We are five weeks into the Simplify your life challenge and I first want to touch base with everyone reading along. I cannot emphasize enough my point that this challenge is for you and only you know what the best answers are, where you want to go and how you will get there. Please do not over-think these challenges as if they are a test – the people reading along with your journey are being 100% supportive, the things you are all coming up with are amazing – in their own unique ways – and just because you say or decide something today does not mean it is written in stone. Please give yourself the freedom to just explore and see where this journey takes you. Jump back in any time you are ready if you never made it past week 1 or 2…or jump in fresh when a challenge strikes your fancy.
This week we are building on what we have done in previous weeks – starting with reflections, we then figured out who we are, how we want to live and where we are right now. Think of this as a snapshot in time – your starting point. Today we set a course for where we want to go next.
My guide and tips for goal setting:
Refer to your family mission statement and wheel of life (if you did these exercises)
Think about ways to achieve your family and personal goals, write out any ideas you have and then make specific plans. As an example if your mission statement said “Our family will spend regular time in nature” you might develop goals like “we will spend the first Saturday of each month hiking/exploring a new parkland” and action steps would include things like research parks in our area and beyond, make a list of parks we want to visit, list any gear need to purchase, invite friends x, y and z to be involved at times, sign up for a guided walk, etc
Look at what is going well right now and seek out clues you can use to support other goals
If you always stay on top of cleaning your house is it because you play fun music and that motivates you? Perhaps music would work in other areas like your flagging exercise routine. Do you stay on top of the ironing like my husband by saving them up to do in bulk while watching a DVD or favourite TV show? You can use the same tactic with exercise and set yourself up with pre-recorded shows and your exercise equipment as a set date X number of times a week.
Make sure your goals are coming from within
Goals based on external reasoning – traditional next steps that might not be what you really want, expectations put on your by others or society as a whole, all those “shoulds” that need to be eliminated – will usually bring about more frustration than success. If you are happy with the way you look and your health then attempting to lose 15 pounds because you “should” will see you resenting it every step of the way. If, instead, you want to increase your cardio fitness so you can keep up with your kids you will be more inclined to add in extra movement into your week building up your fitness levels to meet your goal.
Expanding a business because that is the next step might not be right for you if you want to maintain a good work-life balance. Saving every cent to buy a house when you are perfectly content in your apartment may find you resenting having to pass up concert tickets or a spontaneous family weekend away. Throw away the rule books and formulaic life plan and figure out the right goals for your own agenda.
Figure out your “why”
Following along with that point it helps to be clear on why you are setting the goal. Writing down and clarifying why you are setting the goal can be the biggest motivating force in your journey. As you progress along with your goals you may reach points that interest you less (but are still necessary for long term aims), plateaus, stumbling blocks like a lack of time, increased stress or cash flow issues and it becomes very tempting and easy to give up. Stopping to re-read your “why” can re-invigorate you or at least get you over the hump. This “why” is your intrinsic motivation – how you want to feel and be, what reaching this goal will bring into your life, what your life might look like at the end of the journey. ..
Break down bigger goals into realistic stepping stone goals
You have your main goal (lose 25 pounds / spend quality fun time with my family / learn French), but need to break it down into the steps that will take you from here to there. This is the “how” to go with your “why”. Create a series of action steps you can take that are achievable, create momentum and celebrate them as you reach these goals.
You don’t need to attempt all your goals right now
You can focus on one big goal at a time or several key areas from your wheel of life. You can pre-determine a set number of goals and work your way through them in order of preference and priority. Only you know your resources available (time, money, energy, support etc). While one person may tackle four areas from the get go, you may know you are better served by focusing on your biggest challenge first and giving it 100% attention.
Your starting point can be a big factor – if a critical area in your life is currently sitting at a two you may want to go at it 100% now. Another interesting fact is that if you work on areas X and Y you may find natural adjustment in other areas – there may be overlaps (ie combining nature with exercise) or knock on effects (ie doing more for yourself may make you more energized in your other relationships or mean you are happier to put effort into your home when you return to it). You know you.
Make both personal / individual goals and family goals
If your personal development, career or me-time areas are in desperate need of attention you may want to at least include one personal goal even if your others are related to your family and home, etc.
Figure out what will work to motivate you
We are all different so you need to figure this out for yourself. Some possibilities are: rewards, public accountability, competition with yourself or others, positive reinforcement from others or simply from reaching the smaller goals, deadlines, following a logical and carefully laid out plan, etc
Seek out support to help you achieve your goals
Identify resources, positive people, and tactics that help you further your goals. Tomorrow I will go into this a lot more with ways you can change your environment, handle setbacks, and set yourself up for success.
This week’s challenge is to identify and set your goals and priorities for this year. Know that you can keep working on this long after you journal or blog about it – I am not asking you to be done with it this week – we will move on to other things in coming weeks, but you can add and change this as you go along through the year. For now, get your first steps decided or what your big goals are (and break them down as soon as you can) – whatever form this will take for you.
Figure out what you really want to achieve – the end result, how you want things to look, your vision. Think about what you might let go of and what you will add. Create a plan (you can adjust as you go) with actionable steps you will take. You can start to think of what resources you might need to set yourself up for success, how will you find the time, etc. Remember to be realistic and true to you! Even writing down which areas you will focus on is a step in the right direction, but the more you write about the more feedback / high fives / ideas you will get (if you want them). You can even use your post to solicit ideas if you have trouble brainstorming next steps.
Link up for week 5 “catch your breath”
If you blogged about any Simplify Your Life challenges please add your link below into the linky and not in the comments. If you do not see the linky REFRESH your browser and it will usually appear.
Further reading on Goal setting / resolutions and priorities:
My post on the 7 deadly sins of goal setting.
On the Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin gives you 6 questions to ask yourself.
Tomorrow I will post about changes and strategies you might make to help you achieve your goals.
Wednesday I will post about goal setting worksheets and tools for working towards your goals.
Find your simple,
Images:Find joy in the journey