I wanted to talk about goal setting and planning your life. But I didn’t want to be one of those people pushing the whole new year/new you bullshit. You should know that from the start. But I’m all about creating my life, and I want that for you guys too. No matter the time of year or your experience of where you are right now it’s a perfect time to set some personal goals for yourself, your life and go for it.
The idea for this came to me as I once again sat on the floor of our living room surrounded by mixed media paper, pens, markers and coloured pencils, scribbling ideas and notes, thoughts and doodles on the pages. Smart goal setting is something we do around here whenever the urge takes us. We sit down and plan whenever the urge takes us to dream big and lay out our hopes for the year.
So, I want you to start there.
We talked about what to do when you feel like you don’t KNOW what you want — when your dreams are small, squashed by the reality of failure. I’ve been there. Don’t get down on yourself for being vague about what you want. Read that post, chip away at that wall you built up between you and your hopes. I promise you it gets better.
But if you’re feeling a little bit jazzed about what this new year has to offer, then grab out whatever inspires you to dream. For some of you, it will be making a collage or a vision board. Others will be like me and want pages of multiple coloured lists and mindmaps. Or maybe you’re into lists (who isn’t!?). Whatever it is, grab a bit of space and empty everything of your head onto the page/whiteboard/notebook.
I highly recommend the coffee table strategy, but a dining room table works too; wherever you’re comfortable and less likely to be sucked into doing something else. And a bonus for those with kids around, I’ve found my nieces and nephews love this activity. Can’t beat them? (School holidays? I know, hang in there). Let them join you.
Of course, you can scribble and doodle your way through this (there’s no right way to enjoy goal setting), but I also included some prompts to think about as you go along;
Completing what’s happened
- What am I grateful for?
- What’s been my proudest accomplishment/moment?
- What did I do this year that I never thought I would?
- What surprised me this year? Good/bad/other.
- What didn’t go to plan this year? (decade? Haha).
- Am I proud of who I was when things went wrong?
- Who am I?
- How would you describe yourself as a person?
- How would others describe you? (the ones that matter, of course).
- Would you describe yourself as happy with your life? If yes, why? If not, why not?
- How do I feel about my life right now? What feelings come up when you think about your current situation.
Dreaming about what’s next
- What am I grateful for?
- What matters to you most?
- What makes you smile?
- What’s important to me right now?
- What do I want for myself? (This year?)
- What do I want for my family?
- What does my ideal day look like? How would I spend it, what would it feel like, where would I be, and who am I with?
Taking the next steps;
- If I could change one thing about my life/situation/job, what would it be?
- How do I feel about my life imagining it with that change implemented?
- What do I need to do to make that change?
- Who or what do I need to succeed?
- Are there steps to take to get that one thing?
- Can I take them now? If not, now, when? What do I need?
I think if you start imagining, writing, drawing, collaging with those things in mind, you’ll be in a pretty good spot. Not just to make a workable plan (let’s talk about that below) but to get excited about what’s to come. I love sitting down and first reflecting, then imagining what could be possible for me, then starting to look forward. Try it; I want to hear all about it. Email me or share it in the Confident You Facebook Group. I often use the group to talk about the newsletter as it comes out – join in.
Now, let’s start goal setting!
Now, it’s time to take those scribbles, mindmaps and lists and turn them into a workable plan. A workable plan is something that inspires you and keeps you on track. Sounds good, right? It’s pretty simple, really. We take the outcome of your last activity and narrow it down into a few focused goals. I would limit your number here. There’s always time to come back and add more when you’ve kicked these in the butt. But how do you do that?
Planning the work.
I find that within my notes, there are usually themes. Ideas and thoughts keep popping up. Maybe you want to move to a new area or house, learn something new or take up a new hobby to get you out more. Whatever it is, as you ponder the year ahead and the prompts I gave you, a few key ideas will pop up. Write those down!
These are your goals; and, funnily enough, will be the foundation for the goal setting to come. Wishes, dreams, or whatever makes you more comfortable, but I’m going to stick with goals for the sake of consistency and not doing my head in. Haha. Sticking with the house idea, I don’t want you to write down ‘MOVE HOUSE’; I want you to really get into it. Something more like “I want to move in THIS SPECIFIC area into a home with lots of natural light, good transport access and a yard for a dog”.
Trust me. The specifics will make this whole process go a little easier. Speaking of making this easier, if you head over to the blog via the link below, I have uploaded some goal setting worksheets there to help you along. The first page is a list of the prompts I gave you last week. The next will help you with this next task. From there, you can work through the pages as I direct you here. Want them now? Grab them on our RESOURCES page anytime or download the pdf goal setting worksheets here.
Whether you have one item on your list or you added something to all eight boxes, it’s time to move on. From there, we work out what you would need to do to GET that one thing. For you to HAVE it. And again, there is a sheet (two in this case) for this.
For demonstration purposes, back to the house example.
Your HOW might look like; I need to make sure my current rental/loan history is good, get two impressive references and know my budget. From there, I might search for a suitable property in the area, speaks to a local agent, loan broker or trusted advisor (etc. etc. etc. etc.). Got it? The HOW are all the things that you can do to get there and make it smooth sailing (the groundwork).
This list may grow and adapt over time. There might be things that you don’t know you don’t know about getting what you want. For example, if you had never baked a cake, you wouldn’t know how important eggs are. Or greasing the pan. These are things you find out along the way, either through mistakes or talking to experts. Add them to the list! But then, I don’t want you to stop at making a list of things to do.
After you’ve done that (or done for now) I want you to add a due date or a deadline to each of them. Be reasonable. You may want to put a week to prepare your references or find an expert. I see it time and time again. Yes, you want to be optimistic, but this isn’t about daydreams. Ground your timeframes in what is actually achievable, and you will have way more success than if you don’t. It’s like having a savings goal of $15,000 when you earn $40,000 a year; it does not compute, you know? Reality bites.
With that said, and you gave free rein to write down some ACTUAL deadlines, go for it. I want you to genuinely consider how long it will take you, goal setting in the real world, to do these things and write that down next to them.
Working the plan.
Now you take all those tasks, those milestone events, and you add them to your planner/calendar or however you manage your life. Don’t have a way to manage your life? Get one. You’re going to need it. Haha. Because none of this happens if it stays a bunch of scribbles on a page. using this time to set goals for yourself is your chance to take it from there to something that lives in your future reality.
For some of you, this is the time to get someone to hold you accountable. Someone that will hold a POSITIVE space for you to go after what you want. But I will also call you on your shit if you’re slacking. I know I work better when I have someone to check in with and have always found Kel to be my biggest champion (and butt-kicker, as required) in this.
For you, it might be a friend, a relative or even us. In the Confident You Facebook group, We will hold that space for you to achieve the goals you are setting for yourself. Whatever you need. And make sure you take me up on that offer if there’s no one else in your life to keep this space for you.
And by the way, that’s not your fault. Sometimes people can’t see where we are going, and we don’t need them to. If they love us, they’ll come around (or not). Please don’t stop your journey or get stuck where you are for someone else or their approval. That will never work out well for YOU. For them, maybe. But not for you. And now, it’s time to move forward with that plan you made. We are going to talk more about what it sometimes takes to work that plan.
That it’s not really what you want.
Are you just box-ticking? I’ve been guilty of this more than once in my life. Sometimes with big stuff and sometimes with small things. If you look at the steps towards making your dream a reality, and it doesn’t do anything for you, that’s okay. You might have gotten caught up too. Spend some more time with the coffee table prompts. Slow down, stop imaging the things you think you SHOULD want and see what shows up AFTER those things.
Missing some steps or weren’t specific enough.
If you looked at your steps, you were excited, motivated, or any version of inspired, great! But then you feel something else; this could be you. Your goal setting or plan has holes, and you’re falling right through them. Successful goal setting is about covering all the bases; take a little more time to be more thorough.
Maybe you’re someone who needs to know how things go, and you can’t see the path. I have bad news for you, friend; you have to give that KNOWING EVERYTHING thing up. It is an excuse, and it’s holding you back. Life is weird and twisted, ever-changing and surprising. You will NEVER know how it’s all going to work, happen or unfold. But trust me, that’s the exciting part too.
Or maybe you skipped through this part of planning too quickly. Are the little things on your list? Is there something that you can work towards ticking off while the large tasks take time? Give yourself more to do. In my opinion, there is nothing more motivating than giving yourself a checkmark. Find more reasons to do that, as well as steps you may have missed, and you might find yourself moving forward.
Afraid of what might happen if you get what you want.
I put this one third because if you’ve tackled the first two, maybe this is what’s going on. All kinds of things could be going on. These things don’t have to stand in your way. Not forever. Not if you’re brave enough to tackle them head-on.
People say they are scared of success (will it change them or the people and life they love?), afraid of trying and failing (maybe being in the middle isn’t so bad), fearful of looking stupid in front of family and friends (avoid at all costs!). My running commentary aside, it’s time to ask yourself now, what am I afraid of? Too direct? Try thinking about what would happen if you got everything you wanted?
Think about the people around you, your experience with them and strangers, what you have, and how that makes you feel. Is there anything in all of that imagining that makes you feel uncomfortable? Anything that when you think of it doesn’t make you LIGHT UP?
Start by looking there. I think the thing getting in your way is in there somewhere. Be patient with yourself and be kind when you uncover what there is to find. The good news if there is something there, it becomes a whole heap easier to put that CRAP to the side. And putting it to the side is the perfect place to move past it.
Worried your family won’t love you if you make more money than them? Or maybe you’re afraid your partner will leave you if you start demanding more of them? Or a million other things that are personal to you. Some of them pretty crappy.
Maybe you’re right? To be honest, some of them might be true (people can be shitty sometimes). But when it is all said and done, it’s YOU or THEM? Seriously. Are you going to let everything you want for yourself go because it might cost you someone who doesn’t support you anyway?
I know the answer to that, but you need to figure that out for yourself. Draw your line in the sand. Reclaim your dreams for yourself and do it for yourself. Nothing will empower you more to go after what you want than that.
That’s my goal setting 101 guide, phew!
Motivated to get started? Ready? Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start ticking things off your goal setting list. Go back to the start of these planning emails if you need to (link in the top right) and start again. That’s the best part about any plan is that you can scrap it and start again anytime. You can change your mind, direction or intention ANY OLD TIME YOU LIKE. It’s your life. It’s your story. Today, we write it.
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Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.