A Simple Hack for Smarter Goals

Famed management consultant and educator Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured gets managed.” American engineer and author W. Edwards Deming once said, “What gets measured get done.” Both of them are correct. Largely because the barrier to entry is so low, and also because “anyone can do it,” many people don’t take online business all that seriously. It only costs you a few bucks to pick up a domain name and some cheap web hosting, and even then, you can literally get started even without your own website if you want.

The initial investment is low, so far too many people place a remarkably low value on their first online business too. They figure that if it fails and fizzles, they’re only out a few bucks and a few hours. No big deal, right? At the same time, they have these grand visions of how their blog is going to blow up, how they’re going to get paid six figures for exclusive speaking engagements, how they’re going to be revered in their niche. And yet they don’t put in the work, and they don’t put in the investment, so they abandon the project and go back to their day jobs… if they ever left them at all.

Perhaps one of the biggest problem that these would-be Internet superstars face is one that they imposed upon themselves. Either they set goals that are too ambitious, so that when they failed to get anywhere close, they were much more apt to throw in the towel and give up. Or worse yet, they didn’t set goals at all and just played it by ear along the way… until they threw in the towel and gave up.

Well, let me let you in on a little secret. And yes, this goes beyond the common piece of advice that you should set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound). When you go about setting your goals, whether professional or personal, look to positive habits that you can develop yourself and that are completely within your control.

The best way to understand this is with a simple example. Let’s say that you want to get started with blogging. That’s great. Despite what so many people might lead you to believe, blogging is just as relevant in 2019 as it was in 2009; you just might have to approach it in a slightly different way with more focus on video and social media, for example. So, that’s great.

You might be tempted to set a goal where you’ll earn X number of dollars in your first year. Or maybe you want to get Y number of unique monthly visitors by the end of your first year. These sound like perfectly reasonable and viable goals to strive for, because they work toward your bigger goal of having the blog provide a full-time income on part-time hours. However, while there are definitely steps you can take toward achieving those goals, they’re also outside of your complete control.

Even if you optimize your ads perfectly, Google could decide to change its AdSense/AdWords algorithms. Even if you chase down as many affiliate marketing and influencer opportunities as you can, those efforts might come up short for any number of reasons. Even if you do all the right things for SEO and content promotion, you might not get your desired traffic numbers. There are always factors outside of your control.

But what if you were to think about it in a completely different way?

What if instead of looking at how many dollars you earn or how many visitors your site gets, what if you were to look at something completely and utterly within your own control? Set a goal of writing and publishing 200 blog posts of at least 500 words each, for instance. That’s entirely up to you. Even if these blog posts don’t get the traffic you’d hope for and they don’t earn as much cash as you would’ve liked, the very practice of writing that much on a consistent basis sets you down a path of positive habits (and better writing). Break it down. If you want 200 posts in a year, that’s four posts a week.

It’s the same with all sorts of other goals and resolutions you might have. Instead of saying that you want to lose X number of pounds, endeavor to visit the gym at least two times a week, every week. Be specific, be measurable, and stick to what YOU can actually do.