3 Steps for Setting Big Goals and then Actually Achieving Them

Raise your hand if you’ve ever set this New Years resolution:

This year I want to get healthy. I am going to eat better and start exercising.

It’s a nice sentiment and a very good goal to have. Feeling healthier is a good goal. Eating better and getting more exercise will improve your mood, your sleep and your general life satisfaction. But there are no actionable steps towards achieving this goal of “getting healthy”.

I used to set resolutions like this year after year and never made any tangible steps towards actually achieving them. I got to the point where I decided, “You know what? New Years resolutions just don’t work for me!!” and decided to set intentions. In 2018 I wrote out beautiful, lofty intentions. They were based on how I would live my life if I was my very best self.

See beautifully written, lofty, and thoughtful intentions, but I left myself without a road map for following through.

See beautifully written, lofty, and thoughtful intentions, but I left myself without a road map for following through.

I posted these intentions on my bathroom mirror. I saw them almost every single day and most times twice a day.

Step 1: Look at the big picture and break it down.

Sit down for 10 minutes with a pen and paper and free write. Write down a goal or goals that you have been wanting to achieve, but for whatever reason have been unable to take the steps to do so. Do you want to set and follow a consistent fitness routine? Do you want to grow your Instagram page so that your unique message can reach new ears? Do you want to release your first e-book? Do you want to finally quit the job that makes you miserable?

Let’s take the fitness example and break it down. What would it take to set and follow a consistent fitness routine. Do you need to renew your gym membership? Wake up an hour earlier each day to fit it in before work? Save money to afford fitness classes? Find out what kind of exercises you actually like?

Step 2: Set specific and numerical goals.

Once you have decided what your big picture goals are and the steps that it takes to get there you need to set specific and numerical goals. Let’s say you want to save $5,000 dollars in 2019. If you right that on a piece of paper as a resolution on January 1st you aren’t like to take any action, but each month you can write down “I will save $13.70 each day. I will do this by making my coffee and lunch for work at home.” You have given yourself a specific numerical goal to achieve.

For the fitness example lets say you want to find classes that work best for you so you sign up for classpass and realize that you need to save $100 each month in order to pay for it. You realize your $5 a day Starbucks habit at 20 days a month will get you the exact amount you need to pay for the fitness classes.

Step 3: Write down your goals and post them somewhere you will see them every day.

This is the final, but most important step. Write down your goals and place them somewhere you will look every single day and maybe more than once a day. This can be in your car, on your bathroom mirror, on the background of your computer screen, on your desk or as the bookmark of your day planner. Doesn’t matter where, you just have to be able to see them. Read them daily and visualize yourself accomplishing them. Feel what it will feel like to accomplish these goals. Feeling that feeling will help you do the work daily.

Let’s finish up with the fitness example. Your goals might be: Sign up for 2 new classes each week on ClassPass and only make coffee at home so that you can save $5 each day to pay for your fitness membership. Write those down and post them somewhere you will see constantly. Envision yourself in the classes learning new things and having new experiences. Feel what it feels like when you finish a hard work out. Even better feel what it feels like when you consistently work out.

I started this post with a quote from Marianne Williamson about playing small and I think it important to share the full thing:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

When we don’t follow through on our biggest hopes, dreams and goals because we have no road map for achieving those things we are playing small. We are unable to share our best selves with the world because we shy away from the hard work. I don’t blame you. I shy away from the hard work too when the resolution for the year is “Write an E-book”, but when I break it down and make my goal “Test 2 recipes each week for an E-book” I am able to take steps towards achieving my goals.

Sick of failed resolutions? Use these 3 steps to set goals that you will actually be able to achieve. You aren't the problem you have just been setting unattainable resolutions.