Goals are just words on a page when there isn’t any action behind the initiatives. I’ve always been a dreamer but when it comes time to buckle down and get to work, I get overwhelmed and never know where to start. Realizing this, I’ve taken a different approach to goal setting over the past couple of years that has served me well. It’s a bit cliche but it’s true – starting is the hardest part. It’s also the most important part in achieving your goals (or anything that you are working toward, for that matter).
Go Big or Go Home
I still dream big and I absolutely think you should too. I try to set a few major goals each year and align my smaller goals around them. Goals need not only be achievable but satisfying when you reach them. A goal to put your laundry away, though it may bring you some short-term satisfaction, doesn’t compare to running a marathon or mastering a skill. Big goals take time but become less intimidating when you break them down into smaller goals that together, will lead you to the promised land. This method is commonly known as “mission, goals, and objectives”. I have a clear purpose and then put actions into motion so that I can achieve those goals serving my desired state.
Take a Step Back
We know what we want to accomplish but aren’t sure how we get there. If it’s going to take me a year (or longer) to accomplish something, I try to take a step back and try to understand the macro steps that I need to take to get there. What are the 10 or 12 boxes that I need to check on my path achieving the ultimate goal? The boxes become more realistic, short(er) term goals that put the journey into perspective. Stay the course, follow your plan, and you’re well on your way.
How granular? That’s up to you. Personally, I like to set my short-term goals on a weekly basis. Within that, I have a few items I need to accomplish, but a week gives me the flexibility to position my goals around “life” while still remaining on a successful path forward. It’s rare that we get to devote all of our free time toward our goals and to be honest, if we did, it wouldn’t be a lot of fun. It’s important to maintain a balance and ensure that you commit time to other things you enjoy. I find that a lot of my time spent not specifically working on my goals is when I am most creative and ultimately figure out the answer to a problem I’ve been struggling with. You can, of course, take this as deep as you’d like, and set goals at whatever cadence works best for you. Each little step forward is one big step towards your dreams and you’ve just built a gameplan on how to get there.
Every so often, if you feel yourself getting behind, take a few moments to reprioritize your goals and reset your timelines. It’s impossible to predict how long something might take so be sure to check in periodically ensure that your expectations are realistic. If life can throw you a curveball, it will. Keep swinging and you’ll eventually get a hit.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Last but certainly not least, take time to celebrate your accomplishments. If you don’t reward yourself for your hard work, it’s just hard work. And that’s no fun. You set this goal because you believe in yourself and it’s going to help you improve in some way, shape or form.
Take the night off and take your loved one to dinner. Crack a beer and watch the game. Go on vacation!
Align the reward with the accomplishment and enjoy the process. It may seem like a long road toward your ultimate goal but if you enjoy the scenery along the way, you’ll be there before you know it.
Ryan Moline is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Customer Success Podcast. He is currently a Solutions Consultant with DialogTech.
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