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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life
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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 July 29, 2021

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success
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If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. While there may not be an actual rule book of life, we do have this helpful goal setting guide to offer.

Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you, as all the following information has you covered.

Today, you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

What Are Goals?

To kick off our goal setting tips guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

A goal is essentially your aim for the long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

Objects vs goals for goal setting tips

    For example, you may decide you want to learn a new language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and monthly learning aims, are the objectives.

    Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

    However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

    Why Is Goal Setting Important?

    Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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    While that road can feel exciting and spontaneous, if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, learning how to set goals is necessary.

    Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

    Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

    Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity.

    Types of Goals

    Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting tips guide.

    These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

    Time-Based

    One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

    Daily

    There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

    Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

    Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

    Short-Term

    Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, goal setting in this area is aimed at the near future.

    The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have a general idea of how much the situation can change.

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    Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

    Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

    Long-Term

    Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

    Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

    Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

    There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

    They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various, short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

    Life-Based

    Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

    Career

    Like most people, you will likely want to succeed and excel in your career. Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal. These are usually measurable goals, such as receiving a promotion within two years, finding a job at a certain company within the next six months, etc.

    You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

    Personal

    The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

    From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal. It’s important that these are realistic and attainable goals for your life.

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    Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, have children, or travel the world, all of these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

    How to Set Goals

    The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

    1. Use SMART Goals

    Every goal you define has to be SMART[3].

    SMART stands for:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-Bound

    In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified as you’re goal setting. 

    If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

    There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

    2. Prioritize Your Goals

    As you’re looking into how to write goals for the next month or year, it’s likely you’ll come up with more than one. In this case, it’s important to prioritize which are the most important or the ones that have the tightest deadline. This is going to be subjective, as only you know which goals will have the most impact on your life.

    3. Think of Those Around You

    As you’re working on goal setting, keep your loved ones in mind. You may have a partner, children, or employees that depend on you, and you should take them into consideration with your goals. For example, if you set a goal to travel to 10 different countries in the next two years, how will this affect your children?

    If you want to lose 30 pounds this year, is there something your partner can do to support you? S/he will need to be made aware of this before you set off on your weight loss journey.

    4. Take Action

    Setting goals is the first step, but in order to be successful, you have to follow this with action. If you set goals but never act on them, they become dreams. Create an action plan laying out the steps you need to take each day or week in order to achieve your big and small goals.

    You can also check out Lifehack’s free guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen. This helpful guide will push you to take action on your goals, so check it out today!

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    5. Don’t Forget the Bigger Picture

    Most people refer to the big picture as their vision. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

    You can learn more about creating a vision for your life here.

    I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

    How to Reach Your Goals

    You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

    Tactics

    One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

    Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it much easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

    Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

    Tools

    With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

    Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

    The Bottom Line

    In conclusion, using a goal setting tips guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

    Try out the tactics and goals setting tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

    More Tips on Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
    [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
    [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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