Setting goals can be overwhelming at times, especially if you have an enormous goal you want to accomplish or you’re stuck trying to figure out which goals to focus on.
If you feel intimidated by the entire goal-setting process, don’t worry my friend. I’m going to help you hone in on your top goals and come up with a strategic plan to achieve them.
By setting actionable goals, you’ll be able to make time for what matters most and move closer to living a life you love. So without further a-do, here’s my 4-step goal-setting process.
How To Set Intentional Goals
Step 1: Create an overarching vision
Before you can set individual goals, you need to have a general sense of the direction you want to take in life. You can’t go for something if you don’t know what it is.
Sit down and picture in your head what you want to accomplish in a certain time period. I start off by visualizing my goals for the year and then I’ll move on to my long-term, 5 – 10 year goals.
What do you see happening this year? What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve it?
Consider the key areas of your life – health, relationships, finance, career, personal/ spiritual development – and write down your vision for each category. Don’t hold back.
You could also make a mind map or a vision board – whatever helps you visualize what you want to achieve.
If you could picture yourself living the kind of life you want to live, then you’re one step closer to getting there because you already know what it looks like.
Step 2: Evaluate your life
After you’ve figured out what you want, you need to check in with yourself and evaluate where you’re at in your life right now.
Look at every area and be completely honest with yourself. What areas of your life need improvement? What areas do you feel unsatisfied?
By being honest with yourself and assessing where you’re at, you’ll be able to make the changes necessary to move closer towards a life you love.
Step 3: Create your goals
After you’ve dialed in what you want and where you’re at currently, you’re ready to set goals.
My favorite goal-setting strategy is the S.M.A.R.T system.
A SMART goal is one that’s:
S – Specific: In other words, it’s not vague.
M – Measurable: It’s detailed so you’re able to track your progress.
A – Achievable: It’s attainable and realistic.
R – Relevant: It relates to your values and the area of your life that needs improvement.
T – Time Bound: It has a concrete deadline so you’re motivated to achieve it.
Overall, your goals should be detailed, purposeful, obtainable and have a clear due date. They can be short-term (a year or less) or long-term (5-20 years), whichever you’d prefer.
Look over the list of visions you made in step 1, choose a couple of categories to focus on and pick your top 3 goals.
From there, break down your goals into 3-5 action steps that you can start now to work towards them. Breaking your goals into smaller parts will make them much more achievable and less overwhelming.
Step 4: Set concrete deadlines
Once you’ve chosen your goals and divided them into bite-sized pieces, write them down in your planner as strict deadlines you’d like to accomplish them by. Make sure you’re being realistic, but not too generous with the time you’ve chosen.
I use Google calendar in month view on my desktop and phone to schedule time slots to work on my goals. Then I’ll write them down in my planner so I can hone in on what I need to get done throughout the week. This way I have all of my bases covered and don’t miss anything.
How To Stick To Your Goals
I know how hard it can be to stick to your goals, especially during the busiest times of your life. Sometimes life throws unexpected curve-balls your way, which makes you lose focus of your goals.
There have been plenty of times in the past where I’ve set goals and forgot about them shortly after. That’s why it’s so important to constantly set reminders for yourself so you never lose track of what you’re working toward.
The reason I’m so productive now is because I write down my goals everywhere – in my calendar app, on sticky notes on the wall, in my planner, daily alarms on my phone, etc. – and I make concrete deadlines for them.
Also, it’s very important that you check-in on your progress every week. Life isn’t a straight path – things happen unexpectedly that’re out of your control – which means that sometimes you’ll need to make changes and plan accordingly.
If you don’t take the time to observe your results and see if your plan is working then you lose the opportunity to make revisions. I’d recommend spending a few minutes at the end of every week, and month, to see what’s working or what needs to be improved.
Each month I like to evaluate my goals, track my progress, see what changed from the previous month and what I can do better moving forward. That way I never fall off course or lose focus of what I’m working toward.
Related: 21 ways to simplify your life
The progress you make by creating and achieving your goals will move you closer towards the life you want to live. And there is no better time to start than now, here, in this moment.
Here are a few bonus tips I want to share that help me with my goals:
- Tip 1: Reward yourself: After accomplishing any goal, you should reward yourself to keep the cycle of motivation going. This will also help you avoid becoming burnt out too quickly.
- Tip 2: Focus on the smaller parts, rather than the whole: Take it slow and don’t get stuck on the enormity of your main goal. Instead, focus on the mini-goals that you can easily accomplish now so you’re not overwhelmed.
- Tip 3: Use an accountability partner: Tell your goals to someone who’ll hold you accountable. That way you won’t give up before you’ve gained traction.
- Tip 4: Turn failure into fuel: Chase after your goals with complete commitment and expectation of success. But, if you fail, don’t let it destroy you. Turn the emotions you feel into fuel that’ll motivate you to succeed.
In summary, the entire goal setting process is as follows: a) create an overarching vision b) evaluate your life c) create your goals & set deadlines, d) stick to your goals by holding regular check-in sessions & finding ways to hold yourself accountable.
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