So it is that time of year again; the time of year where we optimistically set new goals, only to lose sight of them revert back to old ways by early February.
I get it. I’ve done it too.
Life sets in, you lose momentum, and before you know it you are eating chips for breakfast again (no? just me?).
What if, instead of haphazardly making goals you don’t care about or know how to follow through with, you got really deliberate with how you set your goals and made a real plan for how to execute them?
And actually follow through? Does this sound too good to be true?
It isn’t! It is easier than you think. Here’s how I have been setting and following through with goals in 13 easy steps. For those of you out there crushing your goals, good for you! For those of you who have yet to use that gym membership/class/online workshop you signed up for at the beginning of January, read on.
1. Write out a list of bucket list/life goals
This list should be you know, that stuff you have always wanted to do. Not the shit you think you SHOULD do, but the stuff you have always truly, deep-down inside, REALLY wanted to do. This is not the time to worry about the HOW. I repeat. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE HOW.
Your brain is going to try and tell you all the reasons you can’t do those things. All the barriers. This is not the time to be practical. This is the time to listen to your heart. That 8-year-old who always wanted to get married at Disneyland. The 23 year-old you who wanted to become an artist. The 40-year-old you who wanted to get on stage (by the way, I can help with that one!). Let your passion drive this bus.
2. Identify the top 5 emotions you want to experience in your life
Write them down. I say 5 because 10 seems too lofty and 3 is not enough. Id you're having trouble getting started, Google “positive emotions list” as a starting point, you can find some great resources there. Then, go through and figure out which ones are most important to you. Write that shit down. On different pieces of paper.
3. Match goals with emotions
Start matching your bucket list items under the emotion that they will fulfill. If they don’t seem to fit, review why they are on the list. It is fine to leave unmatched goals on the list, but it is good to pause for a second.
Sometimes we think we should want something when we actually don’t, because it won’t actually make us feel the way we are wanting to feel in our lives.
Add any other goals you think of at this stage that would help you achieve your chosen feelings, as well as things you are already doing.
This last step is important, because it reminds us that we are already doing things to actively feel the way we want and sets goals from a place of abundance, rather than scarcity.
4. Simplify by identifying overlapping goals
Are there goals that if reached would also mean that some of the other goals on your list are by definition already achieved? If so, cross those suckers off the list.
Optional: If you like, you can categorize these goals into categories such as health, career, finance, relationships, personal development, etc. This can be helpful to point out where your priorities lie, and whether or not you are taking a balanced approach to these different areas.
5. Set a timeline for your goals
It is well documented that the more specific you can be about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
Chart out your goals according to the time you’d like to achieve them: 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 6 months. I like to do this in a web, but that is just because I am a visual person.
6. Build smaller steps into achieving larger goals
For each goal, yourself what would have to happen in order to achieve it. Start working backwards? For example, if you want to make $50,000 in a small business, what would you have to do in order to achieve it? Perhaps you would need to invest money in your business. You might need to work a side gig for a short period in order to earn start-up capital. Or, you might need to take a course to acquire some new skills. There may be a pre-requisite to that course you must take first. Keep working backwards.
7. Visualize your success
If you have a big scary goal, and you don’t know how to get there, close your eyes and imagine that you have already achieved it. Then, ask your future successful self how you got there. Really visualize it. It could be 6 months or 10 years from now. What was your thought process like to achieve this goal? What did you tell yourself along the way? What were you feeling? What steps did you have to take in order to get here?
You’d be surprised at what you already know.
8. Divide and conquer over the year
Take the next year and divide it into 3 month sections. Add 3 main goals for every 3 month period. Write down a reminder about why you want to achieve them, and perhaps what reward you will get/give yourself if you achieve them.
9. Create action items
Write out real action items to achieve each goal. These are the specific ways/actions you are going to take to achieve these goals. I suggest going bigger/doing more than is necessary to increase your chances of meeting your goal.
For example, if you want to meet someone new, don’t just join a dating app. Try to join a meet-up group, say yes to invites, go to singles events, aim to go on an absurd number of dates. I currently have a client doing this and she has already met someone with great relationship potential- all within the first few weeks of the year!
10. Complete your goal-achieving plan!
Schedule these action items out over the course of the 3 months. Every week should include action items that are working towards your greater goals.
For example, if your goal for 2020 is to find a potential relationship (so you can can get married at Disneyland – 5-year goal), then your goals for the next three months should be things like:
Go on 20 dates.
Join one new meet-up group and attend 3 of their events.
Go out once/week to places I could potentially meet someone.
Then, the action items that you might schedule for each week in order to achieve these 3 month goals could be:
Join new dating app
Go to such and such event that meet-up group is having
Ask someone out
Go to Olive von Topp’s Sexy Ed Workshop Feb 15th on Tantric Practices with your friend Karen in hopes of meeting someone new and at the very least getting new sexy tips for when you DO meet that someone. (Whatever, these are just ideas)
11. Do the action items!
Now... get to work!
12. Review and Reflect
At the end of each 3 month period, be sure to revisit your feelings and your ‘why’ you want to achieve these goals. Review what worked, what didn’t. Reward yourself if you did meet your goal.
If you don’t get goals done, move them to the next month or rework in a way that is feasible/works for you. Take a minute to look at why you didn’t meet your goals. Maybe you need to re-prioritize. Maybe you don’t actually want this goal! Be kind to yourself.
If you are really struggling to commit to your action items each week, it may be a good idea to hire a coach (Hello!!) to gain some perspective on your mindset around achieving your goals (ie. maybe you fear success because you think you won’t have any friends, or perhaps you fear failure and therefore no action is easier than taking action and risking failing, to name a few).
And there you have it! A year's worth of goal setting and planning.