With just a little bit of intentionality, it’s possible to break out of the norm and finally achieve those big goals that always seem just out of reach. Here are 8 tips for setting & achieving your goals this year:
1. Tap Into Bigger Vision
For me, as a mom, it can be easy to set goals like “do the laundry on Mondays” and “teach the kids how to clean up after themselves.” But I find that when most of my goals are like that, it’s kind of de-motivating. Not only are they underwhelming, but progress is really hard to achieve and track. Not to mention the fact that these things never end.
One of the best things I’ve done for my personal productivity and frame of mind is to set some goals for myself that are bigger than the daily grind. We all have dreams & passions. Just because you may be in a season in which family life is the center of your attention, doesn’t mean you can’t have goals that fulfill your own dreams and passions as well.
Make sure one of your big goals for the year involves moving you forward in one of these areas. Whether it’s launching a business or learning a new language or playing an instrument or writing a book or starting a side hustle or reading more books or starting a new hobby or whatever is on your heart.
Not only will it breathe fresh life into you and keep you motivated as a parent, but it’s so good for your kids to see you moving in an area of your passion and not just “surviving” day to day responsibilities. When our kids have the opportunity to see us using our gifts, developing new skills, helping others and enjoying life, it provides a sense of peace and stability to them. It also teaches them a way of life they can sustain long term.
2. Limit Yourself to 3 Primary Goals
I’ve heard this from numerous people who have been successful with achieving their goals. This is the HARDEST for me! I love to plan. I can easily sit down and set 497 goals for the year. The problem is that’s not realistic.
The more goals you have, the more spread out your focus will be and the less likely you are to actually accomplish anything of significance.
Force yourself to narrow it down to 3 main goals for the year and make sure at least one of them is related to a personal dream or passion. Here are some examples of primary goals for a year: Reading 36 books, Losing 25 pounds, Starting a side hustle and earning X amount of income, Running a half marathon, Decluttering your whole house, Paying off X amount of debt, Learning how to knit, Getting an article published, Shaping your family culture in a specific area like communication or connection, Building authentic community with 3 other individuals or families, saving X amount of money for a family vacation, Buying a house.
Be specific. Avoid generic goals like “get healthy” or “lose weight” or “read more books.” Set a specific goal and attach some sort of number or benchmark to it so you can know when you have accomplished your goal.
If your goal is simply to “read more books this year,” chances are your progress will be mediocre. But if your goal is to “read 36 books this year,” then you know that means 3 books per month, which means 1 book every 10 days. All of a sudden, you have a goal that you can track progress on.
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3. Break Your Goals Into Bite-Sized Pieces
Once you set your 3 primary goals for the year, begin to break them down into smaller goals. In order to achieve that big goal by the end of the year, what do you need to achieve by the end of this month? Break it down into quarterly and monthly goals. If your goal is to read 36 books, then by the end of January, you should have 3 books completed. By the end of the first quarter, you should have 9 books completed.
When you begin to break your goals down this way, it helps prevent procrastination. In their book, The 12 Week Year, Moran & Lennington talk about how many companies set annual goals. But because 12 full months is such a long time, employees have trouble conceptualizing that and practically working toward goals.
So what happens instead is that when the 4th quarter of the year rolls around, everyone suddenly realizes they are behind and have to make a huge push to attempt to meet annual goals by the end of the year. This is part of why the 4th quarter is often the most profitable for a number of businesses. But by switching to a 12 WEEK period for goals instead, companies are able to increase productivity for the entire year.
So once you have those big goals in mind, start to break them down into monthly & quarterly goals with benchmarks so you can measure progress.
4. Adjust Your Daily Habits
The real battle for progress is not won in the big goals, but in the daily habits. The most effective way to ensure progress is to build your big goal into your daily habits. Want to learn how to play the piano? Take a little time each day to practice.
The crazy thing is that it doesn’t have to be that much time to make a difference. Sometimes we think, “Oh, I could never practice the piano EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But could you squeeze 5-10 minutes of playing into your day?
A mere 10 minutes a day, while you’re waiting for the oven timer to go off or for your spouse to be ready to leave, or simply in place of one quick session on social media, turns into 60 hours over the course of 1 year. For most of us, it’s easier to squeeze 10 minutes into our day than attempt to plan for 60 hours of anything.
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If you’re not intentionally working on your goals on a daily basis, they may not happen at all. But just like a tiny drip of your bathroom faucet turns into gallons of water before you know it, in the same way, just a few minutes a day on something important will yield major progress over the course of a year.
One of the biggest secrets to developing daily habits, according to author James Clear, is making them easy to do. If you want to learn how to knit, don’t put your knitting stuff in the back of a closet that’s hard to get to. Instead, put everything you need in an open basket right next to your living room chair for quick and easy access.
Or if you’re wanting to learn a new language, find an app you love and set it up to give you a push notification every day at a certain time to review your 5-10 minute lesson for that day. If possible, set it up for a time of day that you’re usually not doing anything urgent…like over lunchtime or first thing in the morning when you’re still in bed.
If you’re looking for some great, practical tips for building daily habits into your life, check out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.
5. Choose Some Catchphrases to Encourage Yourself
This has helped me tremendously! Often times our biggest enemy in achieving our goals is simply our own mindsets. I’ve always struggled with perfectionism, so I tend to get stuck in procrastination and fear of mistakes or failure. But this past year has taught me that it’s better to get something imperfect “out there” into the world than to keep that “perfect” thing in your head where nobody ever gets to benefit from it.
So here are a few catchphrases I have adopted this year that have helped me push through my mental barriers and accomplish more than ever before:
- Done is better than perfect.
- Go for 95%, not 100%
- Mistakes mean learning, not failure
- Do the hard work NOW
Whatever thoughts or mindsets are holding you back, take a few minutes to come up with a slogan or catchphrase you can use this year to remind yourself of the truth. Post them on your mirror, put a daily reminder on your phone, hang a piece of art on your wall, or whatever you need to do to keep that truth before you.
6. Find a Planning System You Love
I’m pretty much a digital girl. I’m not one to write in a journal or keep a handwritten list. I like to keep everything in electronic form for quick and easy access. But for some reason this year, I decided to try a paper planner and I. Am. Loving. It. There’s something powerful about physically writing down your goals and intentions and keeping them before you on a regular basis.
Plus, it gives you a visual reminder that you are choosing to live with intentionality and that means something. Back in September, I started using the Living Well Planner and I highly recommend it!!!
What I love about it is that, beyond your usual planner, it incorporates an entire strategy for “Goal Crushing,” complete with sections for setting annual goals, monthly goals and then breaking them down into bite-sized pieces for daily & weekly progress. It has really helped me be more strategic and more productive so that I can spend more time focusing on what is most important to me. If you’re looking for a planner, definitely check out the Living Well Planner! It even includes access to a series of videos to help you use it to achieve your goals.
7. Celebrate Your Wins
It’s important to incorporate celebration & reward into your system! If you simply set generic goals like “get healthy this year,” not only will it be hard to track progress, but there are no built-in opportunities to celebrate!
The beauty of creating a system you love and forming specific, monthly goals is that you have the benefit of being able to celebrate real progress. If your book-reading goal for the month (3 books) is accomplished, do something to celebrate! Take yourself out for coffee or treat yourself to a new audio book or whatever helps keep you motivated to move forward.
8. Build Accountability Around You
When I decided to launch my blog this year, I came up with a thousand excuses for why I shouldn’t do it yet. “I just need to tweak this and learn that and fix this…” And it could have gone on forever.
So I decided to tell a few close friends what I wanted to accomplish and gave them permission to check in with me. Then one day, one of my good friends said, “Hey, your blog is ready. You should go public today.” I was like, “Today????!! No, I need to tweak this and learn that and fix this…” And she pushed back and said, “Beth, it’s ready. Just do it.”
If she hadn’t held me accountable, my blog probably still wouldn’t be “live.” But because of her gentle, yet firm encouragement, I found the courage I needed to face my fears and do the hard thing.
So this year, be intentional to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, cheer you on, and help push you forward. And do the same for them.
When you’re excited about your goals, it can be easy to go ahead and tell everyone about them. But if we do that too early in the process, it can actually be de-motivating. Because the “thrill” of announcing our goals comes before any of the hard work has happened. Also, there will always be naysayers in your life to challenge & discourage you, even with the best of intentions.
So be strategic in choosing the people you will share your goals with. Let it be a bit of a secret at first, then as you make progress, you can expand the people you share with. But make sure you have some trusted people who will hold you accountable and help empower you to be your best self.
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