Goals vs. Milestones

Morr Meroz Career Skills for Artists

There’s a lot of talk about setting goals.

I’ve 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”, YouTubers who want to get to 10,000 subscribers in 6 months, and other generic metrics.

Setting up such goals is nice, 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 10,000 subscribers isn’t a goal – it’s a milestone.

Goals

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 3 courses this year, or an animated short, or a new weekly YouTube show, I can control whether this goal is accomplished or not. If I do it, the goal will be accomplished. If I don’t, it won’t be.

I prefer to create plans and schedules that revolve around these type of goals, because then I have no one but myself to blame if I don’t accomplish them.

Milestones

I enjoy a good vanity metric like everybody else.

I love reaching a cool number of subscribers (like when I passed 100k subscribers on YouTube) or a nice amount of monthly website visitors, but I can’t set my goals around that. 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, or slowly building a brand over a few years.

Next time you make a 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.

But when you get down to creating a plan for the next year (or month or quarter) maybe try to think of it as project-based rather than milestone-based, and simply make sure that the projects (AKA – goals) are effective at increasing your general analytics (AKA – milestones).

This is not only a more effective way of running your brand, but it’s also a less frustrating and more satisfying. The numbers will get there, you worry about the work.