Go ahead, admit it, you're one of three types of people: 1) the type who lives by their planner and gains energy by checking off their to-dos; 2) the type who has a melt down when someone asks them about their 5-year plan; or 3) you're a mix of both; you love planning and making to-do lists, but you need help with accountability and organizing the plan.
Most of us have figured out that we have to adopt some good habits like goal setting, completing to-lists, and actually seeing things through to succeed in life. Pure laziness just won't be enough. It won't get you a promotion. It doesn't get you the beautiful home of your dreams. It doesn't wash your mountains of laundry. It doesn't help you achieve the healthy weight you're desiring. The only thing that will help you succeed is taking action on your plans.
But, you have to have some plans first.
Some of my clients have told me that they don't like to make plans because it feels too much like they are giving up control of their livelihood and spontaneous nature. There is so much irony in this statement. And, there is so much 'fear' in this statement. You know how it is. You make a plan and decide that you have actual goals, and you suddenly have something that you could fail to achieve. Your fears actually prevent you from daring to believe that you can actually achieve your goals. Having a plan is the ultimate form of control and you must do everything you can to remind yourself of this every single day...your livelihood and spontaneous nature depend on it.
So, what's the point? The point is that, although, goal setting may seem like an unreal concept, there is a right way to set your goals...and a wrong way. And there are bite-size pieces to getting it done.
Let's take that first bite together.
I'm sure you have a dream, right? Think of it this way, goals are the actual steps you take to make a dream come true. So, who doesn't want to take that first step towards achieving their dreams?
So, how do you start the process of setting these dream-achieving goals? The reality is, when you focus on a few important goals, you are more likely to achieve them. You do have so many hours in a day and you only have so much energy in your body (no matter how hard that is to admit). You do have limits. Therefore, I believe the hardest part of the process will be limiting yourself to just a few of the most realistic, smart goals.
It's likely that you have heard of SMART goals before, but in case you need one, here's a refresher:
A SMART goal example: you want to pay off your $1000 debt in the next 4 months; broken down, you'll make a payment of $125/paycheck. The specific goal is $2000. You can measure how much you've paid each month. You've adjusted your budget and cut back on other expenses, so $250/month is achievable and realistic. And you have a specific timeline to achieve your goal.
These kinds of goals work because they are quantifiable, meaning you can measure your success. If you set a goal of 'having less debt', how can you measure that? Less debt compared to what, exactly? Instead, determine the amount of debt you have and the goal you want to achieve. Then determine your realistic timeline.
Now that we have the what out of the way, let's talk about the first step you can take in the process of setting your dream achieving goals.
I often use the words 'brain-dump' with a lot of my clients. This is usually the first step we take together towards setting SMART goals. The secret to a true brain-dump is simple...write down everything that comes to mind without judging it. Even if you know it's not a fully vetted SMART goal, or even the most realistic of goals at the moment, write it down.
For the first go round, you just want to get everything out. Then keep writing, but start to think in “groupings”. It might be more helpful to think of it as personal, work, household, friends, errands, etc. or whatever works for you!
Try to go in some sort of order so that your brain isn’t jumping all over the place. First write down everything at the forefront of your brain and then start going through different domains of your life and writing things down as they pertain to that area – such as self-care, deadlines, stuff at work or related to a particular client, household
Now that you’ve gotten everything out on paper, take a minute to do something else to get your brain off of it for a bit. But keep it near you so that as you think of new things, you can add to it.
For now, that's it. Try this out. See how it feels. You may even feel like dumping your brain a few times once you get started.
My next blog entry will take you to the next step of prioritizing your goals. Enjoy the process, it's totally worth it.