Goal Setting & Achieving - My New Formula
I’ve written a few pieces on goal setting in my day, mostly because I enjoy it, but also because I spent too much of my time setting aspirations and benchmarks for myself for too long.
I have since come up with some new ideas on this subject, and the root of my new philosophy was just confirmed.
I’ll explain that later. But first, let’s dive in.
Before I give you my steps, let’s talk about the overall purpose of self-improvement via goals. Setting goals and aspiring to improve is not a negative thing. It is actually an extremely positive thing. However, there needs to be a balance. Living life only in the pursuit of goals can sometimes cause you to forget to enjoy where you are presently, which we address in one of the steps below. Setting goals is meant to create a bigger life, not a smaller one — if you’re goals are too restrictive and, honestly, insane, you could find yourself living in a smaller world than ever before.
We are trying to make space, not shrink it.
Let me give you an example. If you are trying to “get fit” and your way of doing this is by only eating chicken and vegetables (guilty), your life is going to become very small in this arena. You can’t eat out with friends, try new recipes, enjoy the process of eating healthy — it’s just too restricted. However, if you are trying to “get fit” and your way of doing that is by incorporating healthy choices, learning what fuels you, working out daily and being mindful while also remembering balance is key — your world is going to get a HELL of a lot bigger than ever before (believe me, I’ve been there).
Essentially, we want our goals (specifically, the journey to our goals) to make us happy, not sad.
Here is my new process for goal setting, created after years and years and years of doing it the wrong way.
The first step is to think. It is critical to set goals for the right reasons. Do you want to get fit just to look a certain way? Do you want to own your own business just so you can say you own your own business? If you do, it is totally okay — you’re allowed to want what you want. It is however imperative to evaluate this piece. For a long time, I set my goals because I wanted to look a certain way, be perceived a certain way, and get attention in a certain way. This really led me to give up on all of my goals, because, the root didn’t really make me happy. Make sure you are setting goals because they’re truly what you want, not what you have been told or think you’re “supposed to do.”
I realized that I want to do things to help other people and to create cool shit to make the world a better place. And also, I just want to be happy. Those are the reasons I want to set goals. Those are, usually, my reasons. Earlier I mentioned that my new philosophy was just confirmed, well, I had thrown writing out the window as an option for my goal setting and life because “it was going to get me nowhere” but guess what? I just spent a four-hour flight writing and I feel like I could keep going for hours — I feel like I want to keep going for hours. That feels right. That makes me happy. That is going to be one of my goals.
Next, let’s define some stuff (and leave room for flexibility). Figure what your values are and what areas of life are important to you. For example, I value authenticity, passion, relationships/connection, balance, health, and presence (a lot more things but you gotta start somewhere).
These values and areas of your life should be addressed and present in your goals and aspirations. For example, if presence is important to you, you could work on putting your phone away for two hours each night… or something like that.
3. What’s important now?
Many of us have lots of goals. Learn a new language, learn an instrument, own a business, write a book, buy a house — the list goes on. What can you tackle right now? What do you want to tackle right now? What micro-goals will help you achieve your larger ones? Don’t get overwhelmed — you can tackle the other ones later. Life is short, but life is also long. Unneeded pressure to achieve one million things yesterday is just that — unneeded.
4. Set your goals.
Now, you have your true “why,” what you really want in life, your values, and a bit of a timeline. It’s time to get to work (lol, cause you haven’t done that yet).
Set them! Don’t go crazy – I honestly recommend hitting one at a time, even if that means improving one area of your life at a time – but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to tackle a little bit more. To start, pick a few that are really important to you and encompass multiple areas of your life, such as career, relationships, and health. Set goals in those areas and…
5. Decide what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Okay, so of course, I would like abs. And of course, I would like them as soon as possible. However, I realized that I am not willing to give up saying “yes” to lunch with coworkers and drinks with friends. It’s not how I want to live my life. Therefore, when I set my goal of eating the most strict meal plan ever – it didn’t work. Why? I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the social and honestly, food/drink piece of my life. A balanced plan was what I needed – and it was just going to take me more time to get there.
If you’re not willing to get up and go to the gym every morning, don’t try to get up and go to the gym every morning. Go three times after work or every day at lunch.
Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice and then…
6. Create your strategies.
Now that you have your goals and you know what you’re willing to do to get there, you can create strategies to aid your success. Want to write your book? Block out a chunk of time every day/week/month to work on it. Do it how it works for you! I can’t stress that enough. Just because Susy works on her book at 5am doesn’t mean you have to, if that’s not what works for you.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, it matters that you do it. Calendar your strategies and time block for your goals.
7. Take a look at your day – are you getting in what you want to?
Now that your schedule is set, take a look. Are you getting in what you want? Are you nurturing your values and important areas of life (see number 2)? If your calendar is full af and you have no time for your friends and that's important to you, you need to re-evaluate your goals or strategies.
8. Don’t think future, think present.
This is kind of cheesy and lame, but I don’t care. Is your goal to be an amazing guitarist? Every morning, tell yourself you are an amazing guitarist. “I am an amazing guitarist.” Don’t long for it, believe it.
I can’t tell you how much affirmations have helped me – thinking “I am balanced” rather than “I am trying to be balanced” has made all the difference in achieving this goal and loving myself along the way.
9. Get a mentor/coach/accountability partner – hey!
Pretty self-explanatory. I fell off the bandwagon so many times in pursuit of my goals – it’s important to have a check-in or accountability practice. Need one? What up.
10. Check-in with yourself.
Are you not following through? Are you not achieving what you want? Re-evaluate. Instead of loathing yourself for not being able to follow through – consider the fact that there may be another reason it’s not working out. Maybe your strategy is off, maybe you’re not set up for success. It’s possible that you’re being too restrictive or even that you don’t truly want the goal you’re going for. And guess what? It’s okay to change your mind and do something new. That’s what’s so cool about this. You can set whatever the hell goal you want. You can ignore this whole post if you want. You can do whatever you want.
11. Go for it!
I know this seems like a lot, but at the end of the day, if you do nothing else, just do it. Though this has a lot of “thinking” involved, sometimes you should do things just because you want to do them. Enjoy it, and if you decide a goal or path isn’t for you – that’s okay too. The fact that you’re even reading this blog means you’re on the right track in caring about your future, your self-improvement, and your present moment.
In the end, just make sure your goals line up with the person you actually want to be - OK?
Let me know if you want to talk “offline” about all this ish.