Goals are about gaining ground and reaching new heights. They’re also about standing firm and holding true to your course. But it will be much easier to stick to your goals if they’re centered on the things that matter most to you. Whether you want to see the 7 wonders of the world, secure an ideal career, or watch your children graduate from college. Those long-term dreams are the result of small daily actions, and the key to making any of it happen is consistent planning and goal setting. So, how do you make goals that stick? Here are 7 steps that are sure to make a difference:
Define what you value most.
Nothing is more important than this first step. If you don’t clarify what matters most to you, it will be difficult to set goals that you feel driven to complete. We’ve all experienced times when work felt like drudgery and other times when we simply couldn’t wait to get started on a difficult project. The difference between those two extremes lies in your motivation. If you define what matters to you and focus your efforts there first, your productivity will inevitably increase.
Open your planner or journal and list the things that truly mean the most to you. Your list will be unique to you. No two people are alike. Take time to truly consider this list and decide precisely what it is that makes you tick. This is the one step most people ignore when they set goals, yet it’s the number one way to ensure that the goals you set are goals you’ll actually achieve. At Franklin Planner, we call the top motivators in life our Values.
Connect your goals to the things you value most.
Once you’ve defined what truly motivates you, set goals based upon those things. For example: If creativity is something you value deeply, you’ll want to set goals to develop your creativity. Perhaps you’ll sign up for a painting class, design a garden in your yard, or build a workbench in your garage. (This is your list, not ours.) When your goals align with your values, your daily actions have deeper meaning. Working toward those goals becomes something far more exciting.
Break goals into bite-sized pieces.
Now take that big goal and break it into steps. As you break your goals out into small chunks and segment each chunk into even smaller steps, you’ll see how easily you can accomplish your goals—even your toughest ones. The secret is to treat each step as a separate goal with its own timeline.
Once the goal you’ve set has been broken down into specific steps, set deadlines for completing each step. Deadlines can give you a sense of urgency and spur you forward. Write these deadlines down so you don’t forget. Plan them on you calendar.
Checking completed tasks off a list feels good. As you cross things off, it stimulates your brain to produce dopamine—just a tiny bit of euphoria to reward you for your effort. Checking off each small step will motivate you to work on the next piece, and then the next—until one day you’ll look back in awe at what you’ve achieved!
Weekly planning is a critical step to reaching your goals. Take a few minutes to assess what you have scheduled for each day, and determine how much time you will have available to work on your most important goals. Then write those tasks on your calendar or in your planner so you remember to work on them when you have time.
Now that you have your weekly overview in place, set aside a few minutes each day to plan your daily tasks. Decide which time-specific appointments you have each day and schedule them in your planner. Then determine how much time you will have remaining to work toward the tasks related to your goals. Write those tasks in your daily planner, and determine which of those tasks will be your top priorities. Number your task from first to last and get started.
Assess your progress.
Whenever you reach a scheduled milestone along the way to your completed goal, take a few minutes to assess your progress. Did you complete your step on time? If so, what went well and what could you do better next time? If you haven’t yet completed the step you’re working on, can you name the reasons why? What will you do differently from here forward? Most importantly, what is the new deadline date? How will you adjust your goal so you can keep moving forward? Forward progress is the most critical measure of success.
As long as you are moving, growing and enjoying the journey, you’re succeeding! Keep working, keep smiling, and keep moving ahead. As you do so, these 7 small steps will help ensure you find joy and meaning in each day as you work toward the bigger picture.
Try Planning for 21 Days. Implementing these 7 simple steps consistently can literally change your life. Developing a habit of planning and acting toward your goals is the key to growth and progress. Our 21-Day Planner is an ideal way to get started. It’s designed with a monthly calendar, three weeks of weekly planning pages, and 21 days of daily planning pages, so you can schedule the things that matter most to you into your busy life—and it’s only $5! It takes at least 21 days of steady effort to create a habit. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish in just three short weeks. Pick up your 21-Day Planner and get started today.