Instead of setting goals next year, I’m doing this

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I know you’re ready to think about your goals for next year. Ready to put pen to paper, chisel to stone. 

Before you do that, think about the goals you had for the current year. 

How’d you do?

If you’re like me, you missed a lot of things and you’re not happy about it. You set big goals because you want to accomplish big things, but you’re tired of falling short. 

It’s discouraging. It makes you want to lower your goals, or do away with them completely.

Don’t do that. You need goals. You need to have a place you want to go.

Robert Heinlein said, “In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

I agree. But next year I’m going to do something a little different.

I’m going to call them “projects” instead of goals. 

Projects don’t define us the way our goals (and “life’s purpose” or “long-term vision”) do. If we don’t meet a project’s objectives, we adjust and carry on. Or we move the project from “active” to “inactive” or “pending”.

We’re in charge of our projects, unlike goals which seem to be in charge of us. 

Projects? Goals? Yes, these are just words, but words frame our thoughts and infuse them with emotions that attach to those words. 

So, no goals next year. Just projects. 

I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  

Plan your marketing with this

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What’s the big idea?

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Think big. Act small. That’s the ticket to success.

Thinking big means setting big goals and finding big ideas to achieve them.

If you want to triple your income in the next 12-18 months, you can’t rely on small ideas to help you get there. You need big, hairy, audacious ideas. Things you’ve never done before.  Things that simultaneously excite you and scare the hell out of you.

Here’s a test to see if you have a good candidate: when you share your idea with someone who cares about you, they either laugh at it or try to talk you out of it. Or both.

(They do this because (a) they don’t want to see you get hurt, or, (b) they don’t want to see you succeed, because your success diminishes them.)

Big goal. Check. Big idea. Check. Now what?

Now you execute. You do the little tasks that advance your idea and move you towards your goal.

We live our lives minute to minute, day to day. The little things we do each minute create momentum towards our goals. It’s the only way we can get there.

You can’t triple your income in the next few minutes but you can do something that moves you forward.

Think big, act small. That’s how you get where you want to go.

What’s your big goal? What’s your big idea? What will you do in the next two minutes?

You can triple your income by bringing in more referrals

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Why you didn’t win $1.6 billion in the lottery

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You have a goal. You want to earn $100,000 per month. You phrase the goal in the present tense, as though it has already occurred. “I’m earning a net income of $100,000 per month from my law practice.”

You state your goal as an affirmation. You repeat it often, with feeling, and imagine yourself earning that income.

Since “your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined,” it will help you achieve your goal, right?

Not so fast.

It’s true that the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between real and imagined thoughts. It is like a child; it accepts whatever it is told and acts on it, without question.

Many experiments have proven this.

In one experiment, a high school basketball team was asked to shoot free throws and their results were recorded. The team was then divided into two groups. One group practiced shooting free throws; the other group didn’t practice but spent the time imagining themselves shooting (and making) free throws.

After a few weeks, the two groups were tested again. The group that practiced improved their free throw percentages by 28%. The second group, the one that didn’t actually practice, improved their free throw percentage by 25%.

So, why can’t you achieve your earning goal by imagining it?

Because you know it’s not true.

And every time you imagine it or state it as an affirmation, you’re affirming that it isn’t true. You keep reminding your inner child that you’re not earning $100,000 per month, ensuring that you continue to not earn $100,000 per month.

When you focus on what you don’t have, you get more of “not having” it.

The answer is to imagine and affirm something that is either true or believable and consistent with achieving the goal.

Instead of affirming that you’re earning $100k per month, for example, affirm that you are “investing 15 minutes a day to learn how to get better at marketing”.

If that’s true, your subconscious mind will help you get better at marketing. Later, you can choose another affirmation that will help you take things to the next level.

On the other hand, someone just won $1.6 billion and probably didn’t believe it was possible. So what the hell do I know?

 

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You’re not thinking big enough

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Time to start thinking about next year. Setting goals, making plans.

How much would you like to grow your practice and income? Ten percent? Twenty? Twenty-five?

You’re not thinking big enough.

Do yourself a favor and choose a bigger goal. A much bigger goal, such as growing your practice and income by 250%.

Crazy? Impossible? Not going to happen?

For just a minute, stop thinking like a lawyer and hear me out.

There are two reasons for choosing bigger goals.

The first reason is that when you set a target of 25% growth, you tend to focus on doing things that can bring incremental growth–better execution, new ways to do what you’re already doing well, fixing things that are holding you back.

That’s okay but if you fall short, you might achieve only 5 or ten percent growth. When you shoot for 250% growth and you fall short, you might “only” double your income.

Which leads to the second reason.

Setting a big, audacious, crazy goal of increasing your income by 250% forces you to do things that are radically different than what you’re doing now.

You can’t simply do things better, you have to do better things.

You’re forced to get creative, think outside the box, and take massive action because that’s the only way you’re going to hit your target. Small, incremental goals don’t have the power to inspire you to do that.

So ask yourself, “How can I grow my income 250% next year?” And get excited because things are going to change for you.

Because while your conscious mind is telling you it can’t be done, your subconscious mind is looking for ways to make it happen.

Thinking outside the box about getting more referrals

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Measure What Matters: a different take on goals setting

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If you’re looking for a new take on goal setting (and achieving), take a look at the book, Measure What Matters, by John Doerr. I just read a synopsis and was intrigued by the way his system has you choose and monitor key metrics to keep you moving toward your goal.

His O.K.R. (Objective, Key Results) Goal Setting System has three key ingredients:

(1) An Audacious Objective. Set big goals that inspire you but that aren’t so big that you don’t believe you can achieve them.

(2) Quality and Quantity Key Results. Choose 3-5 metrics (e.g., revenue, new clients, referrals, new subscribers, etc.) that allow you to measure progress towards your goal.

Metrics should be quantitative, e.g., 100 new newsletter subscribers per month, and qualitative, e.g., from search terms like ‘divorce attorneys Orange County’–so you’re getting subscribers who are searching for an attorney to hire, not just looking for free information.

(3) Color-Coded Check-ins. Each week, month, or quarter, look at each of your key results and label them green, yellow or red.

GREEN: indicates you are 70 to 100% on target. Continue doing what you’re doing.
YELLOW: you are 30-70% on target. In this case, you should develop a “recovery plan,” to get back on target.
RED: you are 0 to 30% on target. Create a recovery plan or replace the key result with something different.

Doerr says that if one of your key results are almost always green, however, meaning you’re nearly 100% on target most of the time, your goals or the key results metrics aren’t challenging enough and you should adjust them to get a mix of green and yellow.

I like this system because it forces you to choose appropriate metrics, helps you monitor your progress, and allows you to change what you’re doing when you’re either not hitting your target or you’re hitting it too often.

How to get more subscribers for your newsletter

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What were you doing one year ago?

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Author and artist Karen Lamb said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

So true.

A year goes by in about ten minutes. A year ago we were making big plans and setting big goals and here we are, one year later, having done nothing about them.

News flash: we’re not going to live forever. We need to get on with things before it’s too late and we shuffle off to the big after-party in the sky.

How can we do that? How can we accomplish more of our goals?

One way is to have fewer goals. Sure, make a long “someday” list but in the short term, pick a few things that matter most.

How about this: pick one thing you’d like to be, do, or have one year from now. Something exciting. Something you could start today and make happen in the next twelve months or less.

Make it something good. Something that makes you all tingly inside when you think about it.

Got something? Good. That feeling will help you to get started and keep going when you get distracted by other things.

But it may not be enough.

You’ve been down this path before. You had exciting plans last year and, well, here you are.

Why should this year be different?

Okay, here’s what you need to do. Instead of relying merely on your desire for gain, as exciting as it is, a fear of losing what you want is more powerful.

You imagine having it. You want it. It’s yours. And then it’s not.

Imagine it’s one year from now and you don’t have it. You’re not even close. You haven’t even started.

How does it feel to realize that you let another year go by and did nothing?

Disappointed? Sad? Angry?

Get in touch with THAT feeling. It will help you to make this year different.

Transform your practice by getting more referrals

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Plan, do, review redux

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Success means different things to different people. And the definition changes. Your goals from three years ago might be very different today.

So today, review your goals and plans, to make sure you’re going where you want to go and you’re on track to getting there.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. RESULTS: What does success look like for me? Imagine things five or ten years from now. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Big firm or small? How many clients? What type of cases? How much money? How much time?
  2. SKILLS: In order to achieve the results I want, what skills do I need to acquire or improve? Which tools do I need to acquire, upgrade or master? What books should I read? How should I continue my education?
  3. NICHES: Which niche markets should I target? What does my ideal client look like? What kinds of referral sources would be a good fit? What can I do to dominate my niche(s)?
  4. PEOPLE: What kinds of people should I associate with? Who do I want to meet, model, and work with? Who should I spend less time with?
  5. HABITS: What should I do more often? What should I stop doing or curtail? Which new habits should I acquire? How can I do them more consistently?
  6. SYSTEMS: What processes should I implement into my workflow? What checklists, forms, templates, and methods should I develop or adopt? How should I manage and track my tasks, projects, and goals?

Answering these questions will help you create a plan. Answering these questions again, at least annually, will help you evaluate your progress, correct course, and get where you want to go.

This will help you choose your niche market and ideal client

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Do your goals scare you?

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You have a goal. A big one, I hope. My question is, “Does it scare you?”

Some say our goals shouldn’t be stressful. When we think about them and work towards them, we should be filled with pleasant thoughts. If our goal doesn’t do that, they say, we should choose a different goal.

But is this true?

I say any goal worth having should be scary. If it isn’t, it means we’re playing it safe. We should choose goals that make us a bit anxious. After all, anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t choose a goal that is so big it scares us to even think about it. We tend to dismiss those kinds of goals as impossible pipe dreams.

Take a look at your big goal. What benefits will you obtain if you hit it? How will you be better off? That’s what’s at stake for you and the idea of attaining this should make your heart beat a little faster.

Also, think about how you will you feel if you don’t reach your goal. Take a moment to explore the sadness and disappointment this would cause.

Ultimately, there should be a balance between the two. Just enough at stake on the upside to keep you excited and motivated every day, and just enough at risk to remind you why it is so important.

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A few thoughts about goal setting

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If you’re about to sit down and write some goals for the new year, there are a few things you should consider.

First, understand that the purpose of goal setting is to gain clarity about what’s important to you, and thus worthy of your focus and commitment. You have limited time and resources so limit your goals to no more than three. One is better. One big goal for the year, the achievement of which will make everything else easier or better.

Second, goal setting isn’t done until you determine what you need to do to achieve the goal and you commit to doing it.

You can’t control outcomes, you can only control your behavior. What activities will you do to achieve your goal? What new habits will you acquire? What will you give up so you have the time and energy to do what’s needed?

Finally, make sure your goal is something you truly want, not something you think you should want or something someone else wants for you.

When you think about the goal and imagine having achieved it, you should feel excited. As you imagine yourself doing the daily work needed to achieve your goal, you should be just as excited.

The right goal will pull you forward. When you wake up each day, your first thoughts will naturally be about your goal and the work you are doing to achieve it, and you will feel good about that. You’ll want to run to your desk and get to work. You’ll want to stay up late reading, making notes, writing down ideas.

If it’s the right goal, you will, as Napoleon Hill said, have a burning desire to achieve it. You will be single-minded in your devotion to it. You will be like a successful friend of mine who describes himself as, “a monomaniac on a mission”.

Examine the goal you have chosen and see how you feel about it. If it feels good, you won’t struggle to achieve it. Yes, you’ll work hard but the time will pass quickly, and if you fall short, you won’t mind that much because you’ll know where you’re going and you’ll know you’ll get there.

This will help you set and achieve your marketing goals

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Goals for the new year beyond

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My daughter and her husband are in town and have been going with me on some of my walks. I learned from them that I don’t need a wearable device to measure the number of steps I take in a day, I can do that with an app. And so now I’m tracking my steps.

But that damn app is mocking me. Granted, it’s only been a couple of days (over Christmas), but it’s telling me I’m nowhere near the 10,000 steps it sets as the default.

I’ve been walking six days a week now for several months and it’s going well. I’m losing weight and getting stronger and it’s a habit I know I can keep. But I’m so far from the goal it’s not motivating me, it’s doing just the opposite.

What to do?

Do I lower the goal from 10,000 steps for now and increase it once I hit it?

Do I leave the goal at 10,000 steps and work harder?

Or do I give it a week, see how it’s going, then decide?

You might have a similar process to go through in your goal setting for the coming year.

Let’s say you would like to gross one million dollars in 2018. You know that’s unlikely but not impossible. You also know that if you get to the middle of the year and you’re not even close to the pace you need to be, you’ll probably get discouraged and tell yourself “next year”. (You know this because that’s what happened last year.)

I have a suggestion. Something I’ve written about before (and done). It’s a way to set goals that you never fail to achieve.

That’s because instead of setting a singular goal, you set three versions of the goal.

Version one is your “dream” goal. Let’s say that’s $1,000,000 gross. You know you probably won’t hit it but just thinking about it gets you excited and motivated to explore new ideas and increase your activity level.

Version two is your “target” goal, something you know will take significant effort but is not out of reach. If you grossed $500,000 this year, your target goal for next year might be $600,000. You know you will have to work hard to get there but you see that this is something you can probably accomplish without herculean effort.

The third version of your goal is your “minimum”. It’s something you absolutely know you can do without much in the way of extra effort. You keep doing what you’ve been doing, and a little more, and you’re almost certain to get there. Your minimum goal might be $550,000.

Breaking up your goals this way all but ensures that you’ll accomplish one of them. You are thus continually hitting goals, feeling good about it, and inspired to reach higher.

If I apply this to walking, my dream goal is 10,000 steps, 5,000 is my target, and 4,000 is my minimum.

And, yippy skippy, I see I’m already close to hitting my minimum for the day.

What are the three versions of your marketing goals?

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