Yesterday, I wrote about setting goals, how to brainstorm the things that you want to achieve, how to make them ‘smart’ and how write them down using the best language so that you are setting yourself up for success.
Today we are going to look at how to turn those goals into a reality. Setting goals is the easy part. Making them happen is where the effort lies, but the effort is well and truly worth it.
At the end of the post, I also go into detail on how I set goals, a process I have used for many years now.
1. Prioritise your goals
If you could only achieve one goal this year, what would it be? This is the goal that you want to focus the most energy on. Focus is important to achieving success. Tony Robbins refers to this as concentration of power. Focusing all of your resources on your goal will improve the chances of success. Average attention to your goal will give you average results. Work towards all of your goals, but choose one to really focus on.
2. Make your goals visual
Once you have written out your goals, don’t hide them in the drawer and forget about them, put them somewhere where you can see them everyday and be reminded about the things you really want. Put them on the fridge door, on the bathroom mirror, in your journal or diary, anywhere that you will see them everyday.
Seeing your goals helps you to focus on them. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutia of day to day living. Having your goals in view everyday makes it easier to make daily decisions that will take you closer to achieving them.
Mentally visualise reaching your goals. I know that this sounds a bit airy-fairy but psychologists who have studied performance mastery have shown that the most successful people are those who rehearse things in their mind and visualise their own success. Spend a few minutes everyday visualising yourself doing the things you need to achieve your goals.
3. Break it down into baby steps…
You know where you want to go, but how are you going to get there? After setting your goals, you need an action plan of how you are going to achieve them.
Look at each goal and break it down into baby steps. Brainstorm all the steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. This may take some research.
Write down each action step and be as specific as possible. Have a look at each step and see if you can break it down even further. For example "write chapter one of my novel" might be broken down into "research characters," "draw up an outline" "write first draft"….etc.
If you want to save $1000 this year, do some quick maths and work out how much you will need to save each month, each week, each day to reach your goal.
Put your steps in a logical order beginning with the first step that you need to take. This is your action plan. Put it somewhere visible and cross off each step as you do it. Your plan will change as you go along, but this is a good starting point.
4. … and take the first step today
Stop now and take that first step. Make that phone call, write that email, jot down your novel outline, research your travel destination online, book your tickets. Whatever your first step is, take it now.
The hardest part is taking that first step. Don’t procrastinate or put it off. Make your dreams real by making them concrete. Make them concrete by getting the ball rolling today.
If your goal seems large or overwhelming, breaking it down into baby steps makes it easier. Each day all you have to achieve is one of your baby steps. That way, you will achieve your goal in no time.
5. Record your progress
Recording your progress is great for motivation. Cross off your list of steps, graph your savings, share your progress and celebrate milestones. If you are saving for a holiday, for example, get the kids involved by drawing up a "thermometer" chart to colour in each time you reach a savings milestone for your holiday. Getting everyone involved and having a visual reminder of your progress, motivates everyone to reach the goal.
Below is an example of how you can draw up your goals and the action steps needed to achieve them and track your progress. I’ve simplified it a lot but you get the idea.
6. Find your own personal cheer squad
There a many avenues that you can go to for help. Having a mentor – someone who has done what you want to do and can coach you – is a great tool to help you achieve your goals. But not everyone has access to a personal mentor. Other places that you can go for help include:
- Books – either books on your goal to help you research or motivational and inspirational books.
- Online – there is a forum for everything – forums are a great place to meet like-minded people for support and encouragement. Also blogs and information sites are useful for research and education
- Educational institutions
- Government agencies
- Friends and Family. Beware of telling your friends and family your goals if you don’t think that they are going to be supportive. It’s a funny thing, but often a stranger will encourage you, and your family will find a hundred reasons why you can’t achieve your goal and why you shouldn’t even try. Family and friends can be a great source of motivation if they are supportive but as they often have invested emotional interests in you and what you do, it may be better to hold off telling them for a while.
The method that I use
I have been using these goal setting techniques for quite a few years now. I keep an eye on the bigger picture, but focus on the baby steps. It is easier than way.
- Using the strategies in yesterday’s post write out your goals for the year.
- Prioritise your goals and write out baby steps as above.
- Divide these steps up over the year, so that you know what you have to have done every month in order to reach your goal.
- Each week write out a weekly goal list. These are smaller steps that you need to take to achieve your monthly goal.
- Each day write out a daily to do list – these are the baby steps that you need to take to achieve your goals plus all the other things that you need to do for day to day living.
- Be realistic about what you can do in a day. Prioritise the most important thing and do this first, then if you get nothing else done, you will have done what’s important. If your goal is to write a novel, then doing some writing is probably more important that getting the vacuuming done.
- Put a time limit on yourself so that the task doesn’t grow to fill all available time in the day. Use a timer if necessary. This is also a great motivational tool if you don’t feel like taking action. Set the timer for 15 or 30 minutes and know that its all the time you have to spend today doing your task.
- Cross off your lists, track your progress, keep an eye on your big goals.
Good luck with your goals.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.