In this inspiring blog post, you’re going to learn about the difference between setting wishful goals and setting SMART goals, so you can actually achieve your dreams! Looking to change your life or business, read on.
As 2016 comes to a close, we’re probably all wondering what 2017 will have in store for us.
Will I finally get my life insurance website up? Will my marketing efforts finally start paying off? Can I close twice as many deals as this year? Can I lose those 20 pounds? Or will I finally get to take that much-needed vacation with my wife?
It’s completely normal to be curious about what the future has in store, but too often we find ourselves just wondering and then waiting to see what happens. This ultimately ends up with us one year from now not all that much different than today.
If you want to succeed, if you want to make changes to your life, if you want to achieve anything at all, you need to set goals. Without goals, you will lack focus and direction.
Your time is too precious to get up every day and wonder what it is you’re going to do. Setting goals set you on the path towards success, whatever your definition of success is.
To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to identify the right ones and how to set them. Pablo Picasso said it well, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
The steps that I’m about to outline should be done for both your personal and professional life. It’s only healthy that we want to do better in our careers and also in our health and relationships, so think about your life holistically as you work through this exercise.
To start the goal setting process you need to start with reflection.
5 Steps of Reflection
- Revisit your previous goals from 2016 or before
- Which activities worked?
- Which didn’t didn’t work?
- What are your biggest lessons learned?
- What are your goals moving forward?
After you complete this exercise you may end up with a goal that looks like the following:
I’d like to make over six figures so I can better support my family.
I want more leads to come from the digital marketing of my life insurance site.
I am going to run a marathon with my daughter.
Goals like these are a great start but they’re still pretty vague. It would probably be easy to lose sight of them as daily life gets in the way or it could be easy to get down on yourself if you haven’t reached them by mid-year and then give up.
The way to combat this and increase your chance of achieving your goals is to make them SMART so you can track and measure your progress (much like setting a sales or marketing KPI).
The way to do that is to take the goals you defined during your reflection and make sure they are:
What’s a SMART goal?
Specific: An easy to answer this is by thinking of all the “w” questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
Measurable: What metrics will you use to measure and track your goal? Think of this like a KPI.
Attainable: Do you need to develop new skills in order to achieve this goal? Do you need new tools or maybe even a new daily routine?
Relevant: Is this relevant to your greater business goals?
Time-bound: Create a target date for deliverables so you can track progress and hold yourself accountable for finishing.
Take your goals, make them SMART
Let’s use the second example from above to demonstrate how a goal can go from vague to SMART.
I want more leads to come from the digital marketing of my life insurance site
This is probably a goal most of us can relate to, right?
The problem is this goal doesn’t provide us with enough details to build an actionable plan around it. By simply saying you want more leads to come from digital marketing, you are not giving yourself any targets to hit or steps to take, so you’ll probably find yourself frustrated after several months of no change.
By simply saying you want more leads to come from digital marketing, you are not giving yourself any targets to hit or steps to take, so you’ll probably find yourself frustrated after several months of no change.
That’s okay, this is an iterative process.
So let’s test it against the SMART principles to see how we can further refine it.
- Specific: Kind of. We know you’re talking about actions on your website, but you haven’t defined what digital marketing actually means to you (it’s a broad topic), how often you plan to engage in it and why it’s important.
- Measurable: No. “More leads” is not a unit of measurement – do you want more traffic to your site? Or more leads attributed to your digital marketing efforts? If so, what percent?
- Attainable: Kind of. You have a website, so that’s the first step, but do you know how to digital marketing works and how to implement new strategies? If you’re completely new to it, then this goal may be one for later down the road. Conversely, if you’ve been generating some leads, then you need to identify which digital marketing strategies you know or can realistically learn.
- Relevant: Yes. You know that digital marketing is crucial to driving leads and making sales in this digital age. It is relevant to you as a professional and to the industry.
- Time-bound: No. You did not set a deadline or date set to achieve your goal.
So now that we know what this goal was missing to truly be SMART, we can begin filling in the gaps.
- Specific: I will optimize my website for SEO and create a content strategy that’s helpful to my clients consisting of 1,500-word blog posts that will go out 3x a week to my website and Facebook. (We now know what kind of digital marketing activities, how frequently, why it’s important, and where it’s going to happen)
- Measurable: As a result of this strategy, I will see unique visitor traffic increase to my page by 20%, an average web visit of 4 minutes and an increase in leads by 10%. I now have numbers to track my progress with.
- Attainable: Since I average one long blog post every two weeks and 2 shorter ones every week, I definitely believe increasing my content writing is attainable. I also know the fundamentals of SEO and have identified the course I need to take to learn more. If I dedicate 10 hours a week to this, I can reach my goal.
- Relevant: Absolutely! My business exists entirely online and that this is my final career move, so it is relevant to my success as an independent life insurance agent.
- Time-bound: I want to have my strategy in place by March 1st, 2017 and check-in on the first of every month to track my KPIs and make adjustments if needed.
When we first went through the five steps of reflection, the goal was:
I want more leads to come from the digital marketing of my life insurance site
But after making the goal SMART, it became:
To optimize my website and create a content strategy that is helpful to my target audience consisting of 1,500-word blog posts written and promoted 3x a week on my website and business Facebook. This strategy will be ready by March 1st, 2017 and will result in an increase in unique visitors by 20% averaging 4 minutes on the site and an increase in leads by 10%.
Whew! Wouldn’t you say that this goal has a much higher chance of being completed now that you have a strategy, the tactics, and trackable measurements to keep yourself on track and accountable?
Once you repeat this process with the goals you outlined during your reflection, you’ll be ready to actually begin accomplishing them.
How to accomplish your goals
- Make all your goals SMART
If your goals are not SMART then they might as well just be wishes. Make them SMART so you can put an action plan in place, track your progress and measure your results.
- Set smaller goals (micro-goals)
It can be overwhelming to only focus on the end goal, so break each one down into milestones for easy digestion and to celebrate small wins. If your goal pertains to making $50,000 more next year than this year, then set micro-goals up for $15k increments.
- Schedule time to review
This is similar to the reflection stage and is extremely important for achieving goals. Set aside time to review your progress so that you can see what’s working and what isn’t. You may find that you need to adjust your strategy or tactics, and maybe even edit the goal entirely. That’s okay, but it’s better to know sooner than later.
- Stay accountable and stick with it
It should go without saying that you are the only one in charge of achieving your goals. Too often we say we’re going to do something, feel fired up about it for a few weeks, and then let it fade away.
Success doesn’t happen overnight and it takes consistent perseverance to get there. Do not take weekends off from your goals, keep moving forward every day, even if it’s baby steps.
And hold yourself accountable or find a trusted friend or relative to keep you accountable. Whether it’s a daily check in, a box you tick off, an alarm on your phone, whatever works for you, stay accountable.
What business goals do you have for 2017? Take time to reflect and map out a strategy to become the best life insurance agent you can be, close more deals, accrue more wealth and live a richer life all around.
Keep us posted on your progress at our Facebook page, where we share digital marketing tips for internet life insurance agents. #thatsninja