Last week both Ben and I talked about goal setting and the need to respect the energy demands of the season when setting and pursuing goals. In this week’s post I am going to share the method I use for setting and achieving goals that has been very successful and is applicable to almost any goal.
State Your Goal
It’s extremely important to verbally declare your goals aloud. Nobody else has to be present, but verbalizing your goals gives them power and brings energy to the process. While verbalizing your goals notice how your body physically and energetically reacts to the goal. If you feel strong and energetic during the process, your chance for success will be greatly enhanced. If you feel weak or uncertain when declaring your goals, re-examine them. There is something within your goal that is causing conflict and it will make them much harder to achieve.
Next, write down your goals and share them with someone else. This accomplishes a couple of things.
First, writing down a goal gives it life and creates a sense of energy around it. This is different than verbalizing your goal. When verbalizing it, you’re feeling how the energy of the goal flows with your energy system. At this stage, it’s still an idea or something you think you want. When writing the goal down, you are breathing energy into it and giving it life. It goes from being something you are wishing for to something that you’re working towards.
Second, by sharing it with someone else you’re not only accountable to yourself, but you now have to account for your successes and failures with someone else.
To illustrate the whole process, I will share a goal of mine and the process for achieving it.
One of my goals this year is to improve my overall fitness level. I had a series of abdominal injuries last summer and my fitness level and my weight isn’t where I like it to be. I have some measurable parameters of lowering my exercise heart rate and blood pressure while losing 15 pounds.
Nothing kills progress like a goal that is impossible to reach. I like to set very attainable, relatively short-term goals that act as stepping stones to achieving the larger long-range goal. Each step should be relatively easy to accomplish and should lead directly to the next logical step in the process. The plan should be flexible and allow for any necessary changes. It’s my experience that nothing gets in the way of achieving goals like too fixed of a plan early in the process.
My first stepping stone is to do four 30-minute exercise sessions per week. Notice that the number of sessions as well as the duration of each session is easily obtainable. I purposely leave the type of exercise and days I plan to exercise vague. This allows me to react to the energy of the day and the conditions in the gym without upsetting a rigid schedule.
It’s important to be accountable for accomplishing each step that you have laid out. Give yourself a timetable to accomplish the step and journal the process. Journaling it on something you see everyday reminds you that you have made an obligation to yourself and keeps you aware of how you are doing.
I have a calendar set up in plain view next to my desk at work. Each exercise session gets logged onto the calendar. A notation might be as simple as 30 minutes of rowing or 20 minutes weights and 10 minutes of cycling.
Review / Restructure
The review process is critical for success. It allows you to determine what is and isn’t working in the process of achieving your goal. Reviewing should be done after each step is accomplished or the time set for accomplishing the goal expires. This is where your goal journal becomes important. By re-reading your journal, you can better understand what worked as well as what hindered your progress in accomplishing each step.
I like to set a check-in with myself two weeks into the process. I’ll look at the number of and type of exercise sessions that I have logged over the two-week period. Based on the results, I can plan the next step in the process. I might increase or decrease the goal for the next two-week period based on how I did previously.
When critiquing your results be nice to yourself! If for some reason you were unable to achieve one of the steps, it’s OKAY! Assess why. Too vague? Too much work? Needs more structure? Less? Did life get complicated? Now, based on your answers adjust the next step on the journey of achieving your goal.
Plan/Change The Next Step
After the review process, it is time to plan or make changes to the next step in the process. Keeping the plan fluid allows you to react to the ever changing circumstances of your life. When changing the steps associated with achieving your goal make sure you keep the overall picture of what you are looking to accomplish firmly in mind.
I am constantly changing and tweaking my step-by-step process to achieving the goals that I stated. If things are going well, I will accelerate the plan. If events have conspired to set up some road blocks on my path, I’ll adjust as necessary to keep my head up and keep myself moving forward.
Success Vs Failure
When pursuing goals in this fashion, the only way to fail is to quit. By reviewing progress and adjusting the next step forward from the results from the last step, we can continue the journey forward one step at a time. It doesn’t matter if there are 6 steps between starting and achieving your goal or 126.
Sometimes, you’ll achieve your goal ahead of schedule and other times you’ll get there but it’ll seem like it took forever. Whichever way it goes, you have achieved the goal and you’re ready for the next one.