5 Essential Goal Setting Principles

Every entrepreneur starts their journey with an idea, but only a handful of people are able to turn those ideas into a reality. Setting and achieving goals is harder than it seems, especially if you are diving in without a roadmap or plan. Knowing what you want is the easy part; knowing how to get it is much trickier and separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

Ready to get your business idea up and running? Start with some serious goal setting and planning sessions. To help you get off on the right foot, here are 5 essential goal setting principles every successful entrepreneur uses to turn ideas into reality. And as you’ll see from the examples, these principles are perfect for any type of goal, including personal development!

1. Your goals must be specific.

It’s okay to start with a very broad goal when you first sit down to brainstorm, such as “Win a gold medal.” But you should narrow your focus to something far more specific. Gold medal in what? Are you talking about an Olympic gold medal or an award for some other event? When do you think you want to win this medal? 1 year from now or 10 years from now? Get specific in what you want to achieve and when.

2. Once you have a primary goal, set stepping-stone goals.

Smaller, more manageable goals help you break down a larger task so that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed. Do you have a goal to open a store in a year? Then perhaps a stepping-stone goal is to have a fully functional website online in the next 6 months. Start by just doing a “brain dump” of everything you know you’ll need to do in order to reach your goal. Then organize similar things together and create as many stepping-stone goals (and even smaller goals … call them “Pebble Goals” if you must!) as needed. You should see a timeline and plan begin to emerge.

3. Regularly check your progress.

Set a schedule in which to review your goals. If you wait until you finally accomplish your primary goal in order to look back and pat yourself on the back, you’ll give up far too easily. Check your progress at the beginning of each week, each month, or on whatever timeframe works best for you. To help you stay motivated, keep visual charts around your workspace to show yourself how much you’ve gotten done already. Don’t forget to make adjustments as necessary based on your progress reviews!

4. Dream big but practical.

In other words, choose your goals wisely. Don’t settle for a goal that doesn’t make you feel excited and pumped every time you think about what it’ll be like to cross the proverbial finish line. If your goal doesn’t make you feel challenged, it’s not a good enough goal! But at the same time, be realistic. Can you actually achieve your goal? Or are you counting on resources (including money and talent) that you don’t have? If you’re a middle-aged weekend warrior, perhaps an Olympic gold medal in track and field isn’t really in the cards. Start with what you know you can achieve with some effort, like maybe finishing a half marathon.

5. Stay accountable.

Find a way to keep yourself accountable for your goals. During your regular review sessions, if you find out that you are way behind schedule, will that fact alone be enough to motivate you to forge ahead? According to EntrepreneurBoy, real change doesn’t happen until we’re emotionally invested in it. But that investment can wax and wane. For many people, quitting is a very enticing option when the road gets tough. An accountability partner, whether it be a formal business partner or a personal coach, can be just the trick to keep you going. An accountability partner pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you less likely to give up. For some reason, letting ourselves down is pretty easy; we accept our failure too quickly. But most of us hate the idea of letting someone else down. This is why an accountability partner works!

Feel inspired? Start jotting down your goals and get to work!