How to Make a Plan to Achieve Your Goals

Setting yourself up for success by identifying your "Why" and focusing on the end goal.

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“Your Goals are Important — Don’t Push Them Off.”

I received some sort of marketing email this morning. It was from a company I’d purchased from in the past. You know how that goes — You buy something online, get confirmation sent to your email, and all of a sudden you’re getting emails from them daily.

Email marketing, that’s what it’s all about.

Because everrrryyyone says the email list is golden. Since it’s your audience. They sign up for your newsletter because they like what you’re producing, and they trust you.

Building up an email list and then selecting quality products or services to share is a surefire way to spread your brand’s message. Well then, why am I not doing this? Sure, I send out my new posts via email. That’s pretty much it.

I don’t send out sneak peeks on updated blogging courses that will be going on sale, or one-day-only discounts on the latest tech software. I mean, I guess I could … But given the fact that I don’t blog about blogging, that doesn’t really make sense.

I blog about side hustles, saving money, and being in debt. Trying to squeeze extra dimes and nickels out of activities you have to do anyway. Finding ways to earn extra income with the least amount of effort possible.

Paying bills that have been lingering like a bad cold right before vacation. Making the most of your time on this planet, and learning from mistakes made in the past.

Who Really Notices Change?

I very rarely write a post with the intent of trying to sell an actual product. Yes, there might be some affiliate links sprinkled in here and there. But for the most part, that’s just background noise. I don’t put a major focus on trying to sell something to my audience.

But should I?

Would anyone even notice? Would anybody even care? (…about time ♬♪♬….) — Sorry, went on a minor tangent into a Chicago favorite. (The band — Not the city or the Broadway show.)

Anyway, that’s the question I guess. Or at least one of them. Would putting the spotlight on an actual product negatively affect my blog’s authenticity?

Which leads me to another question to ponder. (And the tie-in to the marketing email I initially referenced).

The subject line of this morning’s email was:

Your Goals are Important — Don’t Push Them Off.

So what are my goals? For myself, and for this blog. I should have some, shouldn’t I?  Says the naive yet endearing protagonist who has been blogging for almost 2 years …

How Do You Define Your Goals?

When it comes to achieving your goals, it helps to first define what those goals are. And to do that, I think you need to begin with why you’re doing what you’re doing.

What initially sparked your interest in this whole thing? Why did you decide to embark on your journey in the first place?

Everyone says you need to determine your “Why”. Once you have your end result identified, it’s way easier to backtrack into the steps you need to take to get there.

Your goal could be many things — financial, tangible, emotional, inspirational. Monetary goals are pretty easy to start off with, since a number is definitive. The same would go for a weight loss goal.

But sometimes it isn’t just about the numbers. You may have a goal related to happiness, or having less stress, or even positively influencing others. And to achieve this goal, you need to make changes to your work style or habits.

What Are Your Goals?

So let’s start with what’s somewhat tangible, and right in front of me:

Why did I start this blog?

Honestly, I started the blog because I was reading a bunch of online content, and thought I could produce the same kind of stuff. And if it could make a little bit of money on the side, even better.  (Never mind all of the popular posts that said how “easy” it was to make money online. Ummm, did I fall for that??)

I decided to start the blog to 1) document my family’s debt payoff journey, and 2) share the different money-making opportunities that were helping to pay it off.

And then, somewhere along the line, the blog morphed into something that gave me purpose.

I began to think about what my future might hold, how I had this opportunity to impact people, and also have something that was truly mine.

Something I created myself, from scratch, and could be proud of.

So following that initial line of thinking, we’ll drill down to a second question: 

Why do I want to pay off debt?

With so many American households engulfed in debt, one might think carrying a balance on their credit card is the “American Way”. At least, that was a common misconception in my house, for many, many years.

But the constant stress of making minimum payments and still being able to buy groceries — it wears on you after a while. And you begin to question why that’s considered the “norm”.

My family has made some huge strides in paying off our debt over the past year. There’s still a lot more to go, but seeing the number go down some is definitely motivating. So what’s the motivation behind paying off debt? What’s the overall goal we’d like to achieve with that?

Having room to breathe. Being able to make choices. Having the freedom to live a different kind of life.

Not being chained to a computer and desk until we’re 67 (or more!)

Of course, that’s not to say we’d ever leave our jobs. But it would be refreshing to not have to depend on the next paycheck, and the next, and the next …

It would be freeing to know the next emergency or unexpected expense will have an actual plan, and not turn into a catastrophe.

And if we want to just get up and go — we can do that very thing, not just imagine it. 

Planning For the Future

Additionally, I’d love to be able to secure my future. To not have to depend on anyone else as I get older. Because like it or not, we’re all aging.

And while we’d all love to believe we have people we can depend on, that’s not always reality, or even the smartest choice. Which is why I’m evaluating what I want out of life, what I need out of life. And what’s holding me back, or slowing me down.

You hear stories about people establishing freedom through minimalism. Identifying what truly sparks joy, and what items are unnecessary to their overall happiness. Can you be happier with less? And why do so many people think material possessions will bring them joy?

I’ve lived long enough to realize objects cannot make you happy. At least not long term.

Life is about people, and experiences, and having the opportunity to interact with and help others. It’s not about how many “things” you can collect, and how that compares to what your neighbors own.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

In order to begin making progress with what’s important — there needs to be a clean slate. We need to start from zero, and move up from there. Right now we’re at a negative-something. So we need to achieve a goal of neutrality.

First step = pay off debt. Second step = everything else.

And in order to pay off debt, there’s needs to be money. Or more specifically, more money than what we have right now. And actually, honing in even further — more efficient use of our existing money. Because I honestly believe the amount of money we currently bring in is pretty sufficient. It’s just being mismanaged and allocated incorrectly, due to all of our debt.

So maybe a better money plan is needed. A more efficient money mindset. An overall agreement on how we should be spending the money we have available to us — and then actually moving forward with that plan.

But in order to get there — to reach the starting point of building wealth going forward — we need to start chipping away at the debt. Which brings me back to the original purpose of this blog.

Staying Focused to Achieve Your Goals

How can I maintain focus on creating a site that brings in a small amount of money, without being distracted by other shiny objects? And if there’s an opportunity to make some sort of income, can it be done without seeming too “salesy”? And why should that even matter?

A combination of debt payoff strategies, side hustle reviews, personal inner dialogue plus affiliate posts — What does my audience prefer? What do I prefer? What do my peers prefer, and does that even matter?

Is this a blog popularity contest? Because I can tell you right now I won’t win — I’ve never been part of the popular crowd. (Although I did win the title of Most Talented in high school.)

Staying True to Yourself

The phrase “stay true to yourself” is used a lot in motivational posts. And that’s for a reason. It’s hard to stay focused to achieve your goals when you’re going in 20 different directions. The easiest way to succeed is to follow the path that’s most in line with what you value.

So if you’re trying to motivate, write uplifting posts. If you’re attempting to educate the masses or persuade readers on a certain topic, be the best influencer you can be. And if your goal is to make some extra income to improve the conditions of your life, then go for it. Write that sales pitch. Negotiate a deal with a brand. And market the hell out of it. Do your best.

Because at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be doing this just to please others. Or to worry about what peers think. Do you, and be proud about it.

This post first appeared on Mastering the Side Jam on 6/17/19

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