I’m guessing your head is full to the brim of things you want to do, plan to do, or maybe need to do. Am I right? Yep, thought so! We ALL do this! We all have dreams of new experiences, new paths, and new ways of living life. Dreaming is the easy part. The work comes in when we try to turn those dreams into reality!
We all have goals, but… most of the time, they are just running around inside our heads and not really written down, measured, and tracked. We have things we want to accomplish…weight loss, becoming more fit, traveling to a new destination, learning a new skill, changing careers, and on and on. The examples are endless.
Goal setting is something that I’ve always enjoyed (might be my data analyst brain) and I love watching the progress toward hitting a goal. You know, a cool chart that maps out your progress…that’s something I can definitely get behind!
Today I’m going to be talking about what I’ve found that works for me. I’ll walk you through how I personally set goals for myself, make action plans for each one, and then go about crushing them. I hope you find this useful in making your goals (dreams) a reality!
Identifying Your Goals
Now, back to that list of things that you want to accomplish that’s having a party in your head. If you’re anything like me, you may want to get started on them all and do them all at the same time. Can you relate? Well…BEEP BEEP. Back that truck up. I’m gonna share a secret with you that it took me wayyyy too long to realize. Ready? Here it is… working on everything really means you aren’t fully working on anything. That’s a hard pill to swallow. I know!
First, we’ve got to cut through all the clutter and set some priorities on all these dreams of yours. Here’s what I do. I like to get out a sheet of paper and just start jotting down everything I want to get done for the year. (Don’t worry, I know it’s not January right now and that’s when we normally think of doing all this yearly planning. Just start now.) I use pen and paper for this, instead of my computer, and it really gets me in the flow. I list everything that pops into my head for all areas of my life…family, spiritual, health, finances, home, work, community, and fun. There’s something about writing it all down and seeing it all scratched out on one piece of paper that really helps me prioritize what is most important.
So, this is your first step! I’ve included a handy dandy workbook here for you as a free download!
Next, take each area of your life and really think through all the things that you’ve listed for that area. Which ONE of those is most important to you and/or needs to be done first? Once you’ve decided on one for an area, highlight it or circle it or whatever makes you happy. Just identify it in some way! Then, move on to the next area and do the same thing. You’ll end up with ONE goal for each area of your life. Record these top goals on the Goal Tracker in your workbook that I’ve included for you or wherever you would like to!
The final thing we’ll do before moving on to the next phase of goal setting is to take all the other goals from each area and prioritize them inside the area. So, for example, if you have five goals left over for your Home area, just number them #2 through #6 because we already have #1 listed on your Goal Tracker. Once you’ve reached the goal for #1 in Home, you will replace it with #2 in Home. See…we ARE going to do it all, but NOT all at the same time!
OK, here’s where things really get interesting. It’s not enough for us to just have a list of the goals we’re working on. We have to now put some things in place that will really hold our feet to the fire on these. Otherwise, life will get in the way and we won’t get them done. Right?
For each of our #1 goals, we are going to make them SMART. If you haven’t heard about SMART goals yet, it’s a process of setting up each goal for success. Here’s a look at how this works:
|SMART Goals||Question to Answer|
|S – Specific||What exactly are you trying to achieve?|
|M – Measurable||How will you know when you’ve achieved it?|
|A – Attainable||What are the steps to achieving it?|
|R – Relevant||Does it contribute to your growth in some way?|
|T – Time-bound||When do you want to achieve this by?|
Now, don’t get all in the weeds with this. Let me give you an example. Instead of having a goal: “To lose weight.” Use the SMART sections like below and change it to “Lose 20 pounds by October 31st.” This way, you’ve given yourself a deadline and you will also clearly know when you have hit your goal.
|S||I want to lose 20 pounds.|
|M||When I’ve lost 20 pounds.|
|T||By October 31st of this year|
So, go through each of your Priority #1 goals in the different areas of your life and clarify them as SMART Goals. Make sure they are written in a way that is specific and includes a deadline.
If you’re using the workbook I included, create one Goal Dashboard page for each of your #1 Goals and record the SMART Goal for it there. We’ll add more to your dashboards in the next section!
Now that you have your set of #1 Goals to get started with, it’s time to build in Milestones.
Milestones are the steps along the way that will keep you on track to hit your ultimate deadline for the goal. Let’s stay with our example of “Lose 20 pounds by October 31st.” You might want to set up four Milestones, one for each 5-pound loss along the way. Let’s imagine your starting weight is 160 and today is May 1st. It could look something like this:
Using Milestones is the secret to keeping yourself on track as you move through the weeks and months toward your goals. This is where you hold your feet to the fire!
Do this for all your #1 Goals. Use the Milestone area on your Goal Dashboard in the workbook. Say you’re saving for a vacation, you’ll do the same thing. Divide the amount of money that you want to save by the deadline into months and set some Milestones as you save. In the example above, you’ll change “Weight” to “Dollars” and add the amount you want to have saved by each Milestone date.
At the end of each month, review your Goal Dashboards and make sure you’re on track to hit your next Milestone for each of them. If you’re not, make some changes so that you can correct your course. Keeping a watchful eye on these will pay off big time in the end!
It’s a great idea to build in rewards for yourself each time you hit a Milestone. You’ll decide what the rewards will be and write them down next to your Milestone date. You’ll be shocked how much seeing this reward will encourage you to work even harder toward hitting your Milestone. These rewards can be anything you want! Make them some way to reward yourself PERSONALLY. For example, a massage appointment, a way more expensive bottle of wine than you would normally purchase, that new handbag you’ve had your eye on, etc. Whatever floats your boat!
Finally, you’re going to complete an Action Plan for each of your #1 Goals. You’ll find a template for this in your Goal Planner workbook download, as well.
On your Action Plan page for each goal, you’ll record:
- the SMART version of your goal,
- why you want to achieve it,
- what might happen if you don’t achieve it, and
- how you’ll have fun with the goal along the way toward achievement.
After that, you’ll have a blank area to really sketch out your thoughts and plans toward getting to the goal. Staying with the weight loss example, maybe you’ll note here that you plan to exercise 3 times a week, reduce calories, take a morning walk, park further from your work, pack your lunch, etc. This is an area for you to put some thought into how you will go about achieving the goal. You can also record things here that you might need in order to accomplish the goal…like buying a lunch bag.
OK, once you’ve done that work, you are READY! You have set your priorities for the rest of the year in each area of your life, established a SMART goal for each one of them, created Milestones for each goal, and developed your Action Plans toward hitting your deadlines!
Here’s that download link again to grab your Goal Planner workbook.
I would love to hear about the goals you’re setting for yourself this year! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be a cheerleader for you along the way!
Let’s crush some goals together!!