Goal Planning for People who Suck at Planning Goals

goal planning

January and the new year are all about setting new goals. What do you want to achieve this year? Who do you want to be this year? Everyone is beautifully motivated in January, but we tend to falter when we hit obstacles on the way to achieving our goals. At least, that’s what happens with me. Because of that, I’ve found that I’m bad at setting, planning, and achieving goals.

Why am I telling you this? Doesn’t that first paragraph essentially tell you not to listen to anything else I’m about to say in this post? No! If I, a self-proclaimed bad goal planner, have found a way to realistically set, plan, and achieve my goals, you should listen to me. I’m the “weakest link” or the lowest common denominator.

If I can do it, you can too.

What is goal planning?

This seems pretty self explanatory, but it really isn’t! This was one of the fundamental pieces I was missing in my goals. Goal planning isn’t just “What do I want to achieve?” It’s “How am I going to achieve it?”

True goal planning involves steps and milestones and metrics and numbers. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” You have to say “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Coincidentally, this is a number I’d like to achieve.

I read Girl, Stop Apologizing in 2019 and absolutely loved it. Rachel Hollis spoke frequently about goal planning both in her book and in her podcast. It wasn’t until I heard and read how she talked about goals that I actually understood what it really means to set a goal and achieve it.

Goal Planning: Why most people fail.

There are a few commonalities in why people fail in their goal planning. Yes, you may just fail at achieving your goals (though I sincerely hope you don’t), but these are the consistencies in people failing before the possible “achievement” stage.

Setting too many goals.

This was me in 2019. I was trying to achieve 10 goals! That’s absolutely ridiculous. Most people will say that you can realistically only achieve one goal at a time. For me, I find the most success with less than five. You’ll be even more successful with fewer than 3.

Not being specific.

Again, this was me in 2019. I had goals like “Be a better adult.” What the eff was that? You can’t measure how good of an adult you are. I had specific habits and actions I wanted to implement, but there was no measurable way to check if I had achieved being a “better adult.”

Like I was saying earlier, have specific numbers. If you’re not sure of a metric to go along with something you want to achieve, ask someone else. For example, I could ask my friend Kate at A Thought and A Half, “What metric would you look at if you wanted to grow your blog?” Chances are, she’d have a few more questions for me to walk me into the heart of what I really wanted to achieve.

Stopping because of time.

My friend most recently summed this up very well: “Progress still counts.” Often, we constrain ourselves into achieving our goals within a specific period of time. If we don’t achieve it within that time frame, we think we’ve failed. Progress still counts! Yes, we want goals that are achievable within a reasonable amount of time. However, if you have a goal to get a book published this year and it doesn’t happen until next year, YOU DID NOT FAIL.

How You Can Be Successful with Goal Planning

I’m still intimidated by goals. I’ve become inspired and learned what works for me, but it can still be scary. You can still be successful though! It will take a little bit of time to do it properly, but it will so be worth it.

Step 1. What do you want to achieve? This could be anything! Do you want to publish a book? Run a marathon? Pay off debt? Get a promotion or a raise? Stop and think about where you are now and where you want to be.

Step 2. What will it take to achieve that goal? You may not have all of the answers here, but it’s okay to do research and ask questions! If it’s a big goal and something you will need to work hard to achieve, I’d be surprised if you do know everything it will take. That doesn’t sound like a very exciting goal to me.

Step 3. What resources do you have to help you achieve this goal? This is everything from the internet to your friends and family. Your resources may have resources that can help. You know, that whole six degrees of separation thing.

Step 4. Work backward AND forward. You know where you are and you know what you want to achieve. Working backward from that goal, what needs to happen? Start with a blank sheet of white paper with your goal at the top. Working all over the page, add things in as they logically happen along the road. For example, you know that you would need to be able to comfortably run 5 miles before you can comfortably run 12 in your goal to run a marathon.

Step 5. Clean it up, write it down, look at it frequently. Don’t write down this goal plan and strategy in a notebook that you keep on a shelf. Put it on a vision board (like I do and love). Tape it to your bathroom mirror. Get a ring that you wear every day. Whatever it takes, make sure you look at your goal (if nothing else) every damn day.

Step 6. Review and revise! Just because you set a plan in place six months ago doesn’t mean it has to be written in stone. Things happen, so you pivot and adapt to make sure you are still on track to achieve your goal.

goal planning

An Example.

Step 1. I’d like to lose 10 pounds. This wasn’t a written goal of mine for 2020, but it’s something I’ve wanted to achieve for a while.

Step 2. More time working out. Switching my focus there. Cooking healthier meals, and cooking more often. Research into healthy caloric intake for someone my size, my age, at my activity level, etc.

Step 3. My gym. My friends. An upcoming wedding I may need to be in (Seriously, all those photos can be a real motivator). My family (they go to the same gym). Pinterest for all those recipes. Grocery store apps for coupons to help me save some money. My Ninja blender for smoothies. Meatless Monday. Vegan once per week.

Does this make sense? To go on, working backward would help me envision myself at my goal weight. Dropping in pound by pound as milestones along the way.

Goal planning doesn’t have to be scary! If done properly, it will make it so much easier to achieve your goals. I believe in you. Now, let’s hold each other accountable.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission from sales generated (at no cost to you)!

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