And that dreadful feeling in the pit of your stomach.
When you look back at the end of a year and it seems like you’ve been treading water instead of making steady forward progress, there is a reason for that.
The goals you set are too far in the future, too big, and too important to keep putting off.
To get to the finish line, change the way you set inspiring big-picture goals.
Instead of the long slog of a marathon, start thinking of your work as a series of short, intense sprints.
You might be thinking too long term
If 2016 was going to be the year that you finally launched a side hustle, what happened? And why aren’t you watching the sales roll in right now?
The reason could be that you gave yourself way too much time to get distracted and lose motivation.
The problem with making year-long goals is there is too much time for a multitude of distractions to get in your way.
At the beginning of the year, it seems as if there is plenty of time to get serious, leaving you wide open to procrastinate.
When you get distracted by the inevitable things that come up, your business goals will get put on the back burner, because there is always time to catch up later.
Unfortunately, later comes with its own time commitments and distractions, just like now.
Over the course of a year, your life, your business, and possibly your entire industry could be radically different than they are now. Things change fast and your ideas could become irrelevant if you take too long to follow through.
If you have an inspiring goal this year, to get your business idea off the ground, or finally take it to the next level, you might need a long time to get there.
So how do you plan shorter for big goals?
You might also be thinking too big
Huge goals are huge. This is an obvious but important point to let sink in.
Starting a business from scratch takes an enormous amount of effort, and consistent daily action.
When you have too much work piled up between you and your goal of becoming an entrepreneur, it is very easy to get discouraged.
The call of Netflix and the urge to give yourself a break are no match for your willpower once defeatism has set in.
I would never tell you to tone down the scope of your aspirations.
Your big dreams are the fuel that ignite your passion, and you need them. So dream big!
But just for a minute, let’s think small.
Before you make your first million dollars in sales, you need to make your first hundred.
Before you get your hundredth customer, you need to find your first one.
And what do you need before that? You probably need to test out an idea, get a website, and start building an audience.
Each of those could be goals to set for yourself in shorter timeframes.
Instead of setting a huge, non-specific goal to “start a successful business,” make a series of smaller goals such as:
Breaking down your big goal into smaller parts makes it easier to see where you are going, what you need to do next, and how to accomplish your goal.
If you do some careful planning up front, you will give your dreams a much higher chance of becoming reality.
Enter the 12 week sprint.
Why working in 12 week sprints is better than a year long marathon
Twelve weeks, approximately three months, is a perfect amount of time to schedule for serious work on your goals.
A 12 week sprint is long enough to allow for the inevitable distractions that will come up, but short enough to keep you pushing towards your deadline, with the end always in sight.
Twelve weeks may not be long enough to achieve earth-shattering results, but it is long enough to make huge strides toward them. Work in months, not years, and you will be able keep your intensity up.
You won’t lose motivation because you will have an end goal in close range. When you get to the finish line, the satisfaction of getting done what you set out to do will be so rewarding that you’ll be ready to start your next sprint with renewed energy.
Plus, you’ll have a built in reward if you do it right.
Never miss your deadlines: take small steps towards big rewards
If for some reason, you had to eat a whole loaf of bread in the next ten minutes, how would you do it?
First, you’d want it in slices. Then you’d take one bite a time, out of each slice. Achieving your big goals is best done the same way, one bite at a time.
Start by breaking down your big goal into broad phases. Choose a point in the journey that is reasonable and doable in 12 weeks.
For example, if you are starting from scratch, you could set three sprints:
- Get your website up and running
- Getting your first customers
- Growing to a specific number of customers or sales
If you are also working a full time job, be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to your business each day. Then set yourself a goal of doing as many or few of these steps as you can. Every day. Weekends included.
If the steps are small enough, you should be able to get at least one thing done every day towards your goal.
What these steps look like could be as small as posting a job on a freelance site to get your logo designed, spending half an hour researching web hosting platforms, or writing the copy for a sales page.
Figure out each new challenge as you approach it, and don’t worry about learning how to do steps 15 or 20 when you are only on step 5. Doing that will keep you from making steady progress.
Finally, make sure you plan for a well-deserved reward when you have reached your target.
Knowing you have a break coming is key to keeping your motivation high throughout the weeks of hard work.
Take a short break to enjoy your success, and then plan your next sprint.
Your Goal Setting Worksheet
If you try a series of sprints instead of a marathon this year, when you look back at the end of 2017, you will accomplish more than you thought possible.
Remember to think short by planning only 12 weeks out, think tiny steps by breaking every step down to the smallest parts, and think of a way to celebrate your progress at the end.
By the time you finish your first sprint, victorious, you will be so excited about your progress you won’t want to stop.
Get the power of 12 week sprints on your side to finally crush your big goals, with a free goal setting worksheet. Download it now!