your behavior now, and goal setting is pretty useless if it doesn't lead to radical behavior change. Especially if right now, you don't feel like you're being propelled in the direction of your goals. And so ask yourself, if you had to reach your 12-month goal in 12 weeks, what would you do differently, and then of those things, which of them can you just not do right now? That's okay, forgive yourself, be gentle with yourself. You don't have to do it all right now. But also on that list are a lot of radical changes you could make right now that are gonna put you on the fast track to that 12-month goal. Even if it still takes you 12 months to hit it, that's okay. But you've made change, you've made progress, as of today, as of tomorrow, as of this week, and that's huge. Any questions in here? Yes.
Can you talk about how this relates to finances? Because I think I got, like, heart palpitations when it was, like, taking a one-year goal where I'm like, I can see how I could shift my financial situation to work in a year. But then 12 weeks, I was like, so I'd have to fire a bunch of clients and then I wouldn't necessarily maybe have income and it just ... (laughs)
Okay, so, part of this is realizing on the financial front that self-funding changes in your business is only one option. There are other options. There are options like pre-selling things, right, where, I guess that's still self-funding, but it's sort of a forward self-funding as opposed to a retroactive self-funding. So if your twelve month goal, say, is creating something to sell, what if this week you started pre-selling that thing? And so you brought in the finances that you would need to sustain the creation of that thing. The other thing that we don't talk an awful lot about in bootstrapped creative business and digital small business is credit. Sometimes when you say "I have a 12-month goal" "that I believe in wholeheartedly," "I have a plan to get me there" "in at the longest, 12 months," or maybe as quickly as 12 weeks, or, not six weeks, six months, it's time to take out a line of credit. Or it's time to put this expense on the credit card. Or it's time to say, I will forego some profit in my business in order to hire someone that I need to get me there in the path that I want to get to. The point is not necessarily that that's the decision that you're going to make right now. The point is to realize what all your options are. Right? And so if you're feeling a panic around the finances, then it's time to say, all right, what are all of my financial options? Because it's not just, if I don't have the money now, I can't do it. There are so many other ways that you can find that money and those are just a couple of them. But that's, I think to me that's what's important there, is it's realizing that there are other options and it's also realizing that there are things that need to happen that you will need to pay for. Because again, when you have a 12-month goal, it's really easy to forget that six months from now, you need to make this investment. Unless it's an integral part of your plan, it's really easy to keep putting it off and putting it off. Trust me, I have been there, I have done that. It has not worked out well. (laughs) Right? So another piece of that is just realizing, these are the key investments. If I were to go after this goal in 12 weeks, I would have to make these financial investments to make that work, and so they need to be a part of my plan. Whether that's a 12-week plan or whether it's a 12-month plan. Okay? Anything else? Yes.
How do we know if our 12-month goal doesn't feel big enough?
I think if you have to ask me that question, it's probably not big enough.
Okay, I will. (laughter)
Remember how you said the five-year vision was really scary? Okay, the 12-month goal should be like, it's very small magnitude of less scary, but it should still be scary. Okay? And remember what I said at the very beginning of this lesson, too, you have to forget what you don't know how to do. And so if you can look at your goal and you say "today I know how to get there," it's not big enough. Do you know how to get there?
Then it's not big enough.