Procrastination and overwhelm interfere with goals all the time. Learn steps to set goals the right way and make em happen!
Ever had one of those goals that was so huge that you stopped before you even started? You said you weregoing to lose the weight, or maybe you were going to start that dream business. Before you knew it you were in the land of the overwhelmed and it just didn’t feel worth it.
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Maybe you write to do lists every day and still have the same things on your todo list day after day until eventually you just give up on those things.
Well, my friend, I’ve been there! More than once!
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can break these big hairy audacious goals down in a way that makes them feel more doable. I’m not saying it will make everything easy, but having steps can certainly simplify things.
Remember A Time When You Were Awesome!
I’m guessing you have had success somewhere in life and have conquered at least one big goal. Think about your current career or education. Do you own a home? Have you accomplished anything you are really proud of?
You have to remember these things because this is proof that you can do it. Hold on to that. In fact, I recommend you grab your journal and write these things down! Then you can go back to this again and again when you’re working toward your goal.
Say to yourself, “I can do hard things!” Put yourself in a positive mindset. Self defeating thoughts like “I will never be able to do all of this” will only interfere. Your proof in your journal reminds you you got this!
How To Reach Your Goals
In The 5-Second Rule, Mel Robbins points out that every one of us avoids doing things that feel hard or scary. If you let yourself think about something too much, you’ll stop ourselves by making excuses to not do whatever it is you should be doing. This happens even if it is something you WANT to be doing. Isn’t that crazy?
If you make things a little easier, it may help you stick with and complete your goals. This is as simple as:
- Clearly defining your goals
- Breaking the goal down into actionable steps
- Start (seriously, this is the hardest part)
First, let’s define your goal really clearly. One way to do this is by creating a SMART goal. A SMART goal is:
Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Be as specific as possible. Focus on just one thing and know exactly what it is you want. If you told someone how to do it, could they act it out???
Measurable: Can you measure your accomplishment? Will you know if you are making progress? How will you know if you succeed? When you measure things, it helps motivate you to keep going. When you don’t measure things, it easily feels like you aren’t making progress.
Achieveable: Another key is to make sure you believe you can reach the goal. I know a lot of people out there say make HUGE goals that make you shake in your boots and cry. You have to remember though, if you don’t think it is actually possible to reach the goal, it won’t happen. If you are making $10 a month in your business right now, thinking you will make $10,000 next month is not realistic. While it might happen, I’m guessing that starting the month out if you set that as your goal, you wouldn’t really believe it.
If you don’t believe something will happen, will you take the steps to get there?
I’m guessing no, because it would feel too hard. Remember we are wired to avoid things that are hard.
Relevant: Your goal needs to matter to you! Why are you working toward it in the first place?
Time-Bound: Have a deadline. When will you complete this goal by?
Yep, me too. If I have a huge goal and try to plan for it based on just using the SMART model, it is still pretty huge. It doesn’t say how I am going to accomplish the goal. It doesn’t help me start.
An example of a SMART goal might be: I will lose 100 pounds in 2 years, losing about 2 pounds a week.
This is specific, measurable, achievable (is it?), relevant, and time bound. But it also feels HUGE. Two whole years? I want to lose weight by tomorrow. How can I do that?
Sorry to tell you but if you have 100 pounds to lose, it isn’t happening quickly. I’m also guessing it wouldn’t happen with my example either, unless you were super committed and organized.
Break It Down!
Instead, break things down into smaller steps. Think about creating a map with all the directions plotted out on how to get there. Brainstorm all the little steps you think you might need to reach on the way to that goal. Do a mind map or a list. Write everything down you can think of that you may need to accomplish on the way to your goal. I do this in my bullet journal since I find writing helps me to reach my goals.
Do some (internet) research. Someone else probably already accomplished what you’re trying to do and they wrote about it, created a video, did a podcast, or made a course. Maybe there’s even a program that leads you step by step through the process or that provides you support. This will save you so much time so you do not have to “reinvent the wheel”.
In the famous words of Nike, “Just Do It”. Once you have steps in place, start.
Your steps don’t even have to be all correct. You’ll learn as you go.
It can be hugely powerful to measure your goal based on process rather than outcome. For example, my current long term goal is to replace my full time income in the next five years by building a blog. Instead of basing my success on whether I am able to replace my income, my actionable goal is to write ten blog posts within a time frame specified in my planner.
Broken down even further, I created a blog plan with certain posts scheduled for specific days. This is specific, attainable, measurable (did I do the post or not), time bound, and relevant.
It is also very doable, very actionable. I know exactly what I need to do.
I am letting go of the outcome and just trying to create 10 great posts. My next step is to go back and fix every single one of my old posts according to specific criteria.
I know I can reach both of these goals. This is totally within my control. Whether my blog is successful is somewhat out of my control. It depends on whether people read my stuff and whether it resonates. I cannot control that. Measuring all my progress on what other people do just isn’t going to do it for me!
Flexibility and Forgiveness
Have an attitude of grace with yourself. Things are going to come up. You will run into other deadlines, you might get sick, you might have a family emergency, an opportunity to go on a great vacation might come up, or any other of several possible life scenarios might be thrown at you. You might get behind. It is OK, it is normal.
Sometimes life happens.
The due date for this blog post was two days ago. I didn’t give up and say, “well, I guess that was a failure.” Nope, I just got it done as soon as I could.
I was once leading a therapy group and we were talking about the difficulty of sticking to goals and one member mentioned that diets were especially hard and it was so easy to give up as soon as you “screw up.” One slice of pizza could ruin the whole thing. It goes like this: “Well, I already messed up by eating pizza, so I might as well have the cake and candy too.”
I know it does to me. Our brains will give us excuses to do what is easy and comfortable.
But remember, sometimes a slice of pizza is just a slice of pizza. One slice of pizza does not ruin all the other progress you made. You just pick yourself up and keep going. When you measure where you’re going and remain mindful about it you just gotta keep taking the steps to achieve it!
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Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.