Ultimate Guide to Setting Goals That Stick
The second quarter of 2018 is here. How exciting! The first has been a time of implementation for most of us, especially online business owners and creatives who are into personal development. How has it been for you? Fruitful? How are the goals and standards you set for yourself coming along? If you're falling back already, it's possible that your goal setting system has a few loopholes in it or that you need a little quick start again!
In this post and the next, we'll be exploring some of the easiest, best and most effective strategies for setting goals and staying on track with them. This is not the type of goal setting process that is rigid and so planned out that it gets overwhelming. You're going to learn how to make use of very simple tools and techniques so you can optimize your plans for success. This was a game changer for me and by sharing it I hope you find goal setting/planning and implementation much more fun and guilt-free! If this is your jam, get a pen and a notebook, there's going to be lots to learn!
Let's dive right in!
Oh wait! A few things first....
To make the goal setting process fruitful, it's highly recommended that you set the tone for it. You want to make sure that you're in the zone and you're in your best mood before you make critical decisions that will affect your life. Do it your way, even if it means bookmarking or pinning this post for when you're set, cozied up in your favorite blankets under subtle lighting, inhaling your favorites scents and sipping your favorite glass of wine. I'll wait, I promise. Just don't take too long. Procrastination and waiting for the perfect moment are two things that will rob you of your time and opportunity if you let them.
Now that you're all comfy, let's get your mind too into the zone. It's easy for you to sit down to goal setting and start thinking about all the things you wanted to do last month and last year and start feeling guilty about all the things you didn't do or weren't able to accomplish within the time frame you gave yourself. Don't fall into that rabbit hole this time. Here's a more productive way to start.
Step 1: Assess Yourself.
What about all those goals and standards you set for yourself previously. Did you succeed at them? What did you do right? What about the ones you didn't succeed at? What went wrong this time? How can you make it better or avoid it the next time? Take each one and see what could be done better.
Step 2: Zero Based Planning
This is based on a system called Zero Based Budgeting, which is in simple terms, a budgeting process where no amounts carry over from prior years and no programs are considered pre-approved.
Using this same system in your planning, I highly recommend that you do not carry any goals that you couldn't accomplish last year or last month into the plan you're about to make because of guilt. Don't just transfer items to your new plan, actually justify them before you put them there. In fact, take out your previous plan and cross some items out. It's okay I promise. And yes, you read that right. Go on, cross some things out. Which ones? The ones you no longer feel passionate about. The ones you know you've outgrown but have somehow made it to every year plan since 2001. As Arianna Huffington likes to say, :) What are you still waiting for?!
Step 3: I like to call this "Blow your own trumpet a little"
You're too hard on yourself sometimes. You should give yourself more credit for all the things you've done so far. So go on, write down allll the things, big or small that you made happen this year and last year. Don't be modest here, you made pizza that tasted quuiiiitteeeee good, and from scratch, that's an achievement! Especially considering the fact the I almost never get new recipes right. 😂 It's the small things in life. You painted your room and launched your website? Yasssss that's what I'm talking about! Brag a little tonight! #bombandbold
Step 4: Gratitude
By now you should be feeling so BOSS already. (Yes I made boss an adjective - again!). It's time for you to be grateful for all your achievements and how far you've come even if it's one steps. Here's a short video to help your gratitude process. I'll wait while you soak up all the amazing feelings you can by being grateful, I'll be right here. Thank me later 😉
The Main Goal Setting Process
Big Picture Goals and Standards
This is where you daydream. Go ahead. Imagine you being your best self, living your best life in full detail. What are you wearing? What do you see? Where do you live? What kind of house do you live in? What kind of car do you drive? What do you do for a living? How much money do you make? How does your environment feel like? What sounds are you hearing? What kind of friends do you have? Everything. Think about everything and hear, see, feel, touch and taste your big picture goal. How does it make you feel?. Amazing? Good. It's time for you to write that down. Everything. I'm here for you.
Done? Okay good. What are the main goals in your ideal life? Write them clearly down in bullets so they're organized and don't feel too overwhelming.
1. Set standards
This is one important part of goal setting that lots of people tend to leave out of goal setting. You can't be your best self, being the person you are now (more about that in the next post) but for now, there are things in your life you can't tolerate if you want to reach the next level. There are certain places you can't go, certain people you can't hang out with, and certain things you can't say if you want to move to a higher level. So roughly, write all those things that need to change for you to access the next level of your life. We'll come back to the things you've written, but don't skip this step. You need to have an idea of which direction your changes will be in. Are we cool? Yup? Good.
2. Decide Which Goals To Work Towards in The Next Year.
It's really easy to look at all the nice things you have planned for yourself and decide that you'll get them done by the end of this year but that's only a quick recipe for overwhelm and burnout. Break down your picture goals into smaller specific, attainable, measurable, realistic and time-bound steps. Say you wrote in your big picture goal due in 5 years that you wanted to make million dollars. You can start by making 200,000 dollars this year and even further break it down to 50,000 dollars every quarter and even further. You get the point. This makes it less overwhelming and even more exciting. Nothing can beat the excitement of crushing the little things off your To-do list!
3. Make the Vision plain.
Now that you're clear about your yearly goal, write it down in places you'll be seeing it more often. Cut up pictures that remind you of what you want to achieve, put them together on a board or large card and put somewhere you'll be seeing it most of the time. Your phone and laptop wallpapers, your fridge, in front of your desk, your bedroom wall - anywhere that can guarantee you seeing it a couple of times a day. We're visual beings and seeing it a lot if times will help keep it in your mind and prevent you from losing track or sight of your goals.
Time for the Guiding Map!
You know what exactly what you want to accomplish this year. You've been in it for a moment. It's time to work out its physical equivalent. You'll start small and break the goal down so that each week you're doing something to get there. First of all, to make sure this year is your year in all aspects of your life. You're going to divide the aspects of your life into five, it depends on you whether you categorize them as social, emotional, physical, spiritual and mental or you say relationships, body, school, church, and charity. Do what works for you, as there are only two rules here: 1. You must have five categories. 2. They must capture every part of your life in a way that makes sense to you.
Next, for each category, write down four milestones. These are the major goals you're going to be focusing on and achieving every quarter of the year in order to achieve the main goal of the year in that aspect of your life. So like I said earlier, if you plan on earning a certain amount this year, divide the money into four (it’s okay if it bleeds into next year, or you can just divide it into three. Do you babe!) and work on that each quarter so it's easy. So for each category, there are four milestones and that makes twenty things. Are we on the same page? Amazing.
Then after that, (Don't worry this is really easy to do) you're going to write down tasks under each milestone. The way I like to do this is a bit different and it's been a life changer for me. It's called the Sprint Exercise. I first heard this concept from Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur.co and I modified it and incorporated it into my goal setting routine. Here's how it goes in this routine...
For each quarterly goal, select six major tasks that will help you accomplish the goal. For example, if your quarterly goal is to lose five pounds, read three books, add a 3000 people to your email list and meditate every night and launch a personal blog, write six possible major things you can do to bring your goal to fruition. Your brainstorming will something like this.
Your brainstorming doesn't have to be super organized, get messy and do it as freely as you want, just make sure you can understand it!
For each sub-quarterly quarterly goal (eg. lose five pounds in this case) there should be at least one major action you can take to let this happen. If you do this correctly, you'll find more than one major tasks for each and realize that some of the tasks are continuous action. For example, to be able to read three books by the end of March, you might decide to read every night. That's not something you do and stop, it requires repeated action.How you're going to do is simple;
For each sub-quarterly goal that has more than one 'non-ongoing' major task, look out for the ones easy to do right where you are because you have the tools and resources to make that happen. These are called 'low hanging fruits.' So for instance, you may decide that to get 3000 more people on your list, you're going to have a webinar, create content upgrades for your blog posts and launch a course but you don't have the equipment for a webinar and you know the first step to creating a course. Your low hanging fruit will be content upgrades for now and you'll dedicate a sprint (a space of two weeks) for that and every other major low hanging fruit task.
Incorporate all your on-going/daily action goals into your morning and evening routine. The goal is to make them habits so you do them almost involuntarily.
Here are a few things to note:
If there are spaces for unused sprints, you can break up an existing sprint that involves so much work into two sprints.
If there are extra unused sprints and no reason for you to break up existing sprints, it's allowed to import a sprint or two from the next quarter. That'll mean more vacation at the end of the year/ time to work on your goals depending on what your goals are.
Make sure that every last day in each sprint is for accessing the sprint. Find an hour or two to get this and a make it non-negotiable.
During a sprint, you're not allowed to work on anything that is not part of the major task for the sprint no matter what happens. Go about your normal life and enjoy the free time you have left. Life must not be that stressful.
Making The Goals Really Happen.
This is where a lot of people usually get it wrong. They prepped prepped your minds, prayed, meditated, did all that they know to do to get in the zone, planned their life till the minutest detail and the plan sitting on their desk in a book or their iPad to return to it in eight month, realise they're behind their goals, feel guilty and cuss themselves. Not you though, you're smart and you know you have to implement strategies to get things done.
Here are four things to do to make sure you get things done this year.
Put that plan in front of you!
When it comes to setting goals, you'll hear me say this over and over again. Put that plan where you'll see it every day. In Front of your desk, your bedroom wall, bathroom. Anywhere as long as you'll see it and be reminded of it and you can check it anytime. Put reminders on your phone and make them priorities. No really, If you're on a call when your alarm or reminder prompts you that you're supposed to be rehearsing for your singing contest, get off the phone! If that person doesn't understand, they don't need to be in your life. You don't need that kind of negativity. Make everyone who needs to know that you're working on this and won't be able to be somewhere or do something that is not that important, even if it's pleasant at the moment.
PS: For the most part, when it comes to your goal, do more showing and less telling. People will take you seriously when they realize themselves that you are serious.
2. Put your plan into a Project Management System.
This not a sponsored post and there's no affiliate link in this. I use Asana and I love it. I love that I can arrange my goals into project and categories and tasks and I can use that for the yearly goals, quarterly goals and sprints respectfully. They even have an app for your phone that has a really beautiful interface. It's free! Other Project management systems I've heard about are Trello and Basecamp, you can check them out and choose which one works for you. Enter your plan into a Project management systems and make it absolutely non-negotiable! I'll repeat that. Enter your plan into a Project management systems and make it absolutely non-negotiable! Seriously. Taking that step will help condition yourself that you mean business and help you track your progress and assess yourself. Another app I use for my day to day planning although Asana can be used for that is Anydo. I can put a simple 'to do' for the day, get reminders for recurring tasks etc and I love how beautiful and clean the app is, go check it out!
3. Get an Accountability Partner.
If you're like me, the thought of an accountability partner isn't such a pleasant one. You want to know you did your thing without making anyone help you but really if you've fallen off your goals more than twice you need someone to help put you in check. Choose someone who's willing to help you, is equally passionate about your goal, has time to help you and is ready to be brutally honest with you. It doesn't have to be your best friends. Get someone who is ready to discuss problems with you, someone you're comfortable with and is able and ready to help you find solutions to your problems. At the end of every sprint, they should be there to help you assess the sprint and find a better way forward. In Asana it's possible to add someone to a project, add your accountability partner and make it easier for both of you to track progress.
One helpful thing you can do is assign projects to them in Asana so it prompts them when the task is due. Then they'll check with you when they see it, inspect your work and mark that task as due Check Asana out!
4. Get back on immediately!
Every time you miss a day, forget to do something in your Sprint or downright procrastinate on something, don't beat yourself up with guilt. Instead, think of it as a moving vehicle you had had to be on. When you get off it, or in this case fall off it, you can just sit on the road in misery, it gets farther away and it'll be harder to prepare for it. Hurry up and back on it immediately! Do task ASAP and continue doing it. You've heard the old adage '21 days - a habit' Don't pay attention to it again if you've fallen off it too many time. Here's a better way to go about it, make your aim to 'not miss a day' instead of finishing 21 days in a row. The only thing you have to do each day is think, "I'm gonna focus on doing............. Today, and only today" Instead of thinking you have to try to be consistent to not miss any day in 21 days to make it a habit. When you fall off, it'll be easier for you for you to just catch that train and keep going till you can stay on the train without falling off rather than thinking with guilt to yourself "Oh my gosh now I have to start the 21days all over again" Trust me, this works!