Big goals and dreams but no idea where to start? Or maybe you start out on your goals and then feel overwhelmed and end up giving up? Maybe you try to get into new habits and set new resolutions but don't end up sticking to them.
This article is and the free planner download which goes along side it will set you on the right road!
Below we set out the key steps - aligning to your vision, setting the right goals, scheduling in action and finally making it happen!
The first step - defining your vision for the future
When setting goals, it's easy to want to dive straight in! But before we start, I have a question for you. What is your vision for the future?
Before we get into goal setting we have to spend some time deciding where we are going. Goals are only as good as the purpose they serve, a goal you set yourself which isn’t connected to anything important is far easier to give up on.
Your vision, your dreams, your why, what you want – these are all the same things really. The important thing is that you even vaguely know what you want for the future.
Below, you'll see some questions to get you thinking. Sit quietly, close your eyes and think about your perfect day in three or five years time. Alternatively you can free write the answers in your journal.
In the planner, you will find space to write down your highlights too.
A few questions to get you started...
- What's your morning routine? What time are you waking up and what does your dream morning look like?
- Where are you waking up? Somewhere hot and sunny? In your own home?
- Where do you work? and how do you get there? Do you work from home?
- What does your day at work look like?
- What does your evening look like?
- Where do you go on holiday? And how often?
Don't constrain yourself with the how.
When we dream freely, our practical mind can sometimes jump in and put the brakes on...
At this point we aren't being practical, no goal is too big if we can break it down into small enough pieces.
This exercise isn't about setting a timeline, it's to help give you an idea of where you want to be in the future - which will help you set your goals for the year. So have fun and don't be constrained with the practical.
Now let's get into goal setting for the year!
Now you have an idea of where you're going or where you want to be in a few years time, you can break your goals down and decide on your goals for the year.
(This is the bit you’re probably itching to get into!)
The key question is, how far can I get this year to my vision for the future?
We’re going to break these down into personal and professional goals. Looking back to your vision for the year, what are the goals that are going to get you to that vision this year?
If you imagined yourself waking up in a new house then what are the things you are going to do this year to get there? Save money? Make more of it?
If you see yourself running your own business, what are you going to do this year to make it happen?
If you already run a business, where do you want to take it this year? Do you want to grow your sales, products or community? How are you going to develop your business this year to create the life you want?
Don't forget about your personal goals too...
If you saw yourself doing yoga each morning then is that something you can start right now? Or wanting to run marathons in the future, what can you do to start on that this year?
Remember to be ruthless in letting go of things that aren’t going to get you where you want to go. Or are just ‘nice to haves’.
We have so little time, so make sure your time is being spent on what you actually want, rather than what you think you 'should' be doing.
Look to set 3-4 personal and professional goals for the year– but no more than this! If by the middle of the year you have time to pick up a few more then great – pick them up again then.
Are your goals SMART?
Next, we need to make sure your goals are SMART - or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or timely. We are going to take the goals you have set for the year and make sure they are the right ones and are going to be measurable.
- SPECIFIC – is your goal specific? Can you be held to account to it? For example, 'going to the gym more' or 'make more sales' – are not very specific! Going to the gym three times a week or increasing sales by 20% are much better! These are both tangible that you can hold yourself to.
- MEASURABLE – something you can measure your progress against. This will be important later as we break down the goal into a three-month sprint. What are the milestones you will hit on your way to meeting your goal? What are the metrics you will measure yourself against? Distance run? Number of new email subscribers for your business? Amount of money saved?
- ACHIEVABLE – this is such a tricky one to judge. On the one hand – push yourself, aim high, what can you do if you really go for it? On the other hand... don’t set yourself up for failure and disappointment. One way you can do this is to think about something you can achieve and then double it to stretch yourself. Eg. if your goal is to make an extra £5k this year - double it and force yourself to think more creatively about how you can make the extra!
- RELEVANT – is learning French really going to help you achieve your vision? Or have you got bigger things to be focusing on? Now, if your plan is to move to the south of France and buy a vineyard then go for it – but be ruthless in only sticking to goals which are going to make a difference.
- TIMELY - what is your timescale for achieving the goal? And are there milestones on your way to achieving the big goal. (We will go into this in more detail shortly)
Look over the goals you set yourself and run them through these tests - take your time and refine your goals to make sure they are SMART.
At this point, you may decide to offload a few and just have a couple of personal and professional goals. This is totally fine and in fact can be a good thing! The more focused you can be the better.
Making sure you keep your focus
Out of all the goals you are setting is there one big one that you really want to achieve? One that stands out above the others as a non-negotiable gotta achieve it?
If so I recommend really focusing on this (and ditching some of the other goals potentially to) – one of the ways you can do that is to literally write it everywhere.
By seeing your big goal each day you keep it front of mind, are reminded what you are working towards and are more likely to take action, keep working towards it and actually achieve it!
One way I keep my focus is having my personal goal, of getting my own studio foiled onto my notebook to keep me focused. You can make yours too! Take a look at the goal planning journals on my website.
This is a game-changer when it comes to being focused. Having your goal on the front of your notebook may seem small, but these little hacks can make a real difference.
The three month sprint!
So, we have all the goals for the year and now we are going to break them down into the first three month sprint.
This is where those measurable goals come in handy!
Take all the goals you have for the year and chunk it back into three months. So if you have sales targets for the year, how far towards that goal do you want to be in three months?
If you're freelance, your goal could be acquiring 5 new clients in the three months.
If you have a personal fitness goal, how far do you want to be able to run in three months?
What's your savings goal for the first three months?
Why three months?
You can achieve a lot in three months! But it's also not too long that you get overwhelmed. Planning a whole year can be a lot to look at. The first goal planner will take you from Jan - March and yes, there will be the next goal planner for April, May and June coming in mid-Feb!
Tomorrow we are going to turn those three month goals into monthly goals, and look at actions and habits.
Let's break things down even further... your monthly action plan
Now you have some brilliant specific goals, broken down into three month chunks and are clear on how these are going to help you get to your big vision.
Now it’s time to break these down into monthly goals. In the planner you will see you have an overview of for each month.
1. Your monthly goals
Once you have broken down your goals ever further from three monthly to monthly, write them in your planner.
Don’t try and do everything in one month! The temptation will be to work on every goal in the first month as you are feeling super excited and raring to go - but don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to pack too much into one month.
There are a few lines in each month for you to note a couple of goals down – I recommend one big goal and a smaller one. And a mix of personal and professional goals.
2. Your action plan
Consistent action will lead you to success. So we need to work out the best ones to take.
Depending on your goal, you might not need to do this – but here is one method I like to use to come up with my action plan.
Take your goal, grab your notebook and write down ALL the things which you could do to reach it. Take a few minutes to do this and mindmap all the possible things you could do.
When doing this I like to set a timer and make sure I'm not going to be disturbed so I can really focus.
I recommend you keep this list, don’t do it on a scrap of paper and throw away. Select a number of ideas you have come up with that feel are right and that you think will be most effective. Add these to your monthly action list.
At the end of the month we will look back at these actions to see which were more effective or not – so you might need to refer back to your long list for next months action plan.
Here are some examples of action lists to give you some inspiration...
Goal - Getting promoted to manager level at work
Your long action list could include:
- Schedule meeting with manager to ask about opportunities for development
- Research training opportunities
- Look at job descriptions to identify where I need more experience
- Research volunteering opportunities outside of work to build relevant experience
From this list you might decide to set up a meeting with your manager first to look at opportunities and look at job descriptions. Keep your other ideas though, if the conversation isn't that helpful it might be time to look at other options.
Goal - Start my own business
Your long action list could include:
- Research website hosting
- Test idea in focus group of friends
- Research suppliers and set up calls
- Choose logo and design business cards
It might be exciting to choose a logo and make a website but make sure you are choosing to focus on things which are helpful. Writing down this long list can also help you prioritise your actions for each month. For example, month one could be testing your ideas in a focus group and month two could be about researching suppliers.
When we think about habits we often think about our bad ones, maybe that's being late, snoozing the alarm each morning or biting your nails....
Rather than thinking about our bad habits, lets think about forming new ones! And the best way to do this is to just start!
If your goal is to start a business, a new habit could be getting up an hour earlier to get some work done on it.
If you have a fitness goal, it could be going to the gym every lunchtime.
One of my personal ones is not snoozing my alarm on a morning and getting straight up!
Brilliant days, mean brilliant weeks and brilliant months...
Consistent action will lead to results.
All week we have been working on breaking your goals down, and now it's time to take action. You can do all the planning you want, but unless you take action, you won't get that far...
So the weekly planners are designed to encourage you to do three things each day. These could be anything, big or small, but choose activities that are going to help you achieve what you want to.
Three things might not sound like a lot, but this all adds up!
Three actions a day is 21 a week! and around 84 a month!
Where would your dream business be if you took 21 actions a week to make it happen?
How much healthier and fitter would you feel if you took even one action a day to get you towards your fitness goals?
TOP TIPS FOR FILLING IN YOUR WEEKLY SPREAD
- Make a plan to plan. Spend some time each week to fill it in - I will be doing mine on a Sunday.
- Focus on building the same new habits each week - remember it can take 66 days to form a new habit so pick the same ones to work on consistently
- Be clear in your weekly focus - pick the most important thing you are going to focus on.
- Always write down something you are proud of achieving - this is such a great way to stay motivated and focused on what you want to achieve.
Have fun and don't be too hard on yourself if you don't reach your goals for some reason - there is always tomorrow.
Stay focused on where you want to go, make a plan and take action. You'll get there!