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Goal Setting for Busy Work at Home Moms
Create Your Own Path
Being a stay at home mom isn't easy. But being a stay at home mom who also works is even more difficult. Work at home moms have to find the time to run their business and take care of the family as well as the home. Being a work at home mom (WAHM) myself, I know how difficult this really is, and maintaining motivation is one of the many reasons new WAHMs fail (or give up) within the first year.
In order to keep myself motivated, I have found it imperative to set and prioritize my goals. When I was in the workforce, it was easy to stay motivated. If you don’t go to work, you don’t get paid, and you’ll probably get fired.
But when you work at home, you set your own hours and there is no one to fire you, and without a boss looking over your shoulder, motivation tends to wax and wane. Setting goals can help get and keep you motivated and they can also:
- Help you balance your business life with your family life.
- Help you understand where you want your business to go, and give you direction.
- Realistic goals will keep you focused on building your business.
- Breaking goals down into manageable steps also creates a step-by-step plan for reaching goals.
Obviously, the first thing to do is decide on what goals you want to achieve and then define them. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. When you’re starting an at-home business, you may not know what your goals are, especially if (like me) you don’t know what your business is going to be, much less how to start it.
Time to Create Change
I only knew that I wanted (and needed) to make money at home. I wasn’t sure what I could do from my computer that would make our family a supplemental income. But after doing some research, I decided on freelance writing, mainly because I enjoyed writing, but also because the pay would be enough to cover some bills and still have money left over for incidentals.
If you don’t know what kind of a business you are going to start, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you just want to make extra money, or do you want the business to become your primary source of income?
- Is it your business, or a family business? (It’s important to make this distinction for both you and the family.)
- Do you want to sell a product? Is it a homemade product, or manufactured?
- Do you want to provide a service (such as freelance writing or photography)?
- What did you do when you were working a regular job? Can you use those skills in such a way that you could turn them into a lucrative business?
The First Step to Setting Your Goals
Once you’ve decided on the type of business you want to start, it’s time to define the long-term goals for that business. In other words, ultimately what do you want your business to accomplish? The answer to that question is your primary goal.
But don’t forget about the rest of your life. You’re not just your business. You’re part of a family, and you have individual interests that you should have time to explore. All of these things are the roles we play each and every day. Think about the roles you play in your life, on a daily basis. To get you started here are some of the roles I used in setting my goals:
- Lover (believe it or not, this is a separate role from wife)
- Business owner
- Teacher (homeschooling)
- Pet caregiver
There are many more, but you get the idea. Write out each of these roles, and define what they mean to you (I used a journal for this part). Once you define your roles, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to accomplish within each role, which will help you more clearly define your goals.
You will also have a better idea of what your values are. Most of us don’t sit down and define our values, but we should. Knowing exactly what your values are and prioritizing them can help you make future decisions that are perfectly in line with what you value the most. You’ll always make the right choice.
Know What You Want
It's important to know exactly what you want. Goals don't work unless you know exactly what it is you want to achieve. It doesn't matter how much you plan or how many deadlines you set, you can't achieve a goal that isn't clearly defined.
For example, a goal that states "I want to have enough money to take a vacation" is more of a statement of what you want. It also sends a message to your brain that "this is what I want, but I have no idea how to get it."
But a goal that states "I have enough money to take my dream vacation to Australia" is a well-defined goal, and it sends a message that "this is what I want, and I'm open to any opportunities that allow me to attain it." Stating the goal in the present tense also helps you visualize having already achieved success, making you more likely to achieve your goal.
Once you've defined and prioritized your goals, it's time to break each goal down into “bite-size” steps. For each goal, you’ll need to decide what steps you need to take and what tasks you need to accomplish to achieve success.
If, for example, your goal is to get your business up and running, you’ll have quite a few tasks to accomplish to make that dream a reality. Write down all of these tasks, and then prioritize them. As you complete each task, you may end up adding more tasks, and that’s okay. That just means you’re making progress!
Prioritizing is a necessary evil. But it's also one of those things just about everyone dislikes doing because it requires making a decision. But, you'll need to prioritize your roles and values as well as your goals. You may hate it, but it's an important step, so don't skip it!
You’ll also want to set a deadline for both your long-term goals and your “bite-size” steps. Make sure you make the completion date realistic, however. There’s nothing worse than setting a deadline for yourself and then not being able to meet it. It will devastate your motivation.
Planning for Success
Another task that many people dislike is making time every day to plan. Daily planning isn’t just about writing a “to do” list. In fact, it’s really not about that at all. It's really about refocusing your mind each morning on the goals you want to achieve. In essence, you're reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish and why.
Daily planning is the act of setting “mini-goals” that you need to reach in order to make progress toward the main achievement. Your “to do” list should be a list of tasks that you need to accomplish in order to eventually reach your goal.
Even busy moms can find time to plan daily. All you need is about 15 minutes which you can find just about anywhere. You can plan:
- During your morning coffee
- While you wait in the drop-off lane at school
- While watching TV after the kids have gone to bed
- During your lunch hour
- Before you go to bed at night
- Whenever you can find 15 minutes of quiet time
Once a week, you should review your daily task lists and see what kind of progress you have made. Hopefully, you’ve checked everything off your to-do list, but if you haven’t you may need to re-evaluate the task because it may not be necessary. If it is necessary, move it to the next week. You should repeat this process monthly as well. It’s a great way to keep you on track and motivated. It also reaffirms the progress you’ve made toward success and can allow you to change your goals or prioritization as you make progress.
Make it a Habit
Lastly, you need to make goal setting a habit. Because your goals will be constantly evolving, you’ll need to stay ahead of them which means you’ll need to evaluate and re-evaluate your goals frequently.
It takes 21 days to create a habit (or so they say). This is where self-discipline comes into play. If you can do this every day for 21 days, you’ll be in the habit of planning daily and that will help keep you motivated, as well as on track to reaching your goals.
If you want to be a successful work-at-home-mom, setting goals is an absolute necessity. It keeps you motivated and focused. It also allows you to decide where you want your business (and your life) to go. It allows you to take back control of your life. That is pure motivation in and of itself.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Mel Flagg COA OSC