Setting goals is the easy part. The fun part. Now it’s time to take action and achieve those goals. The work part. The most important part. Below are a few tips for ensuring that those New Year’s Resolutions don’t get forgotten, and some ideas on making your goals easier to achieve. Writing all of this out sounds like a lot of work, but as with everything, a bit of work in the beginning makes for smooth sailing for the rest of the year.
If you could only achieve one of your goals, which would it be? While you want to achieve all of your goals, prioritising them means that if you only do succeed at one, it’s the one that has the most positive impact on your life.
Create an Action Plan
Write down all of the steps needed (or as many as you can think of) to achieve your goals. Break those steps into baby steps, be as specific as you can.
When we set goals and start working towards them, it often makes us uncomfortable or nervous. This is because we are breaking out of our comfort zone and doing new, unfamiliar things.
Breaking your goals down into baby steps helps you move past the discomfort by focusing on the next step only. Starting a new career might be daunting, for example, but making a single phone call to enquire about the necessary training course is a lot more manageable.
The other great thing about having an action plan is that it helps you focus on your goals so that they’re not forgotten, allows you to measure your progress, and it helps motivate you when you see all the crossed off steps that have already done.
Your organisation system from part one will help with creating and scheduling each action step and any follow up actions required.
Take the first step today
Get the ball rolling straight away while you’re feeling positive about achieving your goals, don’t let them fall to the wayside as everyday life takes over.
Once we get over the first hurdle of getting started, momentum kicks in and helps keeps us motivated.
Measure your progress
Tracking metrics not only gives you an idea of how you’re going it can be a shot of motivation as well. Keeping a budget is an easy way of tracking finances, but what about everything else?
Using your organising system to record incremental improvements or baby step achievements (cross off your action plan) is a measure of progress.
Another example: if you want to get fit and your SMART goal is to achieve a certain heart rate per minute, write up your action plan for achieving this (say 30 minutes of walking 3 days a week), use your planner to schedule in your walk, to record each time you actually do the exercise and to record your heart rate each time you walk. This way you can map your progress (charting your heart rate in a spreadsheet for example) and know if what you’re doing is working or not and how far you have to go to achieve your goal.
Don’t forget to write down your starting point at the beginning of the year, so that you have something to compare your progress to.
How I action plan my goals
I’m a little OCD, but I find that this is the easiest way for me to ensure that I’m working towards my goals and fitting them in around everyday life stuff like doing the washing. I don’t achieve everything I set out to, but achieving even just one goal or part of is still better than achieving nothing at all.
1. Write up yearly goals.
As I achieve each goal I cross it off. If your goal is going to take more than one year, then you may need to write it to reflect this. For example, pass first year of uni.
2. Create an action plan
Divide the steps between the months of the year.
3. At the beginning of each month, write up goals for the month based on the action plan.
For example, in 2008 my goal was to complete my studies. I had 3 subjects left. So the January goal was to complete 1/4 of the first subject. As I achieve each goal I cross it off.
4. At the beginning of each week, write up weekly goals and include your everyday to do list also.
For example, Jan week one I had to get through the first chapter of the subject to stay on track. As I achieve this goal I cross it off my list.
But I also had to remember to take the library books on Thurs, and I had an appointment on Fri. Working towards my goals becomes part of my everyday schedule.
5. At the beginning of each day, write up a daily to do list.
This is the most important list to focus on. Little baby steps are easy to achieve. If you do each small baby step every day, then you have automatically achieved your weekly and monthly goals and you’re automatically that much closer to achieving your yearly goals.
For example, the washing might need doing, the shopping, work etc, but to stay on track for my goal I also need to read the first couple of pages of chapter one and do some of the exercises. A little each day will mean I finish my studies on time.
Prioritise this list to ensure that you are doing the most important things each day and do these things first. That way if you don’t get through the whole list (I don’t think that I have ever gotten through a whole to do list) you’ve still done the most important things that need doing.
Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions, I would love to hear if you set goals, what works for you and how you go throughout 2010.
Measure Yourself Using the Same Techniques the Fortune 500 uses @ I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Top 20 Motivational Hacks @ Zen Habits and
Why motivation doesn’t really matter @ Zen Habits and
5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Finish What You Started @ Pick the Brain
Create Your Life Plan @ Life Optimizer
Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation @ TED Talks this video is less directly helpful than just plain interesting. I love TED!