I don’t make New Years resolutions. Nothing against them, I just respond better to goals, not trendy resolutions. With resolutions, you tend to quickly pick a few things without really thinking them through. New Years resolutions are known to fail, which is why most people don’t even bother.
Personally, I prefer setting goals for a new year. When I set goals, I go through an entirely different process that has me buying into, planning for, and ultimately investing the time, energy, and money into making it happen.
I spent a large chunk of December reflecting on 2015 - what worked, what didn’t - along with looking ahead to 2016 and considering what I wanted to make of this year. Once I narrowed everything down, I got to work making goals. Big goals…little goals…and notes for more goals later this year.
Today, I want to share my process for establishing my goals for a new year in hopes that you might be inspired to set a few goals for yourself!
I dare you to give yourself a challenge and a roadmap for 2016. You have the power to make magic happen in your life, but it won’t happen without a little planning.
I’m betting most of us have set goals in the past. A lot of people, however, don’t make it too far past the initial stages because they get overwhelmed or lose sight of why they made the goal to begin with.
After setting a goal, does any of this sound familiar?
- How can I possibly accomplish this?
- Where do I start?
And then, the doubt creeps in…how about these thoughts?
- I can’t do this.
- I'll never get this done.
- Forget it.
It can be scary to try to challenge ourselves to do new things or change things up in our life. It’s understandable why so many people fail to follow through on their goals.
We’ve all been there, but believe it or not, there are people that stick with it and make their goals realities!
What makes their journey different?
To put it simply...they put in the time to come up with challenging goals they believe in. They recognize that it will be hard, but they push themselves because they know why they want to achieve these goals. The ‘why’ is the ace in your back pocket and what makes you keep going when you’re feeling lost or tired or like you’re about to give up.
Let’s Talk about Big Goals
Big goals are those that will take some work to make happen. They won’t happen overnight or within a month or two. They will require time, effort, energy, and possibly money to achieve. Examples include buying a house, changing careers, paying off debt (if you’re significantly in debt), starting a business, etc.
These will involve multiple steps and probably a lot of time. These are the ones that sometimes never get done because we get too overwhelmed or we forget our why and lose focus.
These goals will always be made up of smaller goals to allow you to make baby steps to get there.
These are the goals that I’m talking about today.
These are the ones that we want to put thought into and plan for in order to make them happen.
They’re usually, but not always, life changing.
I think we need big goals in our life to give us something to work towards. With that said, I think actively working on too many big goals at a time can be overwhelming and will spread your energy too thin. My advice is to pick 2 or 3 ‘big’ goals to work towards each year (and it's okay to continue working on one from a previous year...sometimes a big goal can take years to accomplish, even with steady progress!).
How to Set Goals
In order to set goals for yourself, you need to ask yourself some questions. Take the time to really think about these and reflect on them. I’m including a PDF that you can download with these questions, but you can also take a look at them here and answer them in your journal (however, the PDF also contains a page where you can break down your big goal into baby steps). Whatever works for you!
What do you want in your life? Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish?
You have to answer these questions first to figure out which path you need to take. Right now…don’t worry about the how, just dream about the what. Dream big! What do you need in your life to feel fulfilled and in line with who you are?
Why do you want these things?
Once you figure out what you want to do…ask yourself why. After you come up with your answer, ask yourself why again. Keep doing that until you peel back all the layers and uncover the true reason why you really want to do something.
It’s only after you know the specific reasons why something is important to you that you will invest the time, energy, and possibly money to make it happen. Consider the why to be your buy-in. You need it in order to stick to your plan, so don’t skip this part!
What are your top 2-3 goals?
You want to be able to focus your energy, so don’t try to work on everything in one year. Table the ones that can be tabled and start with the few that fire you up the most.
Break each one down into smaller chunks
Once you have your big goals, you may feel a tad overwhelmed. How can I possibly accomplish this? Where can do I start? Start by breaking down your big goals into smaller steps. This is called chunking it down. These are big goals and you can’t do them in one step, so you have to create baby steps to get you where you want to go.
Some people work their way backwards. Others will start with the first step and go forward. It doesn’t really matter. Do what feels best for you. If you have no idea what all the steps are right now…that’s okay! Just start with the first step. As you wrap up the first step, the next step will come to you. As you get going, I’m betting the remaining steps will start to unfold more easily.
Know this is an organic and fluid process. You may not know all of the steps right away or you may think you do and 6 months in you realized you missed a few. That’s okay! Take a step back and do what is needed to keep you moving forward.
Give yourself some time frames
If you really want to accomplish something, don’t walk down the path without a time frame in mind. Challenge yourself and put it in your calendar. If you think you can finish step 1 in 1 month, challenge yourself to get it done in 3 weeks. If you don’t, that’s okay! But, if you can, that’ll just get you one step closer to your goal that much faster. Without a goal date for each step, you’ll linger and languish and probably never get it done. Write it down and make yourself accountable.
Reward yourself along the way
As you move along your journey, take time to stop and reflect on everything you’ve accomplished. You’re doing it, so take a moment to congratulate yourself or get a manicure or hang out with a friend! Celebrate your victories!!
Before you go, be sure to download your FREE goal setting guide. You’ll get two pages to work through your ideas, one to identify your goals and a one to break it down into chunks.