Do you want to create an annual plan for your business, but you’re just not sure where to start? Or maybe you know you need to set some goals, but you don’t want to end up forgetting about them a few weeks later?

Today I’m walking you through a 4 step framework that will help you create goals and plans that you’re much more likely to follow through on.

Esther Littlefield sitting at table with computer and podcast mic

This episode was sponsored by my UpLIFT Mentormind program for Christian women who are looking to thrive in their business, streamline their marketing, and hit their personal financial goals. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, click here to learn more or just send me a DM on Instagram – I’d love to connect!

This time of year is often the time when we are ready to create our goals and make our plans for the year. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin, especially when it comes to making a business plan for the year.

As I was preparing to walk my clients inside my upLIFT Mentormind through a goal setting process, I realize that there are 4 main steps that have helped me to effectively set my goals and make my plans over the past few years:

  • Step 1: Reflect
  • Step 2: Dream
  • Step 3: Set Goals
  • Step 4: Create an Action Plan

In this episode, I’ll share with you a bit about how to do each of these steps. But first, it’s important to identify why we take time to do this.

Why do we do goal setting and annual planning in our business?

  • In order to make the most of the time and opportunities God has given us. Doing this process helps us to be intentional and not waste the time we have.
  • To create our ideal life and business.

4 Step Framework for Goal Setting & Annual Planning in Your Business

Step 1: Reflect on the past year

This step is about reflecting on what did happen without beating yourself up or creating a cycle of shame or discouragement. It’s also about thanking God for the blessings he gave you and looking for the lessons you learned. Finally, it’s about getting a realistic view of the numbers in your business so that you can be prepared to look forward to the future.

During this step, you want to spend some time asking yourself questions that will help you reflect on the year and consider all of the things that have taken place.

2 key questions to ask during reflection:

  • What wins did you experience? Write down every win you can think of from the year! This is truly powerful and eye opening.
  • What “failures” did you experience? Write down what DID NOT work out or go as planned. Then the follow up question: what lessons did you learn from these failures?

Another key step in this as a business owner is to look at your profit and loss for the year. You need to get clear on your numbers – without judging yourself.

If you want more help understanding your numbers, check out episode 41 where Holly and I discuss what kind of financial help you might need in your business.

Tools & resources for reflecting: 

Step 2: Dream and create a vision for the future

This step is about allowing yourself time and space to dream and envision the future. It’s about not editing yourself and allowing God to lead you towards His plans for you.

This is one that I find a little more difficult, as I like to jump right into planning mode. But I know that dreaming and casting a vision for the future is so key!

So I try to make time to do this each year. Sometimes this one requires me to get out of my normal “zone” and go somewhere relaxing or fun.

This step is going to involve asking questions that will get you dreaming. I want you to allow God to speak to you in this process. Ask God to show you His dreams for you and your life. And then ask yourself some dreaming questions.

2 key questions to ask during dreaming:

  • If 2022 was better than what I could imagine, what would I look back and see has happened?
  • What do I want to feel at the end of the year?

I also want you to spend time considering your ideal life and ideal business during this step. The start of a new year is a chance to re-calibrate and get into alignment with who God has made you and what he has made you to do. But you have to be intentional with it.

Tools and resources for dreaming:

Step 3: Set goals for the year & quarter

This is where we get a bit more practical and we start to think about the goals we have for the next year and then specifically for Q1.

I always want you to start with the foundation of knowing your mission, your vision, and your values for your business. This is key to goal setting, because it helps to make sure that your goals are aligned to what you are truly about and where you want to go.

I’ve learned so much from my friend Natalie about this topic, so I encourage you to listen to her podcast episode about this topic.

Here’s a high-level overview of MVV:

  • Mission – what do you do and why do you do it
  • Vision – what the future looks like in an ideal scenario
  • Values – guiding principles, core beliefs, what you do and don’t stand for

With my upLIFT members, I walk them through a process called the Strategic Mapping Method™, which is something I’m certified to offer. However, I will share a few things that you can do to start setting your goals for the coming year.

Start by considering what your big picture goals are for your business for the year. Perhaps you want to hit a certain income goal or you want to launch a new program or have a team doing most of the work in your business.

Identify your top 2-3 goals you’d like to accomplish for the year. Most likely at least one of these will be your financial or income goal.

Keep in mind your financial goal: you need to not only know what your big goal is, but you also need to think about HOW you will reach that goal.

Ask yourself: what are the offers you have in your business, and how will they get you to your financial goal?

You can’t just say ‘I want to make $100k’ but not know what products or services will actually allow you to reach that financial goal.That’s why having your Profit & Loss from last year (or at least your income and expenses) is key – because it will help you know what revenue streams are bringing in the most income, where you need to shift or change, etc.

Once you have your big picture annual goals, I recommend getting more specific on your Q1 goals. This is where you’re going to maybe take that annual goal and divide it into quarters, and then determine what your main goals for Q1 are going to be.

Remember, these goals need to align with your values! Make sure you are not creating goals that are outside of your vision for your ideal life & business.

Tools and resources for setting goals:

Phase 4: Create an Action Plan

Now that you have established your big picture goals for 2022, and you’ve identified your goals for Q1, it’s time to get more specific.

It’s essential to realize that there is a difference between a goal and an action plan. A goal is the end result – it’s what you are aiming for. But an action plan is how you will actually get there. It requires breaking the goal down into smaller projects or steps that are doable.

So in this step of the process, that’s what we need to do! We need to not just set the goals but we actually need to figure out how we will accomplish them.

Sometimes, you might need to loop someone in to help you with this–someone like my friend Christa Hutchins. Other times, you might just need to follow a process of taking your big goal and breaking it down into steps.

To create an action plan, you need to:

  • Identify the projects that will get you to the goal
  • Map out the steps to accomplish each of the projects
  • Establish who is responsible for the steps
  • Identify the timeline of your project & the steps in the project

Before you actually get into creating this action plan, there’s one important step that I want you to take. Pull out an annual calendar and identify what your personal and family commitments are. This is important to get in the calendar before you really map out your business goals and plans!

Here’s an example of the process of creating an action plan for your business:

At the end of 2020, I set my financial goals for 2021. Then, I broke that into the 4 quarters of the year. Once I had my Q1 Financial goal, I figured out the projects that would get me to that goal.

My 3 projects were:

Next, I needed to outline the steps for each of the projects.

Here’s an example of the steps needed for launching my upLIFT program:

  • Create a private FB group for Christian biz women
  • Create offer 
  • Have my coach review offer
  • Write sales page for program
  • Make a list of people who might be interested
  • Send private messages to those people 
  • Follow up with messages
  • Onboard new clients
  • Start program

Now I’m thrilled to report to you that I completed all the steps in this project AND I was able to hit my goal of 10 clients in my initial launch of the program! But that would not have happened if I had just set the goal of 10 clients and then not mapped out all the steps to accomplish this.

This last step of creating an action plan is essential, and it’s also essential to recognize that you might need to adapt and change your original plans.

Tools and resources for creating an action plan:


Now you have a 4 part framework that you can use to set goals and make plans in your business–not just around the new year, but anytime of year. I recommend that you set aside time where you can do this process. Of course, if you need to break it apart and do each part separately, you can.

Faith Focus:

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”  – Malachi 4:2

“The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” – John 1:9

The tagline for my business is “let your light shine” which is based on Matthew 5:16. But as I’ve been going through my reading plan recently, I came across this passage in Malachi which I absolutely loved. Then, just a couple days later, I came to the section in John where he talks about Christ being the light–the true light.

So this was a powerful reminder of 2 things:

  • Christ is our ultimate source of light, healing, and hope
  • Our world needs this light now more than ever. 

I want to encourage you to look for ways to shine the light of Christ to those around you.

Shine a Light Segment:

Holly Williams is a conversion copywriter and she loves focusing on email copy in particular. Holly has the ability to find the words that make your story pop, your personality sparkle, and your mission shine so you can keep changing lives.

Holly loves working with entrepreneurs and does so by offering her services in VIP days. I love Holly’s take on email writing in particular – she seeks to incorporate story AND make your emails fun, so that people enjoy reading them!

You can connect with Holly over on Instagram: @HollyWritesCopy.

Connect with Esther:

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