A 5-Day Plan to Set Your 2021 Business Goals
Like it or not, January 2021 is coming up fast.
And, with less than two months left in 2020, now is the perfect time to start planning and setting business goals for the next year.
The good news is that goal setting and planning your year do not have to take long.
In fact, in as little as 30 minutes a day over the next five days, you can have your 2021 goals in place and ready to go.
Why Set Goals At All?
But first, you may be wondering whether setting goals for your business is actually necessary. The short answer is yes, it is.
If we look at the data, psychologists Edward Locke and Gary Latham have documented numerous benefits to setting specific, fairly challenging goals.
Setting such goals, according to these founders of goal-setting theory, helps us focus our energy in a specific direction and formulate strategies to overcome obstacles that may arise. All in all, they found that setting clear and challenging goals, as opposed to easy and generic goals, improves performance about 90% of the time.
So, we know setting goals works.
And, we also know, even when a plan isn’t executed perfectly, the mere process of self-reflection, anticipation, and motivation that comes with goal setting sets us on the path to high performance.
So, with that understanding, let’s dive into a five-day plan for setting goals for your business next year.
Day 1: Evaluate
Expected Time: 30 minutes
There’s no point in making goals without knowing where you are now. So, the first aspect of planning for 2021 is to evaluate honestly your progress over the past year.
For this step, you’re going to first make a list of milestones. By milestones, we mean any positive moments or accomplishments in your business that helped define the year.
Here are a few items from my own list of business milestones:
- March: Started full-time copywriting job with a client
- April: Landed a monthly retainer
- May: Got a referral for a new client in my niche
- October: Made my first-ever video content for a client
Going through this exercise will provide a huge dose of positive reinforcement, which is key, from a psychological perspective, to instilling good habits. It will also help prepare you to think about how you want to grow over the next year, which leads us to our next list …
For this list, you’re going to write down areas where you feel you should grow in your business.
These could be skills you know you need to acquire, aspects of marketing you want to improve on, or any other area in your business you feel needs attention.
Here are a few of my own growth opportunities I’d like to work on:
- Streamlining business administration
- Relying not just on referrals but actively self-marketing
- Expanding my video knowledge and skills
- Negotiating and fee setting
Notice in this list I’m not just focused on my income – which is to some extent out of my direct control – but on things I can more actively work on that impact my income, such as improving my negotiating skills and fee strategy.
Once you’ve got your two lists, you’re done with day one!
Day 2: Research
Expected Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
The next step in planning your 2021 business goals is to spend a bit of time educating yourself on goal-setting strategies.
There’s so much research out there to assist in the goal-setting process, and just a simple Google search – or better yet, a look through the Wealthy Web Writer archives – can connect you with proven methods to make your goals much more effective.
When I did this exercise myself, I came across a variety of strategies I’d never heard of before, such as the setpoint strategy. Focusing on this strategy for a year completely transformed my monthly income, and without that initial research phase I would not have been able to apply it to my business.
It doesn’t need to take long, but a little bit of time researching how to best approach your business goals will get the initial ideas brewing. Ideally, you want to have a few strategies to choose from, but even one strong strategy is enough to move to day three.
Day 3: Focus
Expected Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Now it’s time to narrow down your strategy. Consult the research you did on day two, pick a strategy that resonates with you, and use it to set the key business goal you’d like to define your year in 2021. You can also consult the milestones and growth opportunities you identified in day one.
As an example, when I did this exercise myself, I decided I would use the setpoint strategy to set my goal. This meant I would work on getting comfortable with the idea of making a high income, since I knew discomfort was a barrier to income growth.
Once I settled on the setpoint strategy, I then used the strategy to find exactly how much income I should focus on making. I settled on aiming for $7,000 per month from copywriting, which I hoped I could achieve by the end of the year. (Full disclosure: I didn’t quite reach that, but my income dramatically increased over the course of that year.)
So, take some time on day three to pick your strategy and settle on your main goal (or goals) for the year.
It’s not necessary to map out the details of how you’ll get there just yet. On this day, all you need to do is to decide how you want to choose your goal, and then do it.
Day 4: Visualize
Expected Time: 30 minutes
Now that you’ve decided your goal, it’s time to start thinking through the details of how you’ll accomplish it.
For this step, you’re going to visualize how the year will unfold, and what progress you’d like to make toward your goal from month to month.
For example, maybe your big goal for the year is to replace your lowest-paying client with one that will pay you two times more. How can you achieve that? Well, you might spend the first month researching your dream clients and updating your marketing materials to cater to their needs. You might spend the second month sending your marketing materials to your leads. And so on.
As you think it through, write down your ideas for how to break down your big goal into smaller pieces from month to month.
You can also start to anticipate events or periods in the upcoming year you already know will disrupt your schedule. You may know, for instance, you’ll take a two-week break for your summer vacation, or you’re planning to move in February.
Write these events down in your plan for the year. This forward thinking can help you set reasonable expectations for particular months by taking into account a few disruptions that will inevitably come up throughout the year.
Is your 2021 starting to become more clear? Then it’s time to move on to day five.
Day 5: Anticipate
Expected Time: 30 minutes
In every pursuit toward a big goal, there are going to be challenges. This is inevitable, and acknowledging this ahead of time is key to being able to move forward.
So, now that you’ve got your year more or less mapped out, it’s time to consider what obstacles you may face, and how you’ll overcome them.
For instance, you’ll most likely be motivated and full of energy to stick to your plan in the first couple months of the year.
But, what happens when April comes along … will you still be motivated?
You can be, if you take action early on. This might mean signing up for a conference or setting up a writers’ group to ensure you have the extra boost you need when your energy starts flagging.
So, take the day to consider what business challenges may arise during your year, and how you can overcome them.
There’s no need to go overboard writing down every doomsday scenario you can imagine. Just try to think of three specific obstacles you might face and form a plan of action for attacking or preventing each one.
Then, begin to incorporate these strategies into your plan for the year, so you’ve got a complete plan for 2021, ready to go.
Time to Get Started on Your Planning
After these five days, you should have a fairly detailed plan for 2021 that will give you a roadmap of what to do as soon as the holidays are over.
Of course, you can always refine your plan further, if you like. And, no doubt, once the new year comes and you start working on your plan, you’ll want to adjust certain aspects. That’s totally fine. The plan is meant to be flexible and in service of your goals, rather than the other way around.
And, in the end, taking the two and a half hours to choose a strategy, select a motivating goal, and map out your year is a transformative process — one that will certainly put you on the path toward a rewarding year for your business.
Ready to get started? Set aside 30 minutes over the next five days and get that planning done!
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