Are certain goals more effective than others?
Is there a right way to think about goals?
How do you set yourself up for success when you are writing your goals?
Yes. Yes. and I am so glad you asked!
Our words matter, our intentions matter, and writing goals that set you up for success is a key element to living the life you were designed to live. You may have heard of SMART goals before. But here at Agave – we do AGAVE goals. Let’s break it down:
A – Able to be measured
When writing your goal, you want to be sure that you are setting a goal that is measurable. A good question to ask yourself is, “how will I know if I have been successful?” It helps to be as specific as you can. For example, instead of a goal that says “I want to read more.” You would say, “I will read a book every month.” In the second example you can see that it is very clear how the goal will be measured. You either will read a book a month, or you won’t. By building the measurement of success into the goal, you also can help yourself get clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Maybe you have a goal of wanting to be healthier. When you think about what success looks like for that goal, you could go in a lot of different directions. Do you want to lose weight? How much weight? Do you want to eat more vegetables? Or less sugar? Quantify that. Do you want to lower your cholesterol? Or workout more? Or even feel more confident in your body? Maybe you have been trying to measure pounds and calories, but you are finding that this is actually making you feel less healthy. So, you choose a different measure of success. What does success look like for you and how will you know if you have been successful?
G – Guide yourself with commitment
Many goal setting gurus will tell you that in order to have a successful goal, you need a deadline. I myself have subscribed to this common goal setting myth for years. Here is the problem: I am severely optimistic when it comes to setting deadlines for my goals. I will come up with a goal, like writing a book, and I will give myself a crazy timeline that is just plain unrealistic. As a real-life example, I have literally planned out my goal to write a book like this.
- Write the book – one month
- Find a publisher – one week
- Sell 1 million copies of the book – 6 months
- Get rich and live off of the residuals of my book for the rest of my life
Crazy, right? Even knowing this about myself, I will try to build in more realistic timelines, and I still underestimate. No matter how much of a realist you are when it comes to estimating timelines, you cannot predict the unexpected. What if you set a deadline and someone gets sick? Or you were trying to move forward on a personal goal and a huge project popped up out of the blue at work? Deadlines leave little room for the inevitable unexpected occurrences of life. So, ultimately, we end up not meeting the deadlines we set, and pushing them back again and again. If you are like me, and suffer from perfectionist tendencies, the emotional toll of feeling like I have failed every time I have to push a deadline absolutely kills my spirit and motivation.
However, with no deadline at all, I find that I struggle with motivation because I feel lost and aimless. If you only want something to happen “someday,” what motivation will you have to give it your all today.
So, if both having a deadline and lacking a deadline are problems, what is the solution?
Making a commitment of time!
So, instead of saying “I will finish writing my book in one month.” You will say, “I will write for one hour every day.” Or “I will write 1000 words per day.” Do you see the difference? Let me give another real-life example. I have had multiple different goals and deadlines for myself as I have been working to launch this planner. This is a goal I have been working on for the last 2 and a half years. When I first had the idea to make a planner, I had no idea it was going to take me this long. I probably thought I would be Erin Condren status by now. So many things happened that I didn’t expect. I lost a baby, I had a baby, my baby came 5 weeks earlier than I was expecting, we moved, I got a new job. So many things! I also encountered obstacles that I didn’t anticipate. I had to learn how to use InDesign (my original planner was all formatted in Microsoft Word – yikes! – and every time I opened the document, it crashed my computer). I had no idea how to find a printer, or how to print the planner in a way I could afford and that still looked good. I had no idea how long all of this would take. Honestly, there were more than a few times where I didn’t meet the deadline I had set for myself, and I became paralyzed with feelings of failure and self-doubt. In those times, I remained stagnant and did nothing to work towards my goal for months at a time. There were multiple times that I gave up. But now, instead of setting deadlines. I make commitments of my time. Every day, I am committed to doing something to work towards my goal of launching my planner out into the world. How can you shift your deadline into a commitment of time?
A – Activating
Ask yourself, “why do I want to accomplish this goal?” A goal should be something that puts a fire in your belly. It should make you feel motivated and give you energy. That energy might feel like anxiety and fear, or it might make you want to shout for joy. But either way you feel this goal deep in your soul. The feeling might be something like, “YES! Woo hoo!!!!! I cannot wait to get to work on this goal!!!!!” and the feeling might also be “Holy S***… I am terrified of this goal, and part of me wants to run and hide.” Both feelings are activating right? Both feelings tell you that this goal means something significant to you. What you want to watch out for are goals that make you feel nothing at all.
Sometimes, we make goals for ourselves that we think we are supposed to accomplish. Maybe it is something that society tells you that you should do or be. Maybe you are trying to live up to someone’s expectations of you. Maybe you are working to achieve some Instagram ideal of a life that just isn’t true for you. Let’s explore this scenario a little. Say you scroll Instagram everyday and see these moms who always look so pretty and put together every day. You see those images and feel bad about your yoga pants, no-makeup, top knot look, and make a goal to get ready every day. When you ask yourself, “why do I want to accomplish this goal?” you don’t really have a good reason. You have never really been a hair done, make up wearing kind of a person. So, as you explore this deeper, you realize that you don’t really want to get ready everyday – but you do want to take time for yourself and work on your confidence. So, instead, you shift your goal to something that will address the need that is activating and motivating for you. Do you need to make a change to your goal to making it more activating for you?
V – Vision – focused
How does your goal tie into the larger vision that you have for your life? Does it fit in with the vision casting exercise that we completed in one of the earlier posts? Is this goal something that is going to get you closer to the vision you have for your future?
For example, maybe your vision casting included you owning a large home with a lot of property, and you have a goal to get rid of your debt or increase your income in some way. Those goals are certainly in line with your vision because increasing your cash flow and decreasing your spending will help you work towards being able to buy property one day. However, if you had a goal of increasing the number of vacations you take per year or buying a new car, those goals might be in conflict of the vision you have for your future. Not that those goals in and of themselves are bad. If your vision of the future is a close-knit family and being able to spend lots of time together, regular vacations might be a great goal to work towards that vision. The point is that the connection between the goal as a path towards the larger vision makes sense to you.
E – Establish Check Ins
Finally, having regular times to check in on your goal to see what is working, what isn’t working, and how you might need to adjust is key to the success of your goal. The Agave planner has a lot of opportunities for check in built into the structure. We format the planner to be quarterly (learn more about the Magic of Quarterly Planning) in order to re-focus our vision and goals every three months. We also utilize monthly, weekly, and daily Goal Getting routines as regular opportunities to check in on our goals.
When you check in on your goal you want to ask yourself a few key questions:
- What is going well?
- What is not working?
- How can I address/change the things that are not working?
- Is this goal still activating and motivating to me?
- What do I need to shift based on what I have learned?
- Who can I call upon for help in overcoming an obstacle?
Here is an example of the power of check ins:
As I mentioned earlier, figuring out how to print the planner was a huge obstacle for me. I spent a lot of time feeling paralyzed because this was an obstacle I did not know how to solve. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to figure out what to do and it was just not happening. I didn’t even know where to start. The first thing I uncovered in my check ins was that I was avoiding getting to the printing stage by continuing to revise the planner over and over again. In one of my check ins I came to the realization that I was not revising the planner again because it needed revising, but because I was afraid to start to look for printers. Once I realized that, I set a goal to research and start getting quotes from printers in my area. On my first go, I was really discouraged with what I had found. I couldn’t find anyone who would print a planner I could afford that was even remotely what I wanted quality wise. So, in a second check in, I began to brainstorm alternative solutions. It was then that I remembered that my husband worked as a courier in the printing business for years. Why it took me so long to ask him for help I do not know… Once I asked him, he was able to point me in the direction of some printers and also had some ideas of how we could diy certain aspects to cut costs without sacrificing the quality. By checking in on my progress I was able to identify and overcome my paralyzing fear, and bring in support for new resources and fresh ideas.
There it is. An AGAVE goal is Able to be measured, Guided by commitment, Activating, Vision focused, and Establishing regular check ins. One of the tools I have in the free Agave Starter Pack is an AGAVE Goal Setting Worksheet. If you would like to give it a try, you can subscribe to my email list and I will send you a free printable! I would love to hear how the AGAVE goal format is helping you set goals that work. Let me know your AGAVE goals in the comments!