In this post and podcast, I’m sharing why I don’t approve of the “annual New Year’s Resolution” model for setting goals/plans for your blog, as well as what I’d suggest people do instead—or at least “in addition to!”
Here’s a secret:
I, Pete McPherson, am a master procrastinator.
Ya know the stories you hear about college students waiting until the day before the exam to start studying?
Nice you meet you!
I ALWAYS wait till the last minute, but I somehow still get stuff done by the due date.
However, it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered this is actually an asset.
Question for you:
Why is it that late December is the best time of year to buy a used car?
Why do companies tend to push themselves harder than ever in Q4 every year?
Why do you seem to get SO much work done the day before you leave for vacation?
Used car dealerships and corporations set annual sales goals—and December brings a mad dash to meet their quotas. When you know you’re leaving on vacation, you work extra hard/smart to make sure you won’t be thinking about work when you should be throwing your kids into swimming pools at Disney World.
People work harder during periods of procrastination—because they have to. Deadlines and short-time frames encourage harder and/or smarter work.
How you can use this for your blog:
That’s the real trick, isn’t it?
Trying to replicate the feeling of “OMG I HAVE to get this stuff work work work,” even though you don’t have an actual deadline.
It turns out, the answer is simple—but still really hard ?
- Use shorter timeframes for your goals
- Set strategic plans on the weekly (or even daily) levels
Step 1 – Cast aside “annualized” thinking for a second…
When folks start blogs, businesses, or any project, it’s almost ALWAYS accompanied by annualized thinking.
Annualized thinking = setting a 2019 goal.
This is why 99.99% of New Year’s resolutions fail—it’s simply too long a time frame to accurately predict what’s going to happen!
You have NO idea where your blog will be 10 months from now. Planning that far out has diminishing returns
Consider a long road trip.
Annualized thinking/planning is like if I decided to drive from Georgia to California—with no maps, GPS, or asking for directions.
I know which way is west from my hometown, and I’d probably make it a few states over—but I’d soon need to course-correct before I get completely lost, eventually getting stranded with no food, eventually resorting to a life of crime on the streets in order to survive.
Here’s a quote from “The 12-Week Year,” the book that spurred this blog post and the 12-Week Blog Plan course. (my affiliate link above)
“At the heart of annualized thinking is an unspoken belief that there is plenty of time in the year to makes things happen. In January, December looks a long way off.”
This is totally true.
We get a tad behind in late January or February, and we’re not worried, because “there’s so much time left!”
Back to the book…
“We mistakenly believe that there is a lot of time left in the year, and we act accordingly. We lack a sense of urgency, not realizing that every week is important, every day is important, every moment is important. Ultimately, effective execution happens daily and weekly!”
So what to do?
Shorten the timeframe for your goals.
Note: I’m saying you should scrap your annual New Year’s resolution or your 2019 goals.
By all means, set a general target for 2019!
Implementing the 12-Week Blog Planner is not a replacement for an annual goal—it’s a supplement.
A necessary supplement if you’re like me.
In fact, an annual goal can help you step back from day-to-day grinds and think objectively and long-term.
That’s a crucial step to 12-week years as well–but it HAS to be coupled with shorter-term planning.
How to create an #actionable blog plan.
Again, we go through this in a step-by-step, interactive format within the 12-Week Blog Planner below—but I did want to leave an overview here.
Here are the 3 steps:
- Define a vision for your blog/biz
- Create 2-4 SMART(ER) goals
- Map out tactics on a weekly (and daily) basis.
1 – Why vision is incredibly important
Simply put, you need to know where you’re going.
You can work 23 hours a day at PEAK efficiency, but if what you work on isn’t aligned with where you want to be in life, it will have been worthless.
A compelling vision = a crystal-clear picture of the future.
It is critical that your business/blog vision aligns with—and enables—your personal vision. This alignment ensures a powerful emotional connection that promotes a sustained commitment, and continual action.
No vision = no emotional connection to stick with the plan.
“If you’re lacking in passion for your business or in a relationship, it’s not a crisis of passion; it’s a crisis of vision.”
Brainstorming and completing the Vision Worksheet is the first step in the 12-Week Blog Planner.
You’ll need a vision for your blog
- 12 weeks from now
- 3 years from now
You need to make dang sure your short-term vision/goals line up with your long-term vision.
Here’s the 12-week DYEB vision:
2 – Why 2-3 goals is optimal for a 12-week year.
The next step is to create a few goals you can aim for 12 weeks from now.
These goals become planning “targets” on which you’ll base your weekly and daily actions.
If you’ve never heard of the “SMARTER” framework for goals, you can read about that here, but I’mma just hit you with what I think is crucial for bloggers:
1 – Make them specific and measurable.
This is the bare mimimum.
“Make more money”
“Get affiliate revenues”
“Grow email list”
THESE ARE NOT GOALS. They are not specific or measurable.
“Make $1,000 gross from the blog via ads and affiliate links, and grow my email list by 75%.”
That’s a bit better.
3 – They should be obtainable within the time frame!
This one’s huge.
Honestly. Realistically. Set 2-3 goals that you CAN legitimately complete in a 12-week timeline.
Why? Because you’re going to be DOING IT.
Goal setting should not JUST be some inspirational-motivational-super “it’d be great but it’ll never happen” sort of process.
You’re going to be hitting these goals, and if you do, you should have been working to your vision.
4 – But still a tad lofty 🙂
My friend Jenny from Good Life, Better once referred to them as “stretch” goals. I like that term.
Targeted goals should make you a tad uncomfortable.
There is a proper balance of “I can do this” mixed with “Wow—what I’m currently doing won’t hit that goal, so how can I hit it?”
5 – They should align with your vision.
You might even just change the way you’ve phrased your vision—to be specific and measurable goals.
Here’s my goals for DYEB 12 weeks out:
6 – Each of these 12-week goals becomes a planning target for which you need to write tactics.
The overall 12-week goals are then broken out into weekly goals and corresponding #actionable tactics.
That’s up next 🙂
3 – Identify the actions that MATTER
Using your blogging vision and the goals—this is where we’ll set a strategic, weekly plan of action—that if completed, will move you to your goals.
Important: What makes a good tactic?
1 – Your tactics should start with a verb and be a complete sentence.
“Email 3 people this week with a guest post pitch.”
“Write 1 blog post and publish, and write 1 blog post draft to get ahead.”
“Create automation workflow “shell” in Drip, start-to-finish.”
2 – Your tasks should be “executable in the week they are due to be delivered.”
I.e. If your task can’t be completed in one week, it’s too long. Break it up into smaller chunks.
How do I create weekly plans?
- You could take your big 12-week plans and break them into 12 chunks (hard)
- You could brainstorm—then organize—your tactics into weeks, and THEN make weekly goals (what I have to do).
For me personally, I have to start with the overarching goals (the 12-week ones), then create tactics, then create weekly goals in the process of organizing the tasks.
Here’s a step-by-step to your weekly plan.
Step 1 – For each goal, brainstorm ALL actions that are required to hit your goals
What do you need to work on to hit your goals?
Braindump everything on a sheet of paper or spreadsheet.
Step 2 – Identify the high-priority and high-leverage tasks
Not all activities will move you towards your goals equally.
- Checking email
- Scheduling social media posts
- Fixing broken backlinks
- Writing and perfecting SEO content
Which of those are more important for hitting my SEO goals?
- Finding new productivity apps
- Going through a new blogging course
- Recording and editing podcast episodes
- Setting up my advanced email funnel
Which of those are more important for hitting my monthly recurring revenue goals via my funnel?
Which actions will have the greatest impact?
Step 3 – Map out high-priority tactics by week
This is the hard part. The time-consuming part.
Map out every week for 12 weeks using high-leverage tasks.
In the 12-Week Blog Planner, we complete a worksheet containing this weekly breakdown—and send you the results—but it’s also crucial to keep some sort of spreadsheet/document.
See below for why.
Keep score & Keep track = stay committed.
There’s one more obvious reason why people fail on their blogging and/or life goals = a lack of commitment.
“It’s one thing to define new actions that will lead to higher results, it’s another thing to consistently do them.”
Entire books and classes attempt to cover this subject.
However, for the 12-week blog plan, there are 3 slices that help make up your commitment pie:
- An emotional connection to the outcome of your work—or non-work—i.e. a proper vision
- Effective tracking & “reminding” at weekly intervals
- Effective measurement—i.e. scorekeeping! Woot!
To-do 1 – Have a weekly recurring meeting—with yourself.
I’m running mine every Monday directly after my mastermind call.
In this meeting you’ll
- Score the previous week (see below)
- Plan out the current week in greater detail
- Refresh yourself on your long-term vision and goals.
To-do 2 – Keep score on your progress!
This is the magic bullet for the 12-week year—literally assigning yourself a percentage-based SCORE for every single week, based on how effectively you completed your tactics.
Every single week (that’s important), you’ll calculate the percentage of tactics you fully completed. I.e. the number of tactics you did, divided by the number of total tactics.
That’s your score
Aim for 80% or greater, and aim for improvement.
The idea behind this:
If you’ve done the homework starting from the vision, the goals–then determined the highly-leveraged actions to take to accomplish your goals—the ONLY step left is execution.
So what if you execute—and you don’t hit your goals?
Measurement is the ONLY way to properly diagnose a lack of results and figure out whether it was your plan that was flawed or your execution.
Tactic scoring example:
If you had 4 tactics in week 1, and you completed (and I mean completely completed) 3 out of the 4, your score for the week is 75%.
Insanely important note: If you score less than 100%, you have NOT failed! You should aim to score around 80% and above. If you were to correctly plan, then execute 80% of the identified tactics, chances are high that you have realized a lot of your goals/vision!
The problem is doing the work 😉
Want to create your blog plan together? Introducing the 12-Week Blog Planner.
Using the lessons taught in The 12-Week Year, I’ve assembled an interactive email course to walks you through creating a blog plan.
- 4 email lessons
- 3 worksheets
- Optional: Get weekly reminders during your 12-week year! ?️
It’s free for now, but will be paid once I spend the time to double-back and make it even more valuable via personalization.