I spent the past few weeks really thinking hard about goals for 2017, after all I have a lot of balls up in the air currently. I’ve read lots of articles about how to set goals, but setting goals without really thinking long and hard about the why leads to a list that often times gets shuffled into the pile of “papers” (I know you have one, we all do) to be forgotten or thrown into the garbage pretty quickly.
So before I get into how I set my goals for 2017, and the pretty printables I’ve made for you to get your goals down on paper, I want to spend a little time on the why’s. This is step one of the process. Don’t skip it or ignore it. Thinking about your why’s, or motivations, will guide you in your goal setting process.
Step 1. Visualize your why.
Yes, visualize your why. I don’t have a worksheet for this because I don’t think it’s necessary. Visualize where you want to be at year end, who you want to be surrounded by, what you want to have accomplished. If it helps, create a vision board. I plan on making one for my office wall; a place to tape up pictures of our dream farm, photos of my family, and things that speak to my heart. Writing this down may be a process that helps you, but passing by your vision each day and/or having a mental picture of the end result is key.
Step 2. Goal dump.
Now grab a blank sheet of paper and write. Write down every goal that’s been put off, every small goal and large goal. Write down everything that comes to mind here; there’s no right or wrong in this step.
Step 3. Eliminate.
This step may or may not be needed for you. I didn’t end up eliminating any of mine from my ‘dump’ because I’d spent a lot of time already thinking about this.
In the step, go down your ‘dump’ list and ask yourself “is this a goal that gets me closer to my vision and how?”
This seems really deep and philosophical, but I promise it doesn’t have to be. Some of my goals were projects around the house; completing these goals gets me closer to my vision of our home. I have a fitness goal; completing this goal gets me closer to feeling great and leading a healthy lifestyle (also I’m setting an example for my kids). Remove any that don’t move you towards your vision.
Step 4. Print and Fill in or Edit (since I’m giving you editable Excel sheets).
I’ve seen a lot of goal setting sheets that break goals into 6-10-XXXX categories. I do not recommend getting carried away with categories. Two reasons: One, lots of separate categories can make something straightforward start to seem daunting. Two, are some of those categories not as important as others?
These are your goals; they are all important. Some may be more pressing, but these are your life goals (remember your vision); I recommend treating them all as important. For me, I simply broke mine down into ‘personal’ and ‘career’. Simple.
For each ‘personal’ and ‘career’, your goals are either short-term (easy, actionable, or pressing) and long-term (longer process to end result).
Go to your ‘dump’ sheet and enter each goal where it belongs on your new goal setting printable or excel sheet.
Step 5. Create Action Steps for EVERY Goal.
This may seem unnecessary and even scary, but the plan you will have in place after you’re done will be sooo worth it. For each goal, break it down into steps (usually 3-6). These are your to-do’s.
These may also change along the way, but having a plan (even if the plan is to start an action step in April) will give your direction and the goal will not be forgotten. You will also feel like a planning pro; there’s nothing like the feeling of marking off a task from a to-do list!
Here’s an example of my personal goal sheet.
Step 6. Mark your calendar.
This is where you start to put your action steps in motion. If you can’t complete a step today, put it on the calendar (in pencil). We’re human, things will change. Some items may get pushed back, some items may get done ahead of time, YAY!
You’ll notice I do not have a space for due dates. I hate due dates. You won’t change my mind about that.
Some items actually have a due date; note it. For other things, put the plan into action.
When faced with two pages of goals, each with a due date (that you came up with when you were feeling super productive and all #goaldigger) that is far too aggressive, it’s overwhelming. That’s why I don’t do due dates.
Creating good habits and creating productive routine in your daily life will keep you on track. A due date on a piece of paper will only make you feel like you’ve failed when the date passes.
Step 7. Do it.
Start. Re-start. Change your calendar. Most importantly, keep your goals visible. When I complete a step, I like to highlight the action step, followed by a little party in my mind.
How do I manage my daily to-do’s?
So you have a list of goals. You made those goals because they are helping you realize your vision in life. You’ve made actionable steps to achieve them. You’ve marked your calendar with some of the big items and the daily items (i.e. workouts, reading time, family time, etc).
What does that mean each day?
After my work day is done, I like to take a look at my goals again. There are always small actions to move forward that may be good for my to-do list the next day. It’s a good refresher too on where I’m headed.
Before bed, I keep a little notebook beside my bed, and I do a brain dump. I jot down everything that needed to be done that I forgot, things I know I need to do tomorrow, things from my action steps that I think I may have time for the next day. Things like… bills. Yeah, it’s a real life brain dump.
The next morning, after a great night of rest, because I didn’t go to bed with all of those things ‘hanging’ out in my head, I open my planner. I go through my brain dump from the night before and organize my to-do’s for that day and mark those that are for another day where they belong. The point of doing the dump and then the organizing the next morning is for your brain to process and organize those things.
If I wrote my “final” to-do list for tomorrow, tonight, I’d make a very, very long list. By scheduling your day after you’ve had time to organize your thoughts, you’ll be more realistic with your daily goals. When we set ourselves up to succeed, we can.