WHY SET GOALS?
Why should you set goals? Because there is something in your life you’d like to be different. But if you don’t create and work a plan for how exactly you’re going to make it different, you’ll never see it change.
Goals give you direction. Goals focus your (quite limited) time, energy, and resources. Goals keep you motivated. Goals honor the fact that your life has meaning and purpose. Without goals, you will lack a sense of this purpose. And without clearly defining these goals, the steps that you need to take to fully walk in purpose will too easily get lost in the shuffle.
You know this already, though. Let’s keep going.
THERE’S LEVELS TO THIS….
As with most things in life, your life goals aren’t simple. There are levels. There are layers. You won’t wake up one morning and have all of a sudden achieved these goals. You will only be able to achieve them month by month, day by day, bit by bit.
Know your levels.
If you were to snap your fingers and be living your ultimate dream, what would life look like? What would you be doing? Who would you be doing it with? Who will you be helping? What type of living will you make doing this? This is your ultimate level goal. This is your big picture.
But every big picture has parts.
Think of the artist’s masterful work. The masterpiece doesn’t become a masterpiece overnight, but instead by the artist working on it piece by piece, part by part. This takes time (days, months, years even), this takes effort, and most importantly, this takes thought.
What are the pieces in your big picture? What things will you need to accomplish in one month, one year, and five to ten years to actualize this big picture? Hang on to these questions and keep reading.
When it comes to goals, if you’re thinking only about your career or financial goals, you’re thinking too small. If you have the wealth of the world in your hands, but have no one to share it with, or such poor health you can’t enjoy it, what’s the use? Your life goals should be multi-focused and work in tandem with each other. Below are a few areas I suggest you consider creating goals for:
- Health & Fitness – What goals do you have for your body & health? Do you need to decrease your blood pressure, sugar intake, or weight? Is a specific diet required? Might a specific workout regimen help? Is it time to train for a marathon, triathlon, or race?
- Family & Friends – What relationships need some attention? What personal or material resources could you share more of? What expectations or boundaries do you need to set? Are you loving the people in your life in a way that means something to them? (See the 5 Love Languages.)
- Love & Marriage– If single, where are you at in your love journey? What is your next stage? How will you be preparing yourself for this next stage? How will you know when you’re ready for marriage? How will potentials know you’re ready and available? If married, how will you intentionally nurture your marriage? What personal goals do you need to work on this next season? When will you and partner communicate about your needs and goals? What are your goals for your kids?
- Career – What do you want to be doing for a living? What gifts, talents, and resources could you be sharing with the world? What does the world need that you have, and love, to offer? Is it time to start a business? What’s next for your business?
- Financial – How much do you want to be earning in the next 1, 5, and 10 years? How much do you want to increase your monthly income this year? What do you need to be saving for? How much do you want/need to be putting away each month?
- Spiritual – How will you be nurturing your soul & spirit this year? What are your values? How will you honor your values this year? What resources might be helpful for your growth? What communities do you need to plug into?
- Travel & Leisure – What new city, country, or culture do you want to explore next? How will you work towards this? In what ways do you want to enjoy life this year?
- Giving & Charity – Are you giving back enough? What community or charity could use your support and help? What community or charity has helped you or people like you?
Take some time to create at least one specific goal in each of these categories. I’ve created a document you can start adding your goals to right here. Just download the document and save to start using. But first…keep reading.
One of the greatest takeaways from my previous work as a psychotherapist was that a goal isn’t goal until its SMART. It didn’t matter whether I was working with a struggling, middle-aged couple, a 17-year-old meth using teen, or an 11-year old boy with ADHD. Progress takes goals and goals must be SMART.
As initially referenced by George T. Doran, a SMART goal is a goal that is:
- Specific. It describes exactly what you want to accomplish.
- Measurable. It describes how you will track your progress and how you will know when you’ve reached your goal.
- Attainable. It describes how your goal will be accomplished. It lays out the steps to achieving the goal which are challenging, yet reasonable enough to be accomplished given your particular resources and constraints.
- Relevant. It is meaningful and consistent with your long-term goals. It’s an important piece of your big picture.
- Time-bound. It has a time-frame, an end date. It creates a sense of motivating, but not overwhelming, urgency.
If you haven’t done this already, make this the year that your desires go from esoteric dreams, to SMART and actionable items. To cut down on overwhelm, start with the goals that are the biggest and most exciting to you. Make these as SMART as you can.
Once again, I’ve created a document you can start adding your goals to right here! Just download & save the document to start using. It’s editable so make it your own.
BE EVEN SMARTER
There have been many evolutions to Doran’s work. One I find especially helpful is the idea that SMART goals can be made SMART-ER by taking time to:
- Evaluate progress. Are you completing your daily or weekly or monthly to-do’s? If yes, how? What’s helping you do this? If no, why not? What’s making it difficult?
- Revise goals. Based on the progress you are making (or lack thereof) how can your goals be adjusted so that you experience success while still being challenged to progress?
As you begin to actually work your smart goals, you will find that some are too big (given your current skills, resources, or constraints), some are too small, some are too broad, and some you just don’t care about anymore. Let your progress (or lack thereof) speak to you. Evaluate your progress weekly, or at the very least monthly. Revise as needed.
CHEW ON A FEW EXTRA TIPS
Here are a few extra tips you should consider while creating your new goals:
- Set your goals in writing. Writing down your goals crystallizes them. It takes them out of the fluffy clouds in your mind and makes them real and tangible objects that you can now reach for. If you’re not willing to write your goals down, just forget about ’em. You might as well.
- Use the phrase “I will” in front of your goals. This personalizes your goals and gives them power (Compare “I will walk 20 minutes each day for 1 month” to “Walk 20 minutes each day for one month.”)
- Focus on performance, not outcome. Create goals that are completely within your control. Don’t expend valuable time or energy on outcomes beyond your control (Compare “I will submit 10 pitches this month until I get published” to “I will get published in 3 magazines this month.”)
- Create an action plan. To do this, first a) brainstorm the different tasks required to achieve your specific SMART goal. Then b) number these tasks in logical fashion. What should happen first? What should happen next? And after that? These will now serve as the “steps” you need to take to meet your goal
DO THE INTEGRITY CHALLENGE
I don’t remember how I came across Joel Runyon’s post & challenge, but it completely kicked my butt. He is so , so right about the fact that too often our actions do not match up with our words.
We lack integrity.
And without integrity, we can plan goals to sheer and utter perfection…and go nowhere. Everything comes down to whether or not we will do what we say we are going to do. It’s simple.
So I’m doing something about this. Starting Monday, January 4th, for 28 days (which is purposefully more than 21 days), I will be doing Joel Runyon’s integrity challenge to build my personal integrity up. I am excited to see how this will improve my chances of reaching my 2016 goals. I invite you to join me. See instructions below (& click on the image to get to the post.)
DON’T DO THIS ON YOUR OWN
Finally, if you don’t know this yet, it’s time to know. It is really, really, really difficult to do things alone. Goal-getting is no different. You will get tired. You will grow weary. You will slip up, tire out, and want to quit. This is why it is so incredibly important to have a support system in place. A support system that includes encouraging friends and family, accountability partners, and mentors. Good friends and family will provide you that much needed encouragement, accountability partners will keep you in line, and mentors will be your guide.
If you’re interested, in my Prep Your Year checklist, I pose some additional questions for helping you build a solid support system. By joining my mailing list here, you’ll get this easy-to-work checklist instantly and also be the first to know about exclusive, upcoming gifts.
Either way, I’d love to know how your goal-setting is going. I’d also love to hear your questions. Did I leave anything out? Just leave a comment, email me, or @ me on Instagram or Twitter. Connecting with you is my favorite past-time. Until then, I hope to catch you somewhere being GREAT.
Wishing you more grit & even more grace,