How to achieve goals

The best way to have the future that you want is to design it now. – Tony Robbins

Most people don’t set goals. And the people who do set goals typically give up after a few weeks.

Don’t be those people! 🙂

This is my process for setting goals that I think you can apply to anything in life and use.

I set goals every year, and I do everything I’ve listed below.

Okay, let’s get started!

How To Achieve Goals

Also, Dream Year is my goal setting workbook that you may want to check out before you get started. It goes waaaay more in depth and includes templates that you can use.

 

Step 1: Decide on one SMART goal

The best way to start is to decide. You need to decide what your goal is going to be.

Sounds obvious. Hopefully you’re with me so far. 🙂

But I’m serious. Unless you decide with certainty what your goal is, you have no shot at achieving it.

To choose a goal, I look at the main eight life categories of my life. The eight categories I use are:

  1. health
  2. relationships
  3. money
  4. career/business
  5. spiritual/personal development
  6. home/environment
  7. recreation/fun,
  8. volunteer/service

Choose a goal with these categories in mind so you know what area of your life you’re focusing on.

You can set more than one goal, but this post is specifically about achieving a particular goal. Just repeat the steps for each goal you set.

Keep in mind the more goals you have the harder it is to accomplish any one of them (think of the quote “he who chases two rabbits catches none”).

The problem with setting a big goal is that it can feel unachievable because it’s not where you are now and seems so far away. This is actually de-motivating.

To combat this, you need to create a plan for your goal. That is where the SMART method of goal setting comes in and is helpful.

Under the SMART method, your goal should be:

Specific – your goal must be clear
Measurable – you must be able to track your goal
Attainable – you must set a goal that is attainable (i.e. realistic)
Relevant – your goal should be relevant to your life values
Time-bound – your goal needs to have a deadline

Write down your goal using the SMART method format. This will help you be very clear about what your goal is.

You can do this using Dream Year.  I also write down my goals in Evernote!

 

Step 2: Evaluate where you are today in that area

Next, I actually want you to step away from the goal planning process and instead reflect on your life.

This is where you should take inventory of where you are in the area of your life that you’re setting a goal in.

You need to know where you’re starting from to know how big the gap is between where you are now and where you want to be.

Write down where you are today in that area of your life. Be detailed. If you are setting a health goal, write down how much you weigh, your measurements, how you feel about your health, etc.

The more honest you are about where you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goal because you’ll put a plan in place that’s achievable.

 

Step 3: Articulate why you want this goal

Next, is a weird, but an oh-so-necessary step.

You need to write down why you want whatever it is that you want. Don’t just write down the first reason that comes to your mind either. Dig deep for your reason.

The deeper the reason, the better. If you don’t have a strong “why” to hold on to, it’s going to be difficult to keep pursuing your goals when things get tough. You’ll also be more productive and more likely to do the tasks you need to get done to complete your goal.

Any “why” that is tied to your family, the people closest to you, or your inner most sacred values will likely be strong enough to keep you going.

For example, if you are a new mom and you want to stay home with your kids, then your “why” for starting a profitable blog would be to be at home with your kids. This is a really strong why.

 

Step 4: Set a deadline for your goal

After you commit to your goal and have a clear understanding of why you want it, it’s time to start planning how you’ll accomplish your goal.

Part of the SMART method of goal-setting is to have a deadline for your goal (it must be time-bound – the T in SMART).

You should have the deadline from Step 1. Now, it’s time for you to get out your calendar and put that date of completing your goal on it.

Go a step further and put 1 month check-ins on your calendar marking how many months left to complete the goal. For example, if you have a goal with a deadline of December 31st, on February 28th, you could have a check-in on your calendar that says “10 months until XYZ is achieved”.

I do this in my gCalendar and The Productivity Planner.

 

Step 5: Break up your goal into mini-goals

Once you have your main deadline and monthly check-ins marked on your calendar, you need to create small plans to accomplish your goal.

This means working backgrounds and creating mini-goals for each month and week.

Download my Goal Setting Action Plan for monthly and weekly templates to do this.

For example, if your goal is to start a profitable blog by December 31st, then you might set the following mini goals:

These would be a few mini-goals throughout the year. Then, break up each mini-goal into monthly and weekly goals and actions to take.

The more you break up your goals and have a specific plan in place, the more likely you are to achieve your goal. This takes more legwork up front, but once it’s all scheduled on your calendar, it’s as good as done. 

 

Step 6: Schedule time to work on your goal

Put time on your calendar to work on your goals and mini-goals on a daily basis (or at least close to daily).

The reason this is important is that it will help you build habits into your daily routine that get you working on your goal. Habits are the key to success because they take the need for constant motivation out of the equation. You are much more likely to achieve your goal if you work on it every day for a little bit.

This can be 30 minutes scheduled every day, or a full day once a week – it’s up to you. But put time slots on your calendar where you are committed to consistently working on your goals.

I use the gCalendar to schedule the time slots of when I work on my goals. I keep it in month view on my desktop, and I also sync it to my phone in an app. This helps me feel confident knowing I’m going to get done whatever I plan to do. I wouldn’t achieve my goals without it.

 

Step 7: Write your goal down daily

At this point, your plan is in place – you have one main goal set, several mini-goals in place, and you’ve scheduled time on your calendar to work on your goals.

Then it’s time to start working on your goal.

Start by creating a daily system where you write down your goal every.single.day. – no exceptions.

Who do you think is more likely to achieve their goals — the person who writes her goals down daily or the person who just thinks about her goal? Definitely the person who is writing it down. This is because it becomes a habit of focusing on the goal daily, which doesn’t happen if you just think about it (unless you set up a trigger to think about it at a certain time – like in the shower). The point is, you’re forcing yourself to focus on the goal by writing it down daily.

The more your write your goal down, the more focused you’ll be. And focus, above all else, is the hidden gem to actually accomplishing your goals.

 

Step 8: Track your progress every week

Once you’re in the rhythm of working on your goal, you need to track your progress every week. This is SO important.

You have to evaluate your results to know if what you’re doing is working. If it’s not, then you have the opportunity to change your plans.

I recommend setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the week to review how your week went with your goal. Keep this as a standing appointment with yourself so that you are committed to it.

I track my progress in gCalendar, Evernote, and The Productivity Planner, and Dream Year. It’s a lot but it works for me, so I keep doing it.

 

A Final Note!

So, all of these steps above are from the process I use to achieve my goals. You can use it to help you achieve goals, too. Now is the perfect time to start.

Here are a few bonus tips I want to share that help me with my goals, and I think can help you increase the likelihood of actually achieving your goals:

  • Tip 1: Focus on the supportive systems for accomplishing your goal. Don’t get trapped into focusing on the gravity of the size of your one goal. Instead, focus on the mini-goals that you can easily accomplish in a week.
  • Tip 2: Use tools to accomplish your goal. Don’t go it alone. Dream Year (my goal setting workbook workbook) is a great tool to use.
  • Tip 3: Use an accountability partner. Share your goal with someone who can hold you accountable. Don’t choose anyone. Think carefully about someone who will actually care enough to hold you to it.
  • Tips 4: Expect success but accept failure. Go into accomplishing your goal with 100% commitment and expectation of success. However, know that if you fail, it’s okay. Things happen in life where you can’t control outcomes. But that’s not the point of goals. Pursuing your goals is about you becoming the best version of yourself — not about the outcome of the goal. And know that you can always try again. This mindset shift is a game-changer.

Finally, here are more goal-setting posts to read next:

Cheers to achieving your goals this year!