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How to set (and achieve) C.L.E.A.R goals

Spinning your wheels to achieve your goals? Try setting C.L.E.A.R goals that motivate you to take action.

Woman setting clear goals at work
Ready to achieve your dreams? Aim high with C.L.E.A.R goals!

Do you wonder why some people seem to constantly be able to achieve bigger and better goals for their business while others, no matter how hard they try, are left spinning their wheels? The wheel spinners, as I’ll empathetically refer to them, create goals. The achievers, on the other hand, create C.L.E.A.R goals. What’s the difference you ask? Great question! Stick with me—we’ll get there.

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How I failed at being an independent

Shortly after my 24th birthday, I got hired by a “respectable company” for a “grown-up job”. Shortly after that, I realized that I’m allergic to the nine-to-five lifestyle. I started a blog that I thought might make me rich somehow. (Spoiler alert: it did not.) Then, I got pregnant and quit my nine-to-five for a while, started another blog and a bakery “business” that never made it past a few farmer’s markets. Plot twist: I had to get another nine-to-five desk job. This made me feel like an epic failure, so I channeled my energy into yet another creative side project. “Bow and Arrow Art” was the hand-lettered card company that I really wanted to take off, but never quite did, which led to a pit stop in the world of multi-level marketing and yep, you guessed it, another nine-to-five.

With each of these endeavors came list-making and goal-setting but I never succeeded in any of them because I was lacking one very important thing: clarity. 

Why is clarity so important?

I knew that I wanted to escape the rat race, but I always seemed to have one foot in and one foot out. I needed clarity and I needed it badly. By realizing that I needed to create a clear vision, I took the first (and arguably the most important) step to achieving my wildest dreams.  

See, once I quit wasting time debating if I should follow my heart or stick with the “practical job,” I freed up a ton of energy to just do the dang thing. I stopped wasting hours scanning the craigslist “help wanted” section, or trying to copy other people’s success, and found my FOCUS. 

I discovered that what I really wanted, deep down in my core, was to grow my family through adoption. In order to make that a reality, I was going to have to find a way to come up with $30,000. No big deal, right?  

Right. Here’s the thing: Once I KNEW what I wanted to do, I narrowed my focus to that one thing—and then I did it. That’s a quintessential factor in setting C.L.E.A.R goals: an emotional motivator. Turns out it actually is kind of that simple. Pretty cool, huh?

Go from unfocused to independent business owner

If you have a tendency to play it safe and set vague goals like “start a side business” or “save extra money this year,” you are certainly not alone. But I’m here to tell you, if you can start setting C.L.E.A.R goals, you will see eye-opening results. I started Ten Thousand Cookies, my bakery business, with the dream of financing an adoption and was able to sell 10,000 cookies in less than 18 months. Once I set a crystal clear (and somewhat outrageous) goal, I was able to reach it much faster than I ever imagined.

The #1 factor I credit for this success: My laser focus on one thing (growing my family). I knew I needed to go big to make it happen, and I knew it was worth some discomfort along the way. So I set BIG clear goals and I didn’t waste too much time worrying about what would happen if I failed. I just found a way. 

It may have taken me a decade of trial and error to finally nail this down, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be the same for you.   

How to Set C.L.E.A.R Goals to Manifest Your Dream Business

I’m a sucker for a good acronym. When you are creating a vision and setting goals, make sure that they are C.L.E.A.R:

  • Creative: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. This is YOUR vision! Get creative!
  • Large (and in charge):  The sky’s the limit here, people. Think BIG! Great goals are both scary AND exciting.
  • Emotional: Alright, you’ve set your goal. Now how do you feel?  Are you excited? Motivated? Inspired? Take note of those feelings.
  • Analytical: How will you measure the success of your goal? Remember, the best goals are specific, measurable, and achievable. Set a date on the calendar and establish a trackable outcome.
  • Relevant: Why are you choosing this particular goal? How does it fit into your life? Does it align with other goals you may have?

Now let’s take a look at this in the context of the wheel spinners and the achievers as they are setting their goals. Remember them?   

Wheel spinner versus achiever mentality

A wheel spinner sets a goal that looks like this: “Start a side business to make money.” It’s a nice goal, generally speaking, but it’s vague, lacks specificity and creativity, and does not trigger an emotional response. It also isn’t measurable or trackable, making it less likely to actually happen.  

An achiever, on the other hand, sets a goal that looks like this: “I will sell 10,000 cookies to save at least $30,000 so that my family can adopt a child.”  This goal is very specific, creative (cookies – hello!), large ($30,000 – oh baby), establishes an emotional connection (adoption is exciting, terrifying, motivating, and powerful), is measurable (10,000 cookies and $30,000 respectively), and is completely relevant to other life goals. Do you see what a difference a little clarity can make?

How to create a vision

Okay, now that we’re clear (see what I did there? 😉), let’s talk about steps that you can take to find clarity and create a vision that makes you super excited and motivated to get to work on your business.  

  • Any good goal-setting session starts with a brain dump. Set a 5-minute timer and write down everything that comes to your head. No judgment here. The possibilities are endless. Write with reckless abandon. The sky’s the limit.  
  • Circle 1–3 of your ideas that get you the MOST excited. Use your favorite colored pen here to really make things exciting.  
  • Start editing your goals using the C.L.E.A.R goals method. Is your vision Creative or has it been done before? Are you playing it safe or are you ready to embrace Large goals? Does your goal invoke a positive Emotional response? How will you Analyze and measure your success? Is your goal Relevant to the rest of your life and goals?
  • Take some time and sit with it for a bit. Read your goal out loud. Close your eyes. Repeat your goal out loud. How does it make you feel?

Are you excited? Motivated? Ready to totally go for it?

Yes! Congrats! You’re on your way to achieving your wildest dreams and creating the life you’ve always imagined.  

Your vision is officially C.L.E.A.R. Now let’s break it down and identify action steps that you can take to turn your vision into reality. As you work through this, jot down notes in this helpful clarity workbook to keep you organized and stay focused. By breaking your large goal down into smaller, more manageable goals, you will make your BIG vision less daunting and more attainable. Take one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be at the top of the stairs throwing your arms in the air in celebration à la Rocky Balboa. It’s the eye of the tiger, baby!

How to make C.L.E.A.R goals for next year

As 2022 comes to a close and you look forward to the new year ahead, think about what you really want to achieve in 2023. What gets you excited? What do you feel pulled toward? Identify what speaks to your soul. Name it and go after it. Do the dang thing! 

Pro Tip: If your New Year’s resolution is to work on your organizational skills, be sure to check out Honeybook, the ideal platform for small business owners who want to get organized and stay organized. I use Honeybook to keep track of all of my projects, manage my task lists, and mark deadlines on my calendar for all of my big, huge, outrageously awesome goals and you can too. Honeybook allows you to keep everything in one place and avoid the overwhelm that you may feel as you work to totally crush your new, C.L.E.A.R goals.

That’s a wrap! You’re officially ready to put those C.L.E.A.R goals to work!  Write your vision down and put it in a place where you can see it every day.  Tape it to your bathroom mirror.  Make it the background on your phone.  Set an alarm for the same time every day that reminds you what you’re working toward.  Let yourself visually see it while you work up the courage to get started.  Remember, your thoughts become your actions and your actions become insanely good results.  You can do this. You can do big things. I’m rooting for you! Happy New Year!

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