Ten Tips for Planning Realistic Goals

Posted on 31 December 2016

Happy New Years, everyone! It's 2017 - whoohoo! 

Despite the timing on this post, which was not intentional, this isn't your typical "let's plan your New Year's Resolutions" blogpost... However, I do think it's okay to use the momentum and goal setting that is often associated with the end of the year to talk about PLANNING REALISTIC GOALS.

As a way to prepare for everything that's coming up, known and unknown, I thought it would be a good idea to write down all my goals and plans so that I could be as prepared as possible. I believe in the POWER OF WRITING THINGS DOWN, and since I say I believe that, I thought there would be no better way than to literally write down all of my thoughts and share them in a blog post! 

Before we begin: Clear your mind! Start this process with a humble heart and a head full of grace. Know that: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." -Philippians 1:6 

I highly recommend, before we dig in, taking a few minutes to pray, lifting yourself up the Lord and asking Him about your goals. I think sometimes we don't even know what we want, or think we know a desire that's on the surface without truly digging beneath it. In moments like these, I do my best to let my automatic default be prayer. I say things like, "Okay, Lord, what am I supposed to do here? What's the area that I need to focus most on in my life?" When setting goals I don't really think you can have a wrong answer, but I think it's important to pray over what's the most important thing you can focus on to benefit your life, the life of those around you, and to please our Heavenly Father. 

So here we are! I'm sharing ten tips to setting realistic goals that you can track, progress through and most importantly, MAKE THEM HAPPEN! :) Throughout the reading, there are several *FREE* printables (click here to download) to help kickstart your brainstorming and goal planning! So grab a notebook, a piece of paper, or have your printer ready... Let's all have an open mind and a calm heart, and let's begin! 

#1. BRAINSTORM.

This doesn't have to be pretty! Even if you already have a good idea of what you want to focus on next year, I would still highly recommend sitting down for about 15-30 minutes to let your mind wander and brainstorm. I did this yesterday and I was amazed at the list of things I came up with! It was kind of eye-opening to see all the things that mattered to me and what I cared most about focusing on. Before I started, I thought a lot of my 2017 goals would center around my business and it's growth, but when I looked at my list I realized the majority of what I wrote down centered around working on internal and personal things! I realize now that the thing I struggle with the most is taking time for myself, and not guilt tripping myself into thinking I am not worth my own time. How silly is that? So this brainstorming time was really good for me to kind of "get everything off my chest" and figure out how I want to move forward. I think seeing your thoughts visually gives you (or at least it gave me) some really great perspective!  

#2. CHOOSE A WORD OF THE YEAR.  

Or word of the month. Heck, a word of the day works, too! Choosing a word of the year is like your simple goal cheerleader. It's the one thing that you can easily focus on, and choose to focus on when the rest of your life seems like absolute chaos. It's the word for those days where you didn't accomplish any of your goals, and you might not have even showered, but you're gonna give yourself some GRACE and know that it's okay!

Some great examples for your WOTY (think fruits of the spirit): Grace, Humility, Patience, Intentional, Progress, Courage, Brave, Kindness, Commitment, Thrive, Fearless, Focus, Present, Abundance, Healing, Purpose, Joy, Balance, Faith, the list could go on! 

If you're having trouble finding a word that really seems to describe your heart and what you want to focus on next year, I would literally just look up adjectives that inspire you (or seem close to a word you want) and then look at the synonyms. That's how I found my word!

My word for 2017 is Purpose. I chose it because I loved all the definitions (I found on google - just type "define purpose" and this pops up) and I love all the synonyms, too! 

Purpose Definition (Google)  

If you click on the "expand" arrow, some additional synonyms for this word are: determination, resolution, resolve, steadfastness (good word!), backbone, enthusiasm, ambition, motivation, commitment, conviction, dedication, intend, aim, plan, design, determine, propose, aspire...

I mean, talk about a heck of a list to live up to!  

Now please don't feel pressured to have a "big buzzword" if that seems daunting. Literally if your word is "rest," because you wish to simply get more sleep at night or nap regularly, POWER TO YOU! Your word of the year is something that is personal to you, something that is your kind little reminder, whispering in your ear that, "You've got this." Even if "this" is the fact that you were able to nap for fifteen minutes today. I call that a win! Victories are victories no matter how big or small. 

#3. WRITE IT ALL DOWN. 

Okay, you've brainstormed your goal list and things you want to accomplish in 2017, and you've chosen your word of the year (or the month/day, etc.) now it's time to write it all down! If you haven't done this already, this is the moment where you step away from your computer and grab that notebook or piece or paper I asked you to grab earlier, or you take the time to print out these printables and get writing! I've created some printables to make it easy on you - so that you have no excuses.

“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few, if any of us, can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” - Michael Leboeuf

So let's get writing, folks! Not only is writing your goals down going to be useful in figuring out the best goals to focus on, you can also use your written words as a reminder to what your goals are! Post it in your room, on the mirror in your bathroom, near your computer, on your fridge, or in all of those places! No judgements if you need to print or write it out 10 different times to post it in 10 different places, just so you can remember what goals you're trying to focus and work on! 

#4. GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE!

You cannot do it all.

I repeat, You cannot do it all! (nor should you want to).

Life is messy and chaotic and things don't always go as planned! Just because you missed a day, a week or even a month of working towards your goal, doesn't mean you've failed. It doesn't mean your goal is a failure. It DOES NOT MEAN you are a failure (did you hear me? You are not a failure ). The beauty of having a goal is it's something you are working towards. I feel like resolutions are an absolute, where if you 'break' it then it is null, void and no longer valid. But a goal is something you slowly work towards until you accomplish it, or you change it to realign with in a more relevant way, in your life. 

So please give yourself some grace! Not only for when life happens and you don't get to work towards your goal, but also, when taking the time to set your goals and plan on what you're going to focus on today. Please don't set too many goals and automatically set yourself up for failure! There's no realistic way you can actively work on 10 huge goals all at once. Maybe for you, even focusing on more than one goal seems daunting. Don't focus on the numbers, or trying to accomplish everything you wrote during your brainstorming time. Or the 50 things that your favorite blogger/podcaster/superstar is doing that you wish you could do because you just want to be like that... No! It's not realistic. Be kind to yourself and start small, give yourself the grace where it's needed and just do what you can. Just to start. It's okay. Even baby steps mean you're still moving forward and making progress. Remember: #progressoverperfection

#5. BE REALISTIC + SET GOALS THAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH.

So this one goes hand-in-hand with what I said previously (notice how everything kind of flows, one-right-into the other?). Know that there are only 24 hours in a day, everyone has the same 24 hours, and you can only accomplish so many things in that time frame. If you are trying to find extra time in your life, reassess how much time you spend participating in “time wasters.” Realistically, how much time do you spend on social media, mindless scrolling? Or watching endless amounts of tv in “the background” while you work? You might think you’re not spending as much time as you really are, but you would probably be shocked to find out how much time everyday is spent with your eyes on a screen.

So like I said in the bullet, set goals of what YOU WANT to accomplish. Not what you think OTHERS will want you to accomplish. Not goals you think you have to accomplish for others so that you can be a "better" whatever. Now, it's okay to set goals like, "Spend more time with my kids" or "Be intentional with setting coffee dates with friends" but I don't want you to set goals that you're only setting because you feel an external obligation to them. While I obviously can't tell you what to do and I don't know your heart, I think more often than not we tend to be people pleasers. We want to make everyone else happy and forget to take time for ourselves. So I want you to step back, drink some more coffee, pray again or take a bubble bath, and think about the things that are on your heart. The things that you hear yourself whispering saying, "I wish I had more time for _________________." Focus on those things!

#6. DON'T OVERDO IT + SET TOO MANY GOALS.

I think I already slightly touched on this, but it's worth mentioning again in it's own bold statement! Don't set too many goals! I know, I know, you say, "But I'm a great multi-tasker." Let me tell you, I always thought I was the QUEEN of multitasking. I prided myself on doing too many things at once and thinking I did a great job because I was able "to do everything". But what I didn't realize was the quality of my work was actually quite poor. Inside of giving myself fully to one thing and doing it well, I was stretching myself thin and no one and nothing was getting much of anything good. Plus, I thought I was getting stuff done faster, but really it took me longer to accomplish everything with a worse result. I'm still learning how to break this habit, but I'm working on focusing on one task at a time so I can do it excellently, then when it's done moving into the next task. I promise, you will feel SO much more accomplished and less stressed.

#7. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS. 

Running a marathon next weekend when you've never run a day in your life is not going to happen. Writing a book or learning a new language won't happen overnight, either. I get asked about lettering a lot, and how to start, and I literally tell people that it takes time and practice. Like anything in life, you have to put in the time before you will see progress. Did you know that it takes 10,000 hours of intentional time spent doing one specific thing to become a master? And even only after all that time do masters start to consider themselves well-versed in that specific thing. So if it takes that long to master just one thing, give yourself the grace to take 6 months, or a year, to work on your goal. So be practical with your time frame. Look at your schedule of things you can't change (work, practice, class, etc.) and see where there is time for you to work things in. This might take some rearranging, but even getting to spend 10 minutes towards your goal is better than spending 0.  

#8. BREAK IT DOWN + BE SPECIFIC. 

The key questions you want to ask yourself are things like, "Why do I want to make this a goal?" or "How will I know when I've accomplished my goal?" "What are the specific action steps I need to take in order to complete or work towards this goal?"

Setting goals that are vague will not only make them practically impossible to accomplish, but will leave you discouraged as if there is no end in sight!

So instead of being vague with my goals, I'm deciding to be more specific with them. I've created some printables (click hereto help you break down your goals and your steps towards making them. For example:

 

When I took the time to break them down, I realized that the goals I was setting for myself were a lot bigger than I could realistically take on. I'm still working through my goals and giving myself the grace to take the week to figure them out. No need to start on January 1st, or 2nd, but whenever my goals align with my heart and I'm being realistic with what I can accomplish. 

#9. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER.

Have an accountability partner! Going running is a lot easier at 5 in the morning when you know someone else is suffering, I mean working towards a mutual goal along with you. Seriously! Even if you don't have a workout buddy, having someone to help keep you accountable in working towards your goal makes a HUGE difference. Not only will you have to "own up" to any successes or failures you discovered, but you'll have someone that can give you insight, and maybe add some perspective or help encourage you when the going get rough! If nothing else, this is a good excuse to get out of the house and put on a bra and some real pants and have some facetime with someone you love. Sharing your heart and talking things out is SO good for the soul, plus it gives your friend time to do the same with you! 

#10. HAVE FUN. 

Okay, life is already too serious and there are always negative things trying to grab your attention. So don't let this be one of them! This isn't something that's to be added to your never-ending todo list, or something that's going to become a chore that you despise. Now hear me outright, I'm not saying every day you're going to wake up excited about working on your goals - listen when I say working on your goals is WORK. But just because something takes work doesn't mean it's bad. 

I mean, it takes effort to make coffee every morning, but I don't mind doing it because I LOVE the end result of getting to drink a delicious, fresh, homemade cup of joe every morning. ;) 

Whatever it is you are working towards, reward yourself NOW for simply getting started! You've heard the famous quotes like:

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." or "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step."

These aren't just nonsense! There is truth and logic in them. So don't be afraid to listen, to even reward yourself for every small step that's taken - do whatever it takes! ENJOY the process, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace in not only your goals, but in all of life! 

So let's review:

A few last minute tips:

Please do use the printables as a guide to help you start writing things down, but don't just stop there! If you haven't heard of Bullet Journaling and want a great and personalized way of tracking your goals, your schedule and keeping order in your life, than I highly recommend it! For me, I know I will not take the time to draw everything out and be happy with it, so I'm using a Rifle Paper Co. planner (because I LOVE RP) to track my goals and remind myself to keep up with them! I'm also sure you have a smart phone, and if so, then you need to take full advantage of the "reminders" app (to set daily reminders of what you need to accomplish). However you get it done, know that I BELIEVE IN YOU and think you CAN do this! Whenever you start, 

IT JUST MATTERS THAT YOU START.

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