Have you fallen off the Wagon?
With New years a now distance memory, so are some of the goals that we had set for ourselves in our high and merry spirits at the beginning of the year. This is the perfect time to re-check and re-set our goals!
Being back in the swing of things may mean that our original goals and resolutions may not have quite been as practical or achievable as we first thought, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a reality check and 're-aligning' your goals accordingly, in-fact you are much more likely to achieve them and less likely to give up on them completely.
Here are some Steps to follow to help you do just that.
Step 1: Create the Visions for What You are Trying to Reach
Now is the fun – and sometimes scary – part.
What are your passions? What do you value? What are your gifts? What do you want to accomplish?
You want to actually think very broadly with this and consider all areas of your life.
You can break it up into 9 different areas of life: Friends & Family, Home, Relationships, Work & Education, Health & Wellness, Recreation & Fun, Finances, Inspiration & Creativity, and Spirituality.
Remember these are facts about you and your dreams. Write down the answers to these questions for those 9 different areas of your life. Write down whatever you dream of, you can worry about logistics and timing in later steps.
Step 2: Calibrate Where You Currently Are
Now it’s important to do a self check-in and be honest with where you are at the present moment. No one else will see this if you don’t want them to so be open and honest with yourself.
Write down your current baseline for all the areas from above so you will have something to measure against once you’re working towards your goals. The more honest and clear you are, the easier it will be to see results in the future.
Step 3: Create the Broad and Long-Term Goals
Broad and long-term goals are all part of your big picture and not something you’ll be able to accomplish tomorrow, they’re generally a year or more. If they are your dreams from the exercise above, they might even seem a little crazy. That’s ok! In fact, if you don’t feel some sort of negative emotion you’re likely not pushing yourself enough.
Our brains were designed to be efficient and adapt quickly. As soon as you start asking it to look for things it’s not familiar with, it will start freaking out and causing negative emotions. Don’t listen to them and keep writing!
After this, begin thinking backwards from those big goals. What are the steps to get there?This will lead us into our next step.
Step 4: Break Those up into Smaller and Short-Term Goals
“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale
Now that your brain might be sufficiently scared, it’s time to break those long term plans into short-term, attainable goals (less than a year). Using the exercise from above, create shot-term goals based on the steps to getting to your long-term goal.
This will become your roadmap (or GPS for us Millennials and beyond). The most popular method is SMART goals. You’ve probably heard of it before but if you haven’t, it stands for:
Writing goals this way gives you a clear focus, higher likelihood of achieving it, and gives you a deadline.
An example of a bad goal would be: Start cooking at home more. Instead you could say: Make a weekly meal plan and do meal prep on Sundays. Another example could be: Start meditating. Instead you could say: Start meditating for 10 minutes every day after work.
Do you see the difference?
The more specific you are, the easier it will be to take action.
You can do this for as many or as few areas of your life as you need to. If you are just starting out with goal setting, it is easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. It might be more effective to focus on fewer goals until you get better and can start stretching more.
Step 5: Implement Needed Action
Now it’s time to break the plan down even further. You need to break down your short-term goals into actionable tasks. Your action (or lack of action) will determine if you succeed or fail. Everyday is an opportunity to take the actions that will get your further towards your goals.
Don’t let ‘I don’t know’ stop you from reaching your goals either.
Part of your action plan should be figuring out how to reach your goal. Planning for this up front will save a lot of headache and frustration.
For example, I am really not a technical person and this sometimes makes blogging hard. So when it comes to changing anything on the back-end of my blog I automatically allot an action plan to include research like watching tutorials and reading guides before. This ends up saving me a ton of time instead of having to put out fires later.
I find it easiest to keep my everyday tasks in visual form by using Google Calendar on my phone and computer. I have every chunk of time I’m awake blocked off to allot for everything I do (even free time!) This system works so well for me because I am the type of person who always feels like I need to be doing something. By scheduling free time, I know that I have earned it!
Step 6: Reward, Learn, Refine, Repeat
Goal setting is really a learning exercise of getting to know yourself and even surprise yourself with how much you’re capable of!
Besides learning things take more or less time than you originally thought, you need to refine your plan as life’s inevitable circumstances come up. Circumstances can lead you to change what you want and can change what you’re capable of. It’s ok to change what you want for the future.
In order to keep the goal cycle going there are a few things you will need to do.
First, you should reward yourself whenever you meet a goal. It’s not easy getting there and the positive reinforcement will help future success.
Secondly, use your tracking method to see where your struggles and successes were to learn more about yourself. Once you start learning more about your working style, you can cater and refine your action plans. Cut out things that don’t contribute towards your goal and spend more time on the things that do.
Lastly, repeat this process and continue making more and more plans for the future.
How to Avoid Pitfalls and Stay on Track
It is easy to feel overwhelmed in the beginning and get so discouraged to the point of quitting but it’s important to power through! Preparing to recognize the potential setbacks is key in mastering the mindset to keeping goals. Here are a couple of common ones to keep in the back of your mind.
Don’t choose a goal for something you don’t have control over.
You only have control over so much (no matter how hard you try!)
The things you have control over are the things within you: your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results.
Really – that’s it! Everything else like other people, the environment, etc. are all things you cannot control. Therefore I would not recommend setting a goal around a circumstance because you will be setting yourself up for failure.
For some this is freeing and for others it is terrifying.