Are you motivated to set goals at the beginning of a new year? Most people I know are!
But what about as the months go by and life happens? Are you still as motivated in July? I actually am. A lot of people tell me they’re amazing at how much I can accomplish. But I have to confess – this is not natural or by accident. I have systems in place that help me stay motivated and focused.
If you are interested in setting up processes to help you accomplish your goals, here’s what I’m doing now that could help you, too.
1. Write down your goals and the date that you plan to accomplish them
The first thing that I do when I set a new goal is write it down. Typically, I will put the date at the top of the page, followed by the goal. I put the approximate end date that I want to achieve this goal by in parentheses at the end of the goal.
Every December, I set my goals for the upcoming year. This is the main time that I say what I’m going to focus on for the year. It doesn’t mean I won’t change it, but I have to really be committed to my goals and only change it for a good reason.
- Related: How to set goals
2. Keep a digital copy of your goals in Evernote
I keep my goals listed in Evernote, which is an app that you can use on your phone and online. It’s an organizational tool that I love. I am an Evernote-junkie! I use Evernote to track all of my goals. I started doing this in 2014 when I created my first “2014 Goals” note. Since then, I’ve created similar notes for 2015 and 2016. There’s the free version that I use, but there’s also a paid version. I think I’m probably only touching the surface of what Evernote offers. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Whatever you choose to use, I highly recommend keeping your goals written down and online you at all times. This will help you see them visually frequently.
- Related: How to use Evernote
3. Update and revise your goals every few months
Over the last few years, I’ve had to adjust and reset goals throughout the year. I don’t do this lightly, but it is necessary sometimes.
For example, I set goals for 2016 and dated the goals January 2016. April came around and I hadn’t passed the CFP® exam like I thought I would, which had the expected due date of March 2016. Since this was a big adjustment, I added a new section to the same note that said “2016 Revised Goals – April” and restated my goals, but with new deadlines. It’s important to me that I keep my goals realistic and up to date. Sometimes, life happens and I have to adjust.
4. Keep a list of primary goals in your tasks list in your gcalendar
While I have a list of my goals in Evernote, I also have a list of my goals in my gcalendar, in the tasks list, to the right. I always have my gcalender up in a browser, so I always see these goals. The reason I find is SO helpful in gcalendar is that I use my calendar excessively for planning purposes. When someone asks me to do something or an opportunity is presented, I immediately go to my calendar. When I’m looking at my schedule, I see my goals in my face right in front of me. It helps me have laser focus and prioritize my goals in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
5. Say no to opportunities that don’t fit in with your goals
When I’m asked to do something, my first thought is always “do I have time?”. This is why it’s so important to me to have clearly defined goals that are in front of my face every day. Otherwise, I would end up doing so much stuff that people ask me to do but that I really don’t want to do. This is me being intentional instead of reactionary.
This makes saying no so much easier. I no longer have to evaluate the awesomeness of the event or opportunity. Instead, I ask myself if I have the time to participate given my goals that are a higher priority. If the answer is no, then I say no. It has nothing to do with not wanting to participate – it has everything to do with wanting to accomplish my goals more than participate.
- Related: How to say no with confidence
For my blog, this is a big one because there is always a podcast to be on or a new idea to try. I want to create an ebook and a course, and seriously considered it this year. But, having my blog goals in front of me reminded me that this is a good idea for next year. This year, I’m solely focused on getting my followers and subscribers up to 10k on each platform. Without this goal right in front of me, I would probably be dabbling in a lot that would not support this goal.
There’s only so much time in the day and being able to say no is really important to accomplishing your goals. Know for certain what you’re working toward. The deeper you feel this, the easier it is to say no.
6. Plan out each week on Sunday
Every Sunday I set aside time to fill in my calendar for the upcoming week. I do this for free time, working out time, entertainment time, and of course tasks to help me reach my goals.
For example, I have my calendar set up so that it shows Monday—Friday working from 7am-4pm, then working out from 5pm-6pm. So, after 6pm, I fill in what I’m going to do. Sometimes, I have “write one blog post from 7pm-9pm” or on Sundays I usually have “schedule social media for blog from 6pm-8:30pm”. I do this because I have my goals in front of me and I know they’re not going to achieve themselves. If I don’t, I won’t make progress. The planning is what enables me to get stuff done. So, when they day comes for me to do something, I don’t think about whether I want to go to the gym or write that post, I just look at what’s on the calendar – what I thought about and planned intentionally – and do it.
Now, of course there are exceptions. Not every day will go as planned. Things come up and you have to take a night off. But in general, that’s the exception, not the rule.
This is how I get stuff done. I schedule it in advance!
7. Track your progress by writing down how far you’ve come and how far you have to go
Periodically, I write down my progress for each goal. Depending on the goal, I may do this weekly or monthly. For example, I am trying to increase my followers on all platforms to 10k, so every Sunday, I write down all the platforms I’m on and the subscriber count for each. I just hit 10k on Pinterest two weeks ago, so I stopped tracking it as of last week. I’ll hit 10k on my email list soon, and as soon as I do, I plan to stop tracking it. This allows me to focus on the goals I have left to hit, which will be primarily Instagram and Facebook. I’ll then have laser focus on these goals because I know those are the two left. If I wasn’t tracking my progress regularly, then I don’t know how I’d accomplish my goals.
Some goals may need to be tracked more consistently than others. For example, one of my goals for this year is to pass the CFP® examination, but I don’t need to track this progress myself because the study schedule given to me from the prep course I bought has one written out for me.
So, use your judgment as to how often and through what method you will track your progress of each goal. You have to track your progress somehow, otherwise, your goal is really just a wish or hope.
8. Know your “why”and prioritize your goals
I always know my “why” for each of my goals. My why is the purpose behind each goal. It’s the vision I have for whatever it is I want and the goals are the steps I need to take in order to realize the vision.
Without my why, I would give up on my goals or postpone them. But when I think about my why and what I want ultimately with respect to each goal, it makes prioritizing and completing the tasks easier. I focus on my why whenever someone questions my choices or tries to move me in another direction. I think about what I ultimately want, and move forward in that direction. It’s very powerful.
- Related: Goals vs. Vision
A Final Note!
If you want to get more focus and motivation to accomplish your goals, here’s what you can do (and what I’m doing) to achieve them:
- I write down my goals and the approximate month to accomplish the goal,
- I keep a digital copy of my goals in Evernote, which is on my phone, so I can have access to it all the time,
- I update and revise my goals every few months,
- I keep a list of primary goals in my tasks list on the side of my gcalendar,
- I say no to opportunities that don’t fit in with my goals,
- I plan out each week on Sunday,
- I track my progress by writing down how far I’ve come and how far I have to go, and
- I know my why and prioritize my goals in connection with my why.
- Up Next: How to Set Goals for Beginners