It’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting here looking out of the window at the now brighter sky, coffee at my side and writing this post. Thinking about it we’re well into January now so that leaves just 11 months of 2018 to reach those all important goals that you probably made just after Christmas. I don’t know why that is but it just feels natural to hit the reset button in January and start afresh.
Last year was a really busy one and I knew that in order to come back feeling ready to put all of my energy into the year ahead I needed some proper rest. A post on Facebook caught my attention and got me thinking. There really is a limit to the amount of time we all have and therefore it is so important that we make the most of it. Whether that’s spending time with the people you love, taking a leap of faith to fulfil your potential, going on adventures and creating new memories to cherish or other things. All of these are important for leading a happy and balanced life but unfortunately, we don’t always dedicate the proper time to these things.
Remembering this encouraged me to take a trip to Rome at the start of the year to rejuvenate; something I had been thinking about in the run-up to Christmas. I travelled alone and enjoyed the downtime, went exploring, ate some fantastic food and do you know, it was one of the best trips I’ve been on. I spent a lot of time thinking about, and planning, my goals for the year ahead and now that I’ve put the necessary actions in place to achieve those goals. So, I thought I would share my plan with you to help you to do the same. If you tend to look back on the year and realise you didn’t end up doing what you set out to, then this post is for you!
My 5 stage plan for staying true to your goals focuses on planning, taking that all important first step and then holding yourself responsible for achieving what you set out to do, no excuses. I think it’s useful to make the point that you need to start off by thinking about WHY you have chosen a specific goal and what you are hoping the outcome will be. If you’re not fully invested then the chances are it’s not going to work. This is something that was quite evident to me when my housemates and I decided to set a ‘group’ challenge each year and then failed to really make a dent in them, although it was good fun trying! The point is a real sense of purpose and belief in what you are doing is absolutely the key. So, if there’s something that you’d like to achieve in 2018, and you’re fully invested in achieving that goal but you’re not sure how to go about it, then hopefully this will give you a clearer sense of where to start.
The 5 stage plan
If you approach this with an open mind and a positive attitude then you’ll be on the right track to achieving.
1. Write down your goals and keep them somewhere memorable
This might sound really obvious but if you don’t document your goals then you are likely to forget about them 2 months down the line, especially as life starts getting busy again. Writing down your goals helps to focus your mind on the things that are important to you. There might only be one thing, or equally a handful of things, that you hope to achieve in 2018 but the first step is to make them feel real. Write them somewhere you’re going to notice them; perhaps stick a post-it note to your mirror, put a note in your wallet or purse or perhaps you keep notes in a journal and use that as a way to focus. Anywhere that isn’t going to allow you to forget them will do.
2. Give yourself a deadline to ensure your goals are achievable
Writing down your goals is a great way to start figuring out how you want to spend your time this year, however, we all know that time has a tendency to run away with us if we’re not careful. Putting a deadline against each of your goals can help you to manage this better. Naturally, some of your goals may have a deadline against them already, for example, if you have a fitness goal leading up a specific event, but not all of them will. Have a think about what is achievable for you taking into considering other commitments in your life, and don’t try to do everything in one go. Being realistic is so important and small steps of incremental change are often better. Equally, don’t set a deadline that is so far ahead that you don’t find the motivation to get going, you need to be able to see the end in sight or at least have an idea of when that might be.
3. Plan your approach
Try to answer the following questions to help you think this through and if you’re not sure, you may need to do some research to help.
What do you need in order to achieve your goal? Do you need someone else’s input or help? If so, who might that be and how will you reach out to them? How much time to do you need to dedicate to your goal each week to meet your deadline? Does it require some investment?
Laying out the steps to get to your end goal is a good way of understanding the ‘how’ and the effort and time it will take you to reach that goal, coming back to my point around making this more achievable. What are the practical steps you need to take? This could be quite simple or it could be complex and made up of a lot of steps depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Either way having a clear approach is essential. And remember, not all goals can be achieved alone and it’s great and sometimes crucial to have support from others.
4. Take the first action
Now that you have your approach articulated it should be relatively easy to take the first step in your plan. This might be as light touch as explore different gym memberships and book a visit to your top 3 or it might be more complex depending on what your goal is. I know I keep coming back to using fitness as my example but remember this can work for anything. Taking that first step is often the hardest but it can also be the difference between you moving head first towards your goals or never thinking about them again. Trust me, when you take that first step it feels great!
5. Revisit your goals and keep track of where you are
Taking the first action puts you on the right path to success, however, this doesn’t automatically mean you will reach the end. You could put reminders in your calendar at key milestones to encourage you to keep going and remember to take small steps. Make sure you keep referring back to your plan, reassess where you are and if you feel you’ve gone off track, take some time to understand why and put those actions in place to get back on track. Just think to yourself, what will you lose by not achieving your goals? What’s the emotional impact? Remember why you’re doing this and find that motivation to push through to the end!
So that’s my 5 stage plan for keeping on track of your goals this year. Perhaps take some time to think about what this means for you. What are your plans for 2018 and how will you get there? If you remember only one thing from this post let it be that a clear plan, coupled with a positive mindset and determination are the key ingredients to seeing your goals through to the end. Let me know how you get on and I’m happy to give moral support where I can.
Here’s to 2018!