Are you sick of setting goals and not reaching them? You know there are things that would make your life better and yet you don’t do them. When you stop and think about it, it sounds a little crazy. You know things in life would improve if you made changes, but you just can’t seem to stick to getting it done. The funny thing is, you’re not alone. It’s a super common problem that many of us suffer from and the good news is it’s not that hard to change.
It could be that you need to lose weight and sometimes you try, but it’s not long before you give up. It could be that you’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but need to be able to make money for your family so you never make progress towards getting home. Or, maybe you know you need to get your finances in order, go back to school, improve an important relationship in your life, get your home organized, or grow a business. Whatever the things are that you want to accomplish in your life, one reason you aren’t getting them done is that you aren’t setting goals and tracking your progress. If you are ready to make a change and learn how to achieve goals, keep reading.
Why is goal setting important?
For years I gave up on setting goals. I never reached them anyway so what was the point of setting them and then feeling bad when I failed? Well, what I learned by doing this is that I basically made no progress when I didn’t set goals. And, any progress that I did make was wasted because it wasn’t easy to recognize. Goal setting is important for a few reasons:
- It helps you get focused on creating the life that you want
- You learn to recognize the success that you are having which helps build confidence
- It helps you learn to spot the areas that aren’t working so you know what changes you need to make
Without goals, you are simply just going through the motions of life. You are allowing whatever happens to happen. And, you may have a great attitude about it and think you are just a “go with the flow” type of person, but why would you want to just go where life takes you. We are all responsible for our own lives. We get one chance at life and it’s our responsibility to do our best at it for ourselves and the loved ones around us.
How to set goals
I’ll be honest, I get sick of hearing about SMART goals. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I hate the phrase. Maybe it’s because for so many years I thought I was trying to follow the SMART goals plan and not making any progress. And, maybe you feel that way too.
However, when I really started learning about building confidence and making progress in my life I learned more about how to set SMART goals and why the process really does work. Here’s a quick overview:
SMART Goals = Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely.
- Specific = You need to determine exactly what you want to do and be as detailed as possible. This means instead of saying, “I want to lose weight” you determine what your final goal weight is. Or, instead of saying “I want to save more money” you decide how much money you are going to save.
- Measurable = When a goal is measurable you have a way to tell if you are making progress towards it or not. This is the part of your goal that allows you to track your progress. Instead of saying “I’m going to grow my Usborne business” it becomes “I’m going to grow my Usborne business by 10% this quarter”. You need a way to know when you hit your goal.
- Achievable= You may want to lose 40 lbs before your vacation next month, but is that really achievable? No. When you set an unachievable goal you are setting yourself up for frustration and failure.
- Relevant = Will the goal you are setting actually help you achieve something that you want in life? Many times we set goals that aren’t really what we want or are really the goal we need to focus on to get the thing that we want. If you want goals that are going to work they need to be relevant to what you want to accomplish in your life, otherwise, you are wasting your time. Buying a bigger house might be a good goal, but there has to be a reason why you care about doing this.
- Timely = You MUST have a deadline with your goal. If you say things like “someday I am going to lose that last 10 pounds” that “someday” is never going to happen. You need to set a realistic deadline that will motivate you to continue making steady progress towards your goal.
Review your goals carefully
Once you think you have your goals set take time to review them. Walk yourself through the SMART process. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is this goal specific? What exactly am I trying to accomplish?
- Can I measure my progress? What is the unit that I am using to measure my progress?
- Is this achievable? Am I being realistic in this goal?
- Does this goal really help me get what I want in life?
- What is the deadline? Can I mark it on the calendar?
Write them down where you will see them
Here’s a common problem with goal setting: January 1st rolls around and you want to set “resolutions”. You spend a little bit of time thinking about what you want to accomplish and then you go on with your day. Well, it doesn’t take long to forget what your goals were and why they really mattered.
If you want to achieve the goals that you are setting you to need to take it a step further—WRITE THEM DOWN. And, then look at them often. Create a vision board where you can keep your goals in front of you. Write them in your journal and review them on a weekly basis. Take a picture of them written down and use it as your screensaver. You get the point, get creative with it and keep your goals in front of you.
What happens after you set goals?
Setting your goal is just the first step. Once you have your goal you need to break it down into small actionable steps. Here’s why:
- It’s not so overwhelming: Big goals can be overwhelming. Smaller steps are more manageable. They also give you something to constantly be crossing off so you can see your progress. For example, instead of focusing on the big goal of losing 50 pounds you can focus on the task of going to the spin class on Tuesday. At the end of class, you know that you accomplished a task that is helping you work towards your goal.
- It forces you to think through the steps: There are always smaller steps that help you reach a bigger goal. If you only focus on the big goal you may never learn what the steps are to get there and then you fail at reaching your goal. When you force yourself to break your goal down you are creating the action plan to reach it.
- It helps you stay on track: If your goal is to make $10,000 on your side business in the next 4 months it’s easy to make no progress for the first few months and still think you have a chance. However, when you think about needing to make $2,500/month it keeps you on track. Then, it’s easier to see that if you aren’t making enough money at the beginning you really need to ramp it up at the end. And, many times if you aren’t making the progress you need to at the beginning you probably aren’t putting yourself in the position to reach your goal.
Daily life makes it easy to lose sight of our goals. This is a struggle that I have. My normal day may consist of any number of the following tasks: homeschooling the girls, making dinner, cleaning, accountability coaching, freelance content writing, customer calls, and writing social media and blog posts. This list doesn’t even include things like spending time with family and friends, going grocery shopping, paying bills, reading, Bible study, and exercising.
Some of the details might look a little different, but your day is probably similar. We have a lot of things to do, people that demand our attention, and tasks that need to be completed. That’s life. There’s no reason for trying to fight it. But, we can work on getting it organized.
I’ve found it’s important to focus on a few areas when planning my day:
- Keeping my goal in sight
- Knowing what’s for dinner
- Getting in some form of exercise
- Knowing what personal tasks need my attention
- Knowing what business tasks need my attention
Then at the end of each day, I spend a few minutes thinking through what went well during the day and what I was successful at. And, I think about what I failed at and what changes I need to make to not fail at that the next day. Sticking to this process helps me stay focused on my goal while making changes as need be. To make it easier on myself I created a printable planner that I use to keep all of this in one place. If you are interested in seeing the planner fill in your name and email and hit subscribe.