Whether 2019 is the year for a new venture, career success or personal growth, here is my tried and tested method to be sure you hit your big life goals, no excuses.
Around the start of a new year we get that motivation to set ourselves some big goals for the coming year. The month of indulgence is over, and a new year feels like a good time for a fresh start. Regardless of whether 2019 is the year for you to go for that big promotion, quit your job and set up your own business, take time off to travel, start a family, or just work on personal growth and health, it would be awesome if those goals weren’t just a January exercise of the mind, but a genuine tool to achieve your ambitions. The following blog will ensure that you are set-up to succeed in achieving all of your resolutions so that you can reflect on 2019 as a huge success!
Setting the vision
First, the fun part. Mapping out your vision means taking a leap and actually physically writing down all of those things you really want to do with your life. Too often life gives us an unexpected wake-up call to review where we are with our dreams and ambitions. If you stop and think ‘am I where I want to be?’ and the answer is not ‘absolutely!’ then it’s time to start making those dreams a reality.
There are a few rules to this part:
This exercise is not an invitation to mope about unmet expectations and where you thought you would be by this point in your life. Those expectations you set when you were young and bright-eyed were wonderful, but life is challenging and surprising and you are not a failure for not having gotten there yet!
This is not a time for excuses. Don’t give yourself reasons for why you won’t achieve your goals as this is how you set yourself up to fail. Get out of your own way and believe in yourself.
Goals must be within your circle of influence and control. Just like the the genie from Aladdin had rules around the 3 wishes he could grant, your goals should follow the same rules. Goals must be largely within your control. Joys of life that are not entirely within your circle of influence or control are largely experienced when you are in a true state of happiness and inner peace, and so by working on those areas you can influence you will be surprised at how other areas of your life fall into place as a result!
Now that we’ve nipped those bad habits in the bud, it’s time to start drawing up your list. Whether it’s a visual mind-map or an organised list, go write down those things you’d love to be able to say you’d achieved in 2019. I’d always suggest fewer, bigger goals rather than lots of smaller ones. You will be more focused and feel the impact of hitting those bigger goals more. If you’re unsure, write down all of your goals and then choose the ones that make you smile the most. It could be writing for a well-known magazine, walking away from a job that’s been getting you down, big health and fitness goals, getting a major promotion, spending more time with loved ones (and less at work!), setting up a business….anything!
Having recently read The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber gave a piece of advice which I’ve since carried with me; think about what you’d like written in your obituary. I appreciate this is a morbid thought, but taking the morbidity out of it, how would you like your life to be summarised, this should help you determine those goals that are most important to you.
If you’re feeling really stuck, and don’t feel you have direction (and I know this feeling well), do the following exercise to trigger some inspiration; write down the times in your life when you’ve felt the happiest. It could be a particular holiday, a memorable day, an event, perhaps a regular occurrence such as Sunday mornings, or Friday nights, just write as many things as you can which represent your happiest moments.
Once you’ve done this, go through each of the items on the list and try and find the commonalities between each moment. I did this at the start of 2018 and determined that I was most happy when I was in control of my time, when I felt free and unbound by too much structure, when I could travel, and when I was with people I love. This exercise made my mind up to quit my job, go travelling and then start my own business.
Making it achievable
Those goals are looking pretty exciting, but also quite ambitious and a little intimidating I bet. The first rule we apply is one you may be familiar with already, but one you perhaps don’t apply to your personal goals; we need to make these goals SMART. SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. Put quite simply, this step ensures that we will know when we have achieved the goal! Goals are often vague until the SMART exercise is applied.
So for example, if your goal is to write for a recognised magazine, a SMART example of this may be something like; to have authored at least one article published by a recognised magazine such as Forbes, TIME etc. by the end of 2019. If the goal is to spend more time with loved ones, the SMART example may be: to work no more than 40 hours per week and to return from work before 6pm from the start of 2019 in order to have evening meals at home and to not bring work home. The above goals are clear and the success of the goals can be measured easily.
The goal itself is a motivator but it’s also big, and if left in this final form, may not get done! The key is to break it down and make it achievable. An important lesson to learn with all goal-setting, no matter if it’s life goals such as these or your to-do list for the day, is that the first step to getting the task done is identifying the next step. So, what is the very next action you need to do which gets you one step closer to that final goal?
If you’re goal is to leave the job you’ve been unhappy in for some time then it may be necessary to identify alternative employment. In this case the very next step could be to list the types of roles you would consider a move into, the next step could be to arrange a call with a recruiter or it could be as simple as having a conversation with someone you are close with to try and identify potential avenues. Whatever the next step is it needs to be just that, a step, a small single action which moves you one step closer to your goal.
Once you’ve identified the next step for each of your 2019 goals, list those steps and make them SMART with a timeframe against each. That list of next actions (as opposed to your list of big goals) should look very achievable, and hopefully you’re itching to get some done!
The rule from here is, once you have completed the next action, cross it off and write down the very next action. At no point should you have an action written down which cannot be done until another is completed. In this case, it is not a next action, as it is currently outside of your circle of control!
Making it happen
Now you’re totally ready to start achieving every single one of your goals. What will make the difference between starting your goals, and achieving them all, is method and consistency. You need to commit to the process right now. Sit in front of these goals and tell yourself that you commit to achieving them.
There are two key steps to ensure you keep your commitment:
You already have time-frames alongside each of your next actions (as a result of making them SMART), so schedule them. Whatever is your best method of organisation, use it. It could be phone reminders, to-do-list apps, post-its on the computer screen, your hand-written diary; whatever it is get these actions and deadlines scheduled to be completed on time.
Calendar review points; the next actions will be completed within the scheduled time-frames thanks to reminders, however these review points will ensure that you are on track with the big goals. You may wish to review monthly, maybe even weekly, and within these review points you are reminding yourself of what you want to achieve and where you are along the process of achieving them. When you reach a review point, you may then decide you are moving too slowly through your next actions (and so edit the timeframes on your next actions) or you may decide you need to change your priorities as one goal is lagging a little for example.
If life gets in the way of you achieving your next actions, remember rules 1 and 2, no moping and no excuses. Set a new deadline and hit it. In your review points, ask yourself honestly how many deadlines are being pushed back and perhaps let your inner Manager come out and have a word! There’s only one way these goals are going to get done, and that’s if they’re a priority.
Between the scheduled next actions and the consistent review points, you will glide through your goals with ease and focus, and you will be surprised at your achievements every step of the way. You will begin to see those big life goals as a reality and often you will complete the year goals well ahead of time. I’ve known people hit their New Year big goals in February!
One thing that will encourage you to keep working at your next actions and goals, despite how long they may be taking (and even if those deadlines keep slipping back), is if you celebrate successes. Successes don’t only mean hitting the big goals, but reaching certain points on the way as well. If you’re big goals seem like mountains, set a point along the way which you will celebrate to recognise how far you’ve come. Goals don’t tend to happen overnight, and if you don’t celebrate these improvements, you don’t see how far you’ve come. These can be the push required to get you to the final hurdle!
Perhaps choose celebrations ahead of time to incentivise your commitment to achieving the goals. Could you go for a nice dinner, buy yourself something, take a day off or give yourself some other small luxury when you reach a certain point? Everybody needs that little encouragement to achieve big goals.
One extra tip!
Whilst vision, method, commitment, consistency and celebration are critical, there is another factor which is equally important. This factor is belief. Whilst there can be numerous life hurdles and obstacles between us and our dreams, more often than not we are capable of overcoming every single one and the only thing that gets in our way is us! If you typically feel self-doubt, try something new for 2019 and believe in yourself more. Whilst I would usually advise your share your goals with another person (as it promotes accountability and allows you to celebrate success with/seek advice from them) you don’t have to. What you do need to do is make the commitment to yourself that you can and will achieve these goals; that is non-negotiable.
Going one step further than belief, envision it. When you wake up in the morning, visualise success in achieving your goals and experience what success will feel like. Envision your success and watch it manifest!
I would LOVE to hear about your experiences; why not send me your goals as a sign of your commitment to them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer you personally with some extra tips for you to make them happen (for free of course!). Good luck to you in 2019 and well done for taking the first step in achieving your big life goals.
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