“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. No, it begins with a plan.
One of the biggest challenges we all had last year was ‘busyness’. With so much to do it can become difficult to prioritise. People often respond by trying to do everything, and while this can feel productive at the time, it tends to result in little meaningful progress. To ensure you continue to make progress on the things that matter to you, it’s important to set goals and review your progress regularly.
Here are the 5 steps to setting and smashing your goals:
1. Create your long term vision
The first step is to think about what you want in the long term. Be ambitious. What do you want in the future? Don’t just set professional or career goals – what about your personal goals? Consider your learning, adventure, social, creative, health and lifestyle goals. What are the things you love doing most, get greatest joy from, or wish you had more time for? What specifically will success look like, and by when will you achieve it?
It’s important to also consider WHY you want to achieve your long term objectives. What will be different? What will achieving your goals allow you to do, or be, or feel? Your motivation relies on the value you attribute to your goal. If you feel a greater sense meaning and purpose, your motivation will come naturally.
Be specific and write it all down, somewhere you will see regularly.
2. Establish your 3-5 key projects
You can’t do everything at once, and some things take time. What are your top 3-5 key projects, or sub-goals that will take you towards your long term goal?
3. Create systems or processes for each project or goal
You now need to bridge the gap between your goals and your behaviour. Some projects will require time and strategic thinking, others will need new habits.
- FOR YOUR ‘TIMELINE’ GOALS: 5 MAJOR MOVES
If you have a goal that will only be achieved over time, with a number of steps along the way (such as publishing a book or starting your own business), figure out your five major moves that will take you from where you are to your goal. This may require some brainstorming at first, but eventually you need to be able to describe each move with unambiguous clarity. Answer ‘what, specifically will I have done, and by when?’.
- FOR YOUR ‘LIFESTYLE’ GOALS: 3 KEY HABITS
For lifestyle goals (such as improving your health, developing relationships, expressing more creativity), a different approach may be necessary. For these goals, start by brainstorming the habits that would make the biggest difference. If a goal of yours is to improve your physical health, you could go to the gym more, walk to work, sleep more, drink less alcohol, drink more water, eat more veg, get outside more… To try to do them all will likely set you up for failure. Instead, decide on the 1-3 key habits that will have the biggest impact, and then create routines around them. What will you now do each day, week and month, to make your lifestyle goal(s) inevitable?
4. Measure and track your progress
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” (Thomas S. Monson).
Decide on the most critical variables that will best reflect your progress towards your goals, and start recording. Set your own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or KBIs (Key Behavioural Indicators) and measure your progress. Keep it simple – only track a few things.
5. Review your progress regularly
If you set goals for your year but don’t check your progress until 12 months later, what are the chances you’ll be where you want to be – or where you could be? Calenderise a repeating meeting with yourself at least every month and every quarter. Each time you review your progress ask yourself the following questions:
- Of the goals I set out to achieve, what have I accomplished? (+ how can I reward myself for these?)
- What have I not accomplished, and why?
- What have I learned?
- What do I now need to change?
- What’s missing?
This will help you stay on track and notice ways you can improve. Regular reviews will also give you a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose, both of which will help improve your well-being and your resilience.
One last word: Mindset
The process described above will help set you on your journey towards your goals, but your mindset will determine your speed of travel. You are hopefully now clearer on what you need to do, but who do you need to be to make your goals inevitable?
Best of luck.
3 point review
- Create a compelling long term vision of what you want and why you want it.
- Decide the 3-5 key projects, their 5 big moves and dates, or 3 key habits and routines.
- Decide on how you’ll measure progress, and review your progress regularly.