DEFINE YOUR GOAL: This seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many times we don’t actually define what we’re aiming for.
The problem is, however, that goals don’t happen simply because we send them out into the universe. So that year, with no specific planning, I sent out a few emails and waited. As you can probably guess, catching the eye of a big name publisher takes more than a few emails. I learned that the hard way.
In short, just six months after I’d written my goal down, I got overwhelmed and gave up. This is not an uncommon experience. It is estimated that less than 10% of us achieve our goals made at the beginning of a New Year. (Statistic Brain Research Institute, Jan 1, 2017)
But five years later, the goal was there again, staring back at me from the page--I want to be published. Have you had the same experience? Something in your mind that keeps reoccurring even as you try to stop it, like a leak that just can’t be contained?
I didn’t know exactly where to start, and maybe you don’t either. But when I wrote it down again on my notepad, I was no longer a twenty something millennial-minded writer who thought anyone would be lucky to have me! (OK, I do still believe in myself, probably a tad too much, but that’s beside the point.) I was, in fact, an accomplished professional in my early thirties when this goal resurfaced, so I had a new-found determination and a few new things I could try out. And what I learned in the process was how to successfully meet a goal.
So, as you think of what you want to accomplish this year, sitting with your own notepad and scribbling out your destiny, try the following four simple steps to meet your goals in 2017 and set off towards success! Of course, the following steps do not just apply to being published. You can apply them to any goal at all.
1. DEFINE YOUR GOAL
This seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many times we don’t actually define what we’re aiming for. If you say “lose weight” in 2017 you really haven’t defined your goal. How much weight? By when? This was one critical mistake I made the first time around. I had written down my goal as “be published.” But what did that mean? With a book, an article? You have to start with something finite before you can step out to achieve it.
So, write down the exact result you are aiming for. For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. Break it down into specifics: How much weight do you want to lose? Is it actual weight loss or achievement of a related type? Is it being able to run a marathon, or bench press a certain weight?
2. MEASURE YOUR GOAL TO DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS
So you’ve defined your goal. But now you need to measure it in order to define your success. This is important because it will help you with step three.
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to lose five inches off your waist. How will you measure that? Is it when you fit into your favourite pair of old jeans? (You know the ones, they sit and haunt us all from the dark corners of our closets.) Or maybe you want to complete your first marathon. Would it be crossing the finish line or running it in a specific time?
For me, I wanted my written work to be published in any shape or form. To start, I decided that I would be happy with simply having an article published in a magazine or industry journal. Once I had defined that, the measuring was pretty simple. I would submit articles in all types of mediums until someone accepted and published my first piece.
3. REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR GOAL
So, now that you’re clear about what you want, go full nerd.
Say your goal is to lose 20lbs in 12 months. If you understand that losing one pound is equal to a 3,500 calorie deficit and that running one mile burns approximately 100 calories, you start to understand the level of effort your goal will take. For me, knowing that it could take me 200 submissions to get even one piece of work published meant I had nothing to do but get working.
But don’t be overwhelmed by all the work ahead of you. Whether it’s writing and submitting articles, or taking trips to the gym, if you need to do 200 activities to meet your goal, and you’re working to achieve it in 12 months, that’s roughly 16 activities a month, or 4 a week. If you want to reach your goal in six months, it means you better be ready to commit to 8 activities a week. Breaking it down helps you understand the effort that’s required. It also helps you focus on each day, rather than the overwhelming time and effort it’s going to take to reach the end result.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you reverse engineer your goal.
a) What activities do I need to do to reach my goal?
b) How many activities?
c) What timeline do I want to achieve this goal in?
d) How many activities does that mean I need to accomplish each month or week?
4. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Tracking your progress will help you keep up the pace. If you can clearly see that you’re making solid progress, you will know that it’s only a matter of time before you achieve your goal. And similarly, if you start slipping up, you can spot it quickly, and adjust your schedule to get back on track.
What I do for each goal is list all the activities I need to complete every week in an excel sheet and I keep it stuck to my fridge. As I complete each activity, I cross them off.
As well as being able to keep track of what you have done (or skipped), crossing those items off a list gives you a great sense of accomplishment and the motivation to continue.
Well, there you have it. You really can meet your goals in 2017, whether personal, professional, financial, or otherwise.
So, what goals are you ready to achieve?