If you tend to be a dreamer or visionary, like me, sometimes to easiest part of the goal planning process can be the planning part. It can be so easy to see the future vision and write out what you would like to happen, but actually knowing where to get started and creating action is a whole other thing. Suddenly, you’ve set your goal and know where you want to go, but you feel overwhelmed, stuck and you might even think about throwing in the towel before you’ve even started.
This is the point where the brain plays some crazy little tricks and self-doubting thoughts might start to creep in. Suddenly the thing you were feeling so excited about feels really scary and uncertain. If you’ve ever felt this way before, you’re not alone, trust me.
If you’ve followed the right steps to planning out your goals, it makes it easier to get over this hurdle, because you’ve already gotten so clear on why you need/want/have to achieve this goal.
So before that tricky little brain talks you out of the goals you just spent time and energy into creating, let’s walk through the step by step process that will help you break through that overwhelming feeling of getting started.
But, before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to tell you about a goal I had for myself this year.
Although I’ve had leadership positions throughout my career that required me to coach and mentor others, and have been actually coaching others as a business for the last 3+ years, I’ve always had a pull to continue building my skills in this area.
So at the beginning of 2018, I decided to take the steps to do just that. I enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Wellness Coaching Program and set my sights on finishing the program and becoming a nationally board certified coach.
The process really has been so much fun, which has continued to drive me and re-confirm I’m doing what I’ve been meant to do all along. I’m so excited to tell you that last week I received my official notifications – I passed my National Board exam AND I was accepted as a Mayo Clinic certified wellness coach. Both of these things felt like a long shot for me at the beginning of the year because it’s a lot of practice hours and studying all mixed in with building a business and raising a family, but I did it!
I wanted to share this because I used the exact steps I outlined on how to create fail-proof goals in order to reach that huge goal. These steps truly work no matter what your goal is, it’s just a matter of committing to the process. (which you can get by downloading my Goal Planning Success Roadmap here.)
Alright, thanks for letting me celebrate with you a little bit! Now we’ll get back to the good stuff.
During my last blog, we talked about the 6 steps you need to follow in order to create life-changing goals that stick. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s an essential part of the process, so go back and read before you continue on. I’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back, I promise. 🙂
Alright, now that you’re back…
At this point, you’ve:
- Made a decision for change (I need to/ I want to/ I have to)
- Identified your strengths in relation to this change
- You’re super clear on why you want to make this change
- You know what you’ve done in the past that has worked and hasn’t worked
- You’ve created some excellent visual reminders for yourself
- And you’ve created a goal that is so crystal clear and easy to understand, that you could check a box once it’s done.
You’ve even started to break down your goal into quarterly milestones, or other time frames, so that it’s becoming less overwhelming to get started and you start to see the one thing you need to do next to take some small steps in the right direction to achieving your goal.
If you’re still working on clarifying any of this, I recommend grabbing my free Goal Planning Success Roadmap, that will really help you make this whole process easy to follow.
I only briefly talked about this important step during my last post, so I want to elaborate more on creating milestones for your goal before we go any further.
Why are milestones important?
In a world of curated content and social media highlights, we are not seeing the full process of someone’s journey, and instead, it looks like overnight success is possible without any kind of plan. But, if you could see the behind the scenes of anyone that posts about their major success, you’ll see that they accomplished so much more than getting from A to B. Anyone who achieves a big goal also experiences setbacks, struggles, and is taking their goal one step at a time – they just aren’t showing you those steps. Their hidden truth – they had milestones along the way.
Creating a goal, especially a big life-changing goal, can feel completely overwhelming. In fact, most of my clients come to me during this stage of the process. They know what their goals are, but they feel like a deer in the goal planning headlights when they try to plan out how they are going to achieve their goals. They are so overwhelmed with the process and end up unable to move forward.
When I work with clients 1:1, we work together to break down the process and create a crystal clear plan for them that they can take action on. Breaking down the goals and milestones will look different for everyone, which is why it’s great to work with a coach on these things. I love being able to ask specific questions about each client’s goal to help them identify the exact approach that will work for them so they can achieve the greatest level of success, but I’ve outlined some of the basic steps so you can do this on your own.
How to make milestones easy
The idea of turning a big goal into milestones seems daunting at first, but there’s a really easy trick. I recommend making a BIG goal (like an annual goal) 4 separate milestones. The easiest way to do this is to divide your goal in half to start. So, for instance, if your goal is to run 500 miles total in a year, then you would say you want to run 250 miles by the halfway point. Then, you just do that again to get milestone 1 and milestone 4. Here’s a broken down version:
Goal: Run 500 miles total in 2019
- June Milestone (halfway point): (500/2=250) Run 250 miles
- March Milestone (Q1 milestone): (250/2=125) Run 125 miles
- September Milestone (Q3 Milestone): (250/2=125 + 125 + 125) Run 375 miles
Once you’ve identified your quarterly milestones, break those down into 3-4 steps each.
For example, if your March milestone is to run 125 miles, that means you’ll need to run about 42 miles a month, which is about 10.5 miles a week. So your steps for Q1 might look like:
- Buy new running shoes
- Map out running path that will total 10.5 miles per week
- Find post-run stretch routine
- Run 3 days a week, 3.5 miles per run
Now, you can see how a super overwhelming goal like running 500 miles in a year now suddenly feels easy and completely doable.
Complete this with all of your milestones and then we’ll talk about turning those steps into an actionable plan.
If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend downloading my Goal Planning Success Roadmap, because it outlines the milestone steps and the next steps we’re about to do so it’s easy to follow along. You’ll also have a physical document with all of your goal planning information in one place, so it’s easy to go back and reference throughout the year. Plus, it’s free, so why not?
how to put your goal into action & actually achieve them.
1. Set a Timeline
Now that your milestones and steps are all broken down in a list, it might feel like a lot of steps, but just remember, you’re planning out a major goal, so each of these steps are going to be spread out over time. It’s important to set deadlines with your steps so that you can create an accountability structure, which we’ll talk about a little later on.
Take your broken down tasks and add deadlines to them.
If you broke your milestones into quarters, it makes this part fairly easy because you’ve already done a lot of the work. However, you still need to set deadlines for each step as well order to keep your goal on track.
- Pretend you’re helping a friend figure out their timeline- Personally, I use this trick to help myself out when I’m going through this process. Sometimes when it’s something we’re emotionally attached to, or have been thinking about for a while, it can be hard to get “unstuck”. If you’re feeling that way, take a break from the process, then come back and pretend your friend just told you this was their goal. What would you tell them they should do? Then, write it down.
- Add your deadlines to your calendar & set reminders- Even if you use a paper calendar, I recommend adding the dates to a digital calendar or reminder system like Google Calendar, or your phone’s reminder app. That way, the reminder is automated and it will keep you on track all year long.
- Make it visible- If you do use a paper calendar, I recommend going through before each month and writing your steps and milestone deadlines in. It’s a great way to refresh your memory on your goals, and also makes it visible so it stays top of mind for you.
2. Create Accountability
Accountability is a critical piece to successfully achieving a goal. If you feel like you’re starting to lose traction on your goals, this is the first place I would look.
An article on Entrepreneur.com says,
“The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress.”
That’s a major jump in success rates!
Here are a couple of ways to create accountability to achieve your goals. I recommend all three, but starting with one is better than nothing:
Schedule check-in meetings with yourself
I have a monthly meeting with just myself to check in on my goals and where I’m at with everything. I spend time doing some journaling and checking back in with my motivations. As I mentioned before, I tend to be a big picture thinker, so my motivations and focuses can change quickly depending on how that big picture shifts, but doing a monthly check in helps me stay more consistent.
It’s also a great time to check-in on your strengths that you originally identified (check it out here if you need a reminder). Ask yourself if there’s a strength you have that you’re not using to help you achieve your steps in the next month.
Lastly, take some time to assess what you’ve accomplished and celebrate the wins you’ve had so far in the process. If your goal has a long timeline, like a year, it’s important to celebrate the small steps along the way! It’s also a great time to look at any challenges you’ve had and see how you might be able to use that information to make adjustment for future steps.
Find a buddy or coach
The majority of the population is externally motivated in one way or another. So, having another person to help hold you accountable can be key to success.
Have you ever found that when you’re completing a task for a boss, you have no problem following through. But, when it comes to something you’re trying to do on your own, like workout regularly, or start a business, it’s easier for other priorities to come up?
As a wellness coach, this is one of my main roles in working with my clients – and it’s more than just checking in. I’m able to have specific conversations that deepen motivations and build belief for my client along the way. But, not everyone needs a trained coach.
In fact, I have several non-coach accountability partners in my life as ways to help me stay on track. I have one for my business, and one for my own health and wellness. Having someone you know is going to ask you how your goals are going is a great motivator to keep progressing. But, your accountability partner can also be someone to help you see alternative options when you’re running into a challenge and that can be invaluable at times.
You probably already have a few accountability partners in your life without officially titling them that. If you do, ask them if they can help you stay accountable to your goal and schedule time to have quick check-ins.
Create a reward (or consequence)
I personally try to keep this one a little more light hearted and I tend to stick with a reward.
What is something that you could reward yourself with once you achieve each big milestone with your goal? Think about something that is fun and you get excited about. When you’re reward is meaningful to you, you’re more likely to stay motivated to get it.
You could also choose a consequence. Again, if you do this, stay light hearted about it. A funny one I’ve heard is writing a donation check to an organization that’s the opposite of the one you would normally support and giving it to your accountability partner. Then, tell them to mail it if you don’t achieve your goal. If you have strong views about a particular topic, this might be just the thing you need to achieve your goals.
3. Follow Through – but know that it’s normal to have slips along the way
Although it’s the last point in this guide, I believe that it’s one of the most important. I’ve seen so many people give up on their goals completely because they got off track. As a coach, there’s nothing more heartbreaking that seeing this happen to someone. The reality is that slips in the goal setting and action process are normal and should be expected. Like I talked about earlier, we often see the highlight reel on social media and less about when people have challenges or take a step in the wrong direction along the way. When you can accept at the beginning that there will be challenges and you should anticipate them along the way, it helps the recovery process go so much faster. Here are a couple of final things to think about:
Embrace the hiccups – Whether you’re on a weight loss journey and chowed down a box of Oreos, or your self-care routine has fallen to the wayside, know that routines and lifestyle changes are a series of small changes that happen over time and one moment will not ruin. Accept that you had a hiccup and decide what you’re going to do to get back on track.
Not everyday will be easy – If you can start out the gate knowing that you will have hard days, it will be easier to identify them when they come along. Having an accountability partner you can reach out to during these hard moments is so helpful, but also having time to go back and review your initial journaling or looking at your vision board can help you get through these tougher moments.
Experimental mentality vs. Pass/Fail mentality- We are taught throughout our lives to look at goals in the form of pass and fail, but looking at it this way also makes up feel like we shouldn’t continue forward if we “fail”. Instead of thinking about your goals and milestones in this way, try looking at it like an experiment. “What would happen if I did xyz?” If your experiment gets off track, then all you have to do is adjust and keep going forward.
Between this guide and the other one, we covered a ton of information! If there’s one final thought I can leave you with, it’s that you are so deserving of achieving your goals. Believing in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals is a powerful tool that will take you a long way.
You have everything you need right now to make this a life-changing year!
I hope you’ve had a change to check out the Goal Planning Roadmap and use it as you work on your goals. I created these guides and the roadmap because I truly believe setting a goal is the first step to creating the life you deserve. And, we all deserve to live our best lives, whatever that means to you!
After years of struggling with goal planning and then finally learning the right steps to create a successful and effective goal, my goal is to help make this whole process so much easier for you. So, if I’ve done that for you, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, or send me a message on Instagram or Facebook and let me know what your goal is for this year!
And, if all of this has left you feeling even more overwhelmed, or maybe incredibly committed to achieving your goals and you know you want a coach who can guide you to success, I’d love to see how I can help you along your journey! Maybe it’s just a little motivational pep-talk, or maybe I can help you with a major breakthrough that will be just the thing you need to make some serious life-changing goals! Let’s hop on a quick 15-minute call together so we can get to know each other more!
Thank you so much for reading and I truly could not be more excited for the new year. I have so much great information to share with you about creating the balance you deserve in your life and achieving your biggest life-goals! Talk soon!
About the Author - Jen Wright
Jen Wright, Wellness and Success Coach
Jen Wright is a Nationally Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach, Certified Cycle Instructor, mom, and wife living in Minneapolis, MN. With over 10 years of experience in Marketing, Project Management and Leadership for corporations, Jen became passionate about helping others through their health and wellness journey after overcoming her own health challenges. Jen has since helped hundreds of others create healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives through her caring and strengths-driven approach to coaching.
For more wellness and success tips, follow The Driven Mama on Instagram: @TheDrivenMama