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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

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How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

If your 2020 goals feel out of reach right now, it’s totally understandable. With so many unforeseen changes due to COVID-19, it becomes difficult to know how to make a plan and stick to it.

The thing is our world is always changing. Most of the time, it’s not overly noticeable or we handle it fairly well.

This particular global challenge is different, though, because we are all affected. This has caused chaos for our economy, our livelihood, and our original plans for the year. And it feels unmanageable for many of us.

It’s tempting to just sit and wait. Because how can you make a plan when you don’t know what will happen next? However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is our ability to adapt, and we can use this to create new goals and make a plan that works for us now.

The capacity to modify our behavior is something we are all born with. In fact, it is one of our greatest childhood gifts. As a baby we use it to move from crawling to walking.

It’s the same skill we use to wash our hands more frequently and maintain a safe physical distance. We practice flexibility when we decide not to watch the news and listen to a positive podcast instead.

Many of us have used this muscle to move our work online during isolation.

In fact, behavioral flexibility is considered one of the five principles for success[1]. Used together with sensory awareness, we give ourselves maximum potential to achieve success.

The good news is, by embracing this flexibility muscle, you can make a plan in any situation. This includes times when you feel you have no control, like now. It’s just about staying aware and adapting as you go.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Plan Your Outcome for the Year

Beginning with the end in mind and working backwards is a well-known strategy to achieve success. Shared by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it is a habit that has stood the test of time.[2]

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Without knowing our target, it’s impossible to adequately plan or have influence over what we achieve.

This highly effective habit is essential, even in the current situation. No matter what is happening in your external environment, you can still decide on an outcome you want.

As you get clear on this and write it down, you will begin to notice opportunities to help you achieve it.

2. Be Realistic

When you set your goals, consider whether the timeframe is realistic. Sometimes our deadlines can be a bit too tight depending on things out of our control.

This doesn’t mean we can’t achieve them.

Based on your choice of strategies and your workload, you may be able to meet a very short deadline. Take a sensible and logical look at your goal and decide if the timeline is realistic. If not, change the deadline.

3. Don’t Map out Your Plan

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see at any time throughout any year. Through a desire for certainty, people map out their plans for the whole year, each step documented month by month. Mapping out the whole year is possibly why many people dump their plans during crisis.

If we do this, we leave no space for adapting as we move forward, and it limits our potential.

As we start to take action, our brain and our external environment changes. This means we become aware of greater opportunity, which could help us achieve even more. But we have to leave room for this possibility.

When we make a plan, we use smaller chunks and deadlines. This leaves room for adjustments, and we maximize our scope for success.

4. Make Your First 90-Day Plan

This means chunking your goals down into a 90-day plan only for your initial quarter. As you do this, you leave room to be adaptable with whatever comes up.

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It takes 90 days to build momentum. This means it will take three months to see a result from a strategy we use. This is an unconscious concept, but we can use it to consciously help us stay on track and propel forward.

Divide your year into four quarters, starting from where you are now. Then for each 12-month goal, decide what outcomes need to be achieved in the first 90 days only.

Write the goals down and decide which strategies to use.

5. Chunk It Down to the First Month

Different sized chunks of information motivate different people. Some people feel more compelled by big picture goals. Others feel more motivated by shorter-term goals.

Those who love longer term tend not to chunk goals down and may take haphazard action. Those who love details find it difficult to see the big picture and can get stuck.

The most successful way to make a plan is to use both large and small chunks.

By chunking your goals down to what you will achieve in the first month, you can feel a sense of achievement much earlier. This keeps you on target and encourages you to achieve more.

Check your 90-day goals and set goals for the first month that align with them. Write them down in your planner to help them stick in your mind.

6. Break It Down Again

Notice how we only set goals for “firsts,” and this includes our first week.

It’s a natural tendency to want to plan out the whole month, but don’t. This can seriously keep you stuck or put far too much pressure on you.

Plus, remember there is always more than one way of achieving something. There are opportunities we won’t even see until we’ve achieved something else. This means if we map the month out, we can limit ourselves.

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Setting goals just for the first week leaves heaps of room for the unforeseen, and that means we can modify it to suit changing situations. It also means we can feel good about ourselves at the week’s end as we look at all the ticks. Our unconscious mind loves that!

Write outcomes for the first week into your planner that will help you achieve your goals for the month.

7. Plan and Structure Your Week

This is where many people come off track, especially when things are changing rapidly.

With a list of goals and no structure to follow each week, it’s easy to become distracted. If we don’t plan each day, we can go a whole week feeling like we’re getting nowhere.

Structuring our week and forming a routine can also greatly improve our health. Some of the benefits include better stress levels and better sleep[3].

When we structure each week and day, we feel like we are getting somewhere. This motivates us to keep going, even when the unexpected arises.

Write a plan in your journal for what you will do each day of the week to achieve your goals. This is where you can chart it out on a daily timeline and create a routine.

8. Reflect and Readjust Your Plan

This is something I recommend you do at least at the end of each month. However, when things are changing rapidly, it’s necessary to do this more frequently.

Using our awareness and flexibility regularly, we can make the most of any situation by looking at how we can change. We can make adjustments fast to keep up with the external environment and things we have no control over.

We are also able to see where mistakes have been made or if we can tweak something slightly to maximize results.

This is why we don’t map the year out. It gives us much more flexibility to respond positively to external changes.

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At the end of each month or more regularly if you need to, look for what has worked and how you can do more of it. Consider what didn’t work and how you can change it. See what you need to start doing or stop doing.

Then, write your plan for the following week or goals for the following month to include those changes.

9. Rinse and Repeat

When you reach the end of your 90 days, rinse and repeat. Make a plan for the following three months and chunk your goals down in exactly the same way.

As you continue to do this, you will notice you boost the momentum you have already built. You will feel a huge sense of achievement, and this will spur you on to accomplish more.

You may notice by this stage that some of your goals may have changed slightly, and that’s okay. Remember, as you take new actions your awareness expands to see new potential. This may change your shorter-term goals because you have found something better.

That’s a good thing and all part of being flexible, so run with it.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re currently surfing the COVID-19 crisis or another challenge entirely, you can still make a plan by adjusting.

More than this, planning without flexibility can get in the way in any circumstance. This includes the good times because nothing is static.

As you plan while allowing space to readjust to external changes, you will find your results are pleasantly surprising.

More Tips on How to Make a Plan

Featured photo credit: Felipe Furtado via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Deb Johnstone

Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

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Last Updated on September 27, 2021

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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