goal setting

  • How to Set Goals and Plan Your Best Year Ever

    How to Set Goals and Plan Your Best Year Ever

     

    Just a few years ago, I was one of those people who would set a few arbitrary new year’s resolutions on January 1, only to never think about them again.

    That’s how most of us set goals. We think of a goal or something we might want to accomplish in the future. Then we either HOPE it happens, or we forget about it altogether.  

    But if you really want to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to do more. Achieving your goals takes time, effort, and planning. You can’t achieve goals just by hoping they happen someday. You have to take ACTION.

    In this post, I’m going to lay out the steps you can follow to set goals you’ll actually achieve and plan your best year ever.

     

    How to Set Goals and Plan Your Best Year Ever

     

    Step 1: Reflect

     

    You can’t set goals for your future until you take some time to reflect on your past and where you are right now.

    I want you to grab a notebook or open a word document, and write down the following life categories:

    1. Relationships (friendships, romantic relationships, family)
    2. Health (physical and emotional)
    3. Career
    4. Finances
    5. Home/Environment
    6. Fun & Leisure
    7. Personal Growth

    If there are any major categories in your life that aren’t represented here, such as religion, parenthood, etc., feel free to add those as well!

    Next, go through each category and write down where you are NOW.

    Be honest with yourself about the good and bad in your life for each of these categories.

     

    Step 2: Envision Your Future

     

    Once you’ve thought about where you are right now, take a look at each of those life categories and envision what you want them to look like in the future.

    You can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. In this goal setting exercise, we’re just envisioning our future, not choosing a big goal yet!

    For example, do you see yourself getting married? Having kids?

    Maybe you hope to own your own business someday or have a corporate career trajectory in mind.

    I love doing this exercise right after Step 1 because it’s SO eye-opening. It really shows you the discrepancies between where you are now, and where you want to be. And it REALLY helps with setting goals!

     

    Step 3: Set SMARTER Goals

     

    Now that you’ve thought about what you want your future to look like in all areas of your life, I want you to focus on ONE of those areas to focus on right now.

    Yep, just one. If you set a bunch of BIG goals for yourself, you’ll be unfocused and will have a really difficult time reaching them all.

    By setting just ONE big goal, you can give it your full focus and really ensure you accomplish it.

    When it comes to setting goals, make sure to make it SMARTER:

    • Specific: The more specific your goals, the better. Don’t just set a goal of earning money with your side hustle. Set a goal of earning $1,000/month from your side hustle within the first year (for example).
    • Measurable: The progress of this goal can be easily tracked. $1,000/month is very specific – you’ll know for sure if you’ve reached it or not, as well as if you’re on track to reach it! And once you know how much you want to make per month, you know what your daily and weekly goals should be!
    • Attainable: While setting your goals high is awesome, make sure it’s something you can actually accomplish. Consider what will be required of you to complete this goal, and carefully consider whether you have that to give.
    • Relevant: Make sure your goal is in harmony with your core values and what you’re working toward in life. If your ultimate dream is to work from home full-time, then setting a goal of $1,000/month in the first year is awesome because you’re totally moving in the right direction!
    • Time Bound: Don’t make the time frame for reaching your goals open-ended. We tend to take as long to accomplish a task as we are allowed. If your goals are completely open-ended, they may never seem urgent enough to get to. As you can see, we set a time frame of one year in the goal we’re using as an example.
    • Exciting: Let’s be real, it’s going to be a lot easier to make time to work on goals that excite and inspire you. Emotions are a big factor when it comes to goal-setting, and you’re far more likely to reach for things that excite you.
    • Routine Bound: I firmly believe that creating routines and habits is the absolute best way to make changes in your life. Incorporating your goal into your daily routine ensures you’re making time for it and gives you a MUCH better chance of reaching it. For example, you might say that every evening you get home from work at 6 pm and work on your online business until 8 pm. It becomes a daily routine and ensures you’re putting in the time to reach that $1,000/month goal.

    How to Set Goals and Plan Your Best Year Ever

    Step 4: Break Down Your Goals

     

    Now that we’ve picked our big goal, it’s time to break it down. Looking at your goal as one big, huge step is going to be SUPER overwhelming. You’re probably going to get discouraged pretty quickly because you just don’t know where to start.

    When I’m planning the action steps for my goals, I like to start by breaking the goal down into categories, or mini goals. Basically, what big picture things need to get done in order for you to reach your big goal?

    I use what’s called mind-mapping to do this. I break down my big goal into categories. Then I break those categories, or mini-goals, down into smaller chunks. And then break those down into smaller chunks. And I just keep breaking them down into smaller and smaller pieces until everything leads to tiny, bite-size action items that can be put on your to-do list.

    Once you’ve done that, get those action items scheduled on your calendar or to do list ASAP.

    Depending on the size of your goal you might be talking about 90 days of action items, you might be talking about one year of action items, or you might be talking about even more. Just make sure you know what that time frame is (remember the T in SMARTER stands for Time Bound!)

     

    Step 5: Create Positive Habits

     

    Setting goals is the fun part. It’s the follow through that tends to get a bit rocky. The absolute best way to follow through on your goals and make time to work toward them every day is to form positive habits and daily routines that incorporate your goal!

    Let’s say your goal is fitness related. Maybe you want to run a marathon or lose a certain amount of weight. By working fitness into your daily routine and making it a habit, you won’t have to remind yourself every day or try to talk yourself into it. You’ll just do it!

    Here are a few things to keep in mind to REALLY make sure the habit sticks:

    • Focus on ONE habit at a time. Implementing a new habit is really hard. Implementing a bunch at once is damn near impossible.
    • Smart SMALL. If you want to start incorporating fitness into your life but NEVER work out right now, don’t try to start working out for an hour every single day. Start small and work your way up.
    • Anchor your new habit to an existing habit. Your day is already filled with habits. Anchor your new habit to one of those existing ones to make SURE it gets done.
    • Schedule it. A new habit might be hard to remember the first few weeks, so schedule it or set a reminder on your phone.

     

    Step 6: Create Accountability

     

    I tend to be a little overzealous when it comes to goal setting. And when I say a little overzealous, I mean a LOT overzealous. But for years and years I found that I would set these big lofty goals, and then they would fall through the cracks.

    Sometimes I would work toward them for a while and then lose my motivation. Or worse, I would lose my motivation pretty much right away and forget all about them.
    The best way I’ve found to stop this from happening is to create a system for accountability RIGHT AWAY. As in, right now.

    So how do we go about creating accountability? Here are some ways to do just that:

    • Write down your goal. Seriously, this is a step most people DON’T take.
    • Share your goal. Pick just one person to share your goal with who can help keep you accountable, whether that be a partner, a friend, a parent, etc.
    • Track your progress. Remember that SMARTER goals are MEASURABLE, meaning you can measure their progress! Find a way to do this by using a notebook, journal, spreadsheet, etc.

    How to Set Goals and Plan Your Best Year Ever

    Final Thoughts

     

    You guys, that’s it! As with literally anything, advice is ONLY as good as the amount of time and effort you’re willing to put into it.

    But if you are truly diligent about implementing these steps and following through with the tasks you’ve put on your calendar, you are SURE to reach your big goal this year!

     

     

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  • What to Do When You Don’t Reach Your Financial Goals

    What to Do When You Don't Reach Your Goals

     

    I’ve always loved goal setting. Even from a young age, I was the person who sat down each year to write my new year’s resolutions. And while I may not set new year’s resolutions anymore, I always have financial goals that I’m working toward.

    But I’ll be honest – I didn’t always set the new year’s resolutions I set when I was younger, and I definitely haven’t set every financial goal I’ve set for myself as an adult.

    Obviously, it’s disappointing when you don’t reach a goal you set for yourself. But that also doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Here are a few things you can do when you don’t reach your financial goals.

     

    What to Do When You Don’t Reach Your Financial Goals

     

    Take a step back

    I tend to push myself way too hard sometimes, and can definitely be hard on myself if things don’t go as planned. Because of that, my instinct when I don’t reach a goal is to double down and work even harder towards it. This is especially true when it comes to financial goals in my business, such as signing new clients or accomplishing a certain income goal.

    But when I do that, I tend to get burned out pretty quickly. So instead, I force myself to take a step back and do some resting and reevaluating before I hit the ground running again.

    This gives me a chance to take a break and give myself a breather so I don’t overdo it. It also gives me a chance to reevaluate to figure out what I can do differently, and whether or not that goal is still important to me.

     

    Take a look at what went wrong

    If you fell short of your goal, chances are there are some things you could or should have done differently. Now is the time to be brutally honest about them so you don’t make those same mistakes again.

    I’ll be honest and say that sometimes when I don’t reach a goal, it’s just because I flat out stopped trying. Other times, however, there was simply a flaw in the plan and things got a bit derailed because of it.

    But looking at what went wrong can help direct your next steps. If I was going after a goal that I simply stopped taking steps to reach, there’s a good chance it’s no longer really important to me.

    And for goals that are still important to me, looking at what went wrong can help me to change my strategy.

    Suppose my financial goal was to reach a certain amount of income in a month. If I don’t reach that goal, I can look back at the month before and consider what I could have done differently. Did I pitch enough prospective clients? Did I write enough each day to reach my goal?

    I can use all of that useful information to help me move forward.

     

    Try again (or don’t)

    Now it’s time to decide whether or not you want to continue to tackle that goal. Maybe there was a great new job opportunity available that you thought would be perfect for you. You gave it a shot, but it didn’t pan out. It sucks that you didn’t get it the first time around, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go for it (or a similar job) again!

    Every time I’m working toward a business goal and fall short, I take some time to think about whether that goal is really important to me. If so, then I give it another shot. If not, then I forget about it and move on to the next project.

    Don’t be afraid to abandon a goal if you decide it really isn’t important to you, but also don’t shy away from trying again if you don’t reach it the first time!

    Here’s some honest truth for you: I pitched hundreds of websites on my journey to becoming a full-time freelance writer. Yes, hundreds. And guess what – most of them never responded. There were plenty of times I wanted to quit, but where I am with my business today is proof that I made the right choice by not quitting.

     

    Reignite your passion

    Failing sucks, there’s no doubt about it. And even if you failed at a goal that’s still super important to you and you want to go after it again, chances are your passion has waned and you’re feeling a bit discouraged. Now is the time you remind yourself why you set that lofty goal to begin with! Remembering your why will go a long way in getting you motivated to start again.

    When Brandon and I first set the goal of buying an RV to travel full-time, we hit plenty of setbacks. And there were definitely times when it felt like we wouldn’t reach our goal.

    Every time those feelings crept up, we focused on why we were saving for the RV in the first place. We wanted the chance to have adventures and see the country before settling down and buying a home. Both of us had always wanted to travel but hadn’t had the opportunity much. And we knew that buying the RV was that opportunity.

     

    Do it differently

    If you decide you’re going to reach for that goal again, approaching it the same way you did previously isn’t going to bring about a different outcome.

    Now that you’ve taken some time to figure out what went wrong when you were going after your goal, you know what to avoid next time around! This time you’ll be even more likely to reach that goal because you’ve learned from your mistakes and are ready to tackle it from a new angle.

    When I’ve had an income goal I was struggling to reach, I would change up my strategy for finding new clients. Similarly, when Brandon and I were struggling to reach our goal of buying an RV, we considered other ways we could cut back our spending or increase our income that we hadn’t tried yet.

    We changed our strategy, and I ultimately met all of my income goals and we bought our RV.

     

    Final thoughts

    Falling short of your financial goals is one of the worst feelings. Trust me, I’ve been there. But falling short one time doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again! There are SO many goals that I didn’t reach the first time, but did reach later on. The effort is totally worth it!

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