2016 is almost upon us! I hope everyone is having a very happy holiday season and a relaxing winter break. With the coming new year inevitably comes New Years Resolutions. If you’re anything like me, you set some lofty goals that you work toward in January and promptly forget come February.
Today, I’m going to do my best to help you overcome your struggles with resolutions by sharing a simple 5 step process that I use to set and achieve my goals.
Step 1: Make time and space to set your goals
This was almost a 4 step process but then I realized that too many of us struggle with the basics! How can you achieve your goals if you don’t make time to set them?
I started by blocking out a couple of hours that I would devote specifically to goal setting. No multitasking and no distractions. Then I cleared off my desk and set up all the materials I needed, lit my favorite candle, and got to work.
The materials I’m using include my planner, a notebook, some pens and highlighters, and my goal setting Pinterest board for inspiration.
Step 2: Evaluate the past
You can’t set effective goals unless you know what worked or didn’t work for you in the past. Look back at 2015 and figure out what you liked, didn’t like, or what you could have done better. Amber at The Ultimate Business Book has a great list of questions you can ask yourself to get started (they’re targeted toward bloggers/entrepreneurs but they can be a good starting place for anybody).
When you’re evaluating, it’s important to focus on things you can change in the future. This is an evaluation, not a guilt trip so think about what you’d like to do better rather than what you did wrong in the past.
Step 3: Brainstorm your “big ideas”
Now we’re ready to start setting our goals! I like to start out with some “big ideas” or broad goals. These are what lots of people will tell you are “bad goals” because they’re not “SMART ” or specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific. SMART goals are important to have (and you can read more about them on this awesome post and accompanying worksheet) but it’s hard to start with them precisely because of how specific they are.
I came up with 8 big ideas that will help me set actionable goals, including “keep up a weekly blog post schedule,” “go to the gym more,” and “buy my own domain name.”
Step 4: Break it down
Personally, goals like “I will have 500 Facebook page likes by March 1, 2016” are super daunting for me. Seeing things put into a step-by-step process makes more sense to my brain, and that’s why instead of converting our big ideas into daunting SMART goals, we’re going to break them down one by one in the form of flow charts.
You can do this however makes the most sense to you, but when I was making mine I stuck to a couple of rules that I recommend you use as well:
- Use “I will” statements to make your goal more tangible
- Specify HOW you will achieve your goal in addition to WHAT your goal is
- Be specific about dates and times if you can
- Don’t forget to add how you will keep yourself accountable for this goal
It’s important that this flow chart outlines a clear, step-by-step process that helps you achieve the big ideas you set forth in step 3. This is probably the hardest step for me, but it’s also the most important.
To get you started on breaking down your own big ideas, here’s an example of the statements I used in my flow chart for the (very vague) big idea “floss more”:
- I will floss every night before bed.
- I will keep myself accountable by a weekly planner check-in every Sunday to see if I flossed every night that week.
See how easy it was to break down that vague idea into an easily actionable goal in just 2 “I will” statements? I’ve been writing “Floss!” in the sidebar of my planner for months but being specific about the steps I need to take to really be good about remembering to floss will help me actually achieve this goal.
Step 5: Create a timeline
This step takes a bit of time but it’s designed to keep you on track with your goals, which is something I know a lot of us struggle with. You’ve got a big idea in your head and clear, actionable steps written in a flow chart but now what? This is when your preferred method of planning comes in. Take whatever planner or calendar you use, go through each week, and mark “Doing Days” and “Evaluation Days.”
“Doing Days” are days when you actually take a step to achieve your goal and “Evaluation Days” are days when you check in with yourself to see how your progress is going. For my flossing example above, my Doing Days happen every night before I go to bed. My Evaluation Days are Sundays when I check in with my planner to see how I did that week.
This process can work for any goal, big or small. If you reach an Evaluation Day and find that you’ve already achieved your goal or your goal just really isn’t working out, this is when you can change it! Continuing to check in is important, especially with long-term goals. It helps keep you accountable and makes sure you don’t forget those awesome goals you set to make 2016 great!
What goals are you setting for 2016? What process do you use to make sure you actually achieve your awesome plans? Tell me in the comments!
Want to learn more about my goal setting process and how to really make your awesome goals work for YOU? Sign up below to join my email newsletter and get FREE access to my goal setting ebook.