Everyone has at least one big life goal in the back of their mind – whether it’s to lose weight, get more fit, run a marathon, reach a certain peak in their career etc. At first, there’s a fire and excitement and passion when thinking of that goal! We can’t wait until we reach it! We envision what it will feel like, look like and how different our life might be if it happened. How free, accomplished and proud would you be?
Then we come out of our daydream and start thinking about how long it will take to reach that goal and we become overwhelmed and disappointed. We don’t take action on the goal and 6 months from now we’ll be fantasizing about reaching that goal all over again. I’m sure some of you have already given up on a goal you set on New Years, right?? It happens to everyone at some point!
So how do you actually make it happen? How do you actually take that dream in your head and bring it to life?
Here’s the short answer: With specifics.
Here’s a graphic of the steps if you’re short on time – read on for more details!
Sit down with a pen and paper and get brainstorming! Create a list of all the things you can think of that it will actually take to reach that goal. What concrete steps will you need to take to make the dream a reality? To get from A to Z, what will you have to do?
Break the goal down into the smallest steps you can think of. If your goal is to run a marathon but you are mostly sedentary at the moment, one of your smaller steps is to begin exercising.
But what do you need to do to make that happen? Do you have a gym membership? Do you have a pair of good sneakers? Can you workout at home? When will you workout? Do you have clothes that are comfortable for exercise? What actions will you need to have taken before you can take on the more challenging aspects of marathon training?
Once you know what steps you need to take, try to organize them into a rational order. In the above example of starting to exercise so that you can eventually run a marathon, the first steps may look something like this:
#1 Go shopping for sneakers and workout clothing.
#2 Purchase sneakers and workout clothing.
#3 Make an appointment with my doctor to get the ok to exercise.
#4 Decide what days and times I have available to exercise.
#5 Decide what kind of activity to start with.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. Often when we take on a new challenge, we aren’t totally sure of all the steps required until we start working on it. There are lots of things that we won’t know to list until we begin – know that it’s ok to edit your list multiple times if needed! It’s ok to revise and rethink your plan of attack several times! What matters more is that you are actually taking the actions on your list.
Once you have your list of steps – those concrete actions that make up all the steps needed to reach the goal you have in mind, you want to plan out and schedule them in a calendar!
No really. I’m not kidding. Don’t fight doing this step. It’s crucial.
I know those of you who are creative types or have ADD are sitting here going “I work better when I see where my focus is each day.” Uh-huh. Yeah. I’ve said and done that myself. How has that been working for you? Are you actually making progress on them with this plan of attack? If you are, great – you’re an anomaly – continue on! But most of us, myself included, just spin in circles when we go that route. It’s a form of procrastination that comes up out of fear! Don’t fall for it!
I find it helpful to look at how long you think it could reasonably take to accomplish the goal and break it down into 3 or 4 month increments. How many of the steps can you accomplish in 3 months time? If your goal is something that will take a year to accomplish, you would need to take action on 1/4 of the steps in your total list to be on track to complete the goal in one year’s time. (One year is just an example – depending on your goal, you may be looking at multiple years or only a few months) After those 3 or 4 months are up, check in – how are you doing? Are you on track? Great! Schedule out the next 3 or 4 months worth of action steps. If you’re not on track, assess what needs to change to get you there. Do you need to extend out your goal time line? Are certain steps taking longer than you planned? That’s ok – that’s reality! Maybe you’ve discovered that tasks you thought you could get done in 2 hours actually take you 5. Now that you know that you’ll have a more realistic schedule for the next few months. Once you know where you need to change things, get to work at scheduling those tasks!
Is it freaking you out to think 3 or 4 months out in the future? Ok. What steps can you take this week and next week? Start there and once you accomplish those you’ll build confidence that will help you be bolder in the weeks following.
Use any calendar you want for this task! I like using my google calendar because it updates on all the devices I use but you can use anything that you will be consistent using! A paper calendar or a day planner like the Passion Planner or Leonie Dawson’s Workbooks are great options too (and can even help you get clearer about what you really want).
Next honor yourself by actually taking the actions you have planned and scheduled out. Showing up is the hardest part sometimes! Even if you get so far as to put all your steps in your calendar, a lot of us will get up each day and choose to ignore that calendar. Make a commitment to look at it each evening – so that you already have an idea of what you need to take care of tomorrow. I know you make time to be prepared for work meetings, doctor appointments and all of your children’s activities. These are all in your calendar and you make sure that they happen. You wouldn’t dream of blowing them off! Do the same for the action steps for your goals. Treat them as you would anything else that is important to you! They are not negotiable.
Don’t put something in your calendar that you have no intentions of doing. And if you have no intention of taking that step, please ask yourself why? What is holding you back?
That’s it. That’s how you make a goal a reality.
There’s no magic to reaching goals other than having a clearly laid out path of action and then committing to yourself to take it.
And here’s something to remember if you still feel like it’s too much work to tackle that goal – know that that time is going to pass no matter what. So you’ll either reach that point in time having achieved what you wanted or you’ll reach that same point in time wishing you had started back when you first started thinking about it. Why not start right now?
You may be thinking “but my goal is more complicated than that! I can’t plan actions towards it!” But that’s very unlikely. The majority of goals can be broken down into small actions that added up over time equal the end result. If you’ve ever lost weight or got a job, any job, how did it happen? I’m guessing you went on a diet, started an exercise program, counted calories or something similar when you lost weight. And how long did you do it for? And how strictly? You took repetitive steps that resulted in weight loss. Same with getting a job, even if we’re talking a job at the mall food court in high school – at the bare minimum you walked into a business and filled out an application, probably received and answered a phone call and showed up on your first day of work. Those are all actions, as basic as they may seem. Bigger goals, just mean MORE actions.
Sometimes the hard part is seeing the steps to your goal clearly – it’s tough to get started at all if you don’t know where to begin! If you need help translating this formula to a goal in your life, let’s set up a time to chat! I can help you determine if your goal is reachable and how you can get there.