Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Stephanie
Setting goals is not about planning, it’s about the why and the vision.
Planning is not for big-picture goals. This goal-setting post is not focused on the plan. I want you to understand that I love a good to-do list. I have a whole post about how to use a to-do list effectively. Personally, I also practice a weekly review that keeps me on target with my goals and to-dos. I’m a big fan of making sure that for the mundane, day-to-day stuff, I have a plan. For the big picture… don’t plan it to death! It’s all about reflection and vision. By the end of this post, I hope you leave with a list of complete goals that include:
- What you want.
- Why you want it.
- How you’re going to get there.
- What it’s going to look like!
Before you even start goal-setting, get a journal.
If you want to seriously start thinking about goals and changing your life, you need to take the time to review and reflect on these goals. Spend some money on something nice, or go grab a legal pad… something that you can hold on to and work in consistently. Do not put your goals on a single sheet of paper! If you choose to download my free goal worksheet, glue it into your journal, complete it digitally with my favorite tool GoodNotes, or put it in a binder. Life is always moving forward. To be successful, your goals need to be re-tuned often.
I am a personal fan of using digital notebooks because they can travel with you everywhere, you can customize them for what you need, and they have unlimited pages! Check out my post about 10 ways digital notebooks will change the way you work! You can also check out these notebooks in my shop!
Daily Hyperlinked Digital Notepad | GoodNotes Hyperlinked Notebook Neutral Gray Functional | iPad Notes$2.99
Daily Hyperlinked Digital Notepad | iPad Notes | Goodnotes Hyperlinked Notes$2.99
Digital Teacher Notebook and Planner | Digital Planner for GoodNotes and PDF | Functional Teacher Planner$3.50
Now onto the fun work. Let’s break these pieces down! Download the free .pdf here to help you write things down.
Step 1: What do you want?
Now, grab a pen and start writing. Write what comes to mind, and don’t think yet about how you are going to get there. Just write and keep writing! Let’s say that you have the following goals on your list:
- Eat healthier.
- Lose the baby weight.
- Go to the gym 4 times a week.
- Drink more water.
After thinking about it, they all fall under the same umbrella! This is a group of small goals that you may combine into one goal of “I want to be 150 pounds and get healthy.” Can you see how they relate to each other? As we look ahead to the next step, you will see that combining these makes sense.
Step 2: What is your why?
I want to stress that this is the MOST IMPORTANT element of goal-setting. If you want even more information about my why and how asking the tough questions can help move you forward, check out this post. Motivation and reflection are the keys to setting goals! Creating habits, being consistent, being productive, staying focused… it all comes down to this one thing. If you don’t have a why that means something to you, you will not achieve it. If your mind is not in it, you will never really start it. For the next two steps, go one goal at a time, working through the whole process with each.
Asking yourself why when talking about setting goals can not be something you gloss over!
Why is this a goal for you? What matters to you? Why are you even setting goals? Saying, “I don’t know, I’ve just always wanted to,” does not work. While reflecting, if a why isn’t coming to you, then maybe that isn’t a goal you should pursue at this time. If we use my example from above, “I want to be 150 pounds and get healthy,” these are my why:
- I want to be a good role model for my daughter.
- Preventing disease is important to me because that contributed to my mom’s death.
- I want to live long enough to meet my grandchildren.
- When I’m eating well and at a healthier weight, I feel better.
These are quality… they are big picture reasons… these are things that have meaning. This is what keeps you going every day towards your future.
Notice how the whys are not negative, they are not me talking down to myself. Never talk down to yourself when you are talking about your goals and planning for your future. Above all, I want you to know that you are limitless!
Your why needs to affirm you, it needs to uplift you, and it needs to inspire you.
Saying that your why is “because I feel fat, I want to be skinny, I hate my clothes”… when you reflect on those goals, you are taking yourself down, not lifting yourself up. Be intentional with your why.
Step 3: How are you going to do it?
Here’s where the planning happens.
In the beginning, I mentioned that planning is not for big-picture goals. Now we are planning, but you are not going to get crazy specific here. Next, you are thinking about practical steps and ideas that will help you achieve this goal. Remember my example? “I want to be 150 pounds and get healthy.” How am I going to get there?
- Moving every day by walking, going to CrossFit, or doing a home workout.
- Adding in some vegetables to my lunch and dinner every day.
- Drinking at least three tumblers of water every day.
The idea here is that you brainstorm a short list of things that will help you achieve your goal. You aren’t laying out a calendar and writing in your events or talking specific calories or getting crazy with planning. As you work towards your big picture, these action steps will change, they will get more specific, and you will fine-tune them. If you would like to delve a bit deeper and see some more specifics, check out my post about how I plan out my own goals for success.
Step 4: What is it going to look like when you get there?
This last step is the one I struggle with the most. I am a planner, a logical thinker, and a very “type A” person. I am not a vision person, I have a hard time with the idea of closing my eyes and picturing things that haven’t happened yet. It is totally okay if you are the same way, and I totally understand if you think to yourself, “Lady, this is weird, and was with you until this step.”
However… even though I don’t like it… I still do it. So much research has been done and so many personal development gurus say that without that vision, you’re missing a critical step to reaching your goals. This last step is all about picturing your life having achieved those goals. If you reach these goals, what would this look like? Using my example, it might look something like this:
- It’s going to look like new clothes that I love, being at the top of the leaderboard at the gym often, lower numbers on the scale, people complimenting me, lower cholesterol numbers, and better blood pressure.
Focusing again on the positive. Notice how I did include some trivial things in here like getting compliments and new clothes… that’s okay. It’s okay to admit that you want these things because they are part of your why that lives on the surface.
I’m done setting my goals! Now what?
Now you live it! Revisit these EVERY DAY! I do this every day during the morning routine that I talk about in this post. Small habits make a huge difference in our lives. I’ve read several books on habits and the science behind habit formation. Think about this little idea. Let’s say that today you set the above goal and you revisited that goal every day and said that you were going to choose one thing from your action list that day, just one, and you do it for a year. For fairness, I’m going to say you chose pretty evenly, so 121 days of drinking 3 tumblers of water, 122 days of moving, and 122 days of eating veggies. Check out the change below:
- 121 days of 3 tumblers of water instead of 1 can of pop (150 calories), just eliminating one can of pop just saved you 18,150 calories or 6 pounds!!
- 122 days of moving instead of sitting on your butt. A brisk one mile walk burns about 100 calories and a hefty gym session around 250. If I only walk a mile a day that’s 12,100 calories or 4 pounds!! If I choose to hit the gym hard for an hour or so that’s 30,500 calories or 10 pounds!!
- 122 days of adding in a vegetable. Let’s say I swapped out brown rice for cauliflower rice or something like that for math’s sake. A serving of brown rice (216 calories) versus a serving of cauliflower rice (25 calories) at lunch and dinner means I save 382 calories each day I swap it out… which is 46,604 calories or 15 pounds!!
I’m not changing the world here, but by revisiting that goal each day and choosing to act on at least one very small thing each day, not even doing all of it at once, I will have lost between 25 and 31 pounds towards my goal of getting to 150 and getting healthy. If you don’t want to do anything drastic, do something small consistently for a great effect in the long run!
Small changes make an impact!
If you want to be a beast (which you TOTALLY can be) and do all three even half of the days of the year, that’s 182 days of one can of pop replaced (27,300 calories or 9 pounds), 182 days of walking (18,200 calories or 6 pounds) or 182 days of hitting the gym (45,500 calories or 15 pounds) and swapping out for veggies (69,524 calories or 23 pounds)… WHAT?? Those tiny little things… not huge or crazy steps and only half of the time can equate to between 38 and 47 pounds.
Revisit daily, fine-tune every month or so, and you will be well on your way to feeling empowered and living your best life!
Now, go take action and work through this process. When you’re done reading this, let me know how it goes and if you’re so inclined, post a goal you have below in the comments!