Goal Planning: Why It's Important and How to Do It
The year 2018 is coming to an end, seemingly as quickly as it began. And if you're anything like me, you can't stop thinking about the goals you want to reach before the new year as well as the ones you want to set for 2019. Now is the time when we think back on everything that has happened, everything we've accomplished, and all that remains undone. It may also be the time when we start to have a series of mini panic attacks about where our lives are heading. Just me? Didn't think so. But the best way to avoid a full-on freak out is to be prepared. Now is the perfect time of year to sit down and hash out what we want and how we can get there. So let's make like the Solar System and planet! (Please forgive that joke, I simply couldn't resist.)
So why is it important to take time and plan your goals? Well for one, you save yourself a lot of time. By figuring out the steps it will take to accomplish a goal, you're able to cut out anything extra that doesn't ultimately serve a purpose. Strategizing with yourself also allows you to cut some stress and frustration out of the process. A well-marked path is a much easier way to make it to the finish line than running around hoping you eventually get there. I recently started a Holistic Life Coaching Course through Natura Training Institute and decided to implement the training tools from the course into my own life. Through outlining my goals and breaking down the steps I needed to take to get there, I have seen more progress in the past month than I did in the few months before. Suddenly I realized that my big goals were just an accumulation of several smaller goals!
No matter where you are in life right now, your goals are not far out of reach. So now I'd like to take the knowledge from my course at Natura and give you some easy steps you can do on your own that will guide you on your own path to goal attainment.
STEP 1: VISION YOUR LIFE
Take a minute to envision what your ideal life would look like: what you're doing, where you're living, who's around you, etc. Mentally create a scene of how you want your future to unfold. Do not be afraid to think BIG! This is your life and nothing is too wild. I'm going to use myself as an example here. Step into the corners of my mind:
I am in my beautiful office, seeing clients everyday. My website has taken off. I have an amazing network of friends and colleagues in my field. I have more sponsorships than I know what to do with. I'm giving back to the community. I'm traveling for my business. I'm saving money (ahaha, one can dream). I am happy and doing what I love and making a difference in people's lives.
STEP 2: FORMULATE YOUR GOALS
Now that you have a solid vision of what you want your life to look like, it's time to set those goals! As we grow and evolve, so will our aspirations. So remember that your goals now aren't your goals for the rest of your life. Think about the things that are important to you in the next few years and decide on 1-3 major goals to focus on. Write them down! In order for me to attain the life that I want, I decided to focus on two main goals: developing my website and finishing my degree. When formulating a goal there are, of course, a few things you want to keep in mind. A goal should be concrete and measurable, and should be phrased in the positive and present tense. Let's break these down.
First, a goal should be concrete and measurable. In other words, no abstract goals without definitive ends. You want to make sure that a goal is reachable and that there is an endpoint. For me, graduating from school would be the endpoint to my goal of finishing my degree and I would consider my website fully developed once it looks a certain way, has a good chunk of well-written (and on-going) content, and performs all of the necessary functions for user-friendliness.
Next, a goal should be phrased in the positive and the present. A goal that is positive is one that avoids saying things such as, "I will stop... I won't... I'm quitting" etc. Let's say you're tired of smoking and know it's time to drop that habit. Instead of writing down "Quitting smoking" you could say "Living as a healthy non-smoker." This implies that you are gaining something instead of giving something up. A goal that is present puts you in the Now. Don't think of a goal as something you "will" do, think of it as something you're doing! For example, an aspiring author might phrase his/her goals as follows: "Writing a novel and finding a literary agent."
Another thing to consider are your influences. Who do you admire? Who's successfully doing what you want to do? Read up on them, follow them on social media, subscribe to their newsletters, and get inspired! But of course avoid trying to become a carbon copy of them. Your unique approach will be your greatest advantage.
STEP 3: ACTION
Now that you know what you want, it's time to make a game plan. What you'll need: a notebook, a planner, and a pen. That's it! Making a little flow chart here can be extremely helpful. At the top of the page, write down your first goal. Box it, circle it, highlight it-- whatever you need to do to make it stand out. Then below it write two smaller goals that directly lead you to the main one. For my goal of developing my website, my two smaller goals were to 1) brand my site and 2) build my content. From there write about 3 mini goals for each small goal. So under "build content" I wrote 1) professional shoot with a photographer/videographer, 2) post on my social media to promote my new blog entries, and 3) create my own photos that correlate with my posts. Pretty simple once I broke it down like that! Although you can format it any way you'd like, here is an example of how I've outlined mine:
Once you have a clear idea of the steps you need to take, space them out and write them down in a planner. How fast you're looking to finish will determine how frequently you work on a goal. But definitely make sure that each week has some sort of deadline that you can reach. I personally like to schedule each day individually but sometimes I don't do everything that I planned on the day that I planned it, and that's ok! As long as I finish my weekly goals before Sunday. I highly suggest that you keep some time for yourself every Sunday to review what you did well over the past week, to think about how you can improve moving forward, and to plan out your goals for the upcoming week. For me, this is a crucial part of the process, plus it's a great way to check in with yourself and stay accountable.
STEP 4: COMMITMENT
We're not perfect. There will be times when it seems like every obstacle possible has been set up on our path. But the key is to anticipate these obstacles to the best of our availability so that we don't become too distracted. For someone aiming to be more fit, they might know that their tendencies to make excuses will be an issue. To avoid this, get a workout partner or a trainer! Or sign up for classes that have cancellation fees. Maybe your shady ex is constantly lurking around the corner waiting to pop in when your life feels most on track. Block his/her number and social media! You might think this seems extreme but peace of mind is key in focusing on your goals.
This is also a time to prioritize YOUR needs. No, you don't have to become a hermit and only do things that are goal-oriented. But you will have to decide between a hungover Saturday and a productive one; between your friends who are good influences and the ones who usually only bring drama. By acknowledging your areas of weakness, you are allowing yourself to not only avoid them, but to also work through them and become stronger in other areas of life which may be affected by these little flaws.
When we're younger, we're always told to dream big. But it's so rare that we get any insight on how to make these dreams a reality. We go on thinking that we've aimed too high and that an easier path is the right one. But that's not the case. Everything we want in this universe is right here waiting for us. Someone is out there doing exactly what you want to do, something that you CAN do. So tonight before you go to bed, take a few minutes to see your life exactly as you wish it be. Don't hold back, don't feel embarrassed or foolish or outlandish. Feel confident and excited and know that the future you want is just a few steps away and that with a little guidance, you can get there.
If you are interested in delving deeper into the steps I've shown here, follow my link to Natura's page and sign up for the Life Coaching course (or any course offered) and use code HANNA for 50% off. It helped me immensely on my journey and I can't wait to utilize the principles in these lessons to help others.
Namaste little loves!