Everyone tells you to dream big and shoot for the stars but no one tells you how to get there. So many of us set goals that we never end up accomplishing and I know how bad that feels. What we need is a foolproof plan to achieve what our hearts desire.
Something I have to admit is that while I'm great at making lists, what I’m not so good at is making a plan. Lists and plans serve different purposes. We make plans when we have a goal in mind and we need a roadmap to get there. Lists are a checklist of small tasks that we need to accomplish. Both can be healthy tools in achieving a goal. But here’s the thing, you can have a list without a plan but you can’t have a plan without a list.
There is an art to planning to achieve a goal and I am writing this for me as much as I am writing it for you. I have big goals for myself this year, so big they kind of scare me. That’s exactly why I need a foolproof plan to achieve them. Planning takes practice and above all it takes commitment. Here are six simple steps that will allow you to reach any goal that you set for yourself. Let’s do this!
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” - Alan Lakein
Step 1 Pick a Goal
Let’s start off with this goal. Let’s get to know it. Make sure it feels good and that it’s something that we really want to accomplish. Many of us end up making resolutions that we think we should be working towards, but they may actually be things that we don’t want. It could be pressure from our partner, our job, our parents or even society. Did you know that it’s a lot easier to accomplish a goal that you want rather than one that you don’t want? Sounds silly but it’s true.
The first step should be spending some time with this goal to make sure that it feels right. Make sure it resonates with who you are in this moment and where you want to go. Take a couple minutes to visualize it and imagine how you would feel if you had it. If doing this makes you feel over-the-moon kind of happy, then this is the right goal for you.
Another important part of this step is to be as detailed as possible with the wording of your goal. “Save money” is vague and can cause too much fluctuation. Whereas “Open a savings account that takes $100 out of your account every month” is very detailed. The more detailed your goal is the harder it will be to stray from it.
Step 1b Uncover how your goal makes you feel
There’s also a second part to step one. It is here to help you get even more connected with your goal. Most of us make goals like “lose 15 lbs”, “save more money”, “learn a new skill”, or “make more time for my hobbies”. While those are great goals we usually only focus on how this goal will affect the way our lives look. Underneath every goal that we make, lies a feeling that we are yearning for. When we uncover what that feeling is, we can set goals from a more honest place.
For example, if you lost 15 lbs it might make you feel healthy, or confident. Maybe your goal is to save more money, that might bring you closer to your need for feeling secure or stable. If you were to learn a new skill it might make you feel empowered or adventurous. If you want to spend more time on your hobbies, that might make you feel inspired or creative.
When you take a look at your goals and you start to match them up with feelings you may begin to notice some themes. It could be your a-ha! moment of the new year. Maybe what you’ve been looking for all along is to feel connected or grounded or brave or liberated or authentic or useful.
Step 2 Take Ownership
Most of us miss this step of goal setting entirely. We think about what we want to accomplish, maybe we even write it down and then we think that’s good enough. Taking ownership is about committing to our goal and it’s an essential step to achieving it. When you take that moment to commit to your goal your psychology changes and it becomes yours. This is called the Endowment Effect. The Endowment Effect is a theory that a person will overvalue an item just because they own it. We become more protective and passionate about things that we own. This is why you are much more likely to achieve your goal if you take ownership of it.
A lot of us, me included, sit on the fence with our goals. We put off committing to them because we know that they will become real if we do. When you are committed to something and it doesn’t work out, you are devastated. This is just a fear of failure. We are afraid to start something if we think that we may have the slightest chance of failing. I do agree that a goal never started is a goal never failed, but a goal never started is also a goal never achieved. If you really want to achieve your goals then you’re going to have to commit to them.
Step 3 Make a Plan
All success starts with a plan. Think of it as a roadmap to a destination. The destination is your achieved goal, and the roadmap is the plan to get there. A great way to start your plan is to work backwards from the destination to where you are now. Make sure that you get as detailed as possible in this process. Do a lot of research. Ask others who achieved this how they did it. Write down every single step. You should end up with a plan so detailed that if you gave it to a complete stranger they would be able to achieve your goal. This is going to be your guide.
Be sure to allow for detours on this journey. You must be ready for obstacles and challenges to creep in unexpectedly. It is best to remain flexible so that you can make room for changes to the plan.
Step 4 Take Action
It almost seems silly to say, but a goal will be empty if you don’t take any action towards it. Just like using that roadmap to get to your destination, without the action of getting in that driver's seat and putting your foot on the gas, you will never get there. It’s the same with your goals. If you choose a goal, take ownership, make a plan and then just sit there, well, sadly your goal will be no closer. You have to take those steps. Every single day if possible. This is where hard work and consistency come into play. Mix that with a well organized and detailed plan and you can’t go wrong.
Step 5 Stay Accountable
It’s perfectly normal to require some help when you are trying to achieve a goal. Staying accountable on your journey to your goal can be tough. There are days where you can be completely uninspired and you need that extra push. There are a few different ways that you can stay accountable.
You can get a goal buddy. Maybe you and your best friend both want to try going vegan for January. First of all, yes that’s a thing. And second, how much fun would it be to send voice notes back and forth, forward recipes to each other or go grocery shopping together?
Even if you don’t have the same goal you can still stay accountable with a friend. If your bestie is trying to quit smoking and you are training to run a marathon you can still be there for each other. You can check in on them often to make sure they are meeting their goals and send them any interesting material that you think might help them.
Another way to stay accountable of your goals is to post on social media and tell all your followers that you are setting this goal for yourself. It might be daunting to invite these strangers into your life to watch your progress. It might not be for everyone but some strive in that kind of environment. Also, you never know who you are going to inspire to pursue their goals with that same kind of determination.
If the goal you have is very personal and you wouldn’t want to include anyone in your journey that’s totally fine. You just need to give yourself a strict schedule with checkpoints for yourself to reach. You may have to incorporate a part of this into your daily lifestyle or make it a ritual. This will require you to be very diligent and disciplined.
Step 6 Trust the Process
Having faith is a very important part of this work. No one achieves goals that they don’t believe in. When you trust that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, you will.
There are so many stories of people who have achieved amazing success against all odds. You may come to a point on the journey to your goal where you are challenged and feel like giving up. It is important that you remain as positive as you can and trust that everything is still going according to plan even when it doesn't seem like it is. These moments are meant to test you, to see how badly you want this goal and what you are willing to do to get it. If you show up after every rejection and failure and keep going, you are proving that you really want this. Those who trust in the process are rewarded with great things.
I know it gets hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, but don’t stay in those feelings longer than you have to. After a good cry, dust yourself off and put on some Try Again by Aaliyah and get back to work.
I hope you found these steps in setting your goal helpful. I believe that you can do this.
Let’s all share in the comments what our biggest goal for 2019 is and encourage each other!!
My goal for 2019 is to create a class that doesn’t exist yet. A safe space for women that’s centred around feeling good while being ourselves.
Now you go!