One of the most common questions I get is how I set and achieve my goals. I like to set big goals and work hard to achieve them. It can be hard finding balance, or even knowing what goals to set, so here is everything I do, from the idea right through to completion.
1.) Know yourself
Take the time to work out your values, create a personal mission statement, and know what you want in life. Setting goals because they sound good but go against your personal value system or goals that everyone else is doing is setting yourself up to fail. You need to know yourself, what you want and what your values are to be able to set and achieve meaningful goals. Find your passions and focus on the life you want when setting goals.
2.) Clear your head
I get out a few pieces of paper and ‘brain dump’. I write down all my ideas, aims, desires, goals and anything I think I want to do. I generally have a piece of paper for the following life categories: health, finance, career, community, relationships, travel/life experiences, home and so on.
Which goals are most important or most urgent? Making decisions is not easy. I have posted here some of my methods for making decisions. When it comes to setting my goals I write down each goal on its own piece of paper, the timeframe I want to achieve it in and the pros and cons of the goal to help establish goals to achieve first.
4.) Plan of action
When I set goals I make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. I write down exactly what I want to achieve, how I will do it and the steps I need to take to achieve that goal. Sometimes this means creating mini goals, other times it is a simple 3 step process. This is crucial. A goal not written down and without a plan is just a wish.
I love this tip by Glen at Free From Broke “If you want to be successful with your goal then you have to make it easy to work on it. You have to know yourself and eliminate as much friction as possible. For example, if you want to save more then set up automatic transfers for when you get paid. This way you don’t have to think about putting the money into savings.” He also has a great post on 5 reasons your goals fail and what you can do to make yours succeed.
Todd R. Tresidder, of Financial Mentor, who also has a great goal setting system on his site here says: “The key to converting your goals into tangible results is to reverse engineer the goal into action steps. For example, weight loss is a common goal everyone understands. You might convert the goal of losing 35 pounds into something more tangible like 2 pounds per week for the next 20 weeks. Then you further break the goal down into regular exercise habits and eating healthy. Then you break it down one step further into a daily accountability structure of exercising a minimum of 5 days per week allowing for two off days every week and eating healthy 6 days a week allowing for one unhealthy day. The objective is to create a daily/weekly habit that you can actually follow through on that will produce the desired goal.
You then create a 20 week implementation schedule that might start with daily walks around the block and progressively increases each week into longer walks at a more aggressive pace punctuated with brief runs as your conditioning improves. Notice how this process converts the intangible goal of losing 35 pounds into daily action steps that are totally realistic that you can be held accountable for and know exactly how to take action on every single day. You never have to wonder if you are on track or not. You know exactly what to do and by when. The key point is to take any large goal and reverse engineer it down to realistic daily actions that will produce the desired result then create an accountability system to help keep you on track. That is how you convert goals into results.”
5.) Create a motivation wall
Once I know the things I want to achieve and want in my life I get visual and create a motivation wall. It includes a vision board, my calendar, motivational quotes or affirmations, saving graphs and anything I am working on. It’s on my bedroom wall so it’s the first thing I see every morning and last thing I see at night. The image below is an old vision board of mine.
Peta of Great Googa Moogas has a vision board too. Her goal setting tip is “don’t just pick a general goal, be specific and then outline how you will achieve that goal, break it down into bite-sized steps and pin it up where you can see it. Crossing off the steps will help keep you motivated and including a vision board will help make the goal more real.”
To help me stay focused and remember what I am working towards I create reminders. I write my goals in permanent marker on my mirrors, I change the background and screensaver on any device to match my goal along with changing passwords to match my goals.
Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom says “My BEST tip is that you have to write it down and put it where you are reminded by it daily. I recommend putting it on your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror so you can’t help but see it many times a day. We did this when we were working our way out of debt. We’d update our goal with the amount of debt remaining and that just kept us pushing to drop that number to zero – and it worked!”
Lance Cothern from Money Life and More recommends an accountability partner. “Whenever you’re setting goals that you actually want to get accomplished, I always suggest finding an accountability partner for that goal. What’s an accountability partner? It is someone that you can share your goal with that will be interested enough in it to continue to ask you how you’re doing. In essence, by telling someone else you’re going to complete a goal, you’ll feel like you’re letting them down if you don’t complete it. That’s some great motivation when you need it most!”
I have a private Facebook group with my sisters where we discuss our goals and other topics. Being accountable to someone pushed you to stick to your goal.
My vision board, reminders and accountability are all great motivators. What motivates one person is different to what motivates another. I have stacks of posts on motivation here. My motivation has been the life I want for my daughters and I. Whenever I am faced with a choice or a goal gets too hard I think about my daughters, the life I want for us and go spend some time with them or I use tools such as motivational books, podcasts, webinars, courses, friends, anything which motivates me to get back on track.
MF Dasko of Stapler Confessions has a great method for motivation. “I believe two things must happen. You have to plan for something bold to happen in the future and you must work up to this slowly… I use a calendar in my room to track my daily progress. I give myself an X every single day that I work towards my goal. After a few Xs it becomes addictive and you want more. Creating accountability through sharing your goal with the supportive people in your life can be a great way to stay on track. Whether it’s quitting smoking or paying off debt, it always helps to celebrate successes with a cheerleader and discuss challenges with a confidant.”
Life changes and sometimes the plan of action you had for your goal is not the best course of action to help you achieve it.
Andrea Travillian from Take A Smart Step suggests: “The biggest mistake I see when working on goals is setting them and never reassessing how it is going and if that goal is still right. I recommend that at a minimum you review your progress once a quarter and at the same time determine if you need to revamp your approach to achieving that goal. The way we think we will achieve a goal, might not actually end up being the best approach in the end. You only know this and can adjust to stay on track if you are taking the time to analyze your results. For example, when I was writing one of my books I was struggling to get it finished (more so than the others) so I sat down did a review of how I was going about it and why that was not working and then came up with a new plan. Finally, after doing this two times, I finished the book!”
Celebrate goals as you achieve them. Revel in your success. You don’t have to jump straight into the next one. Sometimes completing the goal is reward enough, but sometimes it is nice to go out to dinner/buy some new clothes/have a party/go on a holiday as a reward for achieving your goal. Recognize and celebrate your achievements.
Along with the method I outlined above, I also have specific tools and things I do every day to ensure I achieve my goals.
1.) Say my goals. I look in the mirror and repeat my goals, with conviction, as if I have already achieved them.
2.) Write them daily. I write them in my journal each night and what I did to get closer to my goals.
3.) Use a planner. While many people love to plan everything online, I love physical pen and paper. This year I am using a bullet journal. You can get the exact one I use here .(affiliate link).
4.) Self-care. Make sure you look after yourself, sleep well, exercise and eat properly. Going hard after a goal while neglecting everything else is a recipe for disaster!
I would love to hear what tips you have for setting, focusing on and achieving your goals. What goals do you currently have?