Courtney Elmer, host of The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, talks about specific steps to reach goals more quickly. She also shares the five questions we should ask ourselves before setting any goals.
How would it feel if every time you set a goal, you were crystal clear on the exact steps you needed to take, already outlined in a simple plan that you execute to hit them?
Inside today’s episode, I’m going to show you the shockingly simple steps to hit any goal in life you’ve ever set.
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You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode #23 which is all about the steps to reach goals, goal setting, and goals of life.
One of the common complaints I hear from struggling entrepreneurs after setting a goal for themselves that didn’t go their way goes something like this: “well, I think my expectations were just too high.”
Really what the voice in their head is saying sounds more like this: If… I set too high of expectations then… I won’t hit them which means… I’ll be a failure for not hitting the goals of life.
And what happens? They conclude that because they didn’t hit their goals, their expectations were too high and thus they feel like a failure.
Now is this TRUE? Of course it isn’t, you and I both know that. But have you ever heard this little voice saying this inside of YOUR head? Probably so, am I right? I know I have.
But what if it’s not about setting expectations that are too high.
What if the REAL problem is something else entirely? What if it is my goal setting strategy? What if I’m not following the right steps to reach goals?
Well, we’re gonna unpack all this in the episode ahead, and don’t worry, I’ve got the solution for you.
What’s up my friends! I’m your host Courtney Elmer, Thanks so much for tuning in here with me today. I know your time is valuable, which is why I want you to know how much I appreciate you listening in and that of all the millions of podcasts out there, you’re choosing to spend your time with me. My goal is to always make sure it’s worth your while, and today is no exception.
As I mentioned at the start of this episode, one of the most common mistakes I see struggling entrepreneurs making is choosing to think the reason they didn’t hit their goals is because their expectations were too high or their goal setting strategy was off. Or that they didn’t follow the steps to reach goals.
That’s like saying … We went on a trip across the world to see the Eiffel Tower, but when we got there we stayed in our hotel room because it was raining.
It’s a poor excuse for missing out on an experience you really wanted to have in your life! Whether that’s the experience of hitting a big goal you’ve set, or seeing the Eiffel Tower.
I see this all the time. Someone sets a goal, they miss the mark, and then they decide it was because they had too high of expectations. They think they can’t or lack the steps to reach goals, their goal setting strategy was off, and the goals of life are now down the tube.
Or in other words, they do all that work, travel all that way and miss the goal, then make an excuse to justify why this happened.
And making excuses is one of the primary habits that separate struggling entrepreneurs from successful ones.
Think about it. Has there ever been a time in your life where you wanted something so badly that you did whatever it took to get it, and you succeeded? Like, there was no way on earth you could fail, because you’d already made up your mind that you were going to do whatever it takes to succeed? What goal setting strategy did you use?
You wouldn’t travel all that way to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower just to sit in your hotel room because it's raining, right? No! Even if you didn’t have an umbrella, you’d run down to the hotel gift shop and buy one so you could get out there and do the thing you came here to do. You’d do whatever it takes. Even if it meant going there in the rain and getting wet!
If you can think of just one time where you (or maybe for someone you know who is close to you) did whatever it took to meet the goal like it wasn’t even a question in your mind, then what you’re really saying here is not that you didn’t hit your goal bc your expectations were too high, but because you didn’t want to try and fail, am I right?
So the question then becomes, what separates some goals from others. And why are our expectations higher in some cases than others? Why do we bend over backward and do whatever it takes to meet some goals without fear of failure or worrying about the outcome, while others, we play small and safe and miss the goal, and then find some excuse for missing it? What is the right goal setting strategy? What are the steps to reach goals? How can I really reach the goals of life?
These are questions worth considering. And look, I totally get it. Heck, it seems like no matter how far along I get on my journey as a business owner and CEO that this little voice sometimes comes out of nowhere and says well, “If… I set my expectations too high here, then… chances are I won’t hit my goal. And if I don’t hit it, then this means I’m a failure. If I’m a failure, then I won’t hit my goals in life. But to prevent that from happening, how can I learn the steps to reach goals?
And oof, this one used to get me good. I was so afraid of failing, that I would resist setting goals altogether. And if I did set any goals, I’d set my expectations so low so that it would be such a hard blow to my ego if I didn’t hit the goal I’d set in the first place.
What’s different now though is that whenever this little voice tries to sneak in and trick me, I can see it for what it is.
Plain and simple. I have the tools at hand to simply dismiss it, and move on.
The sad part about all this is that most struggling entrepreneurs don’t see this as a lie. They see it as the truth. It’s literally how things play out for them in their life. It negatively impacts their goal setting strategies so they can’t learn the steps to reach goals.
They conclude that because they didn’t hit their goals, their expectations were too high and thus it means they’re a failure.
Now is this true? Of course it isn’t, you and I both know that. But have you ever heard this little voice saying something along these lines inside of YOUR head? Probably so, right?
Looking at it from the outside in like this, it’s easy to see how someone not hitting their goals can mean any number of things! Not hitting a goal can happen for any number of reasons! It doesn’t automatically mean someone is a failure if they don’t hit their goal, wouldn’t you agree?
But how about when you’re IN the situation yourself?
It’s sometimes hard to FEEL otherwise. We set a big goal, we have high hopes to hit it, and then boom, we miss the goal and feel like a big giant failure. Then there go our goals of life.
There’s even entrepreneurs I know who set a goal, see that they’re going to hit the goal, and that feels too easy, so they set a NEW goal that seems bigger and more out of reach, and then they miss that goal and guess what? They feel like a big giant failure!
Now why someone would do that to themselves I have no idea, to sit here and talk about this logically it makes no sense. Yet have you ever found yourself doing this?
If your answer is yes, then listen up, because there’s something deeper going on under the surface. Maybe it’s your goal setting strategy?
There could be a number of reasons why someone might set a goal that is out of reach for them, either they don’t feel they’re deserving of the goal, or they're afraid of success and therefore on a subconscious level they set themselves up to fail.
It could be because they’ve been told to set goals based on possibility, sort of a “shoot for the moon, you’ll land among the stars” mentality.
But then there’s the reality that if you just opened the doors of your business today and you’ve set a goal to make 7 figures by tomorrow, the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim.
I’m not saying it’s not possible, anything is possible, but the point I’m getting at is sometimes people set goals without really thinking about them first. Then, they attach themselves and their emotions to the outcome of that goal, they don’t hit the goal, and they conclude they didn’t hit it because they must not have what it takes, which means they’re a failure. And so they beat themselves up about it and blame it on their expectations being too high. This prevents hitting goals of life.
Again, it’s an easy excuse. It’s EASY to blame a lack of time, or a lack of know-how, or a lack of experience, or blame other people, or find reasons to blame someone or something else to justify our lack of results.
And if that sounds like a terrible way to run a business, it’s because it IS!
Sadly, this is something I see all too often among struggling entrepreneurs, and then they wonder why they’re struggling! Why they can’t hit that 6-figure mark, or generate revenue consistently, or why customers aren’t buying or why their content doesn’t seem to be resonating with their audience.
A lot of it boils down to personal responsibility and the degree to which they BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES, but that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother episode.
The bottom line is this: what if not hitting your goals is not because you set expectations that are too high.
What if the REAL problem is that you’ve continually lowered the expectations you’ve set? What if it’s the wrong goal setting strategy? How can you learn the steps to reach goals then?
I know this might sound completely counterintuitive. I didn’t lower my expectations, Court, why would I do that? But maybe you did.
Think about it for a second. Would setting a goal and not hitting it cause you to lower your expectations the next time you set the goal? Likely so. You’d likely lower the expectation and the goal, am I right?
I see this happening all the time. You look around at most struggling entrepreneurs and what are they doing? They’re setting goals, missing the goals, and then lowering the goals for the next time and lowering their expectations to meet those goals. The goal setting strategy is diluted then.
It’s like they lose a little belief in themselves every time they set a goal they don’t hit. And that’s a really dangerous place to be. Dangerous for you of course and really dangerous for your business.
Where do you think you’ll be 12 months from now if you keep deciding your expectations were too high and therefore you continue making the mistake of lowering the expectations that you’ve set for yourself? Where do you think your business will be? Would you have had the time to develop the steps to reach goals?
Do you think you’ll be closer to your goals or further away from them? What goal setting strategies will you use? How will you learn the steps to reach goals? How will you reach the goals of life? Let that sink in a minute.
We already know that setting high expectations isn’t the best solution for hitting your goals, right? And setting low expectations (or worse, setting none at all) doesn’t sound like the best approach either, does it?
So what IS the solution?
Well, it might help to first take a look at what an expectation IS: by definition, it’s a strong belief that something will happen or will be the case in the future.
So first things first: we gotta make sure that our expectations -- our beliefs -- are aligned in the direction we wanna go! The key to consistent progress is having clear expectations and goal setting strategies. Not high, not low, but CLEAR.
If you’re telling yourself this story of fear that you’re not going to hit your goal (and if you don’t, this would mean you’re a failure) well that looks a LOT like predicting the future, right?
And guess what happens when you try and predict the future? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why? Because your brain will look for the evidence of whatever story you’re telling yourself.
Let’s say you want to go out and buy a new car. I’ve shared this example before. You know exactly what make and model you want, and you even know the color you want! Now, you don’t have this car yet, but you’ve just got a good feeling that this car is in your future. So what happens next? You wake up the next day and all of a sudden, everywhere you go, you start seeing this exact car. You think to yourself, “Wow, more people drive this car than I realized! I didn’t know there were so many of these on the road!” And the day after that guess what happens? MORE cars like the one you want, that help you validate your decision. “Sheesh this must be a great car! Everyone has them!” And soon enough, the day comes where YOU pull up to your driveway in this exact car. The make and model and even the exact color you wanted. What just happened?
The simplest way to put it: your brain found evidence to validate your decision.
And if this is true in this example, chances are it’s true in other ways too.
How about those times where you mustered up the courage to go live on Facebook or Instagram, and when you did, nobody showed. And you said to yourself afterward, well, never doing that again. No one showed so they must not like me. Or what I have to say just must not be valuable.
We might call this a negative example of this same exact phenomenon at play.
So, can you see by way of these examples that it might be a good idea to start paying attention to your expectations and the story you’re telling yourself that’s attached to them? And more importantly, learn to become aware of the stories you’re telling yourself on an unconscious level because those inform the way your life plays out even more than the stories you ARE telling yourself.
Little side note here: if you want to learn more about how to identify these stories and why they’re so important, and get some practical tools so you can start making sure your stories are in line with the outcomes you want, head over to Episodes 18 + 19 where we take a deep dive into this very thing.
It’s sorta like your Google Maps app. You wouldn’t just get in the car and drive around aimlessly, would you? Well maybe if you had time to kill and nothing better to do, but if you had somewhere you needed to go you’d get in that car and punch in your destination and follow the directions to get there. Getting where you want to go -- hitting your goal -- is no different. You’ve got to make sure you’re punching in the right destination. This has to be the right goal setting strategy.
Because whatever story you’re telling yourself, this is what you will create. Why? Because your brain will look for evidence to validate this story. This is some high-level stuff, I hope this is making sense.
So let’s bring it back full circle to this idea that what if not hitting your goals is not because you set expectations that are too high… but the REAL problem is that you’re continually lowering the expectations you’ve set? For many people, this may happen on an unconscious level. What I mean by this is that you might be doing it and not even realize it.
So here’s one question I want you to ask yourself and answer right now, honestly, to see if you’ve been doing this unknowingly. Here’s the question, you ready?
I want you to ask yourself: How have I lowered goals or expectations for myself, my team, or my clients? Have I changed my goal setting strategy? How can I learn the steps to reach goals?
Be really honest with yourself here. It does you no good to try and fake your answer to this question (or any question, for that matter). My goal here is to help you start seeing things a little differently, maybe from a different perspective than you’ve been seeing them.
How have you lowered your goals or expectations for yourself, your team, or your clients lately? Have you changed your goal setting strategy? Have you been able to meet the goals of life you set for yourself?
Now when goal setting, I don’t attach my emotions to the outcome. And I don’t set goals anymore without a clear plan to hit them. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned along the way is that if you don’t hit the goal, you don’t change the goal. You adjust the plan.
I’ll say this again. When you set goals, whether it be for yourself, for your business… for your relationships, you don’t give up or throw the goal out of the window when you don’t hit it. You adjust the plan. You adjust the goal setting strategy so you can learn the steps to reach goals.
Sorta like if you want to win the Superbowl, you don’t move the in-zone. You adjust the plays. You’re better off setting a goal and NOT hitting it than not setting one at all.
Another thing I see a lot of people doing is lowering their expectations for their team and their clients.
This shows up in a lot of ways. It might look something like making excuses for team members, as in why someone on your team hasn’t completed the work by the required deadline and saying oh, it’s bc they’ve had a lot going on in their personal life, or they just haven’t had enough practice or whatever. Or why your clients aren’t buying. Our audience isn’t converting because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Or because they just don’t get what we do. Or because they’re lazy and they don’t want to watch the webinar. Or whatever!
To make the leap from where you are right now to the successful entrepreneur you want to be, the first step is to start noticing the areas in your life where you’re making excuses. This is a great indicator of where you’ve got the wrong destination punched in and you’re headed down the wrong road. It’s going to be a lot harder to get to where you want to go.
Because what if setting goals was easy? What if every time you set a goal, you knew the exact steps you needed to take, outlined in a clear simple plan that you could execute to get there? And what if you weren’t attached to the outcome? What if you could set goals and not make not hitting them mean anything!! What if you adjusted your goal setting so you could learn the steps to reach goals?
That’d be pretty freeing, right?
Yea, I agree, it would be!
So you’ve got a choice here. You can keep doing what you’re doing, setting your goals, attaching your emotions to the outcome, and blaming your lack of results on the fact that your expectations were just too high… and of course the result of doing this would mean even slower progress and more frustration and disappointment and feeling like a failure than you felt before.
You can learn how to set goals the right way, learn how NOT to attach your emotions to the outcome, and commit to getting really, really good at noticing where in your life you’re making excuses right now for not having the results you want yet… and ask yourself if it could be because you’ve actually lowered your expectations in that area of your life.
I’m not saying not to have hopes and expectations. I’m just saying you better make darn well sure those expectations are aligned to the outcome -- the goal, you actually want. Because remember, your brain will look for evidence of whatever it is that you’re telling yourself.
Isn’t it more important that you focus on what you actually want to create, on the goals you want to hit, instead of wasting your time making predictions about what it’ll mean about you if you don’t?
YES!! I think so.
The key to consistent progress is having clear expectations with a solid goal setting strategy and knowing the steps to reach goals. Not high, not low, but CLEAR. You must separate your expectations from the goal itself. You must know what goals of life you want to achieve.
And you might be asking, ok, sounds good but HOW do I separate my expectations from the goal itself? How do I make sure I’m setting clear expectations? How can I come up with the right goal setting strategy?
Well, I want to leave you with a little something I’ve created for you to help you do this and take what you’re learning here today and put it into action.
It’s a series of 5 questions that you should be asking yourself before setting every single goal you create.
These are the 5 Questions I ask myself before setting any goal, and they help you get really crystal clear on the EXACT steps to take in order to make any goal your reality. This is an effective goal setting strategy.
One of the things that causes most entrepreneurs to struggle when it comes to hitting their goals is that they set the goal, but they fail to create a CLEAR plan in order to attain it. And, they fail to separate their expectations from the goal itself.
So, what these 5 questions will do is help you create that clear plan and come up with the specific steps you need in order to make hitting your goal feel easy and effortless. AND, it will help you make the important distinction between your goal, and your expectation for that goal.
To access this download instantly so you can follow the steps to reach goals, head to courtneyelmer.com/goals and you can download it right there with one click.
I’ll leave you with this. Your goal on it’s own is just a goal. It means nothing about YOU whether you hit it or don’t hit it. Either way, the process of working toward that goal will give you important information for how to run your business, and it will give you important information about what areas of your mindset you need to work on. It will help you create a solid goal setting strategy so you can develop the steps to reach goals. If you don’t believe me, try launching a program or a product and see what emotions come up for you along the way, these are the areas inviting you to pay attention and work through and heal.
The key to remember in everything I’m teaching you today is this: Your expectations should be about you. Not about the goal.
Your expectations should always reflect how you expect yourself to show up in order to achieve that goal. The goal is just the goal. When you start separating your expectations from the goal, you’re going to feel a lot more freedom to hit that goal. And shifting your focus to setting expectations for yourself, how you want to show up, who you’re committed to being as you go about hitting that goal is essential for making the leap from where you are right now to where you want to be. And the 5 questions I’m giving you today will help you do this.
Alrighty guys, that does it for today. I hope you enjoyed this episode on how you can learn the steps to reach goals, goal setting, and the goals of life. I love sitting down at the mic each week to teach you and guide you on your journey to the ultimate freedom, success, and impact you so deeply deserve. Make sure you go to courtneyelmer.com/goals and download your 5 questions that you should be asking yourself before every goal you set, which is my little gift to you today so you can develop an effective goal setting strategy. And look! Print this out, put it in your planner, keep it on your desk, heck put it up on your fridge, keep it close by so it becomes second nature, so it becomes a habit.
We'll see you back here next week on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, until then go live your EffortLESS Life® and implement a goal setting strategy that will help you develop the steps to reach goals that you want to reach.