Freelance 101: Setting Goals with Right Hand Business Coach, Lauren Allen
Goal setting is an integral part of the business planning process. Without goals in place, and accountability partners to keep you on track for them, getting things accomplished in business is a little more difficult. Instead of me rambling on about this, I’ve asked a good friend and Goal Setting EXPERT Lauren Allen from Right Hand Business Coach to tell us what’s up.
Lauren, what is your background and how did you get into business coaching?
I have a project management background with 15+ years in the global corporate environment. Learning to work with employees from all over the world to accomplish a project on a budget and timeframe has taught me all about people; their working styles, what motivates them, and how to encourage their productivity. I realized a long time ago that our work and personal life do not fit into tiny compartments, they happen all around us and developing the skill to balance our work and life are crucial to our happiness. The coaching aspect of my business comes from the desire to understand the client’s work/life balance not just their business needs.
What makes you a goal setting expert?
Recently, I looked back into some old files I had saved on a flash drive and uncovered a goal-setting document from 2009. I’ve been writing SMART goals for eight years. In those eight years, achieving or exceeding my goals was how my work performance was measured, received bonuses, and increased upward movement in my company. It was important that I created goals that not only pushed my comfort zone but aided in achieving personal success, with so many years of practice, I use lessons learned to help clients navigate the proper routes for goal setting.
What are the elements or pillars of a good goal?
Good goals align with your business plan. They are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound). There are many other acronyms out there, but two items are always the same, measurable and time-bound. You want to know how you’ll measure success and how long you will give yourself to attain said goals.
Can you think of a time when a goal you (or a client) set epically succeeded?
I work with small businesses, so any win is a big win in our books. One client, in particular, wanted to increase his gym membership by targeting specific audiences. He noticed that the former owners had missed opportunities with these groups, and he saw that he could grow from attracting these people. We discussed those target markets, created SMART goals focusing the audience's, and built a plan to reach each of these groups. We concentrated on using proven marketing methods, and he exceeded his first goal by doubling the number of joining members before the original due date. The best part was him realizing he can replicate his goal-setting skills in every area of his business.
Can you think of a time when a goal you (or a client) set epically failed?
On the personal side, I set a goal to run a half marathon. My friend and I started a training program, but since I knew nothing about running long distances, I increased my mileage too quickly. I damaged my ankles, incurred shin splits, and could hardly walk for weeks. I was in my early 20's and had to wear sneakers everywhere; my friends seriously teased me. I saw a doctor, and he advised that I should no longer attempt to run the half marathon and should not run at all for another nine weeks. I tried and epically failed running a half marathon.
What’s the difference between an achievable goal and an unachievable one?
Achievable is all relative. Some people create grandiose goals and build in milestones that help them keep focused on achieving it in increments. When you can see progress, you’re less likely to give up and more likely to keep going. An unachievable goal would be one that doesn’t align with your plan and shouldn’t be a priority.
Lofty goals are necessary for every small business. You might hear them called stretch goals, as in you have to stretch your neck to reach them. With stretch goals, you build multiple short and long-term goals that allow you to see progress all along the way. Everyone likes to see improvement, that's why they keep doing something. The key to success of a stretch goal is to "touch" a task related to that goal daily or weekly. Contributing to a lofty goal once a week or daily is realistic for most people, chipping away at task one by one will make it whole thing feel more manageable and doable.
What’s the best way to tackle REALLY REALLY lofty goals?
What is the best way for a freelancer to keep themselves accountable for their goals?
The best way to stay accountable to your goal is to share it, actively talk about the goals you're trying to reach. Also, create a plan that allows you to stay on track. If you like a to-do list, then create a list and work to cross off items every day. I prefer to keep a calendar; I write in my task to make sure I meet all my weekly goals that will enable me to hit my monthly goals. The reason I like to tell people what my goals are is that they may have suggestions or recommendations on how to work towards those goals.
What role does community play in goal setting?
My community is who I look to for support, guidance, and maybe a little help. I advocate for creating a community in every aspect of your life. It's in our nature to want to help someone, so when you create a supportive community, you will find that you are not alone, and your community will give you the things you need. There's a quote that I use all the time, "nothing is impossible, it may be hard, but with a community, you can do anything."
What is an accountability partner and how do you find one?
An accountability partner is a member of your community that you rely on for support. This person keeps you motivated and encourages you to reach your goals. I'll use the example of my partner; we'll call her June. June and I text every day, all day. We remind each other that we're making progress, tell each other how we're feeling, and what sort of issues we're facing in our business. We share in the responsibility to give advice and constructive feedback, and sometimes we are each other's biggest cheerleader. As for how to find your accountability partner, find someone that you trust, and you feel comfortable with sharing the hard stuff.
What tools do you use to keep yourself organized and remind yourself of your goals?
I write my goals out on my calendar; I like to see the reminder every day. I also create a plan in a spreadsheet that lists all the task related to accomplishing my goal. I refer back to my plan weekly to identify which task needs addressing for the week, and I tackle small bite-size pieces. It's important not to let myself get overwhelmed with the amount of work required, that's why I talk about touching a goal daily or weekly to maintain consistency, but not to overwhelm.
What’s been your favorite project and why?
My favorite projects are all my projects! I love working with my clients. It's always easier to work with clients who are eager to put in the work and who are receptive to receiving feedback. I get so excited to see their progress and to feel that I have genuinely contributed to the success of their business.
Lauren is a wealth of information and a great resource for anyone looking to get their business off the ground or for any business who is looking to take their skills to the next level. Lauren can help you hone in on what’s working and what isn’t in order to work smarter, not harder.
For more info and to connect with Lauren, visit RightHandBusinessCoach.com