Many people subscribe to the idea that goal setting should happen in the twillight of the year as you look foward to the upcoming year. I think this is the optimal way to approach it, too. However, I’m also a realist and know that life and business get in the way. So, I believe anytime is goal-setting time! The important thing is to do it right no matter when you do it to achieve goal setting success.

I want to introduce you to my method for setting goals that will not go by the wayside in a couple of short months. This year, you will set goals for your interior design business that will move your business forward, goals that you will reach, goals that will result in a bigger bottom line. Goal setting success will be yours!

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals, but for those of you who haven’t, I will walk you through the steps and throw in a few of my own ideas that work well for creative types like us that will catapult your goal-setting and goal-achieving experience.

So, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Let’s break them down.

Specific

Your goals need to be very specific in order for you to achieve them and for them to really mean anything. To set a goal of earning more money this year is great. But what does that really mean? Do you want to earn $100 more or $100k more? This is really the what, who and why section.

What is the specific goal? You need to be totally clear on this point. It might be to increase your income by $100k. It might be to gain five additional clients this year. It might be to hire a junior designer. Maybe you work for a firm and want to start your own design practice.

Who do you need on your team to help you achieve this goal? If you plan to increase your income by $100, you can probably make that happen yourself, but if the goal is to increase your income by $100K, you might need a bit of help. Think critically about what it’s going to take to reach your goal and still maintain a certain quality of life for yourself.

If your goal is in one way or another related to growing your business, you’re going to need a strong marketing plan of attack to generate the new business needed to support the goal. Check out this post about getting more leads and new clients and this post about creating your marketing budget for the upcoming year.

And, finally, the why. Why do you want to earn an additional $100K? Is it to increase your retirement savings so you can retire a little earlier than planned? Why do you want to hire that junior designer? Is it to create more freedom in your own schedule to spend with your kids? Do you want to start your own business to have the freedom to control your own schedule, pick the clients you work with and have autonomy? If the “why” isn’t really important and personal, you might want to reconsider it to achieve goal setting success.

My tip just for you: You’re a creative, a visual person. Make a visual cue for yourself. What does it look like when you’ve achieved this goal? Are you retired and on a golf course? Are you sipping a cocktail by the pool in the afternoon? Are you picking your kids up from school instead of depending on the nanny to do it? Create a visual representation of this to go on your inspiration board, office wall, in the car … wherever you will see it and keep you focused — maybe all of those places.

Measurable

To reach goal setting success, your goal must be measurable, quantifiable. Dollar amounts and numbers of clients are easily measurable. “I want to be happier in my career this year” is not quantifiable. It’s a great goal, and I encourage you to be happier, for sure. But it’s not a goal in the sense we are talking about here that has measurable outcomes.

Speaking of measurable, you need to break your goals down into easy-to-digest chunks. The thought of earning and additional $100K seems overwhelming. But if you break it down by month, it becomes a little more manageable and measurable.

What about hiring that junior designer — how do you measure that? You either do it or you don’t, right? This is where breaking it down into steps makes it quantifiable. Step one, write a job description. Done (quantified). Step two, post an ad online. Done. You get the picture. Measure the steps it takes to accomplish the goal.

Achievable

OK, you might be thinking, “If I know the goal is achievable, why is it even a goal?” Well, the goal must be achievable or what’s the point, right? If your goal is to achieve world peace (albeit not measurable), it’s not something you have any control over, therefore you cannot control the outcome. Now, that being said, I don’t mean for you to only set easy goals. Your goals should be attainable but also a stretch for you — even lofty.

Goals can be short term or long term. The long-term goals tend to be the stretch goals. And they get broken down into the steps we talked about a couple of paragraphs ago. They tend to be easier broken down into mini goals.

Relevant

A goal needs to be in line with your broad business goals and purpose. If you want to focus on residential interior design, do not set a goal to acquire three commercial contracts in the next six months. If you plan to retire next year, does it really make sense to hire a junior designer this year? Although it might help with your workload, you could accomplish the same using contract help so you’re not putting someone out of work right after you’ve hired him or her.

Time-Bound

You don’t want to be working on this one goal for the next ten years, I assume. So, put a time limit on it. Make it a reasonable time limit, of course. If you don’t attach a deadline to the goal, you aren’t likely to enjoy goal setting success.

Like I’ve already mentioned, you need to break large, long-term goals down into mini goals. You might have monthly or quarterly mini goals that will lead you to achieve your main goal.

My tip for you: Instead of putting your mini goals on your to-do list with all the other items that get pushed down the list and never completed because you’re too busy, put the mini goals directly into your calendar. Create a dedicated time to do the task that will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal. Make it non-negotiable, just like a client meeting.

Taking It Further

So, there’s the breakdown of the steps to creating SMART goals. Now, there are a few other key points beyond these that I feel are super important to goal-achieving success.

First, especially for long term, more complex goals, you need to break them down and create a plan. Putting dedicated time on the calendar is a part of this plan. But as a creative, you probably need to write it all out or draw it or whatever makes most sense to you to visualize this important path to your success. This is different than the visual cue you created in the Specific phase of planning. This is a visual representation of the process you are going to follow —the steps — to accomplish your goal. It’s your blueprint, if you will.

Next, you must track your progress. How will you ever know if you’re getting close or if you’re half way there by June unless you are tracking your actions, tracking the dollars, etc. Now, this isn’t something you need to do daily, but track at least monthly to be sure you’re making forward progress. If you’re not, make an adjustment to the plan and catch up.

One last thought on goal setting: Don’t make a whole laundry list of goals for yourself. Think about your whys (freedom of time, financial freedom, etc.), pick two or three that are most relevant to your whys and your overall business purpose, and put your all into achieving those few goals. I promise a couple of completed goals will propel your business forward. And a dozen unmet goals will not.

Planning to grow your business this year? Want to increase your bottom line? I can help! Contact me today to get started.