I know you’re probably seeing a lot of stuff about setting goals, planning for the best year EVER in the history of the world, and all that jazz.
I’ve been seeing it in my news feed, my email inbox, and on tv too.
In years past I naturally rebelled against anyone telling me how to set goals and plan for the coming year (that’s part of my personality type). But over the past week I have had so many moments and epiphanies when I organically assessed the past year that I wanted to share these tools with you too.
Maybe there’s something about the date on the calendar suddenly changing that reminds us of our mortality and the limited number of years remaining for us on this planet. Whatever it is that causes us to pause after the holiday maelstrom and reassess our direction, I am all for doing it in a healthy, non-guilty, way.
Before you do the steps I’ve mapped out for you, I want to share something a really wise woman said about goal-setting:
“Are you feeling the pressure to start trying to “make up” for something in 2017 by proactively planning perfection in 2018?
Don’t do it. Instead… reflect. Why? Because I have learned that the BEST beginnings start by accepting exactly where I am. Right now. No expectations. Just me and my life.
I like to call this little life hack ‘radical acceptance.’ Accepting yourself--and exactly where you are right now--sets you free!”
--Carmell Clark, The Adventurous Self
Here are my steps for setting yourself up to naturally hit your goals in 2018.
Step 1: Over the next few days find a quiet place and a few hours to sit with your 2017 calendar, planner, journal, or anywhere else you’ve written about 2017.
Step 2: Review your plans, vision, goals starting in January going forward to December.
I was fortunate to start using a really cool planner in 2017 that prompted me to write all of that down, so I have one place where I recorded it all. I started in January with my annual and 5 year vision, then walked through month after month of brief notes; all milestones of this past year.
Step 3: Recognize and write down how you’re grateful for those milestones in 2017.
There will be items that didn’t get checked off. Sure there were lots of goals that I didn’t reach too. And I’m OK with that because the milestones I recorded showed how I was growing and changing anyway.
It’s not always the boxes we’ve checked off that measure our success. More often it’s the way we “course-corrected” our vision to account for important changes that happened along the way, like births, deaths, marriages, and major life changes.
Recognizing where we started and being grateful for where we’ve ended up is a really important mindset shift that will show your brain that you want to continue that trend of happiness and positive action! It will make the way you act in 2018 healthier with less “emotional blackmail” where you try to guilt yourself into the “right” behavior. (Hello, January diet plan?!)
Step 4: Recognize that in order to be “successful” when we set goals for the next year we have to be both Realistic and Productive.
Our goals have to be in-line with the direction we really want to go. In order for us to take action and “just do it” we have to WANT it bad enough to get up off the couch.
Our goals also have to be more specific and smaller than the pie-in-the-sky, “if you dream it…” variety. Goals are small. Vision is big. Don’t confuse the two. Productivity comes from being able to implement 1 small goal in your daily (or weekly) activity.
For me, I want to be able to support all my Financial SuperMoms more in 2018. So I’m setting aside a block of time every morning where I write and create value for you. Some days it will be 15 minutes, others it might be an hour or more. But it’s happening. Regularly.
I also want to prioritize my physical health, which has taken a nose-dive the past 6 months as I’ve created another business which has me on the computer even more. All that sedentary “activity” is not good for this middle-aged mama. (How can sedentary anything be considered activity? Makes no sense…)
So I’m adding a simple 15 minute exercise regimen into my day 5 days a week. Fifteen minutes is manageable for me. It’s not yoga, but it also doesn’t take two hours out of my day like a trip to the yoga studio does. (Though to be honest, I love yoga mostly for corpse pose and to lay there without worrying that a kid is going to body slam me.)
Step 5: As you Plan for 2018, map out in your mind and then on paper where you’d like to go next. Then break the goal down to a 3 month milestone!
This is KEY!! Long-term goals rarely succeed, but short goals nearly always do. (Unless you have a short goal that your brain and body don’t want and then they will sabotage the H*** out of you so you fail at it.)
Maybe you want to add exercise into your life, too. Or cut out sugar 5 days/week. Or build up your savings fund. Or pay for music lessons for yourself or a child. Or pay off debt.
Whatever your goal is, break it down into smaller increments so that it is more specific and less overwhelming. The more specific you are the more likely you will achieve it!
Step 6: You have to keep that goal in your top-of-mind awareness.
I talk a lot about this because in order for our brains to start a new pattern of behavior we have to keep reminding it of what the goal is. Post that goal next to the bathroom mirror, change your screensaver or wallpaper to your stated goal, and keep a little notebook on your nightstand where you write out the specific parts of your goal EVERY NIGHT before you put your head to the pillow.
I know this might seem like a strange daily ritual, but your brain loves status-quo. In order for us to change the brain’s trajectory and create something different from the status-quo we have to reiterate our new goal in a lot of ways throughout the day. You can skip some of these but that just means it will take longer for you to achieve your goal.
Step 7: In addition, I want you to work on changing your money mindset around spending, vacations, saving, debt, and how money SUPPORTS you and your family in its priorities.
For a great, very thorough, and highly actionable read, I recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas’ “Get Rich, Lucky Bitch”. Brilliant. (She’s an Aussie so swears like a sailor. ← my disclaimer) But as long as you hide the title from your kids’ tender eyes, it’s totally worth the time. My suggestion is to read it with a notebook by you and record what her exercises and stories bring to the surface of your mind.
I want you to have more success with your money this year. Money is just energy. It flows where your focus goes. And if you’re focused on beating yourself up over the past year’s failures, or if you’re rebelling against creating New Year’s Resolutions for yourself, remember that intentional creation requires intentional imagination. Don't sabotage your successes for the coming year by focusing on the opposite of what you want to create!
Before you create new things in your life you get to spend time appreciating where you’ve been and imagining what more is possible for you in the coming 3, 6, and 12 months ahead. This is your Vision Work.
And when it comes to Goals, stick to a 3 month window. That will help avoid goal fatigue, while making it really easy to successfully hit those milestones you’ve set.
Follow these suggestions to give yourself the best gift ever this year: the gift of feeling successful at achieving your dream goals, with money, family, and everything else that’s a priority to you.