If you’re serious about achieving the many dreams you have for your life, you need to start getting serious about setting goals. I know goal-setting, especially around New Year’s, gets a bad rap. But setting goals is not the issue! Not setting the proper goals and not knowing how to follow through are the culprits.
In this episode, I discuss why you need to regularly set goals, how to properly set them, and how to plan your weeks so you can actually work on them. While detailed planning will be helpful in almost any aspect of your life, it is especially helpful to if you want to start a side-hustle, make a career leap, or lay the groundwork for a significant life change.
Pursuing your dreams takes courage and if you are sick of sleepwalking through life and know you are capable of more, then this is for you. I have always been a huge proponent of planning, but my method was never streamlined. I did not know that there was a right way to manage my calendar. Through learning how to juggle this podcast and photobooth business, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks to help maximize my time and my goals. And I’d love to share them with you!
Now, before we jump in, I want you to let go of all preconceived notions you have about your ability to set and stick to goals. You may be thinking that you will never stick to this method or that you will quickly lose motivation. But guess what? That is the same story everyone is telling themselves.
Everyone procrastinates on goals and loses momentum as the weeks drag on. There is nothing inherently wrong with you. Just because you have failed to follow through with some goals doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail at all of them.
You need to learn to let go. Forgive yourself for any shortcomings and celebrate even the smallest of wins. You aren’t doing anything incorrectly, you just haven’t found a system that works for you. Do not hold yourself back with self-defeating talk before you take your first step.
First, we need focus. Otherwise, we aimlessly float through life. Have you ever felt like you’re just sleepwalking through life. The same thing everyday. No change, no growth, just stagnant. That was likely a period in your life where you didn’t have a lot of well-defined goals. You had nothing to focus on. So your days were just filled with the never-ending to-dos that don’t really get you anywhere.
Second, we need growth. As humans, our mind has evolved for growth. Just watch any child. They don’t just stop as soon as they learn one skill. They keep pushing, keep reaching for the next thing. We’re curious by nature. We naturally crave learning new things. And when we find ourselves in a rut without any growth, it leads to depression, anxiety, unfulfillment, etc.
The reason so many of us wake up in our adult lives feeling so trapped and unfulfilled is because we haven’t been pushing ourselves to grow. We end up in a job that has us doing the same thing over and over again. Days bleed into weeks and months and years. And even if we’re secure and comfortable financially, we still can’t stand it. Why is that? Because we need change and growth in order to thrive.
And, lastly, we need goals so that we don’t get overwhelmed. We need small, actionable items that provide a clear map to our dreams. Often our true dreams are big, audacious, scary destinations that can seem impossible to reach from where we’re standing. It is easy to get overwhelmed and give up. You need goals so that you can create realistic steps to those places.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF GOAL-SETTING (AND WHAT MOST PEOPLE GET WRONG)
The reason most people fail at their goals is because they set some big, scary goal and then expect to change every bad habit that they have and achieve that goal in one month.
I don’t have to tell you that it doesn’t work that way.
If you’re serious about your goals, then there is one principle you have to accept and that is called the Compound Effect.
Small Steps + Consistency + Time = A RADICAL DIFFERENCE
Darren Hardy has a book called The Compound Effect that is amazing. You should read it!
One of the examples that he provides in the book, goes something like this:
3 friends trying to lose weight:
Sara: Stays the same. Does as she always does.
Taylor: Starts to read personal development books for 10 minutes a day and cuts out 100 calories.
Rachel: Decides to “live a little” and orders an extra latte every day (an extra 100 calories)
At the end of one month, there is no real difference.
At the end of 3 months, it’s still negligible.
But at the end of 1 year…
Sara: No progress at all. She has stayed the same.
Taylor: Has spent over 60 hours reading information that is going to substantially change her mentality, and has lost 10 pounds without much effort.
Rachel: Has gained 10 pounds, making her 20 pounds heavier than Taylor.
Taylor: She is down 20lbs and has read over 120 hours of self-help content.
Rachel: She has gained over 20lbs and has made zero progress in other areas of her life.
But it’s not just the weight that matters. In those 2 years, the ripple effect that their actions have taken on their lives is transformational.
Sara feels stagnant. Even though nothing has changed, she’s not as happy. She feels bored and critical of where she’s at.
As a result of the personal development, Taylor feels so much better about herself and that has directly affected her relationship with her husband and kids. It has allowed Taylor to develop deeper relationships at work which have resulted in a promotion. All of this has led to a huge increase in Taylor’s confidence in her own abilities. Taylor feels fulfilled and excited about the future.
Rachel feels sluggish and lethargic. She doesn’t have much energy for anything which has led to a breakdown in her relationship with her husband. She’s also not feeling very motivated at work which her boss is noticing. Rachel feels stuck and unhappy about where she is.
Small steps matter. Even a slight change that feels insignificant at the moment has the power to greatly impact your life if you compound it over time.
The biggest key takeaway that you can take from this episode is to start implementing small steps towards your goals that you’re going to stick with over time. Don’t try to do sweeping changes. Those don’t last.
Another hugely important rule is Pareto Principle or, what many refer to as, the 80/20 principle. Basically, if you look at anything you do, 20% of your input results in 80% of your results.
For instance, in sales, typically 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your revenue. Yet, we spend so much time worrying about the 80% of customers because that is a bigger block. If we just focused on the 20%, we’d improve our business exponentially.
The same is true for any goal you’re trying to hit. Typically, 20% of your effort is what will lead to the vast majority of your results and success. For instance, when starting a side hustle, people get caught up in what their logo should look like or in the aesthetic of their Instagram page. None of that stuff matters. Identifying the 20% of activities that are really going to move the needle is a key skill to learn. It requires being really honest with yourself because, a lot of times, the 80% activities tend to act as procrastination tools that let us not deal with the hard things.
So when you’re setting your goals and figuring out the steps you need to take each week you need to be able to figure out what the 20% activities are.
HOW TO SET GOALS THE RIGHT WAY
Ok, now that we got all of the principles and explanations out of the way, here is how you set goals you’ll actually achieve.
Make sure they are SMART and space them out so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
SMART goals can be categorized by the following criteria:
Specific: “I want to lose weight” v. “I want to lose 10 lbs in the next 6 months”
Measurable: Use exact (and specific) numbers.
Attainable: I want to lose 10 lbs in 10 days v. I want to lose 10 lbs in 6 months.
Relevant: Why do you want this goal? Do you really want it? Don’t pick something just because society or your family think you should do it. You have to truly want it for yourself.
Timely: Make deadlines! Make a plan! Specify the exact deadline for when you’ll achieve it.
Once you’re comfortable determining which items fit these criteria, you can create a timeframe.
All the studies that have been done on goal setting show a couple of things:
We need to only pick a couple of goals. We get overwhelmed when we try to change too many things. Don’t pick more than 3 to work on now. You can change them in the future and focus on other things.
Choose 90 day goals. 1 year is too long of a time frame to keep motivation up and 30 days is too short. Start with 90 day goals and then chunk down the action steps into 30 day increments.
So let’s say my goal is to gain clarity around my dream career in 90 Days. I can then chunk down my goal into manageable action steps.
Have 10 informative coffee dates or phone calls with people whose jobs I find interesting.
Read 3 career transition or personal development books.
Research and create an actionable list of 5 careers I can pursue.
Now let’s take the same intention and segment into 30 Day increments:
MONTH 1 -
Set up 3 informational meetings/calls,
Read 1 career transition book,
Go to 2 networking events for careers I’m interested in
MONTH 2 -
Set up 3 informational meetings/calls,
Read 1 mindset book,
Go to 2 classes for activities I’m interested in
MONTH 3 -
Set up 4 informational meetings/calls,
Read 1 personal development book,
Spend 4-5 hours researching various careers
Lastly, we break it down into Weekly tasks:
Month 1, Week 1: - Spend 1-hour reaching out to 5 people on LinkedIn that I want to have an informational coffee meeting with.
Spend 20 minutes, 3x this week reading my book.
Go on meetup and LinkedIn and find 2 networking events for this month.
Weekly planning is the key to actually achieving your goals!! So if you’re serious about your goals, make sure you implement some version of the following.
HOW TO PROPERLY PLAN YOUR WEEK:
Set a recurring time to plan your week.
It only takes 15-minutes to properly plan your week. Set a time where you can do it every week. Maybe it’s Sunday night before you go to bed. Maybe it's the first thing Monday morning when you get into work. Maybe it's the last thing Friday afternoon for the following week. There is no right way. But if you pick a time that you do it every week, you’re more likely to create a habit out of it.
Grab a pen and paper and make your to-do list!
The first step is the dump everything you have to do on paper. This should include appointments, work, meetings, and all other things you HAVE to do. Then, jot down everything you WANT to do. These should include your one-week goals (The 20% of activities that are going to push you forward). In the last section, I want you to write all of the stuff you SHOULD do: E-mails, recurring tasks, obligatory events, etc.
Now go through your to-do list and start scheduling everything in for the different days of the week. First, schedule in all of your HAVE-TOs. Put your work schedule, appointments and anything else you can’t move around.
Then, go through and schedule your 20% activities. This is the BIGGEST part. You’re going to want to schedule your SHOULD-DOs. Don’t. You have to include your 20% activities first or they won’t get done.
So figure out 3 1-hour increments of time that you might have throughout the week that you can work on your goals. Maybe it’ll be Tuesday during your lunch break or Wednesday after the kids go to sleep instead of watching Netflix.
When you don’t plan, your day gets away from you. All of the SHOULD-DOs take up all of the time. Plus, when it’s the end of the day and you haven’t thought about how you’re going to make headway on your goals, it’s too overwhelming to figure out where to start. So you just decide to watch TV.
But when you know that Tuesday from 8-9pm you’re going to research Keywords for your new blog, you don’t get overwhelmed or side tracked. And when you work on it weekly, it begins to compound and create your dreams.
Now, if you’re committing the same time block each week to work on your dreams, you may not need to do the weekly planning. You know that every Wednesday from 12-1 you spend on your weekly goals. But I still recommend this planning method because it helps you figure out what is important for the week and helps to keep you from getting stuck in the weeds.
So that’s it! That’s how simple it is. Each week you have an action plan of exactly what you’re going to work on. And each week you take small, 20% steps to move you forward.
I hope this helps you grow and make small steps towards all of your dreams!