Deanne Rodrigue, Certified Career, Leadership & Life Coach
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
- Benjamin Franklin
When you consider this well-known quote, what resonates with you? Are you a planner or do you like to wing it? Perhaps you are somewhere in between, setting goals in some aspects of your life, but not others. Knowing yourself is an important aspect of goal setting. If you perceive the task to be daunting then you simply will not do it, or you might give up part way through.
I want to see you succeed in setting your goals and enjoy the journey of seeing them through so I created an approach that is inspirational, flexible and will help you stay committed to achieving what you want in life. Don’t miss out on this unique experience that is sure to bring happiness, purpose, and a great sense of accomplishment.
We’re all so unique. Personally, I feel energized and very motivated when setting goals. I have been setting goals for a very long time, and through the different approaches I have tried, I found that keeping it simple and using a framework that is structured yet fluid is best. We all have a tendency to use our mind first when goal setting and planning. The approach I share uses the mind and heart. If your heart is involved, you will be more committed to the journey of attaining your goals and build new habits to direct yourself toward the things that truly fulfil you.
Although setting goals and planning comes naturally to me, I know this isn’t the case for everyone. In my experience, some people don’t know where to start with setting goals, or they find it to be a tedious process, or they don’t have the time. This doesn’t have to be your reality. When you find an approach that aligns to your personality and strengths, it can actually be fun!
There’s something about a new year that naturally invites the practice of goal setting. It’s a time of change, possibilities, and fresh starts. Every year I come up with a theme and I’ve decided this years’ is “The best you can be in twenty twenty-three”. Setting a theme is like creating an intention for the year ahead which on its own can bring positive change. I recently read an amazing book by Matthew Kelly called Perfectly Yourself. I was inspired by his reference to our life’s purpose. He shares that being the best version of yourself is our purpose. This simplifies things a great deal and reduces the overwhelm one can feel when taking steps toward their goals. All we need to do is the “next right thing.” As with goal setting, just take one step at a time and you will see the progress you are making. Are you ready to take that next step?
Step 1: PREPARE
If your whole self isn’t ready for goal setting, you may run into hurdles so follow the cues below as you consider your needs and set yourself up for a fun, inspiring and successful goal setting exercise.
When are you most energized to work on goals and planning? Consider the time of day and day of week.
How much time do you want to spend on setting goals and creating a plan?
What are you willing to do to stay committed to your goals and actions needed to reach your desired outcomes?
· Ensure you are comfortable. Consider the chair or surface you are sitting on, the lighting, the temperature in the room and anything else you need to be comfortable.
· Have a low-sugar drink with you such as water, tea or your favourite choice of refreshment
· What tools do you need to capture all of your ideas? Paper and pen, computer, hard copy calendar, or other?
· Remove distractions such as your cell phone, TV, or other noise.
· Create the environment that you work best in. Consider complementary music, essential oil diffuser, being alone or with people, and anything else that comes to mind about your surroundings.
Step 2: PAUSE
Yes, you read this correctly. This step is so often missed or not thought of at all. When we pause, we invite in silence and it is from this place that we start to clear our minds and open to a space of clarity and creativity. It is from this space that we can access our curiosity and heart’s desires which is essential for goal setting.
Take 5 minutes to clear your mind and relax your body. You might do a short breathing meditation or simply sit in the environment you created and enjoy the quiet.
You could stretch or do some light body movement to release any tension.
Breathing and moving your body will invite in a sense of calm. You may want to spend up to 10 minutes in this step. Gauge what feels right for you.
Step 3: RAISE SELF-AWARENESS
If you set goals this past year, this is a great time to reflect on what worked and what fell short, as well as identifying your strengths and experiences that can support you in this exercise. You can also determine whether or not you want to carry any outstanding goals forward to this year if they are still relevant to you.
If your goal is too broad or vague, it will make it challenging to plan the steps to reach your goal. To help refine and clarify lofty goals, you can explore what areas of your life you want to change or that are most important to you now. This step helps to bring more awareness on how satisfied you are in various aspects of your life. Consider the following areas and make any changes or additions to suit your needs:
· Career/Business (For entrepreneurs, you might have business goals)
· Learning/Personal growth
· Physical/Mental Health
You’ll want to ensure your goals are realistic and achievable within the time you are giving yourself so try to be conscious of this so you don’t create more goals than you can handle.
Step 4: BIG PICTURE, DISTANT GOAL
In my experience, starting with a big picture, more distant goal, for each area of life that is relevant to you is most effective. You can then create a few smaller goals to help achieve the big picture goal. For example:
Big picture, distant goal: “I want to have more fun in 2023 by socializing and meeting new people”
Smaller goals: “Join a social club or group in an area/activity that interests me” and “Expand my social network by meeting new people”
If you get stuck on stating your goals, here are some questions you can ask to spark your creativity:
What does success look like in a year from now? You might consider 6 months or 2 years. This is a personal choice based on your desires or needs.
What change do I want to make?
What areas do I want to improve in?
How will I know when I achieve my goal?
How will I feel when I achieve my goal?
Step 5: SETTING SMART GOALS
Now it’s time to bring the larger goals into smaller goals that can be created using the SMART methodology which stands for:
S = Specific
Your goal should be clear enough for you to create a plan to achieve the goal. When looking at your big distant goal, you can ask “Who might be involved in my goal?” and “What might get in the way of me achieving this goal?” and “What is motivating me to want to achieve this goal?”
M = measurable
Your goal should have specific numbers or quantifiable results. For instance, if you set a goal to work out each week, you would quantify how many times in a week. This allows you to track your goals.
A = Achievable
Your goal should be possible for you to achieve it. This is a good time to consider any constraints you might have. You might ask “Is this the right time?” and “Do I have the budget?”
R = Relevant
Your goal should align to your core values and be something you truly want. Can you feel it in your heart? Take some time to sit with the questions “How is this relevant?” and “How will it best serve me?”
If you are setting business goals, you will want to ensure the goal aligns with the vision, mission and values of your company.
T = Time-bound
Your goal should state a time-frame in which you want to complete it so you are more likely to see the goal through. You can ask “When do I want to achieve this goal?”
SMART goals set you up for success because they are so specific you can define the actions needed to reach your goal. As well, you can measure your progress which will help motivate you to accomplish the goal. Since SMART goals are well-defined, they allow you to visualize your goal. Visualization is a very powerful tool and can inspire you to take action. If you are feeling creative, you can search online or through magazines to choose some images that represent your goal.
Here is what a SMART goal might look like using the two examples I shared above.
“Join one social club or group in Toronto in my areas of interest (skiing, yoga or photography) by January 30, 2023”
“Expand my social network to include four new friends by July 1, 2023, through attending online meetups or in person social events at least once a week.”
Step 6: ACTION PLAN
Now that you have defined your goals, you can take a moment to pause and reflect on them. Are they all necessary for this year? Can you realistically accomplish these goals? If yes, great! If you feel you might be taking on more than you have capacity for, put one or two of the lower priority goals aside. When you have additional time, you can always come back to them.
There are several ways to create an action plan, so you can leverage your own experience or follow this very simple guide. First, start with one goal at a time and work backwards to identify key targets to get you there. Taking the example above and further refining it to “Join one ski club or group in Toronto by January 30, 2023”, I have identified the below targets (smaller steps to take toward your goal).
· Join the ski club by January 30
· Practice skiing or prepare myself physically before hitting the ski hill
· Assess my ski equipment, clothing, and other needs to be ready to ski
· Call the company or inquire about any information you may need to know
· Research various ski clubs for location, costs, amenities, and the social offerings at the club
· Determine what amenities and overall experience I want to have in this ski club
· Determine my budget for this activity
· Determine if I want to do this activity with anyone else
The next step is to put dates next to each action item.
You can create your own template in a simple excel spreadsheet or other software of choice. You can also use a goal planning app by simply searching online as there are several free ones to choose from.
Step 7: ACCOUNTABILITY
You have spent your valuable time in creating your goals and action plans so you definitely want to do your best to achieve your goals, right? Here are a couple of tips to stay accountable to your plan:
Find an accountability buddy. It’s a lot of fun to be able to share your progress with someone and discuss ways to stay on track.
Keep your goals and plan top of mind. Consider posting a short one pager on your fridge or near your bedside or desk. You can set reminders in your phone or schedule time to check-in on the status. Take a few minutes to determine how you will hold yourself accountable.
Notice when you are off track and take the time to bring yourself back or make any necessary tweaks to your plan.
Step 8: RECOGNIZE, REWARD & ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Congratulations! You have set your goals and have a solid foundation to launch into action. Take a moment to recognize your efforts and celebrate! The greatest value in setting goals is enjoying the journey of every step along the way. Regardless of how big or small, any progress you make should be seen and recognized. Simply become aware of these moments, tapping into your heart, and you will feel a great sense of gratitude which will empower you to continue your progress.
When we are making progress, we feel more alive and on purpose. When we set goals using our mind and heart, we gain exponential benefits helping to expand our world, personally grow, and connect more deeply to self.
Happy goal setting!
If you would like some coaching support in setting your goals, you can find me on Cyno.ca.
Also, keep an eye out for my upcoming goal setting workshop in January!
ICF Certified Career, Leadership & Life Coach