Happy 2018! This time of year always seems to bring out some major feels. Either reflecting on the year we just said goodbye to or getting pumped for the year in front of us, January feels like the perfect time to reflect, reevaluate and get inspired.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Have you stuck to it so far? I’ve found that pretty much every time I’ve made a resolution, I end up dropping it by the second week of January. So, after a few years of frusturating failed resolutions, I’ve replaced the resolutions with goals. Goals don’t come with baggage of past failures or pressure that if the resolution isn’t followed, the rest of the year is a loss. Goals are simply a benchmark of what you’re working for and toward.
I’m a firm believer in the “you get one life, so live it exactly the way you want” mentality. I haven’t always been this way. Maybe in theory, but definitely not in action. It was only a few years ago that I realized if I didn’t change my thoughts, behaviors, and actions, I wouldn’t have a shot in hell at realizing any of my dreams. It was a heavy realization but a much needed one. I was watching others live these magical lives (through the magic portal of Instagram and YouTube) that I desperately wanted to experience myself. I realized that I had to make decisions, start living proactively instead of reactively, and take concrete actions toward my goals to have a shot of living the kind of life I wanted.
After I stripped away all of the things in my life that I knew I didn’t want (the career I built, the lifestyle I had, my limiting mindset), I started to figure out what I did want. That is where the idea of lifestyle design came into play. Could I really travel, see the things I wanted to, and start a business? Yes. But only with concrete goals and massive action.
If you’re interested in living a life that you design and choose, rather than one that is chosen for you, goal setting is your friend. Timelines and plans are your friends. ACTION is your friend.
Today I’m breaking down my process for strategic goal setting to design the life that you envision. Set aside some time to get crazy-real with yourself and figure out where you are right now, what you want in the future, and what you’ll need to do to get there.
The Goal Setting Process
Step 1: Reflect.
Reflection is huge because if we’re not pausing to understand why we did or didn’t do things, we’re setting ourselves up to repeat the same behaviors again. Self-awareness is massively important at this stage in the game. Getting really real with yourself and looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Figure out why you fell short on something you wanted to accomplish last year. Were you scared? Did you not understand how to do it? Do you not surround yourself with the right people, energy, or resources to allow yourself to succeed?
Reflecting on things we did right this past year is also super important. Did you make it to the gym 5 times a week every week this year, just like you wanted to? If yes, how did you make that change happen? Is it because you started to enjoy going? You can use that insight to help you accomplish your other goals. If you identify that you went to the gym because you started enjoying it, you now know if you can figure out how to associate enjoyment with your other goals, you’re more likely to accomplish them.
Step 2: Map out your vision for the next few years and set big goals.
This is the fun part. I just finished Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Giant Within, which is where this mapping method comes from. (It’s a super short book but an awesomely empowering read! I listened to the audiobook in the morning while on a walk or run. It’s such a positive way to start your day.)
Grab a notepad and a quiet spot where you can brainstorm for an hour. You’re going to be figuring out what you want in each of the following four categories: Personal Development, Career/Financial/Money Management, Adventure/Toys, and Contribution. For each category, give yourself at least 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time and write down anything (yes, anything!) that comes to your mind that you’d like to see/do/experience/have/be. Don’t limit or censor yourself. Don’t ignore your desires because they don’t seem plausible. Imagine if money/resources/skills/knowledge were not a limiting factor. You can figure out the hows later. Here’s a few descriptors of each section:
Personal Development Goals: Anything and everything you want to achieve which relates to personal growth. This can be things you’d like to learn, things that currently limit you that you’d like to overcome (fears/limiting beliefs/behaviors), ways you’d like to improve your body, your mind, your relationships, your spirituality. This could be learning a new language, breaking out of your shell (a goal for me for this year), or challenging yourself to run a marathon.
Career/Financial/Investment/Money Management Goals: What kind of impact do you want to have in life? Does this require more or less money? What would you like to save? Is there anything you want to invest in? Do you want to get better at managing your money or saving more? Do you want to become financially free? How much money would that require?
Adventure/Toys Goals: What would you like to build, create or purchase? What would you like to see, do, or experience that would be sheer enjoyment for yourself? Do you want to sail around the Greek islands with friends? Sky dive in New Zealand? Buy something you’ve always loved? This is your fun/crazy/wild category, so get creative!
Contribution Goals: How would you like to leave a mark on the world? What kind of impact do you want to have on others? What would you like to contribute? This is your opportunity to think about what kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind and how you’d like to make a real difference in the world.
Now, review each of the 4 lists you created. Add a timeframe for accomplishing each and every goal you listed. Keep it high level. 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, etc- whatever time frame for each goal you’d like to have it achieved by. You can figure out how you’ll accomplish the goals later.
Lastly, go back through the 4 lists and circle the most important goal from each list that you’d like to achieve this year. Pick the one thing that, by the end of 2018, would have the most impact on your life if accomplished. Which goal means the most to you? Why? Write down your why too.
3. Figure out what you’ll do to achieve the big goals.
Now, you’re going to figure out how you’re going to achieve your goals. You can use this Goal Mapping worksheet (or a new piece of notebook paper), to work through this part of the process.
Add each of the four big goals to your worksheet. You can right click, open the image in a new tab and print the Goal Mapping sheet below, or download it using the link underneath the picture.
To download the sheet:
- Write each of your big goals in the far hand right column titled “Where do I want to be?”. You can also include any smaller goals you might have for the year on this sheet too. *
- Fill out the column on the left hand side, titled “Where am I now?” Try to be as real as possible with yourself when filling out this column. It will make the process of figuring out what you need to do to achieve your goal so much easier.
- Fill in the “What do I have to do to get to where I want to be?” column. There’s a few things to think about for this one: What is your plan for how you’ll achieve the goal? What strategies do you need to execute to complete the plan? What is your timeline for executing the strategies?
*A helpful tip for when you’re filling out the: Where I Want To Be column. Focus on the positive things you want to see, do, experience, and become this year. Instead of “Go on a diet this year,” try “Eat veggies or fruits with every meal this year.” There’s so much less anxiety and restriction with that second statement! It sounds a lot more fun (and healthy) than focusing on how you’ll restrict and punish yourself this year.
Using one of my smaller goals that I mentioned in the above video, my chart would look like this:
I’ve identified what I want (strength) and a clear marker for what that means to me (doing 5 pull-ups). I’ve figured out where I am now (I can’t do any). I’ve also come up with a plan (start lifting), strategies to execute the plan (join a gym, find a lifting routine, and go to the gym 3 times a week), and a timeline for when I’d like to achieve the goal (by end of 2018).
4. Use a planner, spreadsheet, calendar, or a combination of these to build systems that will help you achieve your goals.
I’ll keep this short. To make achieving your goals as attainable as possible, write them down! Whether it’s a big white poster board, a detailed planner, or an Excel spreadsheet, writing your goals down will help you stay on track with them. I do a combo of each of these things.
White board: While I don’t write my goals on a huge white board, I do write them on a piece of small white cardboard. I look at them every single morning right before I start my work day. It helps me stay on track and keep my daily work tasks focused.
Planner: Currently, I’m using the Law of Attraction planner. I’ve really been liking it. It has space for the previous year’s reflection and room to chart out your goals for the upcoming year. It has gratitude prompts, a space for a vision board, and the same breakdown page as the above printout on mapping out your goals. Each month, there is room to break down your monthly goals and a post-month reflection page. The main reason I love the planner is the space for weekly goal setting and daily to-do’s.
Excel sheet: I use an Excel sheet to chart out the plans, strategies, and timelines I set for each goal. I usually end up checking this on a daily basis.
Whatever method you choose, the most important part is following through and staying on course with your goals. In most cases, we underestimate what we’re capable of doing in our lives, so I urge you to dream big and don’t stop until you accomplish your deepest desires.