Getting really clear about what would improve your life is only half the job.
You also have to be very intentional about how you go about making those changes otherwise they can quickly fall by the wayside as life gets in the way.
Some simple planning around your goals can be the difference between another year of the same, and your best year yet.
Below are five simple steps that can take lofty goals and quickly turn them into daily action:
1. Get clear about what you would like to change
The first step to setting goals that will really make a difference to you is to get clear on what you want to change in your life, across different aspects of it.
Use our 20 question life audit to focus down on the change that would make the most difference across different areas of your life.
2. Turn those changes into three clear, specific goals
You then need to take these changes and turn them into goals.
Making goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely – whilst not as essential as some may argue, is a way of ensuring that they have some focus.
Specific means that you want to be crystal clear on what you are trying to achieve. “Get on better at work’ can have so many different interpretations as to be meaningless – instead you could say ‘Be ranked Outstanding in my annual appraisal’ or ‘Increase my sales by X%’.
Measurable is about giving yourself a clear way to tell whether you have hit your goal or not – achieving that Outstanding ranking would be measurable, as would hitting that % increase in sales. Likewise a weight loss goal or a savings target.
Attainable is a key one and it has two elements. First, you want your goal to be a bit of a stretch but it has to be realistic enough to keep you motivated. If you don’t believe you will ever achieve it then you’re unlikely to stay committed to it. Second it also has to be at least partly in your gift, avoiding goals that entirely are out of your hands, like someone else’s happiness, or a work target that you aren’t solely responsible for.
Relevant is an interesting one and it goes to the heart of the outcome we’re trying to achieve. Sometimes the goals we set don’t really capture our overall ambition and so we lose interest – for example, a weight loss goal that’s about how you look when actually what you want is to be healthier.Or a goal to get promoted when what would actually make us you happier at work is better work/life balance. Try to drill down to the outcome you really want to achieve.
Finally, timely is simply about when you want to achieve your goal by. Three months is ideal – long enough to achieve something significant, but short enough to maintain focus.
3 Break down those long-term goals into progress goals
Now this is the bit when the goal-setting turns into planning. It can take a little work but it’s the secret trick to making goals achievable.
You need to divide up your goals to give yourself a set of mini-goals or targets along the way. This makes it clear what you need to be doing each month if you’re going to hit that goal.
Start by imagining where you’d need to be at the half way point if you’re going to hit your goals. It could be to have completed a number of key steps or, if your goal is numerical (like running a certain distance), half the end goal – though remember that sometimes progress can be slow at the beginning and then pick up momentum, so it may be a curve rather than a straight line.
From here it should be relatively straightforward to identify where you need to be in the intervening points to hit that end goal.
Once you’ve completed it just revisit your goal if the monthly milestones seem either too easy or too difficult to achieve – you might need to adjust your end goal.
4. Get in the habit of staying on track every week
At this point, the planning starts to turn into practice.
Take the clarity you have around what you want to achieve every month and get into the habit of reviewing that at the start of every week.
Each week look at what you need to achieve in that month and decide what you need to do in the coming week to move towards that goal by Friday. It might be a specific action – researching networking events being held over the next three months, for example – or it might be an action that you repeat in order to build up a head of steam – such as emailing a new contact every day, swimming three times a week, or limiting your coffee-buying to one cup a day so as to save money.
Write that down so that you’re clear on the goals for the week. At the end of each week, review the progress you’ve made against the monthly goal and set a new weekly goal, allowing you time to catch up if you’ve slipped behind.
5 Take action every single day
The final step is to take those weekly goals and translate them into action that you will take EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
With a quick look at the weekly goals you’ve written down you should be able to quickly each morning identify the actions you need to take that day to hit the weekly goal. It could be asking a colleague to take you to an event, buying new running shoes, or opening a savings account.
Get clear on the action, get it onto your To Do list and then book it into your calendar. If you’re serious about doing it, then you need to schedule it, otherwise it likely won’t happen. Prioritise this action and allow other work to fit around it, not the other way around.
To Sum Up…
With a bit of planning, you can take big ambitious changes you want to make to your life and break them down into simple, easily achievable daily actions. Over time, living your life like this will move you further than ever before.
- Get clear about what you would like to change
- Turn these changes into smart goal
- Break these down into monthly progress goal
- Stay on track every week
- Take action every single day.
If you are ready to map out an exceptional year of ambition, action and achievement, book a call with us today.