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?
A compliment I have been getting a lot lately from everywhere, even complete strangers is that I have a very positive energy. I am clearly extremely happy both within myself and with my life in general. Previously I battled with depression and borderline personality disorder throughout large portions of my life the with treatment was cleared of this in 2013. It has not been an easy road to get to the point I am, but I am grateful for every experience along the way as they have shaped me to be who I am today.
Here are 12 things I have done to cultivate happiness in my life and help change my attitude.
1.) Cultivate and attitude of gratitude
I have a gratitude journal where I write at least one thing a day I am grateful for and it has helped change the way I look at things. Instead of focusing on all the negatives of a situation I look for what I could be grateful for, what lesson I could learn etc. Ask yourself what you can be grateful for today then with every negative situation ask what lesson you can learn from it, what opportunities could come and why it could be beneficial.
I tried this on and off for years but couldn’t seem to ‘get it’. Once I tried guided meditation I found it worked for me much better than simply trying to clear my mind. There are so many different ways to meditate, just try different ways until you find what works for you. Mine changes depending on my mood, but I can feel it when I have not been meditating as I am more irritable, decision making is harder and I feel run down.
Get rid of anything you are not using, you don’t need or don’t love. Having a lot of stuff around, clutter on every surface is depressing. It drains you of energy and without realising it your mind is sometimes thinking about the mess you need to clean up or sort out, which distracts you from other tasks. Clear out your home, your car, your workspace and inbox to make room for things that really matter to you and to create an environment where you feel more relaxed and enjoy being.
4.) Get organized
When you’re living in chaos it’s hard to feel happy and have a balanced life. Get a schedule, automate bills and anything else you can, get a budget and stick to it. Don’t go so far as to plan every tiny aspect of your life because you still need spontaneity, but for those every day, mundane things, get a schedule happening. Get a planner or use an app on your phone to put in all appointments and things you need to do. Menu plan then shop accordingly. Streamline the aspects of your life you can so you have more time for fun.
5.) Love and be loved
I have often felt unworthy of love. I have a huge capacity to love others, but often hated myself. I had to change my thinking, realise I am worth it and that I deserve to be loved. Doing this has increased how much love I surround myself with and how much more I can love others, how their opinions no longer affect my mood as severely and my own confidence and belief in myself has soared.
6.) Help others
Volunteering for a cause I am passionate about has made a huge difference to me. I can be having the worst day, but then go in and see all the wonderful people I spend time with and I feel so good again. Thinking about other people, serving other people and treating everyone as equal takes the focus away from things that you might think are wrong in your life and instead makes way for the warm, fuzzy feelings.
7.) Take care of yourself
Make time for yourself, dress nicely and take care of yourself. If you need a break, take one. If you need to do some beauty treatments, do it. If you need a massage, get one. Making your needs a priority and taking care of yourself makes a huge difference to how you feel. Putting yourself last all the time is not a way to project your self worth to the world. It’s a great way to get run down and discouraged though. So instead of putting everyone before yourself, take some time to focus on your needs and look after yourself.
8.) Know who you are
I was pretty lost for years. I went through the motions instead of knowing my core values, who I am and what I am passionate about. I did what others expected of me or wanted me to do. I played the role that I had sort of fallen into and I hated it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t being true to myself. I decided to take time to focus on who I am, who I want to be, the sort of mother I want to be and how to change myself and my life so I can live true to myself. It was quite a journey and has been well worth the effort and time it took.
9.) Realise your attitude is your choice
I fail at this at times, but that is ok. No one is perfect. How you feel, how you react to situations and what you do is your choice. I am not saying you can’t get angry or sad or upset. But realise it is a choice, no one is making you feel that way. Things will happen that upset us. Express that, let yourself feel the emotions, but don’t dwell on it. You can choose to be overwhelmed by all the negativity or you can choose to learn and grow, take the lesson and be happy.
10.) Release people from your life
If they are not helping you, if they make you feel bad about yourself or trigger negative feelings, if they drain your energy and are not contributing to the sort of life you want, but instead are essentially toxic, get rid of them. Release them from your life. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life you don’t want to be in it. You can change jobs, you can stop hanging out, you can delete people from social media and just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean they have to be in your life. If you can’t cut someone out of your life completely, work on cutting back the amount of time you spend with that person and how much you think about them.
I used a variety of therapies to help me such as psychology to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, reiki, massage, acupuncture, naturopathy and a range of other therapies and treatments to help heal my mind, body and soul.
12.) Live in the moment
Stop worrying about your past or future and start living in the present. If you get organised like I said above, set times to check your finances and things that will matter in the future, you don’t need to worry about it. Let go of the past. All you can do is learn from it, not live in it. You can’t change it, so stop using your energy wishing things were different. Live in the now. Appreciate the life you have now and do what makes you happy.
What makes you happy? How have you changed your attitude?
Originally posted in October, 2013. Revised and republished June 2016
What are you really working for?
With recent events such as my dad having an accident on his bike and shattering his pelvis I have been thinking about our life (as in my husband and daughters) and how much we work, but what is it we are really working for.
My passion is travel. I love to travel, try new things and experience different cultures. My husband on the other hand wants roots; a house we own, a steady job etc. I want to show our daughters the world, and he does, but he also wants to own a house. I would live in a caravan if it meant we were travelling. He would not.
We all have different reasons for working and passions we wish to follow, but are we letting other things get in the way? Are we working to pay for our current lifestyle, despite it not being the one that makes us happy?
We are in a process of change, my husband and I. We are going to be selling our house (eventually, if we can ever finish the kitchen!) and rent for a while. At first thought this was absolute horror to my husband. When he thought about it further (without me nagging about it) he realised it is the better choice for our family. We don’t know for sure where we want to live. So it is better to rent somewhere for a period of time, such as 6 months, to see if we like it rather than to buy and sell, buy and sell. (At this point it now probably won’t happen until early next year).
I know of many families who have both parents working, sometimes more than one job each to pay for the house, the flashy car, overseas holidays, brand name clothes, regular eating out etc. Which is fine if that is what you really want. Most of them do not really want that. They are just doing it because everyone else is.
I am not saying everyone should sell their house or give up all luxuries. I am just saying, what is it you really want in life? What do you want to spend money on? What are you doing that detracts from that?
You might not even realise that things you are doing are taking away from things you want to be doing. Some things could be really small, such as the Macca’s my husband used to buy each week. It wasn’t until he looked at the bank statement and added up all those little trips that he saw a new TV, a holiday or tools vs those Big Mac meals. Sometimes small habits are actually the ones holding us back.
Other times it is bigger things. For us, our house and car loan are taking a massive chunk of our wages (ok, even bigger now that we have pretty much no work, but even before it was still big). We do not love our house. We would like it if it was where we wanted to be, but it is not even that, so to us it is an obstacle in the path to the life we want.
Sometimes, what everyone else thinks is best for us (such as owning a home/new car) is not actually what is best for us.
We know ourselves better than anyone else. We know what we want, or at least can do things to work this out. This means we know what is best for us.
Are you working for what you want in life or just working to pay for obstacles?