I love the start of a new year. I’m the type to write down all the things I want to achieve by the end of the year and I love wrapping up the end of the year by reflecting on my achievements, struggles and learnings.
I was inspired to write a post and share what I know about setting goals and creating a system to achieve those goals after a recent catch up with Shara — a fellow blogger, business owner and busy mama-of-three (see her beautiful feed @bearwithmemama + owner of Bear. The Label).
(I haven’t written a post like this before as I’ve previously kept my shop and blog separate but it makes sense to let there be overlap because it’s all branches of who I am. I’m making a serious effort not to overthink things so much this year!)
If you’re the sort of person that has big, ambitious goals but struggles to take action, feels overwhelmed, are frustrated with the lack of progress and/or can’t seem to overcome procrastination… then this post is for you.
What many people haven’t considered is that you might be the very reason that you’re not reaching your goals. You could be holding yourself back and self-sabotaging without even realising it. If this is the case (like it was for me), then creating a system that allows you to be productive and holds you accountable for your own effort could make all the difference.
You guys know I love my printables and worksheets… so I created a free workbook for you to download and fill out! Each page is based on the steps in this post to make it even easier for you to tackle those goals: head over to my shop Jay and Em to download it!
Okay, got your pen and workbook ready? Let’s get started.
1. Make a serious commitment
Ask yourself how serious you are about your goals. Are they “would be nice if this happened” goals? Or “I need to give this everything I’ve got before I lose my mind” kind of goals?
There’s no secret tip or trick I can tell you that will instantly transform you into a highly motivated, goal-achieving machine. You have to first make a commitment to yourself, and you have to be willing to put in the work. No excuses. It’s the only way. If you’re serious about your goals then it’s not about having the time — it’s about making the time.
When the excitement of the first week or month of planning wears off, you’ll need more than just motivation to keep you going. It’s not going to be easy or fun most of the time - which means you can’t wait until you feel like doing the work. You won’t get to where you want to be if you always wait until you’re ready. If you’re like me, and probably 99.99% of humans, you’ll never feel ready. You’ll just learn how to push through the fear and doubt.
I want you to promise yourself that you’ll give yourself the very best fighting chance. You need to be able to confidently say to yourself that you’ve got this. It might sound silly, but it’s important. Motivation will get you started but self-discipline and determination will keep you going. And self-belief is key.
2. Write down your big goals
Big goals are subjective, complex and open-ended. It’s usually not a task that could be done in an afternoon. Most people can easily rattle off a list of their big goals (taking action on them is another story).
Some examples of big goals:
Downsize and minimise wardrobe
If you haven’t already, list your big goals for the year down on a fresh piece of paper (or fill out page 3 in The Goals Workbook). Take all the time you need here. Remember, these are the big goals you want to work on or achieve this year. Be thoughtful about what is realistic and a priority.
3. Break down big goals into SPECIFIC, actionable steps
While big goals are important to define, it’s not enough if you just stop there. Breaking down your big goals into specific steps will help you to define your short-term goals in the context of your long-term goals. In other words, it’s much easier to manage small, specific tasks over time instead of trying to complete one big vague goal.
For each big goal that you have, take a blank page, write the big goal at the top and create a table with 2 columns (or print out enough copies of page 4 of the workbook to fill out). List your specific, actionable steps in the left column.
As an example, let’s break down 2 of the previous big goals into some smaller tasks:
Downsize and minimise wardrobe:
Create mood board of my ideal wardrobe/style
Schedule in a weekend to sort through all clothes and decide whether to keep/trash/donate/sell
Take all donate bags to an op shop
Sign up to eBay and list 10 items
Make a list of reasons why I want to save more
Read X number of books to improve my financial knowledge in areas I am lacking
Create spreadsheet to record monthly income/expenses
Decide on a reasonable savings schedule (i.e. set up automatic transfer of $100 every Monday to savings account)
A good actionable step should be one clear and specific task. Instead of overwhelming yourself with a big goal like “spend less”, you can focus instead of the smaller steps that will, bit by bit, help you make progress.
4. Figure out Your timeline
Don’t leave your goals open-ended. Give yourself a deadline and do your best to stick to it. This will help you to keep yourself accountable.
Why is this step important? If we write down goals without a clear end in mind, then it’s all too easy to put off, delay or forget about it. Before we know it, weeks and months go by before we’ve made any real progress at all.
Estimate how long each step or task should take (I like to add a small buffer to allow for unforeseen delays) and write this in the right column next to your tasks. Things won’t always go as planned, but a time estimate can still help you manage your workload and allow you to assess your progress as you go.
Then categorise your short-term goals into quarters (page 5 of the workbook). Ideally, at the start of each month you’ll know what needs to be done and where your focus will be in order to move forward. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t complete tasks in time. The timeline is there to guide you and keep you on track, not punish you. You don’t lose any marks if you’re late so take a breath and keep going.
5. PLAN AND reflect
At the beginning of each month, be thoughtful and clear about your intentions. At the end of each month, reflect on your progress. Not only is this a great way to stay on track but also to develop your self-awareness.
Self-awareness is, in my opinion, the most important tool in your life toolbox.
Questions to plan:
What 3 things should I do this month?
What would make this a great month?
What should I avoid doing this month?
How do I feel right now?
How do I want to feel at the end of the month?
Questions to review:
How was my month?
How productive was I? Did I complete my 3 tasks?
What didn’t I get around to doing?
What did I struggle with?
What did I do well?
The biggest challenge you might encounter is not the act of doing the work itself… it’s coming face to face with yourself. On your journey you’ll have to confront and come to terms with your own insecurities, doubts and fears. You’ll learn ways to push through the laziness and procrastination, and you’ll learn things about yourself that you never realised.
Reaching a goal takes a whole lot of work - which makes it so much sweeter when you do. But I know that you can. Thank you for allowing me to join you in your journey. I hope this post and the free workbook helps to bring you closer to your best life. I would absolutely love to see your journey, so do tag me @jyslakay in any Instagram photos/stories or message/email me! If you can’t hold yourself accountable, I’ll be there ;)
Chase those goals!
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photographer + lifestyle blogger
i love adventures of all sizes, capturing little moments, daily coffees and kind, wholesome human beings