Goal setting: 5 Easy to Follow Action Steps
We’ve all heard it before. That quintessential quote about goal setting- “failing to plan is planning to fail.” In fact, if you’re anything like me you’ve probably heard it so many times that you’ve managed to tune it out, or repeated it without ever adopting the idea into your own life. Sometimes it’s easier to think we’re setting a good example just by preaching someone else’s lines. I know I am certainly guilty of it and with this in mind, I am creating this action plan for my own personal development, so that I can lead by example, as much as I am creating it for you to follow.
Why Is Goal Setting Important?
There are literally thousands of reasons and resources that can tell you why goal setting is important, so I am going to get to the most obvious point. Goal setting gives you direction. It both requires and allows you to determine where you want to be and how you are going to get there, whilst giving you a worthwhile focus for your time and energy. In short:
“Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation”-Mind Tools
Of course, it also gives you a sense of pride, helps you to build belief, and allows you to reach a higher potential, but this is only if you successfully plan and achieve your goals.
Goal Setting Action Plan
If you have ever successfully achieved a goal, the chances are you had a plan. It may not have been written or verbalised, but your subconscious mind knew where to aim and how to get there. Rather than leaving it all to chance, however, the following step-by-step plan is simple to understand and implement. It can be used to establish long-term goals or your daily choirs. How you use it is up to you!
1. Establish Your ‘Why’
This is the most important starting point in any endeavour. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but if you don’t have a strong enough reason why you will never do the uncomfortable things it takes to achieve success. As Napoleon Hill detailed in his best seller Think and Grow Rich the only way to make something happen is to establish a strong emotional connection to the goal. So first you have to ask yourself: ‘why do I want to do this?’
In establishing your why you might also want to consider:
- What impact achieving this goal will have on your life?
- Are you doing it for the right reasons?
- Will you become a better person in achieving it?
- Do you want it for yourself, or are you doing it for someone else?
By asking yourself these questions you can establish if the goal is truly what you want, or if you have just been conditioned to it by your environment. For example, completing a bachelor’s degree might seem like a worthy use of your time, however, if you’re only doing it because your parents wanted you to, you’ve just wasted 4 years and $40k on a piece of paper.
I also want to note now that if your goal is to make more money, and it is for yourself, that is completely fine. I don’t believe increasing your income is a negative thing. However, if you just want it because you see other people with it, you are not establishing a positive ‘why.’ You are making a choice based on a comparison and your subconscious will never move you towards achieving it.
2. Be Specific
This might seem common sense but is almost as important as your why. You have to be specific in your goal setting. Saying ‘I want to be debt free’ isn’t enough. Wanting to ‘go on a holiday’ doesn’t cut it. In the example of money, your goal might be to increase your income by $10,000 in 12 months. If it’s a holiday you’re after, name the places and amount of time you want to spend there. Want a new car? Name it. Research it. Pick a colour, the wheels, the engine size. Make your goals as specific as you possibly can!
Moreover, if you truly want to harness to emotional power of goal setting, it has to be tangible, and you have to write it down. You should see it every day. Some people create vision boards around their goals, however, I personally have my long-term goals written on a whiteboard on my fridge. I read them out loud every morning, and tell myself that I can achieve them.
Furthermore, I write out 3-5 of the most important daily tasks for me to get done every morning. This not only helps me to establish a plan for the day, it keeps me accountable and on point when I find myself procrastinating.
“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” – Brian Tracy
3. Establish Your ‘When’
Ever notice how much more efficient you are when the pressure of a deadline is looming? The same rules apply for your personal goals- you have to set a deadline. Plain and simple. This is really an off-shoot of specificity, but if you leave a goal open ended it will just become another thing that you’ll ‘get around to’ or spend time on later. Personally, I have set the goal of $1 million by the end of 2019. Right now it seems out of reach, and I haven’t quite established the ‘how’ yet, but I have my goal, I’ve established the ‘when’ and I am driven to achieve it.
4. Break It Down
Dream big but think small. Dreaming big is perfect to establish your reasons why and begin to form an emotional attachment to your goals. But when a goal seems too big to be realistic it is way too easy to put it off until later. To actually achieve them you have to begin to think small, that is, break your goal up into smaller steps or tasks.
This is important to:
- Make your end-goal easier to manage/less overwhelming
- Stay on task by establishing daily and weekly goals
- Build momentum
The quickest and most effective way to stay on task is to get a few wins under your belt. That is what I mean when I say it’s important to build momentum.
So for example, if your goal is to lose 20kgs, you might start with the daily task of eating one healthy meal. If your goal is to make $1 million, you might start with a daily task of reading one article about wealth creation. Achieving these smaller goals will help you to build belief, and cascade into larger, more achievable tasks.
In this area, it is important to note that the key to success isn’t found in one big idea. It is generated by being consistent with the smaller daily tasks you have set and establishing effective habits. Below is an example of a daily action plan that I use, which has broken up my morning tasks and helped me to remain focused. I am not saying that I manage to achieve everything on this list every day, and of course, life still gets in the way, but it is an effective tool to structure my week. In network marketing, we call this a daily method of operation (DMO), and I will go into more detail in a later article.
5. Take Action
You can talk the talk, but nothing is going to change for you unless you walk the walk! In saying that, there are some things that you have to accept on your goal setting journey. First and foremost, it won’t happen straight away, and that is OK! Research has shown that on average it takes 66 days to develop a new habit, and trust me when I say you’re going to fall off the horse more than once. You might manage to be consistent for 2 weeks, and then life will get in the way. The next time you try you might make 6, and then lose sight.
If you have followed this goal setting plan, you should now understand the reasons you have to establish your ‘why.’ It has to be strong enough to generate self-belief and give you the strength of conviction to get you over the hump.
Second, you need to recognise that anything can become a habit. Sitting on the couch and mindlessly watching TV is a habit. Eating unhealthy food is a habit. Scrolling through Instagram is a habit. In the same way that we develop negative habits, we can also recreate positive ones. It isn’t easy. But sticking to a simple plan first will establish better habits, and these will, in turn, help to achieve your goals.
Ultimately, though, the point of goal setting is to enable you to take action. That is the key to any and all success. Set a plan, and follow it. If you fail, try again. And repeat this process until it becomes a positive habit and force in your life. It will make all the difference on your journey to success!
What is your biggest goal for this year? Will you create an action plan to help achieve it? Let me know in the comments below or on Social Media!