Need a little help setting realistic goals for your social media team or agency? In an Agorapulse webinar, goal-setting professionals—Debra Eckerling, Katie Robbert, and Troy Sandidge—shared advice from years of marketing expertise. From that wealth of information, we’ve put together a free goal-setting worksheet PDF just for you.

Types of Goal-Setting Frameworks

If you googled “how to set goals,” you may have found yourself overwhelmed with hundreds of “the best” goal-setting models, theories, and frameworks.

There’s the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) theory, Locke and Latham’s five principles, one-word goal setting, and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), to name just a few.

Each framework has its own tried-and-tested rationale. But there are too many to cover in any great detail for the purpose of this ebook.

The goal-setting framework that most of us will be familiar with, though, is SMART goals. This method requires goals to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The SMART goals framework is probably something we’ve all used–or at least heard of. It’s been around for over 40 years and is still counted as the number-one method for setting goals.

It’s simple but effective.

Hot tip: This article is a good place to start for SMART goals intel.

If you prefer this method, you still may need guidance through the process of setting those goals. Whatever the goal, there are shared commonalities among the frameworks.

For instance, the most important part of goal-setting for Troy Sandidge is “specificity.” That focus can be applied to all goal-setting frameworks.

“Be as specific as possible. The more specific, the better. You can really measure your progress and milestones if you’re specific. If you can’t measure your progress on the way towards your goals, you might lose hope, right?” (Troy Sandidge)

For Deb Eckerling, though, goal setting begins before you even begin to look at which goal-setting framework you want to use to set your goals.

“First, you need to know where you want to go. You want to think about where you are now, but you also want to be thinking about your future. What do you want your bio to say about you in a year, two years, three years, or even five years’ time?

“Once you know where you are and where you want to go, then you can determine your mission.” (Debra Eckerling)

Eckerling is 100% right.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in goal setting is deciding what your main goal, or goals, should be.

Download your free goal-setting worksheet PDF right now!

How to Choose Your Mission or Missions 

“I find direct journaling with a purpose is just so effective. Direct journaling with a purpose is just 15-minute spurts of babbling based on answers to specific questions like: What do you want out of life? Where do you want to be in five years? You know, those types of deep questions.

“Then, get all your thoughts out of your head and onto the page. Do three, four, or five 15-minute sessions where you just get everything out onto paper. But don’t look at it! Not until you’ve emptied your brain. Then, go back and find your common themes. That will help you find your direction and mission.” (Debra Eckerling)

Then decide on your mission (i.e., big rocks or big-time goals). It might be starting a new career, getting promoted at work, or even just maintaining a good work/life balance. Once you have a set mission, then you can start thinking about what specific goals you need to complete the mission.

How to Set Goals to Achieve Your Desired Outcome

“So, you’ve determined your mission. You know broadly what you want and where you want to go. Now, it’s time to research and explore your options.” (Debra Eckerling)

Brainstorming now is required.

Write down everything that relates to your main mission and the intentions that you want to set yourself.

Then split these intentions up into smaller goals that will help you achieve your mission.

“It all goes back to your main mission. How are all of these goals going to support your purpose? A great place to start is by throwing everything out there. Then you can categorize and make sure there’s a nice balance between the easy stuff and the stuff that’s like, ‘Oh, wow! This dream really is possible!’” (Debra Eckerling)

Like Erling, Sandidge suggests taking time at the beginning of your goal-setting journey to work out what you really want.

He also believes you should consider what the repercussions of working towards your goals could be as well. The answer is not always as simple or as straightforward as you might think:

“Too many times, we want to go right into it, and just do all the things that we’ve listed. But we need to think: Are we set up and mentally prepared for what we’re trying to achieve? Am I realistically capable of achieving this goal? What’s required? What are the sacrifices I might have to make? Do I have the time? If not, can I make time? What are the things I haven’t considered?

“You can put your goals onto paper, but what’s the reality?

“We’re often guilty of living in our own world, where what we think vs how it actually is are two very different things. We often don’t want to deal with the reality of it.” (Troy Sandidge)

Why You Need to Be Realistic About Goal-Setting

The usual advice is that we should work towards our goals every single day. But life is not linear. It’s filled with delightful peaks and difficult troughs.

Some weeks, we have the time, space, and mental capacity to take on the world and our goals.

Other weeks? We don’t.

“You can think about your goals every day because I think that’s human. But when you’re setting yourself up for success, you have to look at your life. You might say, ‘15 minutes a day is easy. I can do 15 minutes a day.’ But guess what? Life happens. You’re going to miss a day, maybe two. And if you’re tempted to just tack on that time, 15 minutes on Sunday becomes an hour on Wednesday. But if you didn’t have 15 minutes on Sunday, you don’t have that hour on Wednesday.” (Troy Sandidge)

The consequences of failure are worse than the consequences of simply not having the time or capacity to do something. So, don’t set unrealistic deadlines or put yourself under unnecessary time pressures to complete goals. 

Plan, prioritize, and physically commit to what you can realistically do. Block the time out in your calendar. When that time comes up, DO it!

“At the beginning of the week when you’re prioritizing what needs to be done, pull up your calendar and look at how much time you can realistically commit to the actions you need to take, and only sign yourself up for what you can commit to.” (Debra Eckerling)

Don’t over-commit, over-stretch, or over-promise. If you only have an hour a week, you only have an hour a week.

“Entrepreneurs who are trying to build something new sometimes only have an hour a week to work on their side hustles, passion projects, or the things that could change their life. That’s often all they have, but that’s OK.” (Debra Eckerling)

Ready to set realistic goals for yourself or your social media agency in 2024? Download our FREE ebook right now.

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Set Realistic Goals for Your Business in 2024 [Free Ebook]