Setting goals can be really fun–dreaming up plans and visions for a better life. But actually achieving goals? That’s the hard part. This post shares five habits that can help you stick to your goals and actually achieve them.
I absolutely LOVE setting goals. Something about starting fresh, looking for possibility, and striving for a better me really gets me excited about life! Plus, writing them out and creating systems to achieve them is easily near the top of my favorite things to do. (Unrelated note: Yes, I loved school. And yes, I miss it 🤓.)
But there’s a huge difference between coming up with a plan to reach your goals and actually achieving them. A huge difference. Me, I’m great at the first part. It’s the follow through that’s tough. And I’m that’s where most people find themselves.
I think it all comes down to habits. Are we making our goals habitual pieces of our lives? I know that, more often than not, I’m not. So here are five habits I’ve recently learned that really help determine whether or not I get to check my goal off at the end of the year.
1. Write Down Your Goals Everyday.
Okay, I know this sounds redundant, but it’s really helpful. Pick a time of day (I recommend as early in the day as possible), grab a notebook, and jot down the goals you’re currently working on.
But that’s not all. After you write down each goal, write down one teeny-tiny thing you can do that day to take you one step closer to your goal.
- Do you have a goal to write a novel? Maybe today you can write 100 words.
- Are you hoping to remodel the kitchen? Maybe today you can make a list of action steps you need to take.
- Do you want to improve your health? Maybe today you can eat an extra serving of vegetables.
- Is your goal to save up enough money to take your kids to Disneyland? Maybe today you can start a no-spend challenge.
- Are you trying to strengthen your relationship with God? Maybe today you can spend an extra five minutes on scripture study.
Whatever your goals are, pick one or two and choose a simple, attainable action you can take that day to bring you closer to your goal. By doing this each day, you’ll always be making forward motion on your goals.
Also, it’s important to actually write this all down, and not just think about it. There’s something about physically writing something out that changes the way our brain thinks. It works. I promise. If you want a journaling sheet that will help you with this, and a couple other important daily actions to take control of your life, sign-up for my free Journaling with a Purpose printable below or check out this post on How to Journal with a Purpose.
2. Break them into Bite Sized Pieces and Display Your Current Step.
When we set goals, they’re typically huge endeavors that will drastically improve our lives. But looking at something so big and life-altering can be very, very intimidating. Plus, we have no idea where to start. So we don’t. We push the goal to the side and figure we’ll get to it later. Or we ignore it all together.
It’s super important to break these huge goals into bite-sized pieces!!! Let’s take budget, for instance. If your goal is to save up enough money to take your kids to Disneyland, there are a lot of factors that can play into this:
- You can cut back on purchases.
- You can tighten your food budget.
- You can stop eating out.
- You can eliminate date night.
- You can get another job or side hustle to make more money.
- You can sell items around the house.
- You can get rid of cable.
- You can trade babysitting with a friend instead of paying for a sitter.
Plus a whole lot of other options. So break it down. Figure out which options will work best for you and your family, list them out, then pick ONE to work on now. Say you want to tighten your food budget first. Great choice! But even that can be a little daunting. So take that and break it into bite-sized actions:
- For one week, don’t buy groceries. Instead, use what you already have in the pantry and freezer.
- Figure out how much you’re spending now.
- Cut that number by 10%.
- Look up best buy prices, money saving apps, or other tools to help you cut back.
- Once you get good at that, try to cut back by another 10%.
Once you feel like you’ve got a handle on your grocery budget, you can move to the next item on the list. Maybe selling items around the house.
It’s also a good idea to have your current step displayed somewhere you see often. A post-it note on your computer or bathroom mirror is a good option, or have a spot in your planner. This keeps it at the forefront of your mind at all times.
3. Make Time for Your Goals.
Way too often, I set a goal, but forget to set aside time to work on it. Then I get stressed when I’m not making any headway. But duh, how do I think I’m going to achieve a goal when I’m not making time to accomplish it? Goals take time.
So when you make a goal, set aside specific time for it. If your goal is to write a novel, maybe you can wake up a half hour earlier than normal to write before your kids wake up. Or maybe your goal is to improve your health and right now you’re focusing on cooking healthy meals instead of grabbing takeout. So you could set a specific time every Saturday to plan meals for the next week, grocery shop, and come home to wash and chop fruits and veggies or bulk cook meats.
If we have a specific time set aside to work on goals, we’re much more likely to actually work on them.
4. Track Your Goals.
I love charts! Sure, it’s pretty childlike, but let’s be honest, deep down we’ve all got a little love for childlike motivators 😝. Charts are motivational. It’s fun to check something off (or pop on a sticker), see our progress, and maybe even have a little reward at the end.
Charts don’t have to be complicated. Get on Pinterest and see if you can find something that will work. There are a ton of free options out there. Or open up Microsoft Word or a similar program and create a simple table. I’m also a huge fan of the Powersheets Goal Planner from Cultivate What Matters. 2019 will be my second year using it and it was a game changer for 2018! It’s a little pricey, but it’s an amazing resource to help you create, track, and achieve your goals.
5. Regularly Review and Rework Your Goals.
This one can be tough for me. If I set a goal at the beginning of the year, I want to achieve it in that exact way. But that’s not realistic. Life changes. Trials we never could have expected creep up and totally blindside us, knocking us off our path. Our kids change and demand more attention. Our priorities shift. That’s part of life 🤷.
So it’s okay to rewrite your goals halfway through the year. It’s okay to cut back on them. And yes, it’s okay to get rid of them entirely!
Maybe you had a goal to read 52 books this year, but by August you’ve only read 10. Don’t burn yourself out trying to get to 52! Don’t hate yourself for not meeting your goal. Simply readjust. Aim for 8 more by the end of the year and call it good. Cut yourself some slack.
Or maybe you had a goal to run a marathon by the fall, but mid-summer you got an injury. Don’t risk further injury by continuing training. Instead, rest and make it a goal to reach full recovery by the fall, then start training again for a winter marathon.
Or maybe your goal was to start a bakery, but you realized that you actually hate baking and you don’t really want to start a business after all. That’s fine. Cross it off that list and move on.
We all change over time and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good idea to regularly check-in with yourself and your goals and see if they’re still working for you. Goals are meant to HELP you–to push you and keep you motivated. There’s no point in working toward a goal that isn’t doing that!Goals are meant to HELP you--to push you and keep you motivated. There's no point in working toward a goal that isn't doing that, so don't be afraid to drop goals that no longer serve you. Click To Tweet
By writing down your goals everyday, breaking them into manageable pieces, setting aside time for them, tracking them, and regularly revisiting them and tweaking as necessary, you’ll be on the path to success. The biggest thing to note with goals is that they’re meant for YOU, so make them work for you. Don’t beat yourself up over them and don’t be afraid to drop them if they aren’t serving you. This is YOUR life, so live it well!
What’s your favorite habit surrounding goals?
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