How to come up with goals (your goal setting guide)

In our 2015 Year in Review post I dove deep into the exact process we use here at EOFire to come up with our SMART goals.

This included in large part visiting the 5 Phases of Reflection, which will automatically get us to a place where we can come up with our goals. Making them SMART is a separate set of steps, which we also dive into detail on here.

In this post, I want to focus solely on the 5 Phases of Reflection so that regardless of whether you:

  • have been an entrepreneur for 30 years,
  • are a sidepreneur hustling to get your business off the ground while still working a 9 to 5, or
  • are still trying to figuring out if entrepreneurship is right for you

…you’ll walk away with actionable steps you can take to come up with goals in any area of your life.

Gathering what we already know

Sometimes we hear great ideas or we get a quick glimpse of an activity or exercise, and we think, “Oh wow, that sounds like a great idea… I’m going to try that!”

… and then we don’t do it.

I’ve done this before.

In fact, I did it just a few weeks ago when a friend asked if I wanted to get together to share our vision boards for 2016.

I haven’t created a vision board for a really long time, but I thought, “You know, this could be really helpful – something I can refer to throughout the year when I’m feeling a little lost, or like I need to get back to my why.

And so I started brainstorming.

I did some research on how you even go about creating a vision board – you know, things it should include and how many images I should have vs. text vs. whatever else might go on one.

Then I got a large poster board and I started making categories for my board (my organization kills me sometimes!)

The categories I chose (in no particular order) are:

  • Family
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Self
  • Business
  • Travel

Then, I took out smaller sticky notes and I started writing down words that described how I saw myself living my life in 2016 and beyond within each of these categories.

In my “family” category, things like “focused time” and “encouragement” came to mind; in my “relationships” category, things like “honesty” and “openness” came up; in “business” I wrote down “practice my advantages” and “strength in decision-making”, among many others.

But today, weeks later, my vision board looks the same as when I got on that call with my friend to chat about it.


Because I never scheduled the time to finish the project.

I never set aside the necessary 1-2 hours it would take me to try and find images or any other type of visual representation to remind me of the words I wrote down – the words still on my poster board as sticky notes.

That’s why I want to talk about the 5 Phases of Reflection again here, because even though you may have heard me talk about them before, I want to make sure we’re giving ourselves the time and space to actually move through these phases. Because without them, we’re not going to get very far on our journey to setting and accomplishing our #1 goal.

It all starts with gathering the information we already know, but that we oftentimes don’t call upon to help move ourselves forward.

Once we have that information, it will serve as a powerful motivator for our next step.

5 Phases of Reflection

After John and I got home from our walk – the day he told me about The Freedom Journal – he scheduled time on his calendar to reflect on what he already knew about product creation and marketing an idea.

The 5 Phases of Reflection were a bit different for him, but still very applicable.

See, John already knew his goal was going to be to create The Freedom Journal. It wasn’t a SMART goal yet, but he knew that’s what he wanted to do.

What he didn’t know was how he would actually put a plan together in order to accomplish his goal.

Not only had John never created a physical product before – he’d never marketed one, either.

So just the same way that John schedule time on his calendar to reflect and pull together the knowledge and information he already knew from his past experiences, that’s what we’re going to do, too.

It starts with look at the goals we’ve set for ourselves in the past.

1. Our past goals

First, let’s simply gather the information we already know: what have been some of the goals you’ve set over the past year or so?

Just take out a sheet of paper, and write them down.

The next 4 phases are progressive, meaning we can’t get to the next one until we’ve completed the current one, so don’t skip this step.

If you don’t feel like you’ve set any goals for yourself over the past year, then think about the things you wanted to accomplish. Things like:

  • Finding a consistent workout routine;
  • Eating better;
  • Pushing to get outside of my comfort zone;
  • Letting my voice be heard;
  • Taking risks;
  • Being spontaneous;
  • Getting a promotion at work;
  • Quitting my job;
  • Traveling more…

…might be some examples of things you write down.

2. What worked

Now that we have some place to start, look at your list and review each individual line item.

Of the activities, choices and actions you’ve taken over the past year or so, what has worked well for you as it relates to the goals (or things you wanted to accomplish) you wrote down?

For example, if you joined a yoga studio and started doing yoga 1 time per week, then that is an activity / choice / action that helped you at the very least get closer to your goal of finding a consistent workout routine.

If you wrote out a proposal and took it to your boss in order to be considered for a promotion, then you likely pushed outside of your comfort zone to make that happen. Hopefully, you got the promotion, and therefore your actions helped you get closer to two of your goals.

Any decisions or things you did that helped you get closer to the goals or accomplishments you were hoping to hit, write them down. This is about reflecting back on the things we already know, and gathering that information together to help inform our future decisions.

3. What didn’t work

Just like in Phase 2, take a look at your list of goals you wrote down from the past year or so.

Of the activities, choices and actions you’ve taken, what has not worked well for you as it relates to the goals (or things you wanted to accomplish) you wrote down?

For example, if you still have the habit of buying Doritos and chocolate chip cookies as a part of your normal grocery routine, then that probably didn’t work so well for you in regards to eating better.

If you didn’t set aside any time to figure out how you might get started with your entrepreneurial venture, and earning income on the side in order to build your runway, then you’re probably not any closer to quitting your job than you were last year. Therefore, not setting aside that time didn’t work so well for you.

4. Lessons learned

Now that you have a list of the goals and accomplishments you were hoping to make over the past year or so, plus you know exactly what worked well for you and what didn’t work well for you in relation to getting closer to and/or achieving each of those goals, it’s time to pull out your biggest lessons learned.

Of everything you’ve just reflected on, and of all the knowledge you’ve just called upon to help you inform your future decisions, what are some of the biggest lessons learned you can pull out?

When John sat down to gather everything he knew from his past experiences, he realized some pretty powerfully lessons, including one in the form of a quote from Zig Ziglar that has guided him since day 1 of EOFire:

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

John also pulled out lessons learned from his past experiences of what has worked for him and what hasn’t worked for him and came up with these:

  • Building relationships is powerful
  • Fire Nation loves being involved in projects
  • Success > significance

…among many others.

5. Looking ahead

Now that we have a list of our major lessons learned, the next step is: allow them to help move us forward.

Of the major lessons learned you wrote down, how can you use those to come up with 2 or 3 big goals for yourself over the next year or so?

Again, John followed these 5 Phases of Reflection to help inform how The Freedom Journal would actually be created.

Of his lessons learned that I mentioned above, he took those and put a plan in place. One example is that he took a look at the relationships he had built over the past 3+ years to see how some of those relationships could be powerful for the launch of The Freedom Journal (where he could create a win/win/win).

And knowing Fire Nation loves to be involved led him to the idea of leveraging the Kickstarter platform as a marketing tool to help share this project with the community.

If you’ve really focused on this exercise and completed all 5 Phases of Reflection, then you shouldn’t have trouble coming up with 2 or 3 (maybe even more) goals or areas of focus for you moving forward.

This list will now become our spring board for setting our SMART goals for our business, and that’s the first step you’ll take when you have The Freedom Journal all to yourself. Don’t forget to head over to to grab your copy today so you can start setting and accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days!

The post How to come up with goals (your goal setting guide) appeared first on Entrepreneur On Fire Business Podcasts.




Source: Entrepreneur on Fire

Leave a Reply