Friends, I’m here to lay down some truth for you today. Whether you’ve set goals or have yet to dig in, guess what?
Goal guilt be gone!
It’s never too late to start something good.
There is nothing magical about January 1, and hear me loud and clear here: you are not one bit “behind” if you haven’t started setting goals yet. Who made up the rule that you had to have the perfect plan in motion by January 1?? No one.
To help you start this new year well—without burning out by February like everyone else—I’m sharing my Top 10 Tips for Getting Started on Your Goals. Hint: it’s easier than you think.
Tip 1: First, set goals that mean something to you. This is tip number 1 for a reason. Before you get started on making your goals come to life, you’ve got to have some good goals! Traditional goal setting does not work for me. New Year’s resolutions last till about February 15th because they are typically goals created out of guilt or comparison. That’s not how I do goals. The way we’ve done goal setting for the last 7 years isn’t rocket science and it WORKS.
Cultivated goals set you on the right path. Cultivated goals have a clear why behind them that matters so much to you that it’s worth doing the hard work, taking some leaps of faith, and you can’t help but be motivated to make them happen. Uncover your good goals for 2018 in my FREE 5-Part Goal Setting Series. Plus, The Ultimate Goal Setting Giveaway in this series ends January 31st, so you have plenty of time to dig in.
Tip 2: Break it down. So, you have a good goal (or several). Now what?
Do you know why most goals sit around and go nowhere?
We try to do it ALL at once, instead of breaking our goals down into do-able (dance-able!) steps.
Here’s an example from my own goals. My number 1 goal this year is to read the chronological Bible again. Breaking it waaaaaay down (the lower you go the better, my friend), here are my starting steps:
- Open the YouVersion Bible app on my phone
- Search “Blue Letter Bible Chronological” in Plans
- Click “Start Plan!”
There you have it—I’m reading the Bible! 10 minutes a day, for 365 days, little-by-little, I’ll complete this goal. I do it first thing in the morning before I get out of bed because I want this. My why is clear. And, instead of trying to do it all at once or bite off more than I can chew, I’m breaking it down.
Your turn! Try this: take a blank piece of paper. At the top, write today’s date and your goal. At the bottom, December 31st and what you want to accomplish by then. The in-between is where you DANCE, my friend.
Break it down!
What has to happen to get that goal moving?
Name your three small but clear starting steps. You don’t have to know the whole plan—just write your specific starting steps and, in general, what has to happen after that. A bonus? Breaking down goals feels good because you experience tangible hope and momentum as you get those goals movin’!
Tip 3: Choose one goal as your priority. It’s okay to grow slow. In fact, it’s really good. The recipe for burnout is to try to make progress on ALL of your goals at once. Choose just one goal as your priority this month. That doesn’t mean you can’t work on others, but choose one to really sink your teeth into this month. If your goals truly matter to you now, they’re still going to matter to you next month, or whenever you choose to work on them. Grow slow and steady to give things time to grow well.
New homeowners like trees labeled “fast-growing” to fill in a space quickly, or provide shade to reduce the cooling bill. But fast-growing trees don’t have deep enough roots to last through storms and drought. Good things grow, and take root, little by little. And pruning helps plants be more fruitful.
Maybe–despite everything everyone tells you–fast isn’t the goal.
Maybe less is okay.
Maybe a slower pace will help your roots stretch deep and wide.
It’s okay to grow slow.
Tip 4: Embrace progress, not perfection. Little-by-little imperfect progress is still progress! The best part? It adds up. You don’t have to make perfect progress to accomplish a goal. In fact, you likely won’t! And you don’t need to have the perfect plan right from the start to begin a goal (we often get hung up there, don’t we!?). In fact, I encourage you to test out different systems and starting steps to see what fits you best as you begin a goal.
Just make sure you start somewhere.
For me, the month of January is my “testing” month. I’m getting my feet wet with my goals, learning what works and what doesn’t in establishing new habits, and genuinely embracing progress, not perfection. Remember, it’s okay to grow slow. You do not have to do it all, and accomplish everything on your list immediately. I know you may want to, but we miss so much when we race to the finish line. We miss the magic and ripening that happens in little-by-little imperfect progress.
Fall down 7 times; get up eight. You will get to the finish line!
Tip 5: Tend it to grow it. Imagine this. You plant a seed, promptly dump a bucket of water on it, and get frustrated the next day when there isn’t a full-grown blooming tree. We do that with our goals, don’t we?? Tend it to grow it. Even if you miss a few days of watering here and there, consistency over time is what counts. We have tons of Action Plan Ideas and Tending Tips on the Cultivate What Matters site to get you thinking and acting on those goals, tending to them little by little.
Tip 6: Embrace your season. No other tip gives me more freedom and joy in goal setting than this: we were made for seasons. Lose the goal-setting pressure by embracing this truth. You don’t have to set a goal for all of time. Your goals may grow and change as you do. Because of this, we do a Goal Refresh ever quarter in the PowerSheets. Whether you have PowerSheets or not, set yourself up for success and put the following four dates on your calendar right this second: March 25th, June 25th, September 25th, and December 3rd. Write “Goal Refresh” on those first three dates (Include a post-it note with these questions to ask yourself about each of your goals: Does this goal still matter to me? Why? Is there anything holding me back from making progress? What little-by-little progress have I made so far? Are there any goals I need to let go of, tweak, or add?), and join us for our free annual PowerSheets Prep Week starting on December 3rd to get ready for 2019!
Tip 7: Set yourself up for success. When you are growing something new, weeds are bound to pop up and try to suck the life out of what you’re growing. So, set yourself up for success and don’t let the distractions try to throw you off track on your goals! I have installed WasteNoTime for Safari (allows you to limit usage of certain websites), Ad Blocker Plus for Safari (removes banner ads that try to pull your eyes away from what you’re reading), and Newsfeed Eradicator for Chrome (removes your Facebook newsfeed and replaces it with an inspiring quote—genius!). These have been so helpful to keep me focused. For the last 8 years, I’ve also taken social-media-free weekends which help me stay focused on the people right in front of me. Have another distraction-killing tip? I’d love to hear it in the comments!
Tip 8: Put your goals front and center. One of the main reasons goals don’t get accomplished may seem silly, but it’s true (and I’ve fallen victim to this in years-past!): we flat-out forget about our goals. Out of sight, out of mind. We do whatever is habit instead. But, we aren’t going to let that happen in 2018, are we?! Have your goals out in the open and written everywhere and anywhere! Keep your goals front and center so you don’t forget where you’re going. If you are a PowerSheets user, put your monthly Tending List out where you can see it every day—I keep mine open on my desk at all times. My PowerSheets never get closed.
I just filled out my January Tending List last Thursday—there’s nothing magical about January 1. Last Thursday was the perfect day for me to dig in!
Tip 9: Cultivate your calendar. Want to know one of the most underutilized tools for making your goals come to life? Your calendar! Whether you use a digital calendar like iCal or a physical day planner, fill your calendar with what matters (your goal action steps, rest time, time for relationships) before it gets filled with all the other things of life. First things first, take a look back at your 2017 calendar and identify times you needed more margin, planned too much, or want to see change. We do this each year in our business and I did it for our family too! There were many holidays I didn’t do meaningful things for that I could have done something for (even something super simple) had I been more intentional in preparing. A little forethought goes a long way. It seems so simple, but it’s so rarely done: make what matters to you a priority and put it on your calendar! Watch my free class with Emily Ley on How to Create a Cultivated Calendar. Total game-changer for me!
Tip 10: Think outside the box. Instead of reading a physical Bible each morning, I’m listening to most of it on audio in the YouVersion Bible app (tip: try listening at 1.5x speed in the ESV or NLT translations). Get creative with how you make your goals happen. Make it work for you!
A Bonus Tip: Have fun! Accomplishing new things is hard work, and we like to balance that with intentionally letting ourselves laugh and having fun along the way. Ask yourself, “What would make me look forward to doing the hard work?” If you make it fun, celebrating your big and small steps along the way, you’re more likely to keep going!
Okay, it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your own tips and tricks for getting started on your goals, and staying on track. What helps you? What is your one focal goal? Any starting steps on your list or already done? I’d love to hear!
One lucky commenter on this post will win a Goal Setting Sticker Book!