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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

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.

How to Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted How to Survive a Quarter Life Crisis (The Complete Guide) How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control 9 Self Limiting Beliefs That Are Holding You Back from Success How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

How to Change Your Beliefs and Stick to Your Goals for Good

How to Change Your Beliefs and Stick to Your Goals for Good

In one of my very first articles, I discussed a concept called identity-based habits.

The basic idea is that the beliefs you have about yourself can drive your long-term behavior. Maybe you can trick yourself into going to the gym or eating healthy once or twice, but if you don’t shift your underlying identity, then it’s hard to stick with long-term changes.

habit-layers
    Graphic by James Clear

    Most people start by focusing on performance and appearance-based goals like, “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to write a best-selling book.”

    But these are surface level changes.

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    The root of behavior change and building better habits is your identity. Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.

    This brings us to an interesting question. How do you build an identity that is in line with your goals? How can you actually change your beliefs and make it easier to stick with good habits for the long run?

    How to change your beliefs

    The only way I know to shift the beliefs that you have about yourself and to build a stronger identity is to cast a vote for that identity with many, tiny actions.

    Think of it this way…

    Let’s say you want to become the type of person who never misses a workout. If you believed that about yourself, how much easier would it be to get in shape? Every time you choose to do a workout—even if it’s only five minutes—you’re casting a vote for this new identity in your mind. Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to become.

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    This is why I advocate starting with incredibly small actions (small votes still count!) and building consistency. Use the 2-Minute Rule to get started. Follow the Seinfeld Strategy to maintain consistency. Each actions becomes a small vote that tells your mind, “Hey, I believe this about myself.” And at some point, you actually will believe it.

    Of course, it works the opposite way as well. Every time you choose to perform a bad habit, it’s a vote for that type of identity.

    But here’s the interesting part.

    As I mentioned in this article, research shows that making a mistake or missing a habit every now and then has no measurable impact on your long-term success. It doesn’t matter if you cast a few votes for a bad behavior or an unproductive habit. In any election, there are going to be votes for both sides.

    Your goal isn’t to be perfect. Your goal is simply to win the majority of the time. And if you cast enough votes for the right identity, eventually the good behaviors will win out.

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    What can we learn from this?

    “Every time we participate in a ritual, we are expressing our beliefs, either verbally or more implicitly.”
    —Tony Schwartz

    I find it useful to think about identity-based habits for a few reasons.

    First, identity-based habits focus on you rather than your goals. It is surprisingly easy to achieve a goal and still not be happy with who you are as a person. Society pushes us to obsess over results: What are your goals? How busy are you? How successful have you become?

    And while there is nothing wrong with achievement and improvement, it is also very easy to forget to ask yourself the more important questions: Who am I? What do I believe about myself? What do I want my identity to be?

    Identity-based habits are one way to match your values and beliefs with the outcomes that you want in your life. (My 2014 Integrity Report was another attempt.)

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    Second, the idea of “casting votes for your identity” reveals how your daily actions add up over the long-term. Your actions drive your beliefs and each action you take is a vote for the type of person that you believe that you are. What beliefs are you expressing through your actions?

    Third, this framework helps to remove the “All or Nothing” philosophy that can so easily wreck our progress. For some reason, we often think that if we fail to follow our plan step-by-step, then we have totally blown it. The truth is that it doesn’t work that way at all. If you make a mistake, remember that it’s just one vote. Be aware of the votes you’re casting and try to win the majority. Every action is a vote for your identity.

    I’ve said many times that I don’t have all the answers. As always, I’m just learning as I go. If you know of other ways to change your beliefs and build a new identity, feel free to share.

    This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

    Featured photo credit: Change – Its A New Year/Nana B Agyei via flickr.com

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