I remember that victorious day when I walked into a fitting room with a pair of size 4 pants flung over my arm. I had been on a quest for months to ditch my unhealthy weight and get back to my normal BMI zone. After all those months of hard work, this was my moment of truth.
When I started I was wearing a size 14. I slipped the pants on and to my shock they were actually too big. I asked the store associate for a size 2. She brought the pants in and I put them on with a twinge of disbelief. They fit perfectly. This was my new favorite pant store.
This was one of the many times in my life when I had a victorious celebration of conquering a goal. But one son and a set of twins later, I’m back at chasing my healthy BMI again.
In the back of mind though I know it’s absolutely possible for me to be at a healthy weight for my height. I just have to set the goal, write it down and do the work each day to get there.
But that’s usually easier said than done.
Goals take focus and work. Sometimes hard work. Sometimes it’s even a physically and mentally taxing.
Today I want to talk about ditching the old, unproductive way of goal setting and doing it in a way that actually gives you forward momentum! Here are the 5 steps I believe you need in order to make a goal happen in your real, everyday life!
I know this might sound a little woo-woo to say but believing in yourself is THE MOST critical first step. Having a “can do” attitude has to run deep into your heart and mind so that when you hit the rough spots, you recognize the rough spots and speed bumps as enemies to be slain and moved out of your way.
You have to believe that you have the strength, ability, and skill to make it happen. It’s the catalyst you need to move forward.
In July of 2016, I had identical twin baby girls. Two weeks later I got a contract to write my first book, Live. Save. Spend. Repeat.: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. My publisher gave me a six-month deadline to turn in the manuscript. That is NOT a lot of time when you have newborn twins to feed and care for.
But it was a LIFE goal for me to write a book. I had come so far. I could have said that it was impossible and turned them down. But instead, I decided to believe in myself. To believe that I had it in me to write a whole book in 6 months.
When the doubt would rise, I would push it down and just keep writing. I turned in the book a few days early with 30,000 more words that I needed to turn in. I believed in me, and it got me through!
Believe in you, even if your goal is a little out of your comfort zone.
2. Write Your Goals in a Detailed Fashion
One thing people often overlook when making goals is getting specific. When goals are specific, they themselves become your roadmap to success. When you make a new goal, attach it to a metric that you can measure. Whatever you do, BE SURE YOU WRITE THEM DOWN. It’s important!
- I want to eat out less by taking my lunch to work on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
- I want to improve my dental health by flossing once every day before I go to bed.
- I want to lose 2 pounds by the end of January by eating 1500 calories and walking Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
These details help outline the specific actions you need to take in order to see a goal come to life. With detailed goals you know exactly what you are pursuing and often how long you hope it will take you to get there!
3. Break Goals Down In To-Do List Fashion
If your goal is particularly big or takes awhile to accomplish, you should break it down into smaller step-by-step kind of goals. Almost like a to-do list. That way you know what you need to accomplish each day, week or month to get toward completing or attaining your goal.
It’s best if you write them down or keep them somewhere that you can see them each day. Maybe that’s a phone screen saver or your bathroom mirror.
When I started writing my book, I decided to focus on writing 500 words per day. That was something very realistic and manageable. On good days I would push out 1,000 – 2,000 if I had it in me. But knowing my baseline of 500 words gave me something to aim at and check off my to-do list.
When you come face to face with the goal or goals you are setting, brainstorm how that goal could be broken down into easier to accomplish tasks.
4. Decide to Take it Just One Day at Time
I love the idea of taking the next best step each day that gets you one step closer to your goal. As discussed in the last section, instead of fixating on the hugeness of a goal, figure out how to break your goals down into a weekly to-do list! Once you know what you need to do in a week to tackle your goal, then you can decide what you need to do each day that week to see it come to pass.
Let’s say you wanted to save up $1,000 for a fun weekend family vacation to the beach. You really want to make that goal happen in the next 4 months.
- You divide $1,000/4 months= $250 per month
- $250 per month/4 weeks = $62.50 per week.
Now that you know the cost breakdown you can set a goal of saving $62.50 per week into your vacation savings account. As long as you put $62.50 in your bank each week, for 16 weeks, you’ll have met your goal!
Therefore you would need to focus on making sure you make a way to have $62.50 left over in your wallet or budget each week! If you really love the idea of breaking your goals down into manageable chunks be sure you sign up for my 90 Day Fund Your Goals Challenge here!
If your goal is going to take awhile to accomplish, like paying off debt, you have to make it one day or one transaction at a time.
Most goals are accomplished by implementing an action over and over until you see your target come to pass. Focus on and live with the fact that this repetitious behavior will most likely deliver the goal into your hands. Don’t fixate on how long the journey will take or how far away the finish line is.
For example, in 2010, my husband and I decided to pay off our mortgage. We knew it was going to take 4+ years of work. To my pleasant surprise, this goal took us less than two years on one income to see it happen. I accomplished this goal by believing it could be done, switching to a Cash Fueled Life and implementing my plan each day until the task was done.
5. Ditch Excuses
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Yoda-The Empire Strikes Back
The older I get the more self-aware I am. Let me just tell you that I make a whole lot of excuses! I play the blame game all the time.
I blame my kids for why I’m late when I was the one on Facebook for 45 minutes before we left and forgot to pack the diaper bag.
I blame the junk food in the house for why I didn’t make my weight loss goal this week.
Yadda, yadda, yadda…
When we fail we rarely take responsibility. If you make a goal, there will be ups and downs as you pursue it. Whatever you do, decide that you will finish- don’t just try. When you hear yourself making excuses. STOP. Ask yourself why it really happened. Take ownership of the fail, figure how to not fail again and move on.
At the end of the day, you are the only person standing in your own way.
6. Reward Yourself
I’m all for rewards. I believe that setting some reward for yourself for when you reach the finish line can help you get there. It’s also kind of fun!
- If I lose 3 pounds by Feb 1, I can buy a new pair of athletic shoes.
- When I save $600 for our Disney trip, I can go ahead and book the hotel.
- If I get my Tuesday cleaning routine done, I can get lunch at my favorite restaurant.
To be successful at goal setting and coming through on what you want you need to believe, take them one day at a time and liven up your goal crushing pursuit by giving yourself some kind of reward for all your efforts!
If long-term financial goal setting is often really hard for you, I would encourage you to sign up for my 90 Day Fund Your Goal Challenge! You’ll get a free printable planner that you can use to write down an important goal you have and try and fund that goal in 90 days with the money you have to work with!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!