It’s June…the middle of the year and I’m on a mission to help you either get back on track with your 2016 goals or to set some new ones!
Half of the year may be in the books (almost), but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on setting some objectives! On the contrary, there is still plenty of time to set some goals, create some action steps and finally make some progress of getting what you want.
Are you ready?!
On Tuesday, we revisited the goals you established at the beginning of the year. We talked about tweaking your outstanding goals to better fit with where you are now, chunking down the goals so you have a starting point, and tossing out any goals that no longer fit. Yep…it is entirely okay to throw out a goal if it no longer fits with what you want in your life.
Today, we’re going to take things a step further and talk about setting up some new goals.
Perhaps you’ve been plowing through your goals and the rest of the year is looking a little light on goals. Or, maybe you set up some goals back in January and life threw you some curveballs and those aren’t working for you anymore. Then again, maybe you never made any goals and you’re starting to think it might be a good idea to have some sort of game plan for the rest of the year so 2016 isn't a total wash!
If any of that sounds like you, then you’re in the right place!
The Big Picture
In Tuesday’s post, I equated goals to being a roadmap for our life. Our goals represent the destination - where we want to go. The action steps represent the directions along the way. Our action steps are the 'turn right in 200 yards' part of our journey. They get us to our goal.
Step 1: Figure out where you want to go
The first step in setting new goals is to examine where you are right now and where it is that you want to go.
If you struggle to set goals because you aren’t sure where to start, for just a moment, I want you to forget about that. Don't worry about where to start or the steps involved. Simply think about where you want to go and what you want to accomplish and, for now, just write that down.
It can be helpful to think about your goals in two different buckets - short term goals and long term goals.
I consider short term goals to be those that will take less than a year to achieve. Whereas, long term goals are those that will take longer than a year to complete. You can, and should, have both types of goals and you can absolutely work on both at the same time.
If you’re new to setting goals, just start out brainstorming. Ask yourself, if I could wave a magic wand and have anything in my life, what would it be? Then write down what comes up for you.
If something on your list makes your heart swell a little, or makes your breath catch just thinking about it…circle it and set that as a goal.
Step 2: Get Clear on your WHY
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if you want to really stick with your goals and focus your life on working towards them, you need to get really clear on your WHY.
It’s not enough to just write down a goal and call it a day. If you do that, you probably won’t stick with it and it’ll just stay a lofty dream on your paper.
When you get clear on WHY you really want to do something, you light a fire within yourself and you will start taking little steps every single day towards your objective.
I went through this on Tuesday when we revisited our outstanding goals for the year, but I’ll repeat it if you’re not sure how to reconnect with your WHY:
The best way to understand your WHY is to ask yourself…why is this important to me. Then, no matter what answer you come up with, ask yourself why that is important to you again….and then again…and then again. Keep going until you hit the place where you feel that shift, that awareness, that ‘Ahhhhhh….I didn’t really realize that was why I wanted to do this!’. It’s in there, I promise! When you can uncover that and you are aware of this deep desire, you will feel your motivation kick into overdrive. You will have just connected to your personal why and it’s very powerful in helping you stay on course.
Once you know your WHY…write it down and keep it where you can see it. You’ll be amazed at how effective this can be at helping you stick with your objectives.
Step 3: See Yourself Already There
This may sound like a silly step to include in this process, but when we can close our eyes and really see us living our goal, it helps us to believe it’s possible. If we don’t believe it’s possible, we won’t put forth our best effort. But, when we can see it, taste it, feel it, and almost breathe it, the desire becomes our motivation and driving force.
Take the goals that you figured out in step 1, or that’s already swirling around that pretty head of yours and envision it. Close your eyes and really see yourself in that place. Then ask yourself what does it feel like?, how is my life different?, how am I different?, what feels right about where I am?, what is allowing me to make this happen?
Write all of this down and when you are feeling resistance towards the goal, channel these feelings to get back in touch with where you’re headed.
Closing the Gap
You may have heard this before, but the difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline and that is 100% true. When you take your dreams and put a deadline on it, you’ve turned it into a goal. Pretty easy, right?
The hard part is figuring out how to go from where you are right now to where you want to be by that deadline! That, my friends, is closing the gap.
This is the step that tends to trip people up the most. It’s where people throw in the towel and just say "I don’t know what to do, so I can’t do this."
Thanks to Step 3 where you took a few minutes to actually see yourself in your goal, you don’t want to throw in the towel, so you have to figure out how to get there.
Here’s a little insider goal-setting tip…you don’t need to know all of the steps in order to get started.
You simply need to figure out the first step. After starting, the next step will come to you, then the next step, then the next. You have to trust the process and listen to yourself.
You can simply ask yourself what you need to do to get started, or you can reverse engineer it. Ask yourself what you will need to do just before achieving your goal, then what you would need to do just before that, and work your way backwards.
Not sure where to start? Follow these steps...
Step 1: Chunk it Down
For any big goal, you have to break it into smaller goals or you’ll get lost in the overwhelm. The cliche “Rome wasn’t built in a day” applies here! Chunk the big goal into smaller goals and focus on those one at a time.
Breaking these into smaller chunks helps to keep you focused, motivated, and moving forward. When you’re working on one of the smaller goals/chunks, don’t worry about the others. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Step 2: Be Specific in your action steps
When you are coming up with your action steps, make them specific. Vague action steps tend to float out there and never get done because there’s nothing to latch onto. Be very specific in your objective, and better yet...make it measurable.
Step 3: Set Target Dates
Give yourself an end date for your action steps. If you don’t commit to a date, you’ll never get it done because you won’t have anything to work towards. Once you set your target dates, add them to your calendar and treat them like a deadline your boss gives you a work. Work towards it and assess where you are everyday.
Step 4: Challenge yourself, but be realistic
Your action steps and target dates need to be realistic in order for you to achieve them, otherwise, you’ll just discourage yourself along the way. Take into consideration everything going on in your life and what might get in your way. If you have a demanding job and you have a lot of commitments outside of work, take into account how much time you actually have in any given week to determine how much time you need to accomplish your task.
With that said, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to push a little harder than you might normally push. You can even make it into a game to ‘compete’ with yourself!
Step 5: Make yourself Accountable
Accountability is huge for sticking with things and getting them done. If we don’t tell anyone we’re going to finish something by a certain date, it’s really easy to let it slide and rationalize that binging on the latest season of Orange is the New Black is definitely more important than working on our objectives (although, having finished season 4 already...I might agree with you on that one!).
Telling someone and having to follow up with them can be the difference between getting things done and always wishing you could stick to your goals. Tell a trusted friend, a partner, hire a coach, etc. Pick someone that will challenge you if you come back and say you didn’t do it.
Step 6: Make your Goals Visible
Write them down in your planner, print them out and tape them to your bathroom mirror, add popup reminders on your phone…making your goals visible makes them real and keeps them on your mind. If you’re investing the time to come up with goals, take the extra step and make them visible so you’ll be more likely to stick with them!
Bonus! reward yourself along the way
For those of us that are used to doing, doing, doing, we tend to forget to celebrate our achievements. Taking time to reflect on what you’ve done, look back at how far you’ve come, and pat yourself on the back is so important!
Acknowledging and celebrating your achievements allows you to actually feel that sense of accomplishment which fuels your motivation to keep going. If you simply jump from one task to another task to another, you’re on autopilot. Rewarding yourself may be as simple as telling yourself how awesome you are for getting everything done. Or, maybe it’s treating yourself to a mani/pedi or indulging in those cute shoes you’ve been eyeing for awhile. Only you can decide the best reward for yourself, but don’t skip this step!!
Goal setting doesn’t have to be a chore…it can actually be fun! Personally, I LOVE the process of creating goals. It fuels me and gives me direction. Do I achieve all of my goals, nope, but sometimes, along the way I realize I’ve outgrown some of my goals or that they’re just not working for me. Sometimes I put them on back burner to return to later because I realize I’m not quite ready for them yet and I switch gears to something else.
Along the way, I learn so much about myself…what works for my motivation, how I commit myself to certain tasks, where and how I get distracted, etc.
When I look back over the past few years and reflect on how far I’ve come in my personal development and in achieving things in my life, without goals, none of it would’ve happened. Without goals I’d still be in exactly the same place I was a few years ago wondering why nothing ever seems to change.
If you want to change something in your life…you’re going to have to set some goals.