The New Year is fast approaching and pretty soon you will probably find yourself compelled to set some goals to achieve over the next twelve months.
As you consider all the possibilities the new year has to offer you feel hopeful and excited. With a boost of positivity you think. ‘Yes, I can get that new job, lose that weight, go on that holiday, etc’ However, following these lovely thoughts how much time do you dedicate to planning out those goals and determining just HOW you will achieve them? Probably not enough BUT do not fear, I have you covered with my 7 steps to success in creating your goals and (most importantly!) reaching them. So, get yourself a pen and paper and let’s get started.
Step 1 – What do you want?
Describe in a few sentences what your goal looks like. For example, if you want to eat better, you may write something like ‘I want to eat healthy, delicious and nutritious food, by making conscious choices to prioritise my meal times, portion sizes and by reducing my sugar and processed food intake.’ Or you may wish to start exercising daily or meditating. Whatever it might be, expand upon the nature of the result you want, don’t merely state that you would like to lose weight. Instead write how you would like to feel when you lose weight, how much you’d like to lose and how this will make you feel when you achieve your goal. As an example your sentence might be ‘I want to feel lean and slimmer by losing 5kgs through improving my exercise regime and making healthier more conscious food choices, so I feel confident and happy in my clothes.’ Rather than ‘I want to lose 5kg by March.’ The difference being that the first example implies the change is permanent because you would always want to feel happy and confident in your clothes, whereas the second example seems as though you’re determined to make an impermanent change for an occasion in March.
Get specific with what your goal is and why and expand on its importance in your life. This way it has a greater importance in your life and is worthy of you spending your time and making the necessary changes in order to meet this challenge.
Step 2 – What help are you going to need?
List the resources you need to call on for help in order to achieve this goal. Following the healthy eating example you may choose to put reminder notes on the fridge, or cupboard, you may ask someone to give you words of encouragement. You may buy a cookery book, allow more time in your day to make meals and even tell your friends and family so that they can support you.
By checking at this stage what you could do to have support set up prior to starting on the journey of obtaining your goal, you are more prepared and building a level of commitment to achieving your desired outcome. Plus you are really exploring what this goal means to you and how prepared you are to communicate your intentions to others.
In my experience, having a supportive partner, friend or family member who appreciates your dedication to achieving your goal can make a real difference and becomes a beacon during the transition when you might otherwise feel alone.
Step 3 – What is your leverage?
This is the root of your goal, the big question ‘Why do I even want this?’ At this point you may struggle to find an answer as it’s not always an easy or logical answer that arises and it can feel uncomfortable. If you find that is the case, then ask yourself if your goal needs reframing or indeed changing all together.
Following the example of the healthy eating goal, if your leverage here was that in fact you wanted to look like a super model in a magazine article that you read, then firstly you need to determine whether it is realistic leverage, whether it’s a goal that you can and indeed should achieve. If it isn’t but you still want to pursue the healthy eating goal, find a sentence or image that you can hold on to that really embodies what you’re trying to achieve; be it exuding more energy, vitality or actually enjoying meals.
The point of understanding your leverage is so that you have an anchor to keep you on the path of achieving your goal. If you have something more meaningful to hold on to and visualise, like becoming healthier and fitter and able to go running or feel more confident in your skin then that is what will drive you forward. At this point it all sounds so easy to accomplish, but know now that you will wane in your enthusiasm while you are building your new habits. There will be days when you revert, or choose to take the easy root and ignore your plan to achieve your goal. It is at these times that leverage is so important. And in order to prepare, during the tough and low periods, that’s when you go back to your leverage. Leverage is key!
Step 4 – How are you going to specifically integrate this goal into your life?
There are lots of ways you can bring your attention to your goal throughout your day, through visual reminders, routine changes and through your language. It is important now to devise how you’re going to integrate changes into your life to support and drive you towards your achievement. It’s also helpful to experiment with different ways to reinforce your changes. Mix it up. Try out affirmations, routine changes using alarm reminders, vision boards, book into courses, find support groups – don’t hold back, list them all and see what resonates with you the most. Different approaches may work at different times. So, how are you going to change your current habits and lifestyle to incorporate the realistic methods for you to achieve your goal?
You might have noticed by now that I’ve not spent any time on timeframes or deadlines, and I’m not going to either, but I will explain why. From my experience goals are set, worked towards and achieved. If a date is set, it gives a deadline for the pressure to be on for, which works for some people and not others. However I am a firm believer that once a goal is achieved you don’t drop the new habits that you’ve built, you maintain them, sustain them and even adapt them to stretch for your next goal. Once you’ve achieved your goal it becomes your new baseline and you look for the next stretch, so you always progress forwards. There doesn’t need to be a timeframe as such, but more focus given to why you’re doing it so that the habits you cultivate remain and urge you forward.
Step 5 – Create your words and explore your feelings.
I believe that the language we use, our self talk, is highly crucial to our mindset, focus and belief in our ability to achieve our goals. Check out my Positive Self Talk and Language blog post.
Identify your fixed mindset voice. The inner critic and what it is likely to tell you, to throw you off course and send you on a negative detour. Let me reassure you that we all have this voice, however we need to plan out our responses, psych ourselves up to be able to notice the critic and shrug it off by consciously replacing the negative phrases with positive ones.
You need to create some uplifting sentences and phrases that will support your journey towards your goal and quieten your fixed mindset voice. Personally, I love to use a three sentence mantra, it is my signature go to application ‘I can…. I will….. I am…‘ It’s so simple but powerful and shows that you are on a progressive journey and moving through the stages of achieving it, until you are it!
Now imagining that you have achieved your goal, what emotions do you feel, how does that sense of achievement become embodied for you? Identify your feelings of ultimate success and repeat your positive sentences. This enables the mind, body and word connection so that you are aware of how it feels for you when you achieve, how your mind and body are stimulated and saying the words in this state helps create a link for the brain to associate the phrases with the feeling of success and achievement reinforcing the connection between the two and boosting their effect.
Step 6 – How Committed are you?
I’m hoping that as you’ve gotten this far, the answer to this question will be somewhat telling.
On a scale of one to ten, one being not committed and ten being so excited to get started that you know you simply cannot fail! At this point how committed are you to achieving your goal? Be honest, as this is the point you need to be serious about the likelihood of you really achieving your goal, understanding the leverage and following through. This is the critical point where you can re-visit any part of this process and strip it all back and re-calibrate.
So what is your number and are you happy with where it is?
Step 7 – What do you need to up your level of commitment?
If you have found you are at a seven, eight or nine out of ten. The question here is simple… what do you need to up your number, what do you personally require to get more committed to achieving your goal?
This line of questioning gets you thinking more about the process you’ve just been through in planning out your goals and asks you a final time what might be a missing step to give you that extra nudge and support when you need it. Ponder on this question and see what springs to mind. You might be surprised, or it may reinforce that you are happy with where you’re at and with the goal you’ve set. Either way this reinforces your commitment to your goal and up-levels your plan in securing a successful outcome.
So there you have it, my 7 steps to creating a goal and getting you to stick to it!
Check out the image to the left if you need a reminder of the 7 steps and want to work within a worksheet – enjoy!
Good luck, although with this process I know you don’t need it!
P.S – I would love to get your feedback, how did this process work for you, what came up for you? And finally, did you achieve your goal? Get in touch and let me know!