Today I have been thinking about setting goals. Goals are desired results that you plan for and work towards; they help give you purpose and set a direction for your energy and focus. They are the things you want to achieve, the desires that drive you, the passions that make you work harder and smarter in order to achieve them.

I have been thinking about what I want. My goal is pretty simple really – I want to earn an income that supports my family and spend more time at home with my wife and kids. Just saying “I’m going to work from home and spend more time with my family”, however, is setting myself up for failure.

Specific and Measurable Goals

Goals need to be specific and measurable. “Work from home”, for example, doesn’t actually articulate what I must achieve in order to be satisfied. I already work from home for some portion of every day of the week. So what is it I really want? “I want to work from home and earn enough money to support my family.” See how that’s getting more specific? But it’s not measurable. In order to make my goal measurable I need to refine it further. Firstly, I need to know how much I must to earn in a year (or a month or a week) in order to support my family. Secondly, I need to decide how much time I want to spend doing things with my family in order to fulfil the “spend more time with my family” part of my goal. When I have defined these things I will be much closer to having a goal I can work towards.

My goal, in the end, looks something like this:

I will work from home on my own businesses and consistently earn $2000 a week (net). I will be able to earn this money by working during the hours my children are at school so that I can spend mornings, afternoons and weekends with them and my wife.

That is a specific, measurable goal. I will be able to look at my bank account or income reports and determine if I am earning $2K a week, and I will be able to track my time to see when I am working in my business. In short, I will be able to prove I have achieved my goal.

Write Your Goals Down

It should go without saying that you have to write your goals down. If I came up with the above goal and didn’t write it down, it would change every time I tried to recall it. Yes, my memory is that bad! More importantly, you must write down your goals as it makes them real. They are no longer a nebulous idea swirling about your brain, but a tangible thing, written in real ink and stuck on the wall of your office or on your computer desktop so you can see them every day. Writing goals down is an incredibly powerful way to have our subconscious work for you.

Goals can look pretty big when you have really nutted-out the specifics and written them down. In fact, they can look pretty terrifying sometimes and you can be left wondering how you will ever achieve them. It is totally possible for you to move from your vague desire (“work from home”) to a specific goal and suddenly feel like it is too big to even attempt. Don’t get disheartened! What you need to do is break your goal down into manageable parts and create for yourself a blueprint or roadmap that you will use to achieve your goal.

Setting Goals – The Roadmap Strategy

When I am setting goals I like to break them down into small, measurable tasks that I can list in the order they need doing. When creating this list I usually work backwards from my end-point and each part becomes a step in my “roadmap”. Each of these steps is, in essence, a smaller goal for me to work towards. Doing this allows me to put things in perspective and approach the goal in small, manageable chunks which really helps to avoid the “deer in the headlights” state of staring at a giant, scary goal. Having all the steps laid out in the form of a checklist provides me with a clear and logical path to follow, which makes getting there much easier.

Make a checklist when setting goals.Another advantage of breaking goals down in this manner is that as I complete a step I can check it off. This is great because every time I check off one of the steps I can see that I am making progress towards my ultimate goal. Working through these mini-goals lets me see that I’m achieving something and keeps me motivated to keep going. It is a great incentive.

While you can get to where you want to go by simply “winging it” and living by the seat of your pants, you may be making life hard for yourself. Writing clear, measurable goals with achievable steps and checkpoints is an excellent way of ensuring you stay on track and get to where you want to be without too many detours.

How do you approach setting goals?