How do you feel when you hear the word…
When I hear the word goals, I want to pull out a brainstorming sheet and get to work (nerd alert, I know). Maybe you’re petrified to set goals because you fear not achieving your them perfectly. You might feel determined to finally get around to doing something about your goals. Maybe it’s annoying because you hear so dang much about goal-setting from all those self-help books you’ve read, but nothing actually helps you get anywhere. Heck, if it makes you want to curl up in the fetal position on the couch because you have so many unachieved goals and you just can’t even think about it, that’s okay too.
Whether they be positive of negative, I think we all have strong feelings about setting goals for ourselves.
Have you ever heard the quote:
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”?
I’m not quite sure where that came from, but whoever came up with that phrase sure knew what he (or she!) was talking about.
Planning sets us up for success. And planning well requires setting goals.
Lately, I’ve been really focused on setting goals for myself that I can actually achieve. Emphasis on that last part. ACHIEVABLE. Because, trust me friend, I have set plenty of goals before that I have failed miserably at.
In my process of setting (and not achieving) goals, I have learned a lot about how to set goals that I can actually achieve. Today I want to share with you my process for setting goals to set yourself up for success! I think it is easier to remember things as acronyms, so the one I came up with for our topic today is:
The 4 S’s of Goal Setting to Succeed:
Sets Up for Success
1. Sets Up for SUCCESS
I want to start with this one, because I think it is so important.
If you set a goal, and you fail at it, it can be hard to recover from.
It is important to choose goals that will set you up for success, while still being ambitious enough to reach your goal.
So, let’s say you are trying to stop drinking sugary drinks. That’s awesome! Go you! But, there’s a small problem.
On a typical day, you drink a Starbucks coffee on your way to work, a bottle of Coke with lunch, and a Red Bull on your way home. Going cold turkey on all sugary drinks is going to be nearly impossible for you to do all in one day.
So, instead of saying “I am going to stop drinking sugary drinks,” and setting yourself up for failure, setting yourself up for success would look like saying “I am going to give up my bottle of Coke with lunch everyday, and instead, replace it with an iced tea.”
After a month or so of succeeding with that goal, you’ll probably feel a lot more confident to give up your Starbucks. Then, next month, your Red Bull. Soon enough, you’ll realize that you are no longer craving sugary drinks.
Setting yourself up for success will actually help your REACH and MAINTAIN your goal, even though it might take a little longer.
Goal-setting must be very specific. If your goal is not specific, it will not be achieved. Here’s why:
Goals that are not specific are easy to give up on or bend the rules on.
Say that my goal is: “I want to work out more this year.”
Will I be satisfied if I go once a week? Does that count? Well, technically yes, since I was working out zero days before. But does “more” mean that I should go six times a week? That’s almost once a day. I know my schedule, and I know there is no way I will make it to the gym that much in a week. And what does “Work Out” mean? Running around the neighborhood? Doing a quick 10 minute workout in my living room in the morning? Going to the gym?
See how ambiguous the goal of “I am going to work out more this year” is?
To make my goal more SPECIFIC, I should say instead: “I want to go to the gym three times a week.”
Now my goal has a number attached. It has a place that I am going to. It has a quantifiable measurement, not an ambiguous one.
Let’s stick with my goal from before, “I want to go to the gym three times a week”. Now that it is specific, it is time to schedule it out.
Not all goals can be scheduled. However, if you can put an event in your calendar to make your goal happen, that is definitely ideal. Maybe your goal is to improve the habit you have of scrolling social media before bed. You can’t schedule that, right?
Actually, you can. Set a timer on your phone that goes off at 8 PM and reminds you to plug in your phone. Then, you can remember to stick to your plan and achieve your goal.
Or maybe you are thinking “My goal is to invest more in my relationship with my brother… how do I schedule that?”
What does investing look like to you? More time? Schedule a time to go out to lunch and put it on the calendar. More conversation? Schedule a time you plan on calling him and put it in your calendar.
Get this gist?
To make my goal SCHEDULED, I can say: “I am going to go to the gym three times a week: after class on Tuesdays, with my sister on Wednesday afternoons, and Friday mornings after I wake up.”
This keeps me accountable to a time to make my goal happen.
Creating steps to reach your goal is super important. Some goals have more steps than others, and steps look really different for every goal. But, no matter what they are, all goals should have some steps.
For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, you are probably not going to be able to jump on the treadmill tomorrow and run 26 miles. Chances are, you are going to have to create steps for yourself to work up the endurance to run a marathon. Maybe your first step is to buy a gym membership and some running shoes. That’s great! Start there, and work your way to the next step.
Creating steps helps us to break up our goal into “bite-sized chunks”.
These steps ultimately create a plan that sets us up for success, and gives us little mini victories along the way. Creating steps is essential in long-term goals so that you do not become discouraged and burnt out.
So, let’s say that my objective for working out more was to lose 10 pounds and gain lean muscle. Some steps I might take to reach this are doing cardio and working my arms, legs, and abs.
To make my goal have STEPS, I should say: “I am going to go to the gym three times a week: after class on Tuesdays to do cardio and arms, with my sister on Wednesday afternoons to do cardio and abs, and on Friday mornings to do cardio and legs.”
See how much better that goal is than, “I am going to work out more this year.” ??
I hope these four steps help inspire you to create goals that you can start achieving TODAY!
Remember, the most important part to achieving your goals is simply picking a place to start.
I am rooting for you!
Do you have any tips for setting achievable goals? Share them in the comments below!