#021: How to Set Goals and Create a Plan for the New Year

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On this episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast, the focus is how to streamline the planning phase of your business so that you get all your goals set so that you’ll be ready for the New Year. If you do so, you can hit the ground running and get your year off to a great start!

As I was planning this episode, I started to wonder how other people — specifically the people I admire who are getting big results in their online marketing businesses — actually get things done and how they plan and set their goals. Instead of just wonder, I reached out and asked them! Specifically, I asked Michael Hyatt, Pat Flynn, Melanie Duncan, Chris Ducker and Michael Stelzner how they plan for the New Year.

Take the Time to Focus on Your Business

During this episode, I want you to take this time to really focus on your business. My hope for you is that you actually take these tips and strategies and put them to action right away.

Goal Setting Tip #1: Get Very Specific

Hot tip

Before I get into the specifics of getting very specific, I want you to do a quick exercise.

First, grab a piece of paper and fold it in half.

What Worked in Your Business?

On one half of the paper, write what was great or what worked well for you this year. What got you excited? What did you love doing? What did your customers love? What made you money?

Get really clear on what worked, what didn’t, and what you really enjoyed. This is important because the emotions behind the work you do play a big part in your success.

Before you even you even think about writing down goals for new things you want to do, first focus on enhancing, improving, and optimizing what already worked for you this year.

What I personally realized when I did this exercise is that I need to focus more on what is already working. For example, I already have three successful programs, so instead of creating more programs, I’m going to focus on making the programs I already have even better.

What Didn’t Work in Your Business?

On the other half of the paper, write what needs to improve or what didn’t work. What were the failures? (We all have them!) What frustrated you or stopped you from moving forward? What should you stop doing?

It can be just as important to think about what you need to stop doing as it is to plan for what you want to accomplish.

As an example, I plan to travel and speak less in 2014 than I did in 2013, because I ended up being away from my family more than I wanted to this year and also found it hard to accomplish some of my more important goals since I was on the go so much.

Set Your Goals

Once you’ve done the above exercise, it’s time to set your goals!

Here’s an important goal-setting tip for you: fit all of your goals onto one page. If you write pages and pages of goals, you’ll be overwhelmed, and you won’t likely focus on all of them anyway, so keep your goals simple and concise.

Here’s what to include on one-page goal setting sheet

1. Revenue projections Profits

The first thing on my list is all of my revenue projects, specifically how much money I’m going to make, and where that money is coming from.

While it may seem like revenue shouldn’t be the top goal, my good friend, Stu McLaren helped change my perspective on making money. He says, “Money is a leverage tool for impacting more lives than we could ever reach on a personal level.” I love that, because not only is it important to make money to provide for my own family, this perspective gives me a higher purpose for making money.

Since this is a top priority for a business, it’s important to not only list how much money you plan to make, but to also project how you plan to accomplish that goal.

As an example, for myself personally, I’ve planned out income funnels such as what I’ll make through my programs, through affiliate partnerships, etc. and I have funnels set up inside of Infusionsoft that sends information about my programs in a strategic way to the people on my email list. Being strategic in this way helps me know how most of my income will be generated.

If your business is newer, you may not be able to project the source of your income as well. I couldn’t have done it myself two years ago. But at the very least you can set some revenue goals for different programs, products and services you have.

2. Contributions Give

In addition to setting revenue goals, it’s important to set goals for the contributions you want to make. For instance, you may set a goal to contribute a certain amount to charity. That’s something I was able to do in a big way for the first time this year. It felt really good to do it and I definitely want to do it in an even bigger way next year.

Another way I want to contribute is to connect more with my customers, prospects, past customers, and peers — people that I connect with on a regular basis but don’t typically see in real life.

So one thing my team is doing is starting a thank-you card a day campaign. We’re also going to be focused on doing things to wow our customers in unexpected ways. For instance, we may send flowers, or I may on occasion pick up the phone and call someone.

And of course I plan to give a lot in terms of the free content I put out on a regular basis.

So be sure to take the time to think about contributions you want to make, whether that be in a financial sense, or through giving in other ways.

3. My Special Focus number 1

It’s easy to run so many different directions in your business that you fail to accomplish the most important things. Because of this, I actually put, “Podcast Perfection” on my one-page goal sheet.

The reason I chose this is because I’ve completed a full year of podcasting and I LOVE it, but I haven’t focused on it as much as I’d like, so I’m going to make it a big focus in the New Year.

Having a separate section for my podcast on my goal planning sheet helps me to focus on planning goals that are specific to my podcast and figuring out how I’m going to reach those goals.

So think about the big area you want to focus on it and include a section on your goal planning sheet for that specific thing.

4. Focused Foundation Strategies focus

This is where I’m most specific. For instance, one thing on the Focused Foundation Strategies section of my goal planning sheet is to send out an email to my list every Thursday, and I’ve even blocked out time on my calendar for writing all of the emails for each month.

I’ve also planned out the rest of my content, including everything from blog posts to program updates in a similar way, again blocking out time on my calendar to make sure it happens.

Now here’s a goal planning tip from one of our special guests, Pat Flynn

patflynn (2)

Write it down, break it down, take it down.

Pat’s goal planning tip consists of three simple sentences:

1. Write it down.

Write down your goals. When you write them down, your goals become clearer and you have something specific to work toward. In addition to this, when you write your goals down, you have something you can visibly see.

2. Break it down.

Take each big goal you’ve written down and break them into mini-goals. Big goals can be intimidating which leads to procrastination. But when you break them into mini-goals, they are much easier to accomplish.

3. Take it down.

Take those mini-goals you’ve written and crush them. Take them down, one by one!

Goal Setting Tip #2: Stack Your Goals

Hot tip

What I mean by stacking your goals is to create your big picture goals and then create a stack of mini goals that will get you to your big goals.

What I need to do from there, there’s a little bit more work that needs to be done, I need to stack my goals, make those mini-goals so they’ll lead up to the big goals.

For example, if I have a big goal of growing my email list by 50,000 in a year, I need to have some mini-goals such as webinars for list building to reach that goal.

I have some more help with this tip, because the idea of these mini goals seem to be a hot topic with my special guests.

Now a goal-planning tip from another one of my special guests, Chris Ducker.

Chris Ducker

Focus on one goal at a time.

Chris’ tip is shared in story form and is all about his own experience as someone who went from working 12-14 hours per day in 2009 to becoming a virtual CEO. He did this through focusing on one big thing that he wanted to let go of at a time, with a different focus each month

For instance, the in January 2010, he focused on getting his email under control, and handled by someone other than himself. In February he started hiring people to replace himself in various areas. In March he worked on getting himself off the training floor, and so on.

In his own words, Chris states, “My tip here, really, above and beyond everything else is to set that big goal up for the whole year. What it is, it doesn’t really matter. It could be starting a new business, it could be launching a speaking career, it could be producing a new product for a new service for your following online. It doesn’t really matter.

But create that one big goal and start breaking it down into mini-goals that you then achieve on a regular basis as the year goes by. It will make you feel good, it will make you feel as if you’re achieving something every month, every quarter, whatever the case may be, and ultimately you should go ahead and achieve that main goal over the year as well.”

While Chris didn’t use the word, “stacking,” he’s definitely a fan of the stacking effect where you stack mini-goals to reach the big picture goal.

You might want to try coming up with one epic goal for the year and then creating 12 mini-goals to reach the big goal, and focus on one of the smaller goals each month.

Bonus Tip: Be Very Protective of Your Time!

I want you to get very deliberate on how you spend your time. Everyone I know that’s highly successful, including all of these special guests I have on the show today, are very deliberate about how they spend their time. I can promise you that many of them say no more often than they say “yes.”

Being protective of your time will help you reach the big scary goals you’ve set.

My next guest, Melanie Duncan provides great insight on the topic of setting big scary goals, and the three types of goals everyone should set.

melanie image

Melanie starts off by stating that most goal setting books and audios will tell you to set super ambitious goals, and the problem with that is that when you wake up the next morning and look at them, it’s very intimidating.

Because of this, it’s better to set smaller goals and you’ll feel motivated to tackle them. Melanie has learned that when she accomplishes the smaller goals, she feels fantastic and motivated to then tackle bigger things.

A mutual friend of both me and Melanie, James Wedmore says you should set a goal that you’ll hit no matter what, a more challenging, but very doable goal, and a “hairy scary” goal that is way out there. You’re bound to accomplish at least one of the goals, and feel good about it, even if you don’t manage to accomplish the most difficult one.

An important thing that Melanie touched on is the emotions behind the goal. You have to consider how your goals make you feel, because your emotions impact your ability to accomplish the goal.

One thing I personally love doing is picking a word or theme for the year. Mari Smith does this every year. This year, instead of picking a single word, I picked a phrase, “Work less, contribute more.” This is actually a goal of my entire team. We’re going to accomplish this by working smarter and more efficiently.

Speaking of a word or a theme for the new year, Mike Stelzner and his personal planning tip for this episode, takes this to a new level.


His tip has to do with coming up with a company vision statement. Your vision statement can include things that aren’t yet true, but that you are working toward. That was the case for Mike’s company, Social Media Examiner, when they wrote the vision statement a year ago, but today, he can say with confidence that they’ve grown into their vision statement.

Mike has the vision statement taped on the wall in his office, so he sees it every time he sits at his desk. He advises that you keep your vision statement simple and just a couple of sentences long.

I love the way that Mike created a vision statement that pushed him beyond his comfort zone.

Since we’re on the topic of comfort zone, I thought I would end this episode with Michael Hyatt’s strategy for goal setting and his thoughts about moving out of your comfort zone.


This one will really push you in ways that will make you uncomfortable, but will set you up to win. Michael states that you should set your goals outside of your comfort zone because that is where real growth begins, where solutions are, and where fulfillment resides.

The trick is to make sure your goals are set high enough, but not too high. Michael suggests taking note of these three indicators to help you know that you’re on the right track:

1. Uncertainty. It’s good to be a little uncertain about how you’re going to accomplish the goal. Embrace that uncertainty, rather than running fromit.

2. Fear. Most people avoid fear, and that was the case for Michael as well for a great deal of his life. But fear is an indicator that you’re getting close, and let’s you know you’re heading in the right direction.

3. A sense of inadequacy. In most cases when Michael pursues a goal that he just knows he has to achieve, he feels inadequate. This is going to be the case for anyone who is out to accomplish anything of significance.

After hearing Michael’s tip, I actually had to rework some of my goals because I was playing it a little too safe.

Thank you!

A big thank you to all of my special guests for contributing to this episode. This episode just wouldn’t have been the same without him, so big shout out to all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to send in your goal setting and planning tips.

My Gift to You

The number one thing that I want to accomplish through this podcast episode is for you to be motivated to take action and set goals for the coming year. To help with this, I created a Goal Planning Worksheet just for you. Click here to download the worksheet!

Items mentioned in this episode

Smart Passive Income
Social Media Examiner
FB Ads Insider
Social Media Marketing World

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Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield

Holy Cow!  That was a massive amount of info, but all of it’s so very valuable to your planning and goal setting success.  Right now, take just a minute and let me know below what’s the FIRST thing you are going to do to get some momentum for planning for 2014.  I’d love to know!

  • http://www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/ Heidi Thompson

    This was a great podcast (as always) Amy! Thanks so much for all of this great information :)

  • http://nitishdhiman.com/ Nitish Dhiman

    Awesome podcast show Amy !!

  • Paul Godines

    Great article at a great time thanks Amy

  • Marie-Janine Saris

    Thank you Amy & all! The very FIRST thing I am going to do to get some momentum for planning for 2014 is to set 1 BIG Goal and break it up into 12 small goals and schedule time for them each month in order to accomplish them.

  • Jaime Larsen

    Fantastic information and motivation! Thanks for sharing these great tips Amy!

  • Amy

    You’re very welcome, Jaime! So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  • Amy

    Marie-Janine, good for you for taking action! Can’t wait to hear how this works for you!

  • Amy

    Paul, glad to hear you enjoyed it and that the timing was good for you!

  • Amy

    Thanks, Nitish! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  • Amy

    You’re very welcome, Heidi! So glad to hear that you enjoy the podcast!

  • Teo Nordin

    Great article on goal creation.. It is really important to write down goals because that way each day becomes much more important and also it helps us keep track of how much have we achieved. There is a website called linkagoal. What this website does is that it helps every user write his/her goals down and gives it a timeline, user’s can help each other in achieving their goals. You should check it out.

  • Ali Manning

    Loved this podcast – I listened to it twice and took lots of notes. Glad to hear you’ll be doing more podcasts next year – I’ve found them really valuable – thank you for all you do, Amy!

  • http://corp.wishpond.com/ James @ Wishpond

    Amy, load of great ideas and inspirations. I think the most important for me in the coming year is MIchael Hyatt’s point – if you’re not diving into the deep end you’re not really swimming, just having a paddle. I think this is more important in our field, online marketing, than it is in any other. So much of what we do is made up of brand new strategies. If you rely on the tried and true tactics, you’ll only get so far. Jump into the deep-end (for me, that’d be analytics) and you make real progress.

  • http://www.chrisducker.com/ Chris Ducker

    Hi Amy

    Thanks again for asking me to be part of this great episode!

    It was a pleasure to contribute.


  • propidadrakesh

    very nice blogFantastic information and motivation! Thanks for sharing these great tips Amy!Search Engine Optimization

  • OlgaMoriarty

    Hi Amy, I’ve listened to this episode twice already – so much great content. Thank you! A detail question to follow up – how do you actually block off time in your schedule for your project work? You mentioned using your VA to help block of time in your calendar, and I’d like to know what type of calendar you use to stay on track. I love systems and could benefit from using something other than my google calendar and my daily planner. Thoughts?

  • Mary Speegle

    Amy thanks for the great content! I too have listened to the podcast a couple of times. I was about to listen again before I checked your podcast notes and they are stellar. Its incredible that you included the worksheet too. Many thanks for this generous content!
    Mary Speegle

  • http://tutorialgirl.com/ Melanie Richards

    Great podcast Amy! I to spent 2013 working way to much. My main goal for 2014 is scheduling and blocking my time around my quarterly milestones so I know I’m making progress on those important project goals and don’t feel like I’m not getting enough done. First goal this year is to launch http://tutorialgirl.com for the 1st of January! Will be implementing loads of valuable tips you’ve shared. Watch for it! Thanks for creating such awesome content!

  • Paul Potter

    Amy great podcast again! I always look forward to yours. Your emphasis on your business goals helped me to make a distinction from my personal goals. The tips and inspiration from your guests was outstanding. Thanks for the worksheets too.

  • http://JourneyvsDestination.com/ James Broderick

    Great post, Amy! Tons of information. So much, actually, I had to visit the show
    notes because I couldn’t keep up with the podcast in my car.

    One thing I’ve picked up, and didn’t hear mentioned, is the importance of
    reviewing your goals—every single day—first thing in the morning. This can mean the difference between staying focused and on top of your game or getting distracted and falling behind.

    It’s important you feel the same excitement you felt the day you had first written your goals. Not only will it get you pumped, it’s easier to stay intentional throughout the day.

    Hope this helps!

    Happy holidays,

  • Floyd Rudolph

    Thanks Amy. Since May 2013 I have been in a daily momentum of listening to podcasts and webinars. The first focus for 2014 is to step out of my comfort zone.

  • http://www.WomanInLeadership.com/ Stacie Walker

    Great info, Amy. Loving your episodes more and more. Your podcast is evolving in such an amazing way. Let’s make sure 2014 starts off with a BANG!

    To Your Success,
    Stacie Walker
    Woman in Leadership Founder

  • http://www.entrepreneuronfire.com/ Kate Erickson

    To Amy, and everyone else who gave such GREAT advice on setting goals, thank you so much! I’ve been meaning to sit down and map all of this out; after listening to this episode, I’m confident I can do it right. Thanks!

  • http://www.entrepreneuronfire.com/ Kate Erickson

    Loved your advice, Chris! Thanks for telling your story – I thought that was a really cool way to actually show how you’ve practiced what you preach :)

  • Heru Prasetyono

    Setting goals and make a plan is really important for improving our business.
    Without vivit goals and certain plan we can not focus on our business well.
    Our business will keep on running but will not be success without goal setting.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.top-soccer.com/ Rick

    Great tips Guys!

    I’ve been constantly reminded by you guys and other authority influencers
    around the web how important it is to write down your goals and I’ve finally
    done so. I’ve even gone a bit further taken a picture of my written and save it
    as a background image on both my phone and computer.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.DevaniFreeman.com/ Devani Freeman

    Awesome tips Amy! Thanks for putting this together!

  • http://www.DevaniFreeman.com/ Devani Freeman

    Amy has mentioned in previous posts that she uses her Google Calendar. Not sure if that helps?

  • http://www.showyourexpertise.com Carl Friesen

    Hey, I know all this stuff … so why didn’t I do it last year? I set some priorities at the start of the year and then scarcely looked at for the next 12 months. Maybe you too? My resolution for this year — in each of my Monday morning task-setting sessions, I’ll pull out my one-page plan and then be sure that each of my week’s tasks pushes one of those goals ahead. If it doesn’t, as Amy says, say “no.”

  • Beth Hood

    I really appreciated your article, it inspired me to complete my Goal Planning worksheet immediately and now I have it hanging next to my desk. I especially liked the reminder to declare my contributions for 2014 as that was something I had in my head but hadn’t worked into my goals yet. Thank you!

  • http://www.carolinefrenette.com/ Intuitive Leadership Coach

    Thank you for this jam-packed podcast!

    This year for me is about allowing my creativity to be the driving force behind everything I do so planning the nitty gritty details will not be part of my plan.

    Instead, I’m drafting a flexible overview of what I’d like to see come to life for me & for my business in 2014 and I will allow myself to be playful as to how it will all manifest.

  • md.omarfaruque,raja


  • simplemsolution

    Thank you very much for all the fabulous information. I found this podcast at the most perfect time. I started my business this year and am completely with everything I need to do.

  • http://aliciavaz.com/ Alicia Vaz

    Writing down my BIG goals and their respective mini goals right now. I think it is an awesome ideas. Seeing is believing I think in this instance. Thanks Amy.

  • http://www.TheArtofDiscipline.com/ Craig Desmarais

    This was just what I needed to here when I needed to hear it. Thanks for the practical and inspiration wisdom you always share! Now time to get to work. :)

  • Laura

    Amy, this was epic and timely! thanks so much for sharing the valuable
    information. I had a quick question. What kind of tools do you use to
    organize and plan your goals? Are you using a spreadsheet, calendar, or
    software etc? Thanks again, Laura

  • Eliane Sainte-Marie

    OMG, I just got so excited hearing you talk about being able to donate lot of money to a cause you believe in! I’ve always had a dream of working with teens but couldn’t figure how I could do that because I don’t see the parents of the teens I want to work with paying me for my service. But I can now see that I could fund a teens program as a charity. I’m so excited!!! Thank you Amy, I always get so much inspiration from your talks.

  • http://www.epiconpurpose.com/ Joe_Beckman1

    Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella? Fo’ drizzle!

    First thing that I’m going to do is download the Goal Planning Worksheet and get crackin’ at that. Thanks for creating and sharing that. I’m going to work on the “things that I hate” part and make sure that I’m not saying “yes” to those projects. Easier said then done, but having it on paper will definitely help! Thanks again!