Goal Setting for 2016: how to set goals and actually achieve them. 6 tips on setting goals for the new year for bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Happy New Year! I feel very “adult” after a low-key New Year's Eve celebration (wine, puppies, and my favorite people). I planned to do a year end wrap up post but decided to skip it in favor of some must-needed r&r during the holidays. I have been busy behind the scenes planning for 2016.

In the spirit of the new year, let's talk about goals. I'm firmly in the camp that resolutions are lame and if you want to change something about your life (like work out more or drink diet coke less), you should START NOW and not wait until some day in the future. I'm sure there's some statistic about what percentage of people actually stick to their New Year's resolutions and I'd be willing to bet its not high. If you want to start the year fresh and make resolutions, I'll cheer ya on, but if you actually want to accomplish big things in 2016, let's make some goals.

I am a big believer in goal setting – and by that I mean making specific plans to achieve specific results.

I think “goals” sometimes get lumped in with resolutions on the list of seemingly pointless personal growth strategies, and some might argue they are basically the same thing but I disagree. Resolutions to me are like “trying” – I HATE trying. Trying is not doing.

When I worked in finance, we had one-on-one meetings with our managers at the beginning of the year to set business goals as well as personal development goals. We literally had to write them down on a piece of paper, talk about them out loud, and then map out a plan to achieve them. I still do this with my own business and personal goals except I type them out in a google doc instead of writing them down on paper (I kind of hate paper) and tell my husband instead of my manager (even if he forgets, it makes me feel more accountable when I tell someone else out loud).


The most important part of goal setting (and somehow the part that most people skip) is mapping out a plan to achieve your goals! It's silly to set a goal of getting 100,000 pageviews or making $100,000 and then just hope that happens. Seriously, don't do that!

Personally, I like to start the year making a handful of goals (3-5) that seem kind of crazy. Like just beyond my reach crazy, not in another universe crazy. In the past, these goals have been things like make enough money freelancing to quit my day job, save enough money to move to NYC, and grow my dog's instagram to over 10,000 followers. (pats self on back – I've accomplished all of these things!) When I first set these goals, they all seemed a little scary / beyond my reach, but they drove me to work harder/smarter and accomplish more than if I were to set easily attainable goals.

After setting a few big goals, I break them down into smaller goals with “deadlines” throughout the year which makes things seem much less scary and much more attainable. I also like to celebrate when I achieve the smaller goals with fun little things like buying a new lipstick or indulging in a big Levain cookie. Or both.

But enough about me, what are your goals for 2016? If you still haven't set them, here are a few tips for setting goals and actually accomplishing them.

Limit The Number Of Goals You Set

If you set too many goals, you'll be less likely to achieve any of them. Don't stretch yourself too thin. Set 1 or 2 personal goals and 1 or 2 professional goals. Think about the things that you REALLY want to achieve – the things that will change your life or help your business grow. For example, if you want to grow your social media following, don't try to gain 10,000 new followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Periscope and Snapchat all at the same time. Focus on 1 or 2 networks (preferably the ones where your ideal clients hang out) and grow those first.

Set SMART Goals

You've probably heard of SMART goals and while they sound kind of gimmicky, there's a reason they are a thing. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely – by setting SMART goals, you force yourself to be more definitive which makes you more likely to achieve your goals! For example, one of my goals for 2016 is for Mochi to reach 50,000 instagram followers by the end of the year (note: I can't believe I just admitted that). I know it sounds slightly crazy that one of my goals is having MY DOG reach 50,000 followers, but she currently has over 28,000 so this is realistic since she has been consistently gaining hundreds of new followers per week. I actually track her follower growth daily, so I know if she gets less than 100 new followers in a day, I will put more effort into the photos I post for the next couple of days to make sure she stays on track to reach her goals. (p.s. you should totally be following Mochi already)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The most important part of goal setting (and somehow the part that most people skip) is mapping out a plan to achieve your goals!” quote=”The most important part of goal setting (and somehow the part that most people skip) is mapping out a plan to achieve your goals!”]

Break Your Annual Goals Down Into Smaller Goals

While I do set goals for the year, I find that it's even more important to set smaller goals for each month and quarter. Even if you're not starting at zero, your end goal should feel pretty far away – and it's easy to get discouraged and feel like you'll never get there if you don't set smaller, manageable goals in the meantime. One of the things I want to focus on for 2016 is growing my email list. It's currently growing at a rate of around 500 net new subscribers per month, but I know there are a lot of other things that I could be doing to grow it even faster. My goal is an additional 12,000 subscribers in 2016 and I've broken that down into 3,000 new subscribers per quarter or 1,000 new subscribers per month. 1,000 sounds much less daunting than 12,000 so instead of thinking about my big goal, I plan to focus on my smaller goal each month.

Break Your Smaller Goals Down Into Specific Tasks

Once you've set your smaller goals, you need to create a plan to map out the specific actions you are going to take to achieve them. For example, in order to hit my email subscriber goals, I need to increase the activities that I'm doing to drive people to opt-in. I plan to increase the number of blog posts with content upgrades I do each month because these have resulted in the majority of my current subscribers. Additionally, I am implementing a more strategic social sharing plan for my free course, and in January, I plan to test a few other strategies like webinars, guest posting, and giveaways. Based on the results of those efforts, I'll tweak my strategy moving forward to optimize my list building activities for the rest of the year.

Remember Why You Set Your Goals

When you set your goals for the year, you need to be clear on your “why” – If you want to grow your blog traffic to 100,000 monthly pageviews, why do you want to grow it? Probably not just because you just want pageviews. Maybe you know that if you have higher traffic, you'll earn more affiliate commissions. Or if you have higher traffic, you can command higher sponsored post rates. Or if you have higher traffic, you can introduce your service to more people who will potentially become clients. Remembering your “why” will help to keep you focused on your end goals and prioritize the actions you take to achieve your goals.

Track Your Progress Regularly

Stay on top of your goals by tracking them regularly. Regularly means at least monthly, but depending on your goals you could track things weekly or even daily. Tracking progress may not seem like much fun, but it can actually save you a ton of time. By tracking your progress, you will be more aware of what's working and what's not – then you can do more of what's working and stop wasting your time doing things that aren't helping you achieve your goals. I know there are a lot of people who get a lot of traffic from Facebook. I am not one of them. I could put more effort into my Facebook page (or really any effort, to be honest), but my time is better spent focusing on Pinterest and Instagram because I know these two networks are actually driving consistent, quality traffic to my site. No matter what your goals are, tracking your progress will help to keep you accountable and focused throughout the year!

Let's Do This

Ok, so where do I do all this goal setting and tracking? Honestly, I currently just have a google doc with my goals and subgoals mapped out and then a set weekly reminder to make sure I track progress for everything in a google spreadsheet.