10 Successful Goal Setting Tips for the Busy Woman

Stuart Miles

Stephen Sutton has inspired me. You have probably heard of him. He was been diagnosed with terminal cancer at 15 and decided to create a bucket list. His bucket list included raising £1mn for charity. (At the last count he had achieved over £3mn). You can read his story on facebook. His inspiration to the world reminded me of the excellent phrase ‘bucket list’.  To me, bucket lists are a much more uplifting term than ‘goal setting’.  Bucket lists refer to the hopes and dreams we have in life that we perhaps don’t think we can really achieve.

(If you’ve not yet watched the film ‘The Bucket List’ with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicolson, I’d urge you to do so).

Kendall Summerhawk – a mentor I really admire – describes  ‘goal setting’ as very much a masculine activity. She has written an excellent article about how feminine energy needs to bring emotions into goals. You can read her full article here: http://kendallsummerhawk.com/goal-setting-secrets-for-women-entrepreneurs-part-1/

Yet whatever we call it, the most successful people on the planet have a set of goals that inspire them, drive them and keep them on track. The busy woman can often struggle – not necessarily with setting goals – but with the successful implementation and achievement of those goals. This is because working women are typically juggling a huge work and home load.

The demands on us from other people seem relentless. So how do you go about setting goals?

I’ve collated 10 Top tips for Successful Goal Setting:

1)      Identify what you want.

Yes I know that sounds simple. But when did you last sit down and work out what you actually want? In life? In your career? With your families? Your hobbies? There’s an excellent framework called ‘The Wheel of Life’. I’ve created a Wheel of Life downloadable pdf for you here.

2)      Write your goals down

A study done at Dominican University (and not the great myth of Harvard / Yale) found that those graduates who wrote their goals down accomplished significantly more than those that didn’t. Our brain cannot keep a track of all the demands and dreams we place there. So, my encouragement to you is to go buy yourself a new journal and write down the goals you want to achieve.

3)      Use SMART goals.

SMART is a great acronym for writing goals: Specific (is it really clear what you goal is?); Measurable (how will you know you’ve achieved it); Agreed (especially important when setting with a team member); Realistic (can you achieve it?) and Timely (when will it be done by). When you re-read your goals, check that they are SMART.

4)     Add Emotion

I do agree with Kendall Summerhawk – you need to have and feel some emotion around the goal. Setting goals isn’t just a task you can tick off. You need to really ‘feel’ and ideally ‘see’ the goal. If you can, then the goals will materialise much faster. So for example, rather than “I need to lose weight”, imagine yourself in a swimsuit and feel how good it feels.

5)      Create a 90 day plan

Many of you know I’ve been a big fan of the work by Paul Hoff man on 90day plans. Essentially he encourages you to look at your long term goals to map out a 90 day plan. The overview plan is to get as realistic as possible in terms of what you really want to achieve. For example you may want to take up running. A friend of mine – completely unfit – has set about running a 10k within 90days and she is on track!

6)      Put aside ‘planning time’ every week

I’ve found my best time for planning is a Sunday morning. Most of the family are usually asleep (as I’m an early riser). I spend about an hour reviewing my goals and mapping out what I’d like to get done over the week. I usually then spend about 15mins each morning updating my ‘to do’ list. Now this does not come easily to me! But with a bit of perseverance it is really helping with getting more done.

7)      Estimate How Long

During the planning phase, it really helps to give some thought to how long things take. Historically I completely underestimate how long things take to get done.  By tracking how long things are taking you can get much more realistic about the time needed. As Peter Drucker once said “What gets measured gets done”.

8)      Do the big things first

There’s an excellent rocks and sand analogy that’s often used in time management training.  In other words you have to create time for the big things in your life – how often is your life filled with little ‘to dos’ – “I’ll just finish this off” or “I’ll clear this job and then I’ll have time for that”. Have a look at this video for more inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmV0gXpXwDU

9)      Make Me Time a Priority

Ensure when you are setting your goals you include a goal for ‘Me’. Research by the Families and Work institute (Women and Time: Setting a New Agenda) found that 49% of women did not have enough free time. And, less than 4% stated they had ‘zero’ time. So what would ‘Me time’ look like to you? If you could gain 30 minutes in a week, what would be the one thing you would do, just for you?

10)   Reward Yourself

We are often so driven to continually improve and drive greater performance that we forget to remind ourselves of our achievements. When setting goals identify what the reward is going to be for achieving it. It can be as simple as a cup of coffee or if it’s a huge achievement you may want to treat yourself to something you’ve been after for a while.

Let me know what other strategies you have deployed for setting and achieving your goals. I’d love to hear and share them.

You may also want to take a look at our forthcoming women leaders online event. It’s free to attend and we have some excellent speakers! www.handbagsintheboardroom.com

Here are some more articles you may like to read:

Feeling Overwhelmed- Five Steps to Getting Your Life Back on Track

Working Part Time – Both Men and Women Jumping on Board

Work and life balance

Share your thoughts.