I want to make $500,000 by the end of this year.
I want to have 10,000 Instagram followers by June.
I want to give a Ted Talk.
These are all goals written in my journal, January 2015. Looking at them now, I can’t help but laugh a little bit. What’s funny is not that they were far fetched, it’s that I can’t even REMEMBER making them. I’m sure I probably just finished watching some inspirational video or stalking an uber successful somebody on Instagram and said to myself, “I want that. I’m going to speak it into existence and it will come to me.”
Have you done something similar before?
I know I can’t be the only one who has made goals that they’ve never achieved. It’s a cycle I’ve repeated for the past few years. Make a goal in the beginning of the year, fail at achieving it, and make a new goal the next year. (It’s half of why I stopped making goals in the first place. Read here)
Thankfully I was able to break out of that pattern this year. It’s October 2016 and I am just two items away from crushing all of my goals.
Here they are:
- Travel To France
- Weigh 155lbs
- Make New Friends
- Pay Off Personal Debt
- Improve Mental Health
- Quit My Job and Live Off My business
- Start A Podcast
- Grow My List to 1,000
- Create A Facebook Group
I’m still 10 pounds away from my goal weight and my list is at 806, but I’m confident I’ll get ‘er done in the next month or so.
So what changed in 2016 to help me make and achieve my goals for this year? That’s what I want to share with you in this blog post.
I attribute my success to:
⇒ Understanding Why I Don’t Reach My Goals
⇒ Finding A New Goal Setting Method
⇒ Creating New Habits To Help Me Achieve My Goals
Keep reading to learn how to implement these strategies for yourself.
Why We Don’t Reach Our Goals
We often fail to reach our goals for 3 reasons
1. We choose the wrong goal.
2. We take on too much too fast.
3. We don’t plan to fail.
What does choosing the wrong goal mean? In order for goals to be achieved, they need to be understood. So if your goal is to be a successful business owner, then you need to be able to break down the steps to reach this goal. If you just envision your future without figuring out how to get there, then you’re daydreaming and NOT goal setting!
Goals exist in a hierarchy. There are top-level goals, mid-level goals, and lower-level goals. The higher the goal the more abstract it becomes and the lower the goal the more specific it is. Your goal of becoming a successful business owner is a top-level goal. In order to reach your top-level goal, you need to first master your mid-level and then your lower-level goals.
Many times we latch onto these high-level goals and doggedly spend the year trying to achieve them. What we often find is that we’re not actually pursuing ONE goal, but instead trying to juggle multiple mid-level and lower level goals at the same time. That’s why we fail. We take on too much and get overwhelmed.
We also fail because our goals are not researched or thought out. A clearly explored goal not only breaks down the vision into small chunks, but anticipates roadblocks that one may encounter. A thoughtful approach like this to goal setting can help you avoid the high of dreaming up your life and the eventual disappointment from failing, yet again, to achieve your goal.
Here’s a goal setting method that asks you to break down that vision into more manageable chunks.
A New Goal Setting Method
1. Identify Your Arch Goals – Arch goals are your dreams and desires in their largest sense. They provide direction and meaning to all the goals in the rest of your hierarchy. These arch goals usually exist in dreamy vision statements like:
I want to be a star player in the NBA
I want to own a successful business
I want to be happy
2. Create Anchor Goals – Unlike your arch goals, your anchor goals are more actionable. They are a way of distilling your desires into mid-level goals that you can work towards. I like to encourage women to spend a few days researching your arch goals to help identify the anchor goals.
3. Plan Your Support Goals – This is the most important part of hierarchy goal setting because it’s often the most overlooked of the three. Support goals are the systems and habits that we must implement and focus on in our DAILY lives in order to reach our Anchor goals and eventually our Arch goals.
Creating New Habits To Achieve Goals
Now that you have an understanding of why your previous goal-setting methods didn’t work, I want to share 4 ways to actually achieve your goals.
Create New Routines
If what you used to do in the past didn’t work, then it’s time do something different. The success of your arch goals largely depends on your support goals. Support goals are made up of systems and habits that you will have to change in order to make a dent in your arch goals.
The best way to develop new habits is to change your routine. If you want to grow your Instagram following, create a new morning routine that involves taking 30 minutes to interact on the platform. If you want to be featured on other websites, make it a habit to repurpose your weekly content for guest posts. If you want to spend more time growing your business while working a 9-5, make it a habit to take an after work nap so that you’re prepared for a 6-10pm shift in front of your laptop. The list of possible new routines is endless.
Set Yourself Up For Small Wins
Small wins are exactly what they sound like. It’s the accomplishment of an easy milestone that you set for yourself. We spend a lot of time imagining how it will feel when we reach our arch goal but we don’t give our lower-level goals the same love! This can make achieving our goals seem like a long painful process. Instead, try setting up small wins. This will not only encourage you to keep going, but serve as progress markers as you advance to your arch goal.
For more on “small wins” check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Write Down Your Goals
A large part of success comes from focusing on your goals. I mentioned earlier that when I looked at my goals from January 2015, I didn’t even remember them! That’s the surest path to failure. Instead of forgetting them like I did, commit to creating a new routine that requires you to write down your goals daily. Here’s an example of why writing down your goals works.
In a Scottish study, hip replacement patients were split into two groups. One was given a booklet after their surgery and asked to write down their rehab goals each week, such as walk for 5 minutes, do stretches, etc. The second group was not given a booklet. When the researcher compared the groups, she found that the patients who wrote down their plans for the week actually healed two times faster than those who did not. (Read more on the study here)
This study, and others like it, continue to establish that writing down your goals and staying focused increases your chances of success!
Get Real About Fear
Half of the reason why we are unsuccessful in achieving our goals is fear. Fear that we’ll fail. Fear that we aren’t worthy of succeeding. Fear of rejection. Fear of changing your mind. Fear of hitting roadblocks. Fear for no damn reason! So I want to encourage you to get real about what you’re scared of. Write them down. Identify any obstacle that you may encounter when pursuing your Anchor goals. Once you’ve identified the obstacle, image the worst case scenario. Yes, I mean it. Go ahead and imagine what would happen if you fail miserably and lose the house? What if you don’t make any money and your mom was right? What if the new job rejects you. Vividly consider the worst case scenario and then write down what you’ll do. Are you going to move back in with your parents until you can get back on your feet? Will you take a day to cry and then start applying for another job? Will you sign up for counseling to deal with the shame from publicly failing? This process will take the mystery out of your fear and turn your worries into a contingency plan.
Address Your Mindset
Just as important than fear is your mindset. Possessing an optimistic mindset is so valuable for your journey towards success. Optimism is a feeling of hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
Why is optimism important? Here’s another study to consider. Elite swimmers were asked to take a test to determine if they had an optimistic or pessimistic mindset. Once their classifications were secretly determined all were asked to swim at their very best. When the swimmers completed the exercise, researchers deliberately told them that they swam a few seconds slower than their actual time. Swimmers were then asked to give it another try. Those who were identified as being pessimists swam even slower than their original time. Those who were identified as optimists swam either at the same speed or faster!
That’s how important your mindset is. You’ve got to believe that you can do better, learn more, and improve. This growth mindset is the key to traversing roadblocks and reaching your goals.
Learn more about Growth Mindset in Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk.
Oftentimes when we feel off-track, disappointed, or unfocused it’s because we’re out of touch with our goals or what we want for ourselves. Goals can serve as a useful life compass. If you need help creating your own goals, check out my Goal Hierarchy Workbook where I walk you through identifying your Arch, Anchor, and Support goals so you can finally start getting stuff done!
You can download it below!