Updated: Mar 9, 2020
There are several approaches to goal setting. You can use acronyms or ten step processes. And I'm sure a Google search would give you numerous other ideas. These all work; at least for the person who created the list. So, I will share here what I have found works for me and many of my clients. (Psst. There are some fabulous tips at the end of this post I would not want you to miss out on.)
1. Figure out what you want
Let's take some of the most popular New Year's resolutions as examples: lose weight, save money, exercise, get out of debt, etc.
2. What's the process?
Let's look at saving money. Basically, the process is: set aside money and don't touch it.
3. Set yourself up for success
You might want to set up a specific savings account for this goal or have a special place to put your cash.
4. Set the big goal
In this scenario you might set the big goal of: I will save 10% of my total income.
5. Set the first small goal
I want you to start SUPER small. Why? Attainment and confidence building. If you can attain a small goal, it builds your confidence. An example of a small goal would be: I will save $1 a week for a month. I know this sounds incredibly small, but that is the point. Have you been saving $1 a week before this? Typically not. This can get you into the habit without causing the stress that might come with a larger, smaller goal.
Do you have $4 at the end of that month? You have succeeded. Do you have $0 at the end of the month? Start smaller, maybe 50 cents is more attainable for you to start with. No judgement, we are trying to figure out your starting point here, not the end goal. Once you have this small goal down, move to step 7.
7. Increase effort incrementally
From $1, we can move to $2.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7
This is where you will spend most of your time. This is where the work is done.
9. Celebrate your successes
You saved $4 that first month or you were able to figure out your starting point? It's time to reward yourself. My preferred method of reward is outside of the theme of the goal. For example, if you are trying to save money, find a way to celebrate that is free or something you do not have to spend extra money on. You may have a streaming subscription you are already paying for; watch something you may have been putting off due to time constraints.
As your small goals get bigger, you may want to figure out new ways to set yourself up for success. You may want to have part of your pay check directly deposited into the savings account or find a more secure way to store all the cash you've accumulated.
Well, I fell into the 10 step trap myself. I guess there is a reason why that number is used so frequently.
Now, for those tips I promised:
-Tell someone about your goal and process. Accountability increases the likelihood of you
sticking with the process.
-Give yourself grace. You are probably going to have set backs, it happens to everyone. Find a mantra like, "tomorrow is another day", "I'm learning more about myself", or "this setback does not define me". It can help to remind yourself that you can start over with the next choice or even tomorrow.
-Keep a journal. This can be a chart, progress report or something else that you can look back on to see how far you have come. This can help when setbacks or lack of motivation creep in.
-Find ways to stay inspired. Keep a picture around of what you are saving money for or look at your savings account online and see the growth you have already accomplished.
-Identify and eliminate obstacles. Does the expensive coffee drive through call your name on the way to work? Change up your route. Do you get distracted by things you don't need at the grocery store? Make and stick to a list and reward yourself every time you do.
If you made it this far, thank you! And to show you just how much I appreciate your staying with the post this long, I am giving you my FREE printable to help you through the goal setting, maintaining and attaining process. It is my hope that your next attempt to change is made a little bit easier because of this resource.