It’s a new year my lovely readers. And with a new year, comes new gym-goers, new dieters, and new “I’m going to treat myself nicers”.
Often with well-intentioned goals, most people are beginners when it comes to goal setting.
Because like anything, goal-setting and goal-achieving are skills. They can be mastered and done well. And unfortunately, a lot of people were not taught how to create goals that they can actually execute on.
You’re going to make 2018 the year you get shit done.
My philosophy is by defining 3 things: why, what, and how.
Specifically, I create a vision (the why) of who I want to be, then I define that with my progress goals (the what), and create a plan to get those things by creating habits (the how) that will advance me towards those goals.
Here is my process of how I do those 3 steps.
Step 1: Create Your Vision
This is the step of asking yourself:
- “who do I want to be?” and
- “what do I want?”
When I try to answer these questions, I try to come up with 3-5 categories that define my life. For example, I use the traditional “health, wealth, and relationships.”
Then I write down what I want my health to feel like in one year or even further. The same goes for my wealth and relationships. You can use bullet points or paragraphs.
The key with this step is creating clarity. When you have clarity, the way ahead is less stressful. When you don’t have clarity, you get frustrated with putting in so much work towards something you’re unsure of.
It’s okay to not have 100% level of clarity, but the closer you can get to it, the better.
And it’s okay to be vague at this point. Your vision can be being a good role model for your future kids. If it’s unclear of what it takes to be that at this point, just keep iterating on it and defining it as you live life.
Treat your Vision Statement as a living document.
Once you’ve got a good page or so, set up a daily practice to revisit your Vision Statement. I like to read my Vision Statement aloud every morning before I start anything.
Step 2: Create Your Progress Goals (SMART)
Once you have a clear vision of who you want to be in a year, it’s time to create progress goals that measure whether you have accomplished your goals or not.
I prefer to make these goals SMART. If you have never heard of SMART goals in elementary school, then it stands for: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based.
Some good examples of SMART Progress goals are:
- I want to go from 175 lbs to 165 lbs (aka lose 10 lbs) so I can fit into my old jeans.
- I want to make an extra $10,000 on the side for a family vacation.
- I want to write and publish a book.
These goals are great “what’s”: they define what we need to do to achieve our vision of ourselves. They’re specific, and realistic in the time-frame given (one year).
Note: I recommend a maximum of 5-6 progress goals at any given time. Why? For focus, and less of a chance of overwhelm. There will be chances throughout your life to get what you want to get. You can’t be greedy and want it all within a year. So really think about what are the 5-6 priorities for you for the next 12 months.
Now in some cases I will use vague goals such as:
- Be a better friend
- Learn how to code
- Learn how to cook/dance/etc.
Some goals are just hard to concretize. So I’ll explain in the next step why that’s okay and how we can still accomplish them.
Step 3: Create Your 20-Mile March Habits
Now that you have your WHY, and your WHAT, it is time to get down to HOW.
It’s a cliche phrase, but Rome wasn’t built in one day.
Any 2018 goals of yours should take longer than a day as well. That’s why we get to this section called the “20 Mile March”. You’re not going to lose 10 lbs instantly. It’s time to put on your rucksack and prepare to take one step every single day. The way you do this is by defining daily or weekly habits that will move you towards your progress goals in Step 2.
The great part is once you define these habits that will move you forward, you won’t have to think; you’ll simply take action and trust that it’s moving you towards success.
Now let’s revisit the SMART goals we made earlier and add habits that will lead us to accomplishing the goals we set forth:
- 1. I want to go from 175 lbs to 165 lbs (aka lose 10 lbs) so I can fit into my old jeans.
- Go the gym 3x a week.
- Eat 2,000 calories at least 6x a week.
- Sleep 8 hours daily.
- I want to make an extra $5,000 on the side for a family vacation.
- Work an extra hour daily.
- Sell one $100 product a week.
- 3. I want to write and publish a book.
- 1. Write 1,000 words a day.
- 2. Review and edit my text 1x a week.
See how much these goals have been concretized? When it becomes this clear on how you’re going to do it, all you have to track whether you’ve done the habits you needed to every week to see if you’re making progress on your goals.
Now let’s not forget the vague goals:
- 1. Meet new people
- Talk to one stranger a day
- Attend a class or event 1x a week.
- Learn how to code
- Do 30-minutes of coding daily
- Finish a new project or feature of a project once a week.
- Write a blog 1x a week to explain what I’ve learned.
- Learn how to cook/dance/etc.
- Go to hip hop class 2x a week.
- Practice solo 2x a week.
- Perform in front of at least one person 1x a week.
And that’s how you concretize vague goals.
When you define the practice it takes to execute on your vague progress goals, you make them way more real and actionable.
One extra step: Share your goals regularly
Many people start a new year’s resolution with: “I want to be a nicer person”. They post it on social media and then they end it there.
You’d think by telling people what your goals are, that you’d be more accountable to them.
For some people this may work, though for others it gives them enough dopamine to tell people about it, as if they accomplished something, and then they try it out for a while and then give up.
To combat this, I’ve found that having regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings about goals either with yourself or with 2-4 other people helps tremendously.
Optimally, you want to find 2-4 other people who are supportive and smarter in different areas of life to help you achieve your goals.
This has 3 effects:
- They can tell you if your goals are too overwhelming (sometimes you get ahead of yourself and create goals that are too ambitious OR create too many goals to do at once)
- They can hold you accountable for your shit
- They can lend guidance on their areas of expertise
This is by far the most effective way I’ve found to tackle the issue of 1.) creating good actionable goals, and 2.) executing and accomplishing them.