As a business coach and trainer, I have an enviable job – I help people to get what they want.

The first step to getting what you want is knowing what you want. Sounds pretty simple, yes? Yet the first step is also the first hurdle.

Business owners tend to have complicated relationships with goal setting. We’ve likely all had the experience of getting fired up about an idea, talking excitedly about it with others, and then failing to achieve it, or taking precisely no action towards it.

What happens after several years and several instances of this? The business owner stops setting goals. Or worse, starts telling themselves that ambition makes them unhappy. Of course, ambition doesn’t disappear. It just goes underground where it festers into anger, jealousy or depression.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to repair your relationship with goal setting and redefine what you want – not what you think you should want – which is halfway to getting it.

Allowing yourself to dream

Dream back to before you were disappointed, stressed, envious, overwhelmed, confused and despairing. Dream back to when you first had the audacious idea of making an income from your own sweat and smarts. Dream back to when you were in the flow, connected to your purpose, doing work that felt like a song.

Dream back and dream forward – to the future you now dare to colour in. Dream forward to the change you want to see in the world, the things that break your heart, the hope that endures, despite it all.

Allowing yourself to dream means suspending disbelief. It means putting your critical thinking brain in a box for later. It means going deep into the ‘what’ while continually postponing the urge to tackle ‘how’.

This process can take a while. Depending on your experience, it may require a safe sanctuary to retreat to, lots of preparation, assurance, cheerleading and support.

The harder this is for you, the more you need to do it. Don’t rush.

Putting your blinkers on

For years, the online business gurus have spoken of ‘six-figures’ as the holy grail of business. A few years back, this became seven-figures. Now we’re hearing people preach (mainly on Clubhouse) of eight-figure business, or even, “multiple eight-figure businesses”.

No wonder so many of us opt-out. Over the horizon is always another horizon.

In the information age, a strong pair of blinkers is a daily requirement. Stop watching your competitors so closely and becoming so easily intimidated by people on the internet. People lie. A nice-looking website can conceal a dude still living in his parent’s basement, eating microwave food, and wearing the same clothes for days, with nary a friend into whose arms one can dissolve.

Different types of goals

There are many different types of goals for business owners, including:

  • Income. Revenue is a simple metric to measure, though profit is arguably more accurate.
  • Lifestyle: Different business models require different activities and hours of commitment. Your income and lifestyle are intimately connected and related to your business model (more on this here).
  • Your visibility is intimately related to your marketing, which is intimately related to your sales: your visibility includes how much you want to grow your online community, email list, and borrow other people’s audiences to grow your own. What’s your communication strength? Working to your communication strength (speaking, teaching, writing, graphics, etc.) enables you to more rapidly grow your visibility.
  • Creative: what are you compelled to create? What are you compelled to refine, that you’re already selling?
  • Leverage: when you’ve reached a certain tipping point in business, leveraging your expertise is your primary focus.
  • Credibility: it’s all well and good to have nice marketing, but are you believable? Do you have kudos? Do key thought leaders in your sector know who you are and respect your viewpoint?
  • Your vision: what’s your long-term, big picture ache-in-your-belly?

Defining enough

To ensure you’re satisfied when you hit your goals, it’s important to define enough. For many of us, a vexed and complicated relationship with money means that their enough isn’t even close to a livable wage. I believe your enough should include a livable wage as well as an emergency fund, so that if the worst was to materialize, you’d have options.

Having an inheritance, a wealthy spouse or another source of income can be a double-edged blessing – often leaving you vulnerable to dreaming far too small.

How much you earn is a feminist issue, make no mistake, and modesty is a learned behavior, as befits “a good girl”. (Ambition is so unattractive on a lady.)

Setting meaningful goals

Ultimately, your goals need to be personally motivated if they are to actually happen. Setting goals that give you that ‘scared-excited’ feeling is a good sign that they’re personally meaningful.

Your goals should be ‘realistic’ but don’t forget to have stretch goals too. If your goal is to earn $200,000, but the most you’ve ever earned is $50,000, then make your first goal $100,000, and your stretch goal $200,000. If your goal is to get 20 people on your online course, but you’ll need a minimum of six people to make it viable, and 30 would be a dream come true, then set your goals accordingly.

Plan for your worst-case scenario, while expecting the best

Setting goals is just the start to getting what you want, in business and in life. The next step is an action plan to make it happen.

This is where we start planning for our best-case scenario, while also covering our worst-case scenario. Knowing you have a worst-case scenario frees you up from self-doubt and fear. You know what will happen if the worst is to come true, and it’s not that bad. Now you can start focusing on your best-case outcome, and taking steps to make it happen.

See part two in this series.

See part three in this series.