Nearly there. 2018 is almost in sight. Just 1 more weekend to go. I bet you’re all charged up. All your goals are set. All that motivation is in place. Now it doesn’t matter how 2017 was - you’re optimistic that 2018 will be the year when you finally crush your goals …
Except — you said the same thing in 2017. And 2016. And 2015 … it goes on, you see? Year after year, month after month.
No more. No more bullshitting.
In this post, I’ll show you a realistic way to set and actually achieve your goals. This approach is, of course, not perfect and you should adopt it in a way that works for you the best. Let’s go.
STEP 1: Define a goal
To be able to achieve a goal, you need to learn to define one first. Too many of us are still not clear on this. “I want to be healthier this year” is not a goal, it’s an aspiration. Aspirations are immeasurable, subjective and intangible. Aspirations are just a desired future state you wish to be in.
But, “I want to run 3 half-marathons this year” or “I want to lose 10 kgs” is a goal. It is measurable, objective and tangible. If your goal doesn’t have these qualities, it is not a goal, just an aspiration.
Also, it is perfectly OK to set your goals at 120% of your current capabilities. That’s how you push yourself to become better. And becoming a better version of ourselves is why we’re doing this, no?
Setting a goal is the easiest part. And kudos to you for taking the first step.
STEP 2: Chunk your goals
So you’ve set a grand goal. Now is that time to plan how you’ll achieve it. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of your goals, we’ll follow a technique called ‘chunking’. Chunking is the process of breaking down your goals into manageable, actionable and ordered steps.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say your goal is to run your first half-marathon this year. Think about it. What do you actually need do to run a half-marathon? Grab a notepad. List down all the ideas that come to your head.
This is how I would think about the goal:
- When do I want to run the half-marathon?
- What are some of the half-marathons planned around that time?
- What is the eligibility criterion (or desired completion time) for the selected half-marathon?
- What kind of training plan is needed to achieve this desired time?
- How many miles do I need to start with in my first week?
- And so on ...
See what I’m doing? Keep breaking down your goal until you are able to define daily / weekly steps.
You also need to sort your tasks in the order they’re meant to be performed and add them to your calendar / to-do list with timelines.
STEP 3: Action!
All your goal setting is done. You now have a realistic, actionable plan. So logically, the next step is… action. It’s time to actually work upon the chunks you’ve identified in the previous step. Chunk after chunk, step after step, you need to conquer them all.
This is also the hardest step. This is the step where goals die, where dreams are crushed — all because of a lack of action. Pro tip: Beware of the monster called procrastination.
This step is worthy of a series of articles on its own. Many better qualified people have already written on this subject before. But I’ll just assume you’re finally motivated enough to work on your goals this year and move on to the next step.
STEP 4: Measure measure measure
Remember in Step 1 — I asked your goals to be measurable and precise? This step is the reason. We want to quantify and measure your progress on a weekly basis.
What gets measured, gets done. ~ Unknown
This is an old cliche but still so true. You won’t know how close or far you are from your goals if you don’t measure your progress. Block 1 hour of Sundays every week to review the progress on your goals. Adjust timelines where needed. Modify and update your plan as needed.
- Goals should be measurable, objective & tangible.
- Break down your goals into manageable parts with deadlines.
- Act on your goals!
- Measure your progress and adjust timelines and sub-tasks accordingly.
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 every week!
There’s no guarantee you’ll achieve 100% of your goals. No one does. But, if you shoot for the moon, you’ll at least land on the stars. In the process, you’ll become a better version of yourself and that’s what really matters.
That’s all I have to say on this topic. Have a great 2018!