The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Oh man ... you know what gets me SUPER EXCITED?!?!

Salt and vinegar potato chips.

Those and ... goal setting!!! I swear, give me a planner to write some goals in with a bag of salt and vinegar chips to eat while scheming and I am one happy camper!

Well ... I don't have any salt and vinegar chips to give you, but I DO have a free goal setting workbook for you to use along with this post if you'd like! Simply click the photo below for your free workbook if you want it.It's filled with questions and prompts to help you come up with achievable goals with actionable steps that are inline with your dreams so that you can kick some major booty this year! (It's also got almost twice as many pages than what's pictured below, I just couldn't fit them all in the preview pic while also looking orderly!) :P 

Goal setting is something that is near and dear to my heart because I wholeheartedly attribute many of my best accomplishments to it! Some of my favorite accomplishments like ...

- Creating my own business which I've been working FULL TIME for over 5 years. - Running a full marathon when I thought I'd never be able to. - Dreaming up a Blog + Life Planner and then actually making and selling it.

You want to know how all of these accomplishments started? As clear, written goals.

Check out the photo below, yo:

(Photo from Shining Academy)

Take a good, hard look at that colorful pie chart because today's blog post is all about helping you to be in that 1% of highest achievers, baby!!! Oh HECK yes. We're gonna brainstorm, create goals and set them up so that you can actually make them happen! I actually wrote a post 3 years ago about goal setting (holy cow has it been that long already?!) And since then I've continued my goal setting quest, so I thought I'd write a more in depth post on the topic! And so I present to you ... the ultimate guide to goal setting.

1. Figure out exactly WHAT you want to have or accomplish.

It's always surprising to me when I realize just how many people don't actually know what the heck they want. And as a result, they usually don't HAVE what they want! After all, how can you go after something specific if you don't know what that something specific is? So the first step to getting what you want is actually knowing exactly WHAT you want.

If you don't know what the heck you want, then having a little brainstorming session might help! During your session, ask yourself these questions ...

- What is important to me? - What am I passionate about? - What sounds exciting? - What's something new that I'd like to try? - What do I want people to remember about me? - What specifically would make me feel happier? - What do I enjoy doing so much that I forget to eat and poop? (Hehe.) - Where would I like to be 3 - 5 years down the road?

And if you don't know your life's "dream" right now, don't panic! That's perfectly okay. I've found that some times the only way to figure out exactly what you want is to simply let time pass while you try new things! It took me a good year and a half to figure out that I wanted to help other creative entrepreneurs grow their blogs and businesses, and the only way I was able to discover that little tidbit was by taking the time to try new things. For now, come up with at least 1 - 2 things based on your answers above that you'd like to achieve over the next year that you can make into a solid goal or two!

2. Take a look at what kicked ass last year (and also at what didn't.)

Another way to come up with new goals is to examine the past year. Oh yes, take a good, hard look at it! Stare at it so hard that it makes this past year feel uncomfortable!!! Ehem. But seriously, think about the last several months. Is there anything related to your life, business or relationships that you'd like to change, maintain or improve? Ask yourself questions like ...

- What were the best, most awesome parts about this past year? - What sucked the most about this past year? - Where did you let fear stop you in your tracks this past year? - What would you have done differently this past year? - Were there any time sucks that totally drained your energy? - What were 3 of your favorite moments this past year and why? - When/how did you have the most fun this past year? - What was your biggest accomplishment this past year? - What was your most memorable moment this past year?

Once you've thoroughly examined the past year, think about any goals that you could create to make things better, more fun, more kick ass, more efficient and more AWESOME!!!

3. Pick different areas of your life to set goals in.

Not only do I love setting goals in general, but I adore setting goals in different areas of my life! I mean ... if I only set business-related goals and totally neglected setting any health-related goals, then the chances of me neglecting that area and/or not making much improvement are pretty dang high! Balance is a good thing, and that's why it's super important to think about different life "categories" that you can set specific goals in! Examples of life "categories" can include things like business, finances, physical health, mental health, relationships, pets (don't laugh that's totally a category!) etc.

4. Think about WHY you want to achieve each particular goal.

I'll bet you've set a New Years resolution for yourself before and have broken it within hours, weeks or months.

Perhaps you've done this dozens of times. Or HUNDREDS of times!!! (Actually, you probably haven't done it "hundreds" of times because that would mean you've lived hundreds of years and therefore you'd probably be dead at this point. Right?) But my point is, it's easy to set goals. It's the moving towards them continuously even on days where you feel totally unmotivated that's the difficult part! Which is why you should write down WHY you want to achieve each goal along with all of the awesome benefits that achieving each one will provide. You'll want to be able to read this later for motivation, trust me! (And if a specific goal doesn't have good benefits and/or isn't inline with your passion and purpose, then you probably shouldn't waste your effort on it any way!)

5. Write down your specific goals.

Once you've come up with goals for different areas of your life and have also thought about WHY you want to achieve each particular goal, it's time to WRITE THEM DOWN. No, not on a sheet of paper that you're going to lose and never see again! (I'm strict about this one, sorry! Hehehe.) Write your SPECIFIC goals down on a pretty sheet that you can post by your workspace and/or inside of your planner. (P.S. feel free to check out my Blog + Life Planner if you're still in need of a colorful, quirky planner to do all of your scheming and dreaming in!) Not to sound like a broken record here, but be really specific. Mmmkay? And if you can include dates on your goals, even better! For example, "Increase my blog traffic by 100% by October 31st" is really specific as opposed to "Get more blog traffic." Seeing and saying your specific goals on a regular basis can be a super powerful way to actually getting shiz done. (Plus you won't do something silly like accidentally forgetting about them. DOH!)

6. Break each goal down into small, actionable steps.

Now THIS is the fun part! This is where you take a big and exciting (and sometimes totally scary) goal and make it completely doable! Scary, seemingly unattainable goals seem way less so when broken down into small, NOT scary steps. And if one particular step overwhelms you, just break that step down into 3 or 5 smaller steps! So for each goal that you'd like to achieve, write down ALL of the small steps that you need to take from start to finish in order to accomplish it. So for example, if one of your goals is to start a blog, your actionable steps might look something like this ...

1. Define my blog's purpose. 2. Identify my ideal reader. 3. Create a brand style guide. 4. Choose a blog name. 5. Purchase the domain. 6. Purchase a website/host.

Get the picture? (By the way, I totally wrote an entire blog post on how to start a blog in a day if that actually IS one of your goals!)

7. Schedule your actionable steps.

As Marie Forleo says, "if it's not scheduled then it's not real." I heart this quote SO MUCH. Because it's SO TRUE. Scheduling all of the actionable steps for each goal will remove that feeling of overwhelm and insure that you get things done! It's like creating a fun little roadmap to your dream destination. So whether you use a tangible planner or a digital one, take the time to actually schedule in all of the various steps for each of your goals. And if you miss a step along the way, NO BIGGIE. Simply reschedule that step. Hell, reschedule it five times if you have to!

8. Track your progress.

I don't know about you, but nothing makes me feel more motivated than looking back at and keeping track of all the progress that I've made! If your goal is to lose 10 pounds by a certain date, then celebrate the hell out of each pound that you lose and keep track of when you accomplish every single step! If your goal is to grow your blog traffic by 25% each month, then write down how much you're actually growing it each month! Give yourself a pat on the back. Keep track of and acknowledge all of your progress and accomplishments!

9. Spend at least 30 minutes a day moving towards that big goal.

Do you have one or two really big goals on your list? (You totally should because big goals are challenging and fun!) If so, try to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to moving closer to it. Yes, this might not always happen, but if you can't dedicate 30 minutes a day then dedicate just FIVE minutes a day when time is extra tight. Every single day ask yourself, "what can I do today to move closer to my goal?"

10. Reward yourself for hitting goal milestones.

What better way to stay motivated and feel accomplished than with some good 'ol fashioned rewards for hitting particular milestones? If you've got one really big, juicy goal that you're trying to achieve you could create a few "milestones" leading up to that goal and treat yourself when you hit them! There are lots of ways to treat yourself, either with or without spending money. A few ideas ...

- Take a day to yourself (or at least a half day) doing something that you love! - Take yourself out on a date to your favorite restaurant, or bring a friend/significant other! - Buy a big fancy pants espresso drink! - Sign up for a class you've always wanted to try! - Treat yourself to something you've been wanting, like a new book or outfit! - Spend the afternoon exploring a place you've never explored before! - Take a long, hot bubble bath!

You get the idea ... get creative with your rewards! Better yet, schedule those rewards inside of your planner so that you remember to treat yourself for hitting those milestones!

11. Reaffirm your goals on a daily basis.

Remember how in step 5 you wrote down your specific goals in a place where you can easily see them? (Such as on a pretty piece of paper hung by your workspace and/or inside your planner?) This might sound cheesy but it's important: read those goals and say them to yourself every single damn day. Saying them to yourself reaffirms your goals, keeps you focused and actually keeps your goals on your mind!

12. Review and rewrite your goals throughout the year.

Some times priorities and wants change, and that's totally normal! So as the year goes by, you might need to modify or change some of your goals. Which is why it's a fabulous idea to really think about and review them every 3 months! Did you complete one of your goals early? You can remove the other needed steps from your schedule! (And create a new goal, perhaps?) Are you running behind on a particular goal? You might need to reschedule a few steps. Is one of your goals just not resonating with you at all anymore? It might be time to scrap it! No shame in that. (Also there's a difference between something that's no longer resonating with you and something that you just feel like giving up on because it's hard. Don't you dare scrap your goal if it's the latter!)

13. Be Consistent.

This is perhaps one of the toughest things to do, but is essential for reaching your goals! Setting goals can be super fun and exciting, but when things get tough (or busy!) it's easy to fall off the bandwagon. Fast. (By the way, what the heck is a bandwagon? I'm picturing an old-fashioned covered wagon with a little 5 piece band playing inside it!) So for tips on how to stay consistent and work towards your goals, watch this great little video by the fabulous (and hilarious) Marie Forleo!

14. Share your goals with others.

The moment you share your goals with others you become accountable! Plus, putting them out there just makes them feel more real, ya know? So go on ... share them with a friend or two. Share them on Facebook. Share them on your blog. SHARE THEM WITH YOUR CAT!!!

Speaking of sharing, have any of you set any goals for the new year yet? I'd love to hear one or two! (And if I can help you in any way, even better!) One of my goals for 2016 is to release my first ever FREE online branding workshop and online course soon! WOO HOO! 

There, I said it.