I love a new year, I love pulling out a crisp piece of paper and a pen and writing down all that I want to accomplish, the milestones that I want to reach and the person that I want to become in the coming 12 months. Although goal setting now comes easily for me, it wasn’t always so. Year after year, I would fill my paper with things like, ‘be happy, get in shape, eat less’. Although these are good ideas, and even good things to aspire to, they are not measurable or even very specific and within a couple of weeks I was off my ‘goals’ and a little dissapointed in myself. I would love to share with you how I define my goal setting now.
Goal Setting 101
1. Map it out (Tell me what you want, what you really, really want)
You can’t set a goal until you become clear about what you want, like really want. Be honest with yourself and give yourself permission to reach for the stars – baby you’ve earned it. What does your life look like in your fairy tale? In your 12 year old self’s journal? What do you want to accomplish with your self, your family, your house, your job? This year, next year and in the years to come. This vision of yourself need not be set in stone. Your wishes and dreams will change with each goal that you accomplish because more of life will be open to you. Consider this an open letter to your soul.
2. Get Specific
For example if I want to ‘get in shape’, then what does that mean, what does it look like? Not what it takes to get in shape, but if I were in shape, then what would I be doing? For me being in shape would mean (among other things) that I would be able to run a 10k in under an hour at some point during this year. Now I could probably go out and run a 10k on January 1st. It would be a hot mess and It would probably take me the better part of 2 hours, but I’m pretty sure that I could do it and finish. However, what the 10k means is that I’m in shape and therefore training for the 10k is what I’m really after, the run is just the result.
3. Assign value to your goal and make a plan
The goal that I would then write would be;
Run a 10k in less than an hour before July 1st
I assigned two values to my goal, a time and a date. First thing that I would do then is look up 10k’s in my area that happen in June. I found this one that is happening on June 8th and I have already signed up for it. The next step would be to find a running and nutrition schedule that would have me on pace to run a 10k in under an hour by June 8th. And that schedule would break down monthly, weekly and daily what I should be doing to be on pace to accomplish my goal. If you assign a value to your goal and then work backwards from where you want to be to where you are, you slice your goal and the work to achieve that goal into bite size manageable pieces.
4. Get to work
Once your goal has been set and the value assigned and your plan mapped out, get started. Start right where you are standing today. Don’t start tomorrow. Even if it is just researching something online – get going. I find that if I ‘start tomorrow’, I in fact do not start at all. Envision it, map it, start doing.
5. Be flexible with yourself
Once you get started on a goal, you may realize that in fact you do not want to make a million dollars, that money doesn’t motivate you and certainly doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning. Allow room to adjust and even let yourself throw in the towel if you need to. There are many times that I’ve started on a goal and realized a couple of weeks into it that I wanted nothing to do with that life that I was creating if I accomplished the goal. This is an awesome part about goal setting and please don’t become discouraged by it. It means that you’re growing and changing and you’re becoming someone different than you were when you first started setting goals. Just head back to the drawing board and rewrite your future. It’s as easy and as fun as that.