I hear a lot of talk about setting goals. I’ve also heard people define a yearly plan for their business with certain goals such as “reaching 5000 email subscribers before the end of the year” or “10% increase of traffic every month” and other such metrics. Setting up such goals is nice and all, but there’s one problem with doing so – you can’t truly control or predict these results.
In other words – no matter how many time I write “10% monthly growth” in a Keynote presentation, I can’t guarantee it’ll happen. Reaching 5000 subscribers isn’t a goal – it’s a milestone.
The way I like to define goals is around results I can accomplish by doing something specific. For example – if I have a goal to release 5 courses this year, or an animated short, or a weekly YouTube show, I can control whether this goal is accomplished or not. If I do it, the goal will be accomplished.
I like to create plans and schedules that revolve around these type of goals, because then I have no one but myself to blame if I can’t accomplish them.
I enjoy a good statistic like everybody else. I love reaching a cool number of subscribers (like when I passed 50k subscribers on YouTube) or a nice amount of monthly uniques, but I can’t set my goal for the year to be “Reaching 100k subscribers” because I can’t really control it.
Reaching a 100k subscribers isn’t a goal, it’s a milestone. It’s great when it happens, but it’s not an accomplishment by itself. It’s a result of other smaller accomplishments, like consistently releasing high-quality content or doing good marketing.
How to plan?
I don’t think these milestones are meaningless. They are extremely important, especially if you’re trying to get a brand to advertise on your site, or if you’re trying to sell your company. You need to have these statistics under watch and make sure they are going up rather than down or plateau.
However, I think that when you get down to creating a plan for the next year (or month or quarter) it’s better to do it project-based rather than milestone-based, and simply make sure that the projects (AKA – goals) are effective at increasing your general analytics (AKA – milestones).