Baby Step Your Way to Your Biggest Goals

Whether you've already set your freelance writing goals for the New Year or you're still deciding what they should be, let's focus on the big ones today. When you set major goals for your business, how can you keep yourself focused and working toward them all year long?

One of my favorite tactics is to take baby steps. I'll break down a large goal into workable steps instead, or I'll set smaller goals along the way toward reaching my big goals. For example, if I set a traffic goal of 100k pageviews per month for a site, I might set a smaller goal each quarter to make sure traffic was progressively going up -- maybe 40k the first quarter during one month, having a month hit 60k the second quarter, and having at least one 80k month during the third quarter.

As another example, if I set an income goal of $100,000 per year freelancing, I'd break it down into monthly goals of around $8300 per month. Then if I missed a month's goal I'd still be able to salvage the yearly goal by increasing a goal the next month or splitting the difference over upcoming months and working harder to bring in more income.

I usually have several big goals during the year. Some I reach and others I don't. But when I do pull off a major goal, it's almost always because I broke it down into baby steps to keep me motivated. This coming year my big goals are book-related and I'm breaking those down into weekly word count goals just like I did with the nonfiction book this year (where the first draft will be finished by the end of next week). Before I set those very specific smaller goals, I just couldn't stay motivated consistently.

What about you? Do you prefer to break down big goals into baby steps or tackle them in some other way? What are some of your own big goals for the New Year, and how will you break them down to make them a reality?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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7 thoughts on “Baby Step Your Way to Your Biggest Goals”

  1. I agree. I’m much better with baby steps, otherwise the goal can easily get overwhelming and seem unattainable.

    I’m trying something new for 2011. I am setting very specific monthly goals. I am doing it for each month and doing it now. Why? Because I find that I am really good at doing the detailed specifics at the beginning of the year, then get lazy mid-way. I also am including specific marketing strategies. I used a 28-day approach in the past, but again, I would taper off in more of a hit-and-miss approach.

    My plan is to look at each right before the start of the month and then do any adjustments needed. Since I will already have a framework, it’s much easier to adjust then start from scratch.

    Before this point, my goals were more about increasing income XX% or adding XX # of clients.

    Like me, my business plan is still a work in progress. 🙂

  2. Great post, Jenn

    Let’s just say that my marketing this last year was in sad need of attention…but not next year!

    With all of the great info here on your site as well as some others I’ve gained the knowledge I need to make next year a better one. Right now I’m in the process of setting out real, definable goals that are easily measured, which will help me stay on top of things.

    Thanks for all the great advice!

    • Glad we could be of help Anita. 🙂

      And hey… no worries about this year. Everything we do is a learning experience. The key is realizing it and making changes to improve things in the future, and it sounds like you’re well on your way towards doing that. 🙂

  3. I agree with you and break down my own goals in the same way you do. I even break monthly goals into weekly ones and daily ones. Like you said, if I don’t hit a daily goal one day, I can make up for it another day and still salvage my week.

    A psychologist did a study that proves breaking down your goals into manageable chunks makes it more likely you will achieve the goal. Psychologically, if our brains take in a goal of say $100,000, it seems daunting and we somehow talk ourselves out of achieving it (even if we do not realize we do this). The study reveals that when the same $100,000 goal is broken down into chunks, our brain accepts it and helps to propel us toward achieving it.

    • I do the weekly and daily goals too. Every week I take a 5″x8″ index card and write the week’s work list up — client projects, my own blogging, launch work, book work, etc. It always looks like far too much for one week. So I take smaller 3″x5″ index cards and use one for each work day. So all of the tasks on the bigger card get split up among my four work day cards. It focuses my attention on a few things at a time. Sometimes I do miss things on a daily list if something else took longer than expected. So instead of a check mark, I give it an “X” (to still clear out that day’s card – I won’t get rid of it until everything’s marked off in some way) and I just copy that task onto the following day’s work list. I have an occasional week where I don’t use the dailies, but those weeks are always my least productive. A big list just feels overwhelming on Monday morning. And then if I don’t make enough progress, it leads to downright desperation come Wednesday and Thursday. That throws me off my game and makes it very difficult to accomplish things.


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