I talk a lot on the blog about setting goals and being intentional with your actions. That’s because I believe that setting goals works! When you set goals, you are giving yourself a direction and a plan. I thought I’d take a minute today and talk about how I set my goals and also how I break down my yearly goals into manageable steps.
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How I Prioritize and Set Goals
I don’t know when exactly I decided that I need to set my yearly goals in January. I’m going to blame it on all of the hype around the new year’s resolutions and new beginnings. Or, maybe it’s the fact that I’m exhausted from the chaos of the holidays, which makes January an ideal time to focus on change and organization. Either way, I set goals every January, but you can set yours any time that makes sense to you.
What Are Your Priorities?
The first thing you need to do when you’re planning out your goals is to figure out your priorities. I used to sit down and make these huge lists of goals for each year, and always wondered why I never actually accomplished them. The reason, it turns out, is because I was trying to focus on too many things that weren’t really important to me.
[bctt tweet=”Figure out your priorities first and goals second. These should be your focus all year! #goalsetting ” username=”cruiseangie”]
Instead of overwhelming yourself, try choosing just a few areas of your life that you really want to improve. I like to make a maximum of 5 goals each year because I feel like any more and I won’t be able to dedicate the right amount of time to each one.
Side note: if you haven’t read Time Management Mama yet, she discusses this in her book!
There are a lot of different options for setting priorities, but some of my favorites are:
Related: OOLA for Women: A Review
This list could go on and on. Anything that is a priority for you can automatically become a category. Once I decide what my top 5 goal categories are, I write them down and then set goals for each category. I used to use the goal setting sheet in my Inkwell Press Planner exclusively, but I like to have something I can hang on my bulletin board in a place I’ll see it every day, so I made a fun printable that I’ll share with you today.
Write Down Your Goals
Once I figure out my top 5 priorities, I sit down and figure out which goals I want to accomplish within that category. Then, I write down some actionable steps that will help me accomplish those goals this year.
One area I want to focus on this year is my finances. My big goal in that area is to pay off debt. In order to do that, I plan to:
- Cut back on eating out
- Pay off our credit card by putting it away and paying extra each month
- Once the credit card is paid off, take those payments and put them towards my car note
Now, I’ve gone from wanting to get my finances under control, to establishing a clear goal (paying off debt), to 3 actionable steps I can start working on today.
Break Your Goals Down
Once all of my goals are figured out for the year, I make it a point to break them up into manageable chunks. Saying “I want to pay off all of my debt this year,” sounds really big and scary (I mean, we have a brand new car and took two big vacations this summer on the credit card). Instead, I want to look at a manageable chunk.
By breaking up my goals into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks, the whole thing looks a lot more manageable and a lot less scary.
Going back to my example from above, my yearly goal is to eliminate our debt. My monthly goal for January is going to be to cut back on eating out and frivolous spending. One of the ways to reduce our spending and stop eating out is to create a meal plan each week before grocery shopping. Then, once I write my meal plan in my weekly calendar, I just need to remember to pull out any meat or prep any veggies with plenty of time to have dinner ready each night.
So, as you can see, I was able to take a big goal that will span the entire year and break it down into manageable steps.
Quit Making Excuses
As you can see in the photo above, I added a little section at the bottom of my goal setting sheet titled “What excuses will I stop using?” When I decided I wanted to make yoga a daily habit, I was advised that I needed to write down every excuse I could use to not do yoga that day. The theory is that when you write it down, you acknowledge that it’s an excuse, and then you’ll be able to tell yourself that when you inevitably use it to get out of what you planned to do. Some of my excuses for not doing yoga were:
- I have a headache
- I didn’t sleep well last night
- I’ve already had some wine tonight
- I don’t have time today
Going back to my financial goal example, some of my excuses could be:
- I don’t have time to cook
- I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer
- The kids have worn me out
Those are things I’ve been saying regularly to justify take-out, and it’s created a huge issue with our budget (and health) lately. So, starting this week, cooking at home and planning my meals has become a priority again, and I will not be using any of these excuses.
This is how you accomplish big goals. By prioritizing your most important tasks, writing them down, acknowledging your common excuses, and making a plan.
Do you struggle with accomplishing big goals? What’s your biggest hang-up when making big changes in your life? Let me know in the comments below!