When you set goals that will give your life the most purpose and meaning, you are effectively trading your life for what you want to achieve. Choose goals that somewhat scare you and that are worthy of your life. Don’t ask if you are worthy of achieving those goals. Instead, choose goals that you don’t immediately know how to achieve, because this will help you build confidence. Once you set your goals, then choose to learn how to: 1) think the right way, 2) achieve what you want and 3) make your directional plans. Trust yourself, you will become who you need to be in order to achieve your goals. When you are committed to achieving your goals, you are no longer stuck with your past beliefs about yourself: with your fears, with your lack of resources, and with other road blocks and setbacks. You will no longer allow your past to hold you back or feel limited by your present circumstances and resources.
Step 1 – Contemplation: From Confusion to Clarity
As a part of goal setting, contemplation will allow you to move from Confusion to Clarity and from feeling overwhelmed to feeling calm and confident. To start, ask yourself what is your life’s purpose. Why are you here? What do you want to accomplish? What are the things that are dear to you that will make you feel great? Remember, you are trading your life for your purpose. Really take time to think about that.
Recognize the level at which you are starting and the level at where you want to be. Remove pressure to be outstanding for everything at the same time. To start, choose one or two areas to improve and one or two areas to maintain. Remember, goal setting is not about competition with someone else.
Develop an outer mission and an inner mission:
- Your outer mission answers the question, “What do I want to do for the people around me and the world?”
- Your inner mission answers the question, “What do I want to do for myself?” Then determine your highest values. What do you live by and make decisions from?
Next, identify your goals for the next 12 months. This should be an exercise in imagination and motivation. It will also be an exercise in deductive reasoning, because you are choosing the critical few goals that will give you the feeling you want from the trivial many goals that you could possibly choose. Set goals not just for the clarity of what you want to achieve, but also to be able to quickly and easily know when to say No after you set your goal. Meaning, you will be able to quickly analyze whether opportunities presented to you can help you achieve your goals and which will distance you from them. Also, you will be able to clearly realize which habits to release and which ones to reinforce.
Step 2 – Crafting a Plan: Laying out the Road Map
Effective planning is an adaptive ability. If you don’t plan how to complete your goals, you are relying on “hope and prayer.” And, that’s not a core strategy. First, ask yourself: “Do I have the knowledge and skills to achieve that goal? Do I have the beliefs necessary to achieve them? Do I have the right beliefs? Do I have the right habits? Do I need additional help to achieve that goal?” If you are lacking in certain areas – get help.
When preparing your plan, be aware of common “thinking traps.” Reframe from beliefs and observations that are holding you back. Self-talk and patterns of thought are habits that are developed over time. By reframing, you can rid yourself of negative self-talk, blame, shame, guilt, excuses, and justifications. Use what you know from the past—the good, the bad, and the challenging—to help you plan your next 12 months. It’s also important to realize that you have to make this plan for yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone. It’s okay to ask for help!
Develop your plan by listing your goals, the strategies that will help you achieve them, the tactics or specific action items you’ll need to achieve them and the timelines by which you will get them completed. This can help define the scope of the project, develop detailed task lists, estimate time requirements, evaluate project requirements, and identify and track critical milestones. Then write down three mental or emotional obstacles that might get in your way. Then plan specifically how to overcome each obstacle. When you can picture yourself overcoming those obstacles, you are preparing yourself to know exactly what to do when they arise. You’re giving yourself a road map!
Continually keep in mind the leverage, or motivation, behind each of your goals. Why must you realize these goals? With a big enough why, you’ll do what you need to do to get things done. Your why will pull you towards your vision. Your why will keep you on track when things get challenging and difficult. Goals in your head are just dreams. Goals written down become real targets. When you write down or type your goals and continue to review them on a regular basis, you are much more likely to achieve them.
Step 3 – Daily Habits & Rituals: they help make Change Last
Consistency allows us to achieve goals faster and more easily. When you establish good habits, you develop a thought and behavioral pattern consciously that will then become unconscious and automatic. Support systems, whether they are people, technology, rituals or daily habits will help you to achieve your goals. After setting your goal, then strive to become the person you need to in order to reach them.
Rituals, no matter how mundane, allow us to establish positive patterns in our lives. By continually performing a task, it becomes easy and eventually a facet of our lives. This is formula for success: allowing the difficult to now become normal and even desired. Optimally, an individual should have a ritual for their morning as well as their evenings, and, even for tasks like checking emails, communicating with fellow employees and grouping similar activities.
The next step is to create a cheat sheet or road map for one’s day. This would include a list of the habits and rituals that support you, day-in and day-out. Further, creating this cheat sheet is, in itself, a habit, allowing you to plan for and cement positive activities every day.
Hopefully, this first section of steps will help “Make 2017 your best year ever!” A second session on Goal Setting & Goal Achieving will follow in the future.