#goals. Maybe “the word” of 2016? But instead of the casual word that’s used in hashtags, today I want to talk about the real deal when it comes to goals. The actual goals we set for ourselves that lead to us basically adulting and having our lives together.
With the new year, it’s a popular time for the term to be thrown around and for us to start thinking about how we want to better ourselves. Like yesterday, I talked about how to have your best year yet – goals are a big part of living a life that you love. And the good thing about goals is they can be all sizes, all types. But the hard part is how to actually achieve them.
I’m 100% guilty of throwing out goals for myself in the past only to totally forget (or ignore) them a couple days later. The key, I believe, is taking time to set yourself up for success. To use them more as a system instead of some fantasy. Since I’ve put so much time into perfecting the art of effective goals lately, I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys. Hopefully this will bring motivation and actual goal success to you in 2017.
Step One: Brain dump
I use brain dumps all the time – you’ve probably noticed – but it’s often my first step when figuring things out, goals are no exception. Grab a cup of coffee, curl up with a journal, and jot down EVERYTHING that comes to mind when you think of goals. This is the time to live in fantasy land and to note all areas of your life that you’d like to improve – realistic or not. (But remember my tip from yesterday when I said to make sure what you want to improve is actually important to YOU personally, not society. This is crucial, y’all.)
I’ve also heard the idea of throwing a “vision board party” where everyone brings their computers (or magazines if we wanna go old school) and makes Pinterest vision boards. Cute idea, right? But I personally like the idea of doing this solo and writing things out.
Either way, once you have your major vision board or list, start grouping categories together – find the keywords that stick out. You might have a lot surrounding health, finances, career, whatever. Organize everything you wrote down under the category it fits into.
Step Two: Find the most important category
Now that you have your fantasy list categorized, look at each section and analyze it. Which category is MOST crucial to your happiness? Which category would affect you most a year from now if you totally killed it? Which category would best impact your life?
Then rate the rest of the categories based on the same criteria.
Step Three: Create a specific goal
I’m a big fan of only focusing on one goal at a time – mayyybe two (more on this later). I read The Happiness Project years ago and agreed with her thought process of putting all your energy into one goal – per month for her – until that goal is a habit. They say habits take 2 weeks to develop and stick, and I like to give myself a couple more for a buffer. Maybe you disagree, but for this practice, do me a favor and stick to one at a time. Once you have this system down, you might want to pick up another.
Take the number 1 important category and get realistic slash tangible, y’all. Say it’s health and you have a few things like: get comfortable in my own skin, get skinny, start a workout routine – you need to create a specific and approachable goal out of those thoughts. Maybe being comfortable in your skin means wearing tank tops, and get skinny means a size 8, and a workout routine means doing something active 2-3x a week. Spend time in your mind deciding not only what those definitions mean but what is realistic (like going from never working out to working out daily is just not – be fair to yourself).
Now, go back to the questions from step two and rate the realistic goals you made in order of importance. Which goal would benefit you most? Which can you actually act on? Can you knock off a few goals with one encompassing and practical goal like “workout 2-3 times a week” that would lead to tank tops and a size 8? Or “bring healthy and homemade lunches to work each day” may give you the results you want.
Step Four: Design a system, not a deadline
You officially have your goal, congrats! Now, you have to implement a system. Most goals fail because they don’t have a specific system. In order to meet a tangible goal, you must set yourself up with steps to get there.
It takes a lot of time in the beginning (goals are hard work in many regards, but damn rewarding), and this is where the planning starts. Think of what type of person you are – is your word most important to you? If so, you should tell your friends/family/Facebook feed about your goal, and often. If you rely on your calendar like it’s your BFF, schedule calendar alerts. If you’re frugal, invest in your goal – spend money on it so you won’t waste $.
Either way, do something every single day that promotes success. Even if that’s a “rest day” from a workout, keep your goal on your mind 24/7.
Instead of having a strict deadline, I like to impose my goals as habits. Basically, for me, the deadline of a goal is when it becomes a habit – or normal life. Deadlines are stressful, so I don’t love them for goals. Plus, life happens – and what if something happens that makes your goal take longer than your deadline? Don’t give up on yourself or set yourself up failure with deadlines – simply work on the goal until it’s what you do without much thought.
Step Five: Check in
By this step, you are hopefully living your goal’s system every day and feeling good. Maybe your goal is a habit by now. Great! But make sure you come back to your goals often to make sure it’s still going strong. I like to set a calendar reminder monthly to check in on past goals, personally. Talk about it with friends or someone else who is motivated to live a goal-oriented life.
YAY! Goals met! After step 5, I move on to another goal, not forgetting about the goal before (unless it’s a goal where once it’s met it can go away – like “make 1 million dollars” ha!)
Before I leave you, I wanted to sum up random thoughts I have surrounding goals that may not meet a step, but are important to keep in mind:
- Your goals don’t need to look like anyone else.
- They can be fun! A goal can literally be to “do something that makes you laugh weekly.” Don’t be serious with yourself all the time.
- I like one goal per month. Once a goal is a habit, I move on to the next goal. By the end of the year, I might accomplish 12.
- If your goal revolves productivity, I love the Pomodoro Technique.
- Treat yourself! If you meet a goal like “Work out 2-3x a week,” get yourself some new Lulu pants. You deserve that ish.
What goals do you have for 2017? Do you like this system? Would love to hear – and please don’t forget to check in with me as you set your goals! Happy to answer any questions, too. Have fun killing it out there!