Meeting life goals is difficult without a careful and detailed plan.
As we inch closer to the finish line of this decade it’s a good time to reminisce on your past goals and accomplishments. If you want to improve and be even more productive than last year I assume you already have goals that you want to accomplish in mind. How you document and plan those goals is just as, if not more important as having them. Well-planned goals gives you a clear map of how to get where you want to go.
Here are a few tips on how to increase your chances of accomplishing the goals you set:
1. First things first – figure out what your goals are
Now is a great time to pull out a pad of paper and grab a pen – answering these questions will help you create some goals for the upcoming year.
4. Write a three-step plan on how you will achieve it
For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds of weight in four months, you could write:
Need more help creating goals? Download the “Where are you now & Where will you be” worksheet below:
With that plan we will now create a roadmap that will lead you to your desired destination and achieving your goals.
The 5 is choosing 5-year goals
Where do you want to be in 5 years? Keep in mind that we overestimate what we can do in 1 year, but underestimate what we can do in 5. You can make several substantial life changes in 5 years.
Do you want to get into the best shape of your life? Open your own business? Think big and get creative. Your life has likely changed a lot in the last 5 years. Keep that in mind for perspective when you think about where you want to be in 5 more. Put this somewhere that you won’t lose it and can come back to look at it frequently. I keep my 5-4-3-2-1 goals on paper and a google doc and check them every Monday as part of my weekly review.
4 is for 4 months
Think of this as the first major milestone toward reaching your 5-year goal. Where do you want to be in 4 months that will put you closer to your long-term goal?
For months is a good amount of time to build 3 or 4 new habits if you build one new habit each month, which is a sustainable pace. Or maybe your goal doesn’t involve habits, then your first 4-month goal can mark the first step along the path toward your 5-year goal.
Your 4-month goal could be to nail down a workout routine that works for you and to do it consistently. Or it could be to figure out which schools you want to apply to and send in those applications. Or it could be to put together your business plan
Write. It. Down.
3 is for 3 weeks
Three weeks is a more manageable amount of time. its common to plan things 3 weeks into the future. Your life 3 weeks from now will look fairly similar to your life today- except for the 3-week goal that you’re going to reach.
Your 3-week goal should take you about 20% of the way to your 4-month goal. It’s easy to want to bite off more than you can chew because this is new and exciting, but keep things reasonable. Remember that you will ultimately be working toward your 5-year goal in 3-week chunks. if your first 3-week goal sets an unsustainable pace, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
Again, write it down.
2 if for 2 days
This method breaks your long term goals down to things that you can start doing now because it’s important to get moving. Just because you want to reach a goal 5 years from now does not mean that you can put if off for 4.5 years. Our brains like small goals. Our brains like to check things off of checklists. It makes them happy, gives us that motivating little dopamine rush, and helps us continue on. Ideally, your 2-day goal is something that you can check off of your checklist tomorrow night.
It could be signing up for that gym membership and taking your first spin class. It could be researching schools and determining at least one that you want to apply to. It could be brainstorming about your business and determining what industry you’d like to be in.
Don’t forget… Write it down.
1 can be 1 day or 1 hour
Either way, the point is that this goal gets you started today. Ideally, it gets you started right now. The time has come to take action. Stop talking about how you want to go after those goals, and start going after them.
Often, especially if this is your first trip through the 5-4-3-2-1 method, this one involves research – researching a gym close to you, researching schools in your desired field, researching what goes into business ownership, whatever. Research is cool. It’s necessary. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t research.
However, don’t get caught up in that cycle of endless research. Your goal today may involve research, but your goal tomorrow must include decision making and action. Set a time limit on your research, otherwise, you’ll be doing it forever, either out of fear of starting or a desire for perfection.
So set a goal for today. What are you going to do today to move closer to your 5-year goal? Even if its something that takes only 5 minutes, doing something is better than doing nothing.
Then, write it down and… execute!
Aside from acting on your goals, schedule time to revisit them. Like, right now, put a reoccurring reminder on your phone to revisit your goals (monthly at least).
It’s easy to set goals and then forget about them completely. A key part of using this tool successfully is revisiting it. As I mentioned, I revisit my goals weekly. Maybe you’d prefer to do it more or less than that.
When you revisit your goals, assess your progress toward them. Check off the ones that you’ve accomplished and set new ones. If you’re not making progress toward one of them, figure out why. Write about what went wrong, and then use your 1, 2, and 3 goals to set up some small steps to get yourself back on track.