You’ve probably heard the age-old advice to set S.M.A.R.T. goals in order to increase your chances to achieve them: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely.

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that advice, there are three powerful steps I recommend taking before you work on setting goals for your business. These three steps will allow you to more easily accomplish those goals, give you confidence and bring you joy while you’re working to accomplish them, and give you more direction on which goals you even want to set in the first place.



You have unique talents and strengths that no one else has. The unique strengths are what set you apart from everyone else doing what you do. The first step to take before setting your goals is to first discover what your natural strengths really are.


Because our talents are so innate and natural to us, it’s sometimes hard to identify what they truly are. Here are a few ways you can identify what your natural strengths are:


Take an online assessment:

I recommend the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment as it will identify the natural way that you think, feel, and behave/work. It will rank your top dominant talent themes 1-34. This is the assessment I use with all of my clients and find it to be very accurate in identifying natural talents.


Follow the Five Clues to Talent:

The Five Clues to Talent are discussed in the book, “Soar with Strengths: A Simple Yet Revolutionary Philosophy of Business and Management“, by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. Here is the breakdown of the five clues:


Clue 1 – Yearnings: Yearnings are felt early in life. They can be characterized as the pull, or magnetic attraction, that lead you to a certain activity. What kinds of activities are you naturally drawn to?


Clue 2 – Rapid Learning: Rapid learning shows talent in the context of a new challenge. It’s the speed at which you acquire a new skill, or gain knowledge. It’s the way you are wired to learn. What kinds of activities do you seem to pick up quickly?


Clue 3 – Flow: Flow happens when you become so engaged in an activity that you lose track of time. The activity may be new, but you instinctively know what comes next. What are you doing when time seems to disappear?


Clue 4 – Satisfaction: Satisfactions come from those experiences where the emotional and psychological rewards are great. These are activities that you are excited and happy to do. What activities do you finish and think, “I can’t wait to do that again”?


Clue 5 – Glimpses of Excellence: Glimpses of excellence are flashes of outstanding performance that you or others have observed. Others may offer clues to our own talents in the ways they recognize us. What have others told you you’re great at doing?


Peaks and Pits:

The third way to identify your natural talents are to think about your peaks and pits of your day. The peaks of your day are moments (activities or tasks) where you feel successful, in flow, in control, happy, joyful, excited, energized, confident, etc. The pits of your day are moments where you feel unsuccessful, you can’t concentrate, out of control, panicked, frustrated, annoyed, procrastinating, bored, drained, etc.


At the end of your day write down your peaks and pits. After about a week, compare each day and look for any trends that may appear. Your peaks are potential areas of strength for you.


Need some additional help with this? The Strong Business Planner is a printable planner designed for entrepreneurs to help you create a strong business that leverages your strengths. In the planner, you’ll find pages called My Top 5 Talents (which will help you leverage your StrengthsFinder® results), Clues to Talent (which gives you a place to think through the five clue questions), Daily Strengths Zone, Peaks and Pits, Strong Moments, and Strengths Statements, all of which help you better discover what your natural talents are and help identify when you’re working in your strengths zone.


The more you know what works for you and what types of activities are in your strengths zone, the easier it will be to set goals and the more likely it will be you’ll actually want to accomplish them!



Now that you have a keen awareness of what your strengths are, it’s time to identify what your weaknesses are as well. By managing your weaknesses, it will allow you to work in your strengths zone more often. If you take the StrengthsFinder assessment and get your full rank results, the talent themes 20-34 may be potential areas of weakness for you.


Another way to find potential weaknesses is by reviewing your pits from the Peaks and Pits exercise.



Once you know your weaknesses, you now have the power to manage them. You’ll never eliminate or fix your weaknesses, but you can manage them and make them less of a big deal.


“Managing” can come in many forms, such as partnering with someone who has strengths in areas you are weak, outsourcing, turning up the volume of your other strengths, and through creating streamlined processes and systems that will allow you to be more productive and efficient in your strengths and not let your weaknesses get in your way.


Discovering your strengths and weaknesses and then looking for ways to manage your weaknesses to support your strengths gives you the power to set goals that you will actually be inspired to accomplish! It will help you more easily break down your action steps to reach the goal and think about what resources and support you may need in order to reach it.


Better yet, have your strengths written out or printed in front of you while you start setting your goals so they don’t become an afterthought.


To help you with your planning, from this strengths-based approach, I’m giving you 20% off my planner – The Strong Business Planner – making it only $39.99, now through 12/31/16! Grab your planner here and use coupon code 25DAYSXMAS at checkout!


Happy planning!

joyJoy is a Personal Strengths Empowerment Coach, Owner of StrengthsDNA and The Strong Business Planner, and podcast host of The Strengths Empowered Entrepreneur. She empowers entrepreneurs to discover, appreciate, and leverage their unique talents and strengths for business success, to create a joy-filled business, and to make a really big impact by sharing their unique message. Her mission is to empower you to embrace your unique talents and strengths and leverage them to serve and change the world, lead with purpose, and unapologetically be your authentic self. She leads over 850 online entrepreneurs in The Strengths Empowered Entrepreneur Facebook community and can be found at and and on social media under @strengthsdna.


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