I love setting goals and having a plan of action for something I want to achieve. At the start of the year I sat down, really thought long and hard about what I wanted to achieve in 2018 and I set my New Year’s Resolutions. But I have to admit, a few of my goals had to be put on hold as the wedding planning really ramped up. Now that the wedding is over (sob!), I’ve got a renewed motivation to focus on and achieve the rest of my goals.
You’re probably familiar with the stat that 80% of people fail their New Year’s Resolution by February, so as we’re already almost two-thirds of the way through the year, I wanted to share key tips and tricks to make sure 2018 is the year that we actually achieve our goals. We may only have four months left of 2018, but trust me, a lot can be achieved in four months. Plus, it’ll put us in an even better position to make 2019 a great year. If you’ve set goals for yourself, keep reading to ensure your goals are solid and give yourself the best chance of achieving them.
Step One: Dream Big
What are the big picture goals that you want to achieve? Take a step back and think about what it is you want to do so that you don’t reach Jan 1st 2019 with any regrets. How do you want to feel by the end of the year? Do you want to be kinder to yourself, start a business, get a pay rise or a promotion at work, get on top of your health and fitness, save for or buy a house, grow your hair, increase your friendship group, get married, try for a baby, prioritise self-care etc? At this point, you might not know all the details of how you’re going to achieve these goals, or if it’s even possible, but don’t worry, we’ll work through them in the next steps. For now, just jot down your goals.
Once you have an idea of your goals, now’s the time to get really clear about what it is you want to achieve. People with clear goals are 10x more likely to achieve them. Ten times, that’s a huge difference! This is where the majority of people fail as they’ll set a goal with the best intention, like ‘Drink more water’, but it’s unclear. How much is ‘more’? How often will they drink water? When will you know when you’ve achieved the goal? A great way to get clear on what you want is to make SMART goals. That’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. I wrote a whole post on how to set SMART goals so I won’t go into it here. Taking ‘Drink more water’ as an example, turning it into a SMART goal would make it ‘Drink 2 litres of water on top of any other drinks every day for the month of September’.
My big picture goals for 2018 are to marry the love of my life (tick!), plan and book our honeymoon, get in control of my health and fitness, start a business and clear through my belongings using the minimalism principles. I’ve turned these into really clear SMART goals and written them down in a spread in my Bullet Journal which I can always refer back to.
Step Two: Know Your ‘Why’
Truly knowing why you want to achieve your goals will be what drives you when times get tough. When you feel unmotivated to do your workout, or when you’d rather spend your money on eating out than put it in savings, or when you don’t want to spend the time studying for your exam – you’ll be able to think back to your ‘why’ and bring yourself back on track with your goals.
You’ll need to get deeper here. Rather than saying you want to lose weight because you want to look better naked. Why? Why does it really matter what you look like naked? What will it mean for you? What does ‘looking good naked’ even mean? What’s the deeper reason? Maybe it’s body confidence and self-love. Maybe it’s feeling comfortable in your own skin. Maybe it’s to manage a health condition that’s related to your weight. Maybe it’s to set a good example for your family. Keep asking yourself why until you get to the true reason you want to achieve this goal.
- What does this goal mean to you?
- What change will achieving this goal bring to your life?
- What will you be able to do once you achieve this goal?
- How will you feel once you achieve this goal?
- What will the success of this goal look like?
Step Three: Break Them Down
This is the fun part in my opinion. Once you’re clear on exactly what it is you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it, you can work on breaking your goals down into smaller goals and tasks. This is your action plan. Creating smaller goals or ‘baby steps’ makes your big scary goal a lot less scary and easier to achieve. If your goal is to achieve something in a month, break it down into weekly or even goals. Having a list of smaller, short-term tasks that you can tick off regularly and track your progress towards your big goal is a lot more motivating than just having the one huge task that you can’t tick off until your goal is achieved.
Let’s say you want to write a book. Your goal may be to write a 30,000-word fictional book by December 2018, so you could break that down into a smaller goal of writing 1,000 words every other day for 60 days. Writing 1,000 words sounds a lot more achievable than 30,000. You may also set yourself tasks like source an editor, buy props for the front cover photoshoot, research pricing etc.
A really good way of breaking your goal down is to focus on habits. Writing 1,000 words every other day for the book will become a regular habit for 60 days. You could even have a set time of when you’ll sit down to write. If your goal is to lose weight, you could create a habit of going to the gym after work every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or you could create the habit of meal planning every Friday night before you do your food shop, or meal prepping on a Sunday ready for the week ahead.
Step Four: Make it prominent
Once you’re clear on what it is you’re aiming for, write it down. Don’t just add it to the notes on your phone for it to get lost and forgotten about. Make a spread of it in your Bullet Journal like I have done, or if you use a diary or another planner, write it down on a page you’ll refer to often. You could write it on post-it notes and put them up around your home as daily reminders as you get ready in the morning. Follow people on social media that are related to your goals so that when you’re aimlessly scrolling, you’re reminded of your goals. If you want to become vegan, follow vegan food bloggers and Instagrammers. If you want to start Bullet Journalling, follow accounts that post pictures of their Bullet Journal spreads. You could even make a vision board and hang it up in your bedroom so it’s the first and last thing you see every day. You could do all of these things to truly make your goals prominent. The key is to make sure you’re always reminded about your goals so that you are motivated to work towards achieving them. Don’t let your goals be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and forgotten about.
Step Five: Make It Happen!
Now that you’ve done everything you can to make your goals as solid as possible, it’s time to take action. One of my downfalls is that I spend too long over-thinking and excessively planning, without actually acting on my plan. Now I follow steps 1-4 above and it leaves me with a clear direction for my goals so that all that’s left is to make it happen.
If you can, focus on one thing at a time. Often we’ll try to do all of the things, all at the same time, which just leads to us feeling overwhelmed so we quit. Instead, prioritise your goals and take on one at a time. Are there any goals that you can get done in a short time period, like a weekend or week? If so, do those first. You’ll get a boost from ticking off those goals which you can use to motivate you to tackle the goals that will take a little longer.
Regularly check-in with yourself to see how you’re doing with your goals. I’ve set up a habit tracker in my Bullet Journal so that every day I can see how I’m well doing towards my goal to improve my health and fitness. I’ve set up a task list in Asana so that I can see exactly what needs to be done to start my own business. I’ve also set up a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to plan our honeymoon. It doesn’t really matter what tool you use, just find what works for you and regularly review your progress towards your goals. You could even set up coffee dates with a friend to talk through a particular goal and ask their advice if there’s any task you’re struggling with.
Maybe you’ll find you need to adjust how you approach your goal, or post-pone or scrap it completely if you realise the timing’s not right or it’s no longer right for you. That’s OK. Deciding that a goal isn’t something you want anymore is a lot better than just forgetting about it completely, then feeling guilty when you remember it.