Are you a goal setter or do you just take life as it comes? Each year in December or January, I set my goals for the year, and I actually really have fun doing it. If you could do anything in the next year, without any barriers, what would it be? And how would you structure your time to have the life you want and be the person you really want to be?
OK so I know that I’m using the Action Day Planner in this post, but it’s actually not a sponsored post or an ad. I just really like this diary. I started using it a few years ago, and I find it so handy for staying organised and setting goals.
So, how do I set them? Where do you start?
The Seven Areas Of Your Life.
The first thing to do is think about the seven key areas of your life, and how you want them to look in 2017.
Spirit, Physical, Wealth, Social, Mental, Work, Energy
Spirit: what feeds your soul? Perhaps some meditation goals might be helpful.
Physical: pretty straight forward, health and wellness.
Wealth: How do you want your finances to look?
Social: I include my relationship and friendships in here. Want new friends in your life? Or perhaps to reconnect with some old ones? Or maybe you need to let go of some negative people.
Mental: Do you want to learn a language? A new skill? Start a reading list? Or clean out your negative thinking?
Work: What would you really like to be doing? Is there a part of your work you’d like to be growing? Or need a new skill?
Energy: It’s important to make sure you have something fun on your list. I have a movie viewing list.
OK, so now you know what you want, how do you get it?
First important point, make your thoughts about what you want in each area of your life into a positive statement. That is, state your goal in each area in terms of what you do want, not what you don’t. Don’t say you want to lose weight, state that you want to be healthy. Guilt and shame are very poor motivators.
Secondly, use the SMART guidelines. Check that each of your goals above is
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely
Let’s say you want expand your mind. Perhaps your goal is a reading list. Be specific. Will you choose your books at the start of the year so that your list is varied? And you can make it measurable by saying how many books will be on it. Make sure that you will be able to achieve this goal, while challenging yourself. Are you a slow or a fast reader? Is one book per month not enough, or too much? And are you choosing books that will expand you, but that you’ll still be able to understand? Don’t pick an advanced book on a subject if you’re a beginner. Your goal isn’t relevant if you’re not reading things that expand your mind and or teach you about things you don’t already know. And timely? Well in this case you have a year, but when you write your list, you can break that down into books per month or per week. Then you’ll have a sense of timing. You also don’t want to overload your time, or your goal will become a chore and not be achievable.
Breaking It Down
Your next step is to take each goal and break it down into weekly or monthly tasks. If it’s a habit forming goal, like drinking more water or exercising more, that means your weekly goal might involve performing a task daily or a few times a week. If it’s a project goal, it may mean that one stage is assigned to each month.
Then you want to list on your weekly diary page what this step or task is. Then to achieve your goal, you only have to take the next step, and you’re winning, rather than taking on the whole staircase at once.
In my diary I write the project goals in the to-do list on the left, as you can see in the image above. From there, I then assign them to a day of the week. So on Monday morning, I might look at my health goal and write what days of the week I’ll be able to go to the gym.
Structuring Your Week
In my planner, each day functions as a to do list. In this diary, it’s great because the days are in a list shape anyway. Any appointments I put at the top. And then underneath, I can see what I might have assigned myself to that day.
The thing with to-do lists is that they’ll never be empty. So I don’t stress about it. If I don’t finish something, I put it into the next day, or the next day that will be appropriate. And then I let it go.
Also, by assigning a day to things, I never get overwhelmed by the big picture or looming tasks and projects. If I know that I can forget about calling that person back because it’s assigned to Tuesday. I only have to focus on what’s in front of me. (Also, be realistic about how much you can achieve in a day, and don’t be afraid to say no to people if you don’t have time. And using this technique you’ll genuinely know if you have enough time!)
If you find yourself getting distracted by little things in your day, Google The Pomodoro Technique, it will help.
Keeping On Track
The last part of my diary is this box in the bottom right. I use this to keep an eye on my progress, that way positive progress is always visible and I feel motivated. It is a list of the overall area and what I’m doing that week, what task I have to do, to achieve it. Or in the case of growth goals, what the level of growth was for that week.
If my goal is Social and it’s about getting in touch with an old friend, I’ll write that and tick it off when it’s done (it’s assigned to a day). If it’s about saving, I’ll write how much I saved that week and watch that grow.
I also write my goals in the back of my diary, and check about twice a month. That way I can tweak them if I’m getting off track, or reward myself if I’m doing well.
Sounds like a lot of work right?
It’s actually only hard work when you’re writing it all down and breaking it down. Once you’ve done that, you’re set for the entire year. No joke. Because you’re not doing loads of things or taking on a huge load, you’re doing one thing at a time. And they’re all small things.
And you end up feeling great because you’ve taken action to getting the life you want or being where you want to be. It’s not overwhelming.
Want To Make It Fun?
The thing that I’m doing differently this year is stickers. Sounds a bit random, but as you can see in the pictures above, this diary is clean lines. Mine has always looked like it Means Business, which it does! But this year, I bought planner stickers to make it more colourful. Some people I know almost scrapbook their pages each week! It means that your life looks and feels a little bit more vibrant on paper, and that’s a good mental trick to get you excited about your life. It also means that if you are looking forward to an event, it will stand out because you’ve made it look colourful, or you can celebrate reaching milestones, whatever.
Try looking for Planner Stickers or Diary Stickers online, they’re designed for just this kind of thing, so they’re smaller and have different shapes and sizes for different elements you might need or like. Patterns for the top of the page, themed stickers or appointments or to remind you to make a call and event stickers for things like Valentines Day or parties. And they’re incredibly cheap! I found a bunch on EBayUK for £1!