This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Special K. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ve always been a planner. When I was a teenager, I plotted out every minute of the rest of my life and created a detailed game plan for how to accomplish every item on the list. Now of course, almost all of my life goals have changed since I was sixteen, but I’m grateful that my younger self wasn’t just dreaming. She was actively creating her future. Nowadays, I still have an ongoing list of goals for the future running through my mind, but unlike my teenage self, I’d rather focus on achieving one goal at a time instead creating of a grand plan to reshape my life over ten years.
Even though I’ve been out of school for years, I still have the urge to get reorganized and refocused at the end of every summer. I even go shopping for school supplies because there’s nothing that inspires me more than a fresh notebook and a new pack of pens. Instead of planning for classes, I use the end of summer to reassess the goals I created in January and to strategize how I can make the best use of the last two quarters of the year. Year after year, my focus is the same: how can I accomplish the goals I set out for myself in January by the end of the year? Today I’m sharing my exact goal getter game plan, and I hope that one or more of the steps in the process inspires you to go out and achieve your own personal goals this season!
The Goal Getter Game Plan
Step 1: Get Clear About Your Goals
Unfortunately, daydreaming about your goals and discussing them with friends aren’t the most effective ways to accomplish your goals. Don’t get me wrong; you can absolutely do both of the those activities, but you need to get a crystal clear vision of your goals beforehand. When I’m creating a list of goals, my first step is to spend about thirty minutes writing down every idea that floats through my mind. Once I have a rough draft created, I’ll spend another thirty minutes or so editing the list. I’ll cross out anything that’s repetitive, and then I go through each item that remains and assess if it’s truly important to me. If not, it’s off the list.
Once I have a second rough draft of the list, I start to be extremely picky about my final draft of goals. I have a tendency to vastly overestimate how much I can accomplish in any given timeframe, so I try to shrink my final list of goals to a maximum of five main items. No matter how intelligent, ambitious, efficient, or determined you may be, change is extremely difficult. I encourage you to keep your list concise and focused even if you think that you’re capable of accomplishing more. If you magically accomplish all of your goals early (spoiler alert: you probably won’t because life is crazy), you can always create a new list.
Now that we have our top five goals, it’s time to get specific – very specific. I like to spend quite a bit of time fleshing out each item to really understand why I want to accomplish the specific goal and to plan the exact steps necessary to achieve it. This process may seem unnecessary, but I promise you that it’s actually the most important part of the process. If you are crystal clear about your goals, you are way, way more likely to actually accomplish them. As you’re finalizing your goals, word each item with extremely specific language. For example, instead of saying “I want to earn more money by the end of the year,” consider saying “I will increase my earnings by $10,000 by December 31st.” Another example might be writing “I will lose 15 pounds of fat by December 31st” instead of “I want to get in shape.” Vague and dreamy language isn’t your friend, so be careful and use extremely specific and clear language.
Once you’ve finalized your list, put that bad boy anywhere and everywhere you might see it. Hang it up in your office. Save it as a note in your phone and create an alarm to look at your goal list once a month. Print out twelve copies and paste one into the first day of each new month in your planner. Put a tiny copy in your wallet. You get the picture. The key is to make your list of goals extremely visible, so that you can always have a reminder of what you’re working toward each day.
Step Two: Break Each Goal Down Into A List of Mini Goals
Now that we have our official list of goals finalized, it’s time to get even more specific. The next step in the process is to take each goal and break it down into mini goals that are fairly easy to accomplish in a short amount of time. If you’re wondering why this step is necessary, consider your everyday life. We all tell ourselves that we’d like to keep our house clean, but few people actually clean their entire house from top to bottom in one day. We break it into mini goals. Monday is trash day. Tuesday is laundry day. On Wednesdays, we might pick up clutter around the house and do the dishes. By Thursday, we’re vacuuming and cleaning the counters. You get the picture. It’s difficult to clear your schedule to intensely clean your house all day long, but it’s easy to do a few small tasks that lead you toward accomplishing the goal each day.
Let’s use the example from Step #1: “I will increase my income by $10,000 by December 31st.” If we just left it as one big goal, there’s a very good chance that December 31st would roll around, and we wouldn’t have made a single extra cent. What I recommend is breaking this large goal into several small goals. If there are four months left in the year, make a mini goal to earn an extra $2,500 each month. Then, make a more specific mini goal to determine exactly how you’ll make the extra $2,500 each month. Maybe you’re picking up a few extra hours at work, or perhaps you’re selling unneeded items around your house. You might even be increasing the hours you work on your side hustle to increase your secondary income.
If you want to be really ambitious (highly recommended), take it one step farther and break each monthly mini goal into weekly tasks. An extra $2,500 each months means you’ll need to earn an average of $625 more each week. Create a weekly entry in your planner to log the extra income you earned, and don’t forget to add in tasks every few days that will help you earn an extra bit of money. You might schedule a few extra hours of work that week, or perhaps you’ll make plans to develop a new product to sell or even schedule a garage sale for the weekend. It’s much, much easier to accomplish each of these small goals, and you’ll gain momentum every time you cross a completed item off your list.
Step 3: Make It Impossible To Forget Your Goals
Once the mini goals are set in place, you’ll want to add them to every single planner and calendar that you own. I know myself, and if I am not smacked in the face with my goals on a frequent basis, I will literally forget about them until the end of the year. I like to create written weekly and monthly check-ins in my paper and digital planners, and I’ve recently started adding weekly and monthly alarms on my phone that remind me to check in on my goals. On those days, I’ll go through the past few days or weeks in my planner and see how much I’ve accomplished so far. Seeing a visual reminder of how much or how little progress you’ve made will keep you focused on the task at hand and motivate you to get working!
Step Four: Reevaluate Your Goals Once A Quarter
Things change. You can be 100% certain that you want to accomplish a certain goal, and then life happens and changes all of your plans. No matter how much you believe your list of goals is the perfect reflection of your hopes for the future, I can almost guarantee that you’ll want to tweak a thing or two after the first quarter. Instead of sticking with a goal that you’re not completely inspired by for the rest of the year, take an hour or two once a quarter to reevaluate your goals. After a few months of hard work, you’ll have a better understanding of what you actually want to accomplish. Maybe you thought you would be happy in your current career if you made an extra $10,000 a year, but after three months of accomplishing your mini goal of making an extra $2,500 a month, you’ve realized that the money wasn’t the problem in the first place. Perhaps you actually wanted more responsibility and need to start earning your way towards a promotion, or maybe after making money on your side hustle, you’ve realized that you want to make a career change. Regardless of what the situation may be, find the root of the issue and re-think your goal.
Another thing you need to consider is how your goals are affecting your life. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re making more money, rising in your career, or accomplishing your life goals if you’re not in a good place with your physical, mental, and emotional health. No goal is worth sacrificing your well-being. If you have a goal that’s affecting your physical or emotional health, take the time to strategize a way to make it work for you. If you’re not getting enough sleep because you’re putting in more hours at work, you might need to cut back on another activity in your life. Maybe it’s time to turn your marathon TV binges into one hour of TV time, or perhaps you can order your groceries online instead of wasting two hours at the store. If your goal is truly important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work for you.
I know from firsthand experience how easily passion for a goal can lead to poor self care. When I graduated college, I headed to Los Angeles with my husband for graduate school with a pocketful of dreams and endless enthusiasm. I registered in twice as many classes as my school recommended, and I signed up for a full-time internship on the other side of town. I was so thrilled to start a new chapter on my life and accomplish two major goals that I’d been dreaming of for years. I was getting up every morning at 6:30 to commute two and half hours to my internship, working from 9am until 4pm (or sometimes 7pm), driving an hour to school, sitting in four to six hours of graduate classes, driving home at 10pm, and finishing homework until midnight or 1am. I was so excited for my career and academic goals that I’d frequently sacrifice sleep or forget to eat all day long, and my initial enthusiasm quickly turned into poor physical and mental health.
My boundless energy was replaced by extreme fatigue and daily migraines, and my stress and anxiety levels were off the charts. I’d frequently have to pull over on the side of the road to calm myself down from panicking while driving, and I was too anxious to sleep at night. I felt dread every second of every day, but I was afraid that if I stopped my routine, it meant that I was a failure. Looking back on those times, it seems silly that I felt so trapped because the solution was so easy. I finally reevaluated my goals, and I realized that my full-time (and unpaid) internship wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and it wasn’t adding any value to my life or future career goals. I resigned from my internship and started focusing on goals that made me feel alive and inspired instead of stressed and unfilled. After a few weeks of a normal sleep and eating schedule and reduced stress level, I started to feel like myself. My migraines disappeared, and my anxiety quickly reduced to a more manageable level. Plus, I was more passionate than ever about the goals that I did choose to keep on my list!
Nowadays, I take a lot of precautions to prevent myself from falling into the same trap again – especially since I’m pregnant. There is no goal more important to me than maintaining my baby’s health and well-being, so I have to be vigilant about maintaining my own health! I’m constantly reevaluating if my goals are affecting my life in a negative way, and I prioritize maintaining a proper schedule for sleeping and eating. Since I have a tendency to get hyper-focused on my work throughout the day, I always plan ahead and keep a variety of healthy snack options at my desk. That way, I don’t have an excuse to skip a meal or reach for something unhealthy in my pantry.
One of my current favorite healthy snacks are the Special K Nourish Chewy Nut Bars. Right now, I am obsessed with the Caramel Almond Sea Salt variety, and I look forward to eating it as a mid-morning snack every day. The Special K Nourish Chewy Nut Bars are also fantastic to keep in my purse and car, so I can always have a quick boost of energy if I’m headed to event or important meeting.
When I take the time to take care of myself, I’m more passionate about my goals and more capable of achieving them. If your goals are negatively affecting your lifestyle, don’t give up – but do think of ways to make them work for your lifestyle. After all, you won’t be able to achieve your goals if you’re not your best self. Nourishing your body, mind, and soul isn’t taking time away from your goals; it’s giving you the fuel you need to accomplish them. If something as simple as picking up a pack of Special K nut bars can make a positive impact on my work productivity, then you bet I am going to make it a priority in my life!
Step 5: Always Reach A Little Bit Higher Than You Think You Should
One final thing to remember when you’re creating your goal getter game plan is to always make your goals slightly more ambitious than you think you should. When my friends and family talk about what they think they can accomplish, I am always surprised because I know that they will blow that tiny goal out of the water. I believe in them in their potential so much, that if I was creating a list of goals I thought they could accomplish, they’d probably be 200% more ambitious than their list. On the other hand, I am rather conservative and sheepish when it comes to making my own goals out of insecurity in my own abilities. This year, I am determined to stop thinking so small, so I’m pushing myself to achieve goals that seem just out of reach. Whatever I set as my initial goal, I try to amp it up by 20%. Then, when I reevaluate my goals each quarter, I check in to see if it will be realistic to finish my the end of the year or not.
More often than not, I’m surprised that I’ve met or surpassed the goals that I thought were too ambitious for me. If I would have gone with my original goal, I would’ve accomplished 20% less and felt completely satisfied. When you’re creating your own list of goals, try aiming a little bit higher than what feels comfortable to you. If you need help, ask a supportive close friend or family member to go over your goals with you and see if they have any suggestions or insight.
Now that you’ve read my five-step goal getter game plan, it’s time to start planning your goals! While the planning process may seem time-consuming, I promise that it’s worth it. When you take ownership of your life and work each day towards accomplishing your goals instead of just dreaming about them, I guarantee that you will feel a new sense of freedom and control over your life. With a little hard work and determination, you can create a life that you love! I’d love to know what planning activities help you accomplish your goals, so please leave your top strategies along with a few of your personal and professional goals in the comment section below. Let’s get inspired by one another and hold each other accountable.