🏔 What if you set goals, but don't meet them?
How to develop a system to narrow your focus and make real progress
🥳 Hello, Beautiful! Kasey here! Welcome to this week’s 🏔High Growth Founders🏔 newsletter.
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In This Issue:
Growth Insight: How do you set goals that guide your life?
High Growth Founders Episode of the Week: You’re Thinking About Pricing All Wrong
My Comma — The ultimate period care subscription box
Growth Resource I Love: The single most helpful tool for improving your website conversion rates. Plus it’s free.
Growth Insight of the Week:
How do you set goals that guide your life?
I screwed up. I didn’t fully set you up for failure, but I definitely didn’t engineer your success.
Two weeks ago I talked about how to check in on your progress this year and at this point in your life. I asked probing questions designed to uncover where you are, but I did not show you how to decide where you want to go and make the plan to get you there.
Let’s fix that. Together.
I am routinely amazed (dismayed? bewildered?) by how many companies (teams, people) do not have quarterly goals that they write down and use to direct their daily, weekly, and monthly actions.
One of the first steps I take when working with a new client — whether they are an individual Founder looking for coaching or a startup wanting growth strategy consulting — is to ask about their goals. The answer is usually disappointing.
They always have a general idea of what they want, the direction they’re heading, and the milestones they’d like to hit.
But it’s rare that they can give me any details with certainty —
I want X within 3 years.
In order to get there, I know I need Y in 2 years and X within 1 year.
And to do that, I need to accomplish A, B and C in the next 6 months.
Maybe you have a meeting and write down what those goals should be, but then you promptly forget them or simply ignore whether or not you’re getting closer to achieving them.
Or perhaps you’re more like I am.
I have three-year goals, but haven’t broken those down into shorter segments, so I am not making the progress I want to — and know I can.
For years, I have given Founders and teams coaching and advice on how to accelerate their growth by focusing on 1-2 priorities at a time, rather than trying to take on everything and ultimately failing — or at best, achieving mediocrity — at a long list of disparate and disconnected goals.
And yet, I have always struggled to take that advice myself.
I conduct personal goal planning sessions and decide on what I want to achieve, but then one of a few things happens.
I have the goal for the quarter or the year, but have no real plan of how to achieve it, so it’s just a wish.
Sometimes I simply have too many goals all competing with each other struggling to make progress on any of them.
Or I have the goal and the plan, but I don’t make it my north star — what guides my every move. As soon as the plan doesn’t work, I scrap the whole thing, instead of making small adjustments until it starts working.
Why have I struggled to make progress toward my goals?
I wish my difficulty in following through on some of my biggest, most audacious goals was because of a lack of knowledge. That’s a quickly solvable problem.
But it’s taken some tough personal work to realize it had nothing to do with learning or even experience. The challenge lay much deeper within me than that.
You probably know by now that I think a lot about trauma — my own and its prevalence in the world and the lives of people around me. A book I’ve mentioned several times in this newsletter, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving opened my eyes to the way my personal style of entrepreneurship was being fueled by my trauma, not my intentions, desires, or strategy.
You probably know about trauma responses:
Fawn — most people haven’t heard of this one, as it was coined by Pete Walker the author and references the way a child (and eventually an adult) ‘responds to a threat by trying to be pleasing or helpful in order to appease and forestall an attacker.’
As I learned more, I discovered my default setting was a combination of Flight and Fawn — avoidance and people-pleasing — a rather deadly combination when it comes to achieving goals that matter to you.
What I assumed about trauma responses:
They showed up when you felt threatened or scared.
They were literal. If yours was fight, you got angry and violent. If it was flight, you ran away and hid.
That’s not how it worked for me.
It had nothing to do with threatening people or environments. Instead, it was my natural response to people or situations that challenged me, like when I wanted something in my life, but it kicked up feelings of fear or lack of self-worth.
I don’t run away in the literal sense. I don’t avoid people or hide in some dramatic fashion. No, I make myself busy. I find perfectly natural and reasonable reasons why I need to focus on something else.
Throughout this work, I learned that entrepreneurship — for me — became an easy way to avoid facing tough truths about myself and my dreams.
When situations kicked up my fears and self-doubt (anything that mattered deeply to me), I could use my entrepreneurial busyness to avoid (flight) those challenges and instead focus on the wants and needs of others (fawn).
Over the years, entrepreneurship stopped being a way to achieve my dreams and instead became the way I avoided them.
Since reading CPTS: From Surviving to Thriving, and receiving this cognitive slap in the face, my life has been all about paring back so I can focus on fewer things.
Hell, since I read Essentialism by Greg McKeown, my life has been about paring back, getting caught up in doing too much again, and then stripping it back down again.
But this book took it to a whole new level for me. And I know I am not alone in this addiction to busy-ness at the cost of my own health, happiness, and genuine, transformative growth.
And so, I’m realizing that I’ve fallen trap to the same mistakes around goal setting, and more importantly, goal follow-through that I worked so hard to help others correct.
As I go through this process of righting my ship, I thought some of you might be struggling with something similar. So let’s dive into how you set your goals and develop the plan for sticking to them.
How do you decide on your goals?
Now, I am going to assume that you have at least some clarity on what you want out of life. But I realize as I write this, that assumption might be unfair. Next week, I’ll go deep into figuring out what you really want. Yes, I know that’s not the ideal order of operations, but bear with me and together we’ll get you to a point of clarity. Deal?
A few ways I think about goals:
Ends Goals vs. Means to an End Goals. Often we set goals that aren’t really the point. We say, “I want to make $200,000 next year.” But your goal isn’t really about the money. It’s about what the money can provide you. The security, the luxury, the freedom.
So instead of setting rather arbitrary goals like how much money you make, how many followers you have on social media, or how many pounds you’ve lost, set a goal that represents the purpose behind that goal. - I want the freedom to easily make 4 figure purchases without stressing out about it - I want to build a powerful network that brings me fun, lucrative opportunities without trying - I want to feel healthier, fitter, and sexier in my clothes than I ever have before.
OKRs — Objectives and Key Results. I love this goal-setting framework. You set objectives, audacious, inspiring, time-bound things you want to achieve. And key results, the tactical, measurable results you’ll have if you’ve hit that objective.
I want the freedom to easily make 4 figure purchases without stressing out about it
KR #1: $25k in savings
KR #2: 15% of my paycheck automatically going into savings every month
KR #3: Increase my take-home salary by 10%
I want to build a powerful network that brings me fun, lucrative opportunities without trying
KR #1: Build close enough relationships with 10 industry influencers that I can text them and get an answer back within 24 hours
KR #2: Land a speaking gig at a top conference in my industry
I want to feel healthier, fitter, and sexier in my clothes than I ever have before.
KR #1: Workout in the gym 3x/week for the next 6 months
KR #2: Hire a trainer and nutritionist to overhaul my fitness plan
KR #3: Take up one new sport that I stick to
One decision that makes 1000. The idea is to set one or two goals that are big and motivating enough that they quickly help you decide not just what to do, but what NOT to do.
This requires clarity and inspiration. It’s gotta be big enough to make it easier for you to say ‘no’ to the many goals, activities, and projects that are a distraction.
How to set your three year goals
Let’s assume you have a rough idea of where you want to be in three years. But my guess is your list of attributes or accomplishments in your life at that stage will be really long and probably a little complicated. The key is to narrow it down to a few milestones or critical achievements instead of a mess of little things.
I think it’s helpful to have one primary objective for each category in your life:
Here are mine:
Health. My body will have the strength, energy, flexibility, and resilience to sustainably support my life.
Wealth. I have created sustainable financial freedom that allows me to easily invest in experiences that bring joy, excitement, and meaning to my life and the people I love.
Career/Purpose. My work creates a meaningful impact in thousands of businesses and millions of lives through writing and public speaking that inspires and coaching and consulting that educates and empowers.
Relationships. I have a rich network of friends and loved ones where we mutually support and celebrate each other.
Spirituality. I bring inner peace and faith in the power of the universe to everything I do.
Your objectives should be concrete but inspiring. This is where you can get back to that concept of one decision that makes 1000. Yeah, it would be cool to be really strong again, like when I was a powerlifter in my early-30s, but that’s not really my goal. I want to be healthy and fit enough to thrive in my life.
Now it’s time to write out the key results for each one. Basically, your key results are what tell you whether or not you’ve hit your objective. I recommend anywhere from 3-5 for each objective. I won’t list all of mine — since this blog will get loooooong — but I’ll list 1-2 for each to give you an idea.
KR #1: I average 30m of movement every day.
KR #2: I get 8 hours of sleep every night and wake up easily at 6am.
KR #1: I have no credit card debt.
KR #2: I have $50k of savings.
KR #1: I have negotiated a major book deal with a major publishing company.
KR #1: I travel with friends at least 1x per year.
KR #1: I have developed my own spiritual rituals that I practice every day.
Warning: your instinct will be to include things that you feel like you “should” do, instead of things that feel aligned with what feels right for you or is aligned with how you like to live your life. For example, I struggle with meditation. I think I should meditate every day, but I’m realizing I might find a different spiritual ritual that better suits me and my goals.
Now Break Down Your Three Year Goal into Parts
I think you’re getting the picture here. What you want to do next is map out where you need to be in 2 years and 1 year, if that 3 year goal is going to be a reality.
Yes, you want to shoot for big, motivating, and inspiring goals. You will get far more done if you shoot for big audacious motivating goals. But the point is to focus on only 1-2 things at a time.
Yes, you can have it all, just not all at once.
So decide what is going to be most important to you in the coming years. And recognize that you may be able to make big leaps in one area, as long as you’re willing to make only incremental progress in the others.
I know that my primary focus is on my career/purpose and wealth. I’ll keep chipping away at my health, spirituality, and relationships (all of which are pretty okay already), but if I have to choose one over the other, I know which will win out.
Now, it’s time for the quarterly objectives and goals.
If you want to make serious progress toward your three-year goals, what objectives do you need over this quarter?
Here are mine:
Automate My Finances.
KR #1: Automatically deduct a percentage of my paycheck to savings and 401k
Rebuild My Personal Brand System
KR #1: Every week schedule consistent social media content on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
KR #2: Land a TEDx talk
KR #3: Develop a writing practice
Kill It at My New Job
KR #1: 7 new potential sales opportunities
KR#2: Develop a plan to build a demand generation engine
Again, the difference here is that they are specific, measurable, and tied to my long-term vision.
But as I’ve already described, picking the goals is only the first step. Now the key is using these objectives and key results to guide your behavior. This requires regular check-ins and self-reflections.
Some ideas to help keep you on track:
Daily Habits. Break your goals down even further into daily or weekly habits that build momentum
Track Your Habits. Create a weekly habit tracking document to help you recognize when you’re sticking to the plan and when you’re deviating.
Weekly Check-In. Build a questionnaire that you answer every week (Friday afternoons or Sunday evenings?) to check in with your progress, so you can make note of where you’re struggling, where you’re excelling and how to make adjustments to keep going.
Accountability Partner. Reach out to a friend who can hold you accountable. Maybe you text a check in once a week and share what’s working and what isn’t.
Have a Plan. Have a plan for how to adjust if you keep getting stuck. You WILL get stuck. The goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to figure out how to just keep going.
Okay, I know I covered a LOT here. But I’m hoping this helps you narrow your focus and get moving forward. I’ll keep sharing how I’m doing, where I’m getting stuck, and what I’m doing to keep moving forward.
Is there a person in your life that could benefit from this newsletter? Share it with them and help me grow this community!
HGF Episode of the Week:
You’re Thinking About Pricing All Wrong
But not for the reason you think. I’ve learned from my own experience and in working with dozens of Founders that many of us naturally undercharge. Many of us were raised to have all kinds of issues around money.
I was raised to never talk about money and routinely felt that I had to be perfect to feel worthy of money — and I never felt perfect.
If this sounds familiar, give a listen.
This will help you recognize your own limiting beliefs around money and create a practical system to overcome them.
Support a Woman — Support a Founder
Gift yourself, or a friend, colleague, or cofounder, the luxury of delegated self-care.
Growth Tool I Love:
Seriously, this is hands down the most effective tool for helping you improve the conversion rate and UX of your website.
It is my go-to recommendation for anyone wanting to improve the experience people have on their website.
Whether it’s testing headlines, images, layout, or damn near anything else, Hotjar will be your secret weapon.
It screen-records every site visitor’s behavior on your site, letting you watch what they do, and aggregating their movements to create heat maps and click maps. This information helps you realize when no one is making it past your header and you need to make some changes. Or when everyone is clicking an image that is unclickable.
A friend of a friend improved his e-commerce conversion rates by 70% in 2 weeks, just using hotjar.
Plus, you can track 3 pages on your site for free. It’s a no-brainer.
I’m curious — I’m thinking about rebranding this newsletter to focus more on personal growth rather than business growth.
What do you think? Good idea or dumb one?
I’d love your input!
In love and growth,
And please, share this post with your network. Every share helps HGF grow a little bigger to impact more people.