I have a confession to make.
Setting goals has not always been one of my favorite things to do.
In fact, it kind of causes me stress and anxiety.
I usually have very good intentions, and even block off time in my schedule to write down goals.
The process tends to look like this:
Ok, I’m ready to write some goals!
Oh an email. Let me just respond to that.
Should I write goals for today, one month, one year or ten years?
Wait, if it’s for today, that’s just a “to-do” list.
I need to go to the store.
Maybe I should Google the best ways to create goals.
Oh look, a sale at Nordstrom!
Should I write them in my old goal notebook or get a new notebook just for this?
Maybe I should color code my goals. I need some highlighters.
People say I should do a dream board, so should I actually write them down or just cut out pictures?
I don’t have enough magazines – I need to buy new magazines for my pictures.
I can get those at the store.
I should just write my goals tomorrow when I have magazines, more pens, some highlighters and a drink.
This was the first 10 weeks of 2015 for me. I have a goal notebook – actually, plenty of them because I love office supplies. I have pens. I have highlighters. I have a cork board ready for my pictures. I have piles of old magazines I’ve saved up. I have my old goal notebook I can look to for reference. I believe in the power of setting goals and the importance of it. I have everything I need to start.
So what’s been stopping me?
I think the same thing that holds most of us back from actually verbalizing and giving life to our goals and desires:
1) We don’t actually know what we want.
2) We don’t really believe we can have what we want.
Goal setting is extremely powerful and can truly create a future and life we love, but we have to first know what we want and then believe we can achieve it.
That can be really, really hard.
I’ve been introduced to a few different techniques in the past month that have helped me focus, get past the hurdles holding me back and finally put some visions, desires and goals down on paper. I can honestly say that, after going through this process, I have a vision for my life I’m so excited about and some very doable goals to help me get there! Whether you need some motivation in business, health, family, finances or relationships, this process can help you get where you would like to be.
1) The White Space exercise
I learned this from Marie Forleo and it has been extremely helpful for me and my crowded brain. We tend to have a million things at once floating around our head space, and thinking of one specific goal can lead us down the road of a hundred things we need to do to get there. We have to clear out the clutter in order to focus on what we actually want.
Get out some paper or pull up a document on your computer and start writing down everything you are thinking about doing. Whether you want to do it today, tomorrow, next month, next year or in ten years – write it down. Don’t censor yourself and don’t think too much about it. Just write until it feels your brain is empty of all the ideas that have been floating around.
It feels so cleansing and freeing to finally write all those thoughts down! Marie suggests then putting a priority level next to each – such as to be done in one month, three months and then one year. I didn’t go that far because my paper literally has about a hundred things on it, but I have used it to help prioritize my goals (which you’ll see in exercise number 3 below). I also continue to add to the list as things come up. For example, there is a Facebook course by Amy Porterfield I would love to take. I keep hearing about it and seeing ads, but it would be more doable in my life next year. Instead of stressing, I just wrote it in my white space notebook. I will remember it’s something I want to do and I can make it a priority when I can focus on it. On the other hand, researching preschools for my daughter is a priority and I’ve been putting it off. I made it a one month priority and I’ve already been making calls to get it done.
Just an FYI, this isn’t the place for your daily “to-do’s”, such as “call Henry’s teacher about homework assignment”. I keep a pad of paper on my desk for those kinds of items. I write down calls and emails I have to make that day, or bills I need to pay. So my top priority for any given day is that list, and once those things are crossed off, I can move on to my other goals.
2) The Painted Picture Exercise
The idea for this exercise comes from Cameron Herold and his book Double Double. While the book focuses primarily on using this exercise for your business, I carried it over into all aspects of my life.
You are going to write down a picture of what your life looks like in three years. You need to compose it as if it is you, three years from now, writing it. You can do it as a journal entry or a letter to yourself – whatever works for you. The key is it needs to be in present tense. For example: “I live in my dream home” and NOT “I AM GOING to live in my dream home”.
Don’t censor yourself and don’t worry whether something feels realistic to you now. The key is to find out what you REALLY want and to start creating it as reality. You really do have the power to create your own future, and it starts with you stating what you want and believing it really will happen. You don’t have to know HOW, you just have to KNOW.
For this exercise, you’ll probably want about an hour of uninterrupted time. No biggie if you don’t have that! I did mine in a few smaller chunks of time and it worked out wonderfully.
I avoided doing this for a few days because it seemed overwhelming, but once I started, I couldn’t stop! I wrote over five pages and I was surprised at some of the things that flowed out of me. Once you open the door and allow yourself to want things, it will become easier to pinpoint your desires. I LOVED this exercise and it’s been extremely powerful for me. Please don’t skip it. Take the time for this one and just do your best.
3) Three month goals
After clearing my brain with the White Space Exercise, and then getting clear on my priorities and desires for the future, I was NOW ready to finally write some goals! In the past I had either written my goals and not had a clear vision of what I wanted, or I had a vision and never wrote goals to get there. Either way tends to fail. Now, I have a beautiful vision and my “why” for the future, and I have some clear steps I can use right now to help me get there.
I wrote down 10 goals that corresponded to some items on my Painted Picture and that I could accomplish in three months. After three months, I’ll look at my goals, see what I achieved, and write another set.
If you are having a hard time prioritizing, Chalene Johnson developed the idea of a “push goal”. Think of dominos. You have to push one over for all the other dominos to fall. Your push goal is the one goal that might help to set in motion all the other goals. This doesn’t always correspond to the most exciting or sexy goal, but it’s the one that will help you achieve all of the others.
Congrats! You now have a very clear and very focused set of goals to help you reach your vision and dream for your life! If this seems overwhelming, I would start with the Painted Picture. Just let yourself dream and write at least one thing you want in your life three years from now.
Remember, you NEED to:
1) Know what you want.
2) Believe you can achieve what you want.
Make a plan to get there by writing out 3 month goals periodically and keeping yourself accountable. When you start to feel frazzled by the amount of lists in your head, write things out in your White Space area (mine is ongoing!). Remember, there is no perfect plan for setting goals – there is only the plan that works perfectly for YOU.
You can create the life you want! Let’s do it together.