How To Set Goals You'll Actually Achieve
Ah, the new year. ‘Tis the season to start anew. Wipe the slate clean. Start over.
It’s the time of year when everyone sets new goals, resolutions, or intentions. Call them whatever you want. In essence, it’s a time when we think about our hopes, dreams for the future and things that we want to accomplish.
But so often, by the time February comes around our goals are usually already forgotten.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because we lack the commitment? Or maybe it's because we aren’t really sure why we want what we want? Maybe it's because our goals aren't aligned with our priorities?
Let’s delve into this.
Where Are You Headed?
When you have a clear vision of where you want to go or what you what to accomplish, the possibilities become real.
And when you are committed to your vision, you become unstoppable.
But in order to do this, you must be crystal clear on what it is that you really, truly want for yourself.
Only when you really know what it is you want can you set goals and map out a plan to achieve them.
Start off by asking yourself, "What is it that I want to achieve?", and "Where do I want that to be?"
The more you can narrow your goals and pinpoint what you really want, the easier it is to formulate a plan of action.
Let's start by identifying your priorities.
Your priorities are the things that are of highest importance that you. It's what you pay extra special attention to. It’s your values.
When identifying your priorities, ask yourself, “What is it that I’m committed to?”
When conflicts or difficult decisions arise, recognizing and choosing your best options will be easier when you are clear on your priorities and values.
Action Item: List your top three priorities. Examples could be yourself, family, friends, career, health, finances, spirituality, travel, etc.
Now ask yourself, "Can I honor my priorities?"
Let me share an example. Say your top three priorities are your family, health, and fitness.
If you are offered a job that requires a lot of travel, that job may not fit in with your top goals if your top priorities include family, exercise and improving your health.
Consider that extensive business travel would mean you wouldn’t be home much with your family, exercising could be much more challenging and it could take a toll on your health.
On the other hand, you’re offered a job where you can work at home more, never have to travel and still make good money doing something you enjoy, this job offer would be a better fit based on your priorities.
Now that you understand priorities, let's talk about setting goals.
I'm sure you've heard of the term "SMART" goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
Let's look at an example of a SMART goal. Say your goal is to save money every month. Remembering what "smart" stands for, how can we make this into a "smart" goal?
Instead of having a goal of "save money each month", get very specific. What dollar amount do you want to save each month? How can you make that happen?
Determine your why and if it is attached to one of your priorities.
Instead, say, “I will save some money for a family vacation to Hawaii for next April to create a great family memory on Maui, a place we’ve longed to visit. Since I will need $7,200 and am just starting to save, I will save $600 each month and put it into a savings account specific for vacation. I will take $300 from each of my two paychecks per month. This example ties into my priorities of my family as well as priorities for fun and adventure. This goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. It’s also in alignment with my priorities."
In the example above, the SMART goal was tied to the "why." In my opinion, I think this is the most important, and often overlooked, part of setting goals.
When setting your goals, ask yourself, "Why do I want to set this goal?" What would that mean to you and what would that feel like when I achieve it?
If you don’t have an emotional attachment to your goals, they aren’t usually as meaningful or motivating. What’s going to get you moving on those days you really don’t ‘feel like’ it?
A common goal that everyone sets in the new year is to lose weight. Say you have a goal to lose 20 lbs so you can fit into a dress for an upcoming wedding.
So, let's ask, "Why do you want to lose weight?" "Why is that important?" It’s probably not about the dress. It’s most likely about how you will feel; more confident, perhaps.
Your "why" is usually layers underneath your initial answer. Your “why” is what will help you stay committed when achieving your goal seems hard or challenging.
Now that you're clear on your priorities, have set your goals and clarified your "why", let's create an action plan for how you're going to achieve them.
Create An Action Plan
I like to start backwards. By working backwards from your target date to today, you can figure out what needs to be done by when. This gives you a concrete timeline from which to work and live by.
Grab a pen and some paper or your laptop/tablet. Start brainstorming and create your plan.
Here's another example of backward planning:
If your goal is to earn $5,000 per month within six months, what do you need to start putting into place NOW? If your goal is to lose 30 pounds in six months, what does your plan consist of? What plan can you put together?
To help you create your plan, I'm sharing a 6-page goal-setting worksheet that I use with my private coaching clients. This worksheet is designed to help you identify your priorities, get clear on your why, and set long-term and short-term goals.
Hi, I'm Naomi!
I’m a Functional Nutrition Health Coach and 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach for health-conscious women who suffer from unexplained weight gain.
I teach them how to stop chasing symptoms and find sustainable solutions by listening to their body and championing their own course so they can they can finally feel comfortable in their skin again.
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.