I would like you to start by thinking of a few scenarios:
- Raise your hand if you have ever set a goal for yourself, and then never followed through.
- Raise your hand if you have ever set a goal for yourself but had no idea HOW to actually achieve it.
- Raise your hand if you have ever set a goal for yourself, start working on it, but then had to stop or give up when you hit road blocks, whether mentally, physically, or objectively.
These are all VERY common reasons why goals don’t get achieved. Learning HOW to conquer your goals is the secret to making your goals achievable! I want to break down for you a few steps in goal setting that can help you be more successful in actually following through, and conquer the goals you set for yourself!
Setting a SMART Goal:
My high previous school students can attest to this, but maybe you have heard of it too! SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. By giving your goal these 5 criteria, you are already making a more achievable dynamic for yourself. Write them down, break down your goal so you can see exactly what you need to do to achieve it!
- S = Specific: What is it EXACTLY that you want to achieve? Don’t just say “I want to lose weight”, say “I want to lose 10 pounds.” BE SPECIFIC. Give details.
- M = Measurable: How are you going to keep track of your progress? Let’s stick with the weight loss example. If you are strictly measuring weight loss then the scale is the perfect tool. However, if you are doing it right, you are also building muscle, and muscle is dense and weighs more than fat than you should also be measuring waist, hips, chest, thighs, etc so you can see a visual change in the weight coming off. List the different ways you will track your progress and track your goal.
- A = Attainable: How are you going to do it? What steps are you going to need to take? With weight loss a change in diet and exercise are usually the two biggies. Are there other things to add to your list of steps? Will you go tho the gym? Hire a trainer? Train at home with videos? What is your PLAN?
- R = Realistic: Is this something that is not only humanly possible, but possible for YOU in this moment? Trying to lose 30 pounds in the span of a week is not healthy, and not really possible without very drastic measures. Make sure it is reasonable. As another quick example, When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I did not believe it would be possible for me to climb Everest, and at that time I was right. However after years of healing and recovery, now that goal is much more realistic to me!
- T = Time: GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE! If you have an endless goal, it will never get done. We are all guilty of procrastination to some degree. Again, make sure it is a realistic timeline, but ultimately the deadline holds you accountable to yourself. “I want to lose 10 pounds in 30 days” is much more realistic for someone with weight to lose.
Once you have listed these five criteria your goal should sounds more like this: “I want to lose 10 pounds in 30 days by eating a healthier balanced diet, and working out 4 times a week using strength training and HIIT exercises. I will track my food, exercise and progress by scale as well as body measurements.” This is Specific. It has measurable data, it has an action plan, and a realistic timeline.
Diving Deeper Into Your Goal Plan:
Let’s talk about steps to conquer your goals. You have set your SMART goal, and come up with an idea of how to execute your plan, which is great, but we need to ensure it sticks. One way to do this is by really breaking down the steps and creating mini-goals along the way. For long-term goals this is especially critical. If you have a goal plan that takes a year or more to complete you need to take it in bite size chunks to make it more sustainable.
Let’s change the scenario to something bigger like preparing for an Expedition. You sign up with several months ahead of you to prepare for it. By breaking it down month to month, even week to week can help you prepare. There are a lot of pieces to your puzzle. not just training, but logistics, and mental preparation as well. By assigning certain tasks to different points in your path to achieving your goal, you create a step by step process to getting it done!
I think of it a little bit like planning a wedding. You set the date, pick your venues first so they are available for the date you chose. Then you pick your bride’s maids, you try on dresses and order a dress, then order a cake, a DJ, etc. and as you get closer, the to do list gets more specific: Get nails done, finish pace settings, centerpeices. The day of: hair, make-up, transport wedding party to venue, follow the schedule of ceremony and reception, etc. You start broad, and get more specific with details as the event arrives and the same can be applied to preparing for an expedition.
For example, you may start with general fitness prep. getting into general shape before adding training specifics. You book your plane ticket, book your expedition guide, get/renew your passport, and any other logistics that must be done first. Then as you get closer to the date, your physical training becomes more specific. You add mindset and mental prep to your routine, you make sure your gear is in good condition and buy or replace anything you are missing. Right before you leave you pack, purchase snacks, supplements, and any other last minute things you need. You check your flight details to ensure everything is still good to go, and head to the airport and off on your journey.
Breaking Habits of Procrastination:
We talked about breaking goals down into smaller timeline chunks such as months or weeks. However, even breaking it down day by day can help if you struggle with procrastination. Creating a daily To-Do List can be a lifesaver and an important key in helpin you conquer your goals. Your brain gets a little hit of dopamine each time you cross something off your list! Even struggling with daily tasks? Try the “Stop Light” method.
Break your daily tasks down into three categories: Things that absolutely HAVE to get done today, Things that should get done, and things that you would like to do if you have the time to get to them. This means everything: goal stuff, work stuff, family stuff etc. Items on your list will shift in priority at various points in time and that is normal, and also kind of the point as you will see below:
- RED: This category is for the stuff that absolutely has to get done today. This means whatever is a priority at work, at home and in your goals. If weight loss or training for something is a goal for you, you need to make sure your workout/training is a red priority or it is less likely to get done. This makes your goal a priority in your life. These are your non-negotiable’s for each day.
- YELLOW: This category is for things on your list with a medium level of priority. If you get to them, great! If not, you save it for the next day, and the idea is, these items eventually jump to the red category in time as their importance rises. For example, this blog post for me was supposed to be written about 2 weeks ago. I didn’t get it done because my blog posts are in my yellow zone (even sometimes my green zone). However, I made it a goal this week to get it done. a busy week forced me to keep pushing it off until I had more time. Now it’s Friday, Blog post jumped into the red zone and a “must finish” for today.
- GREEN: These are things that would be nice if you were able to get to, but is totally ok if you don’t to it today. Much like the yellow, some of these items jump up the priority list over time. I personally like cleaning my bedroom as an example for this one and maybe some of you relate! (props to you if a clean room is higher on your list!) It would be nice if i get time for it, but its not a priority most of the time. It jumps in priority if I have friends come over, if it get really bad, or if I get stressed out (because cleaning is calming to me and a clean space DOES help me relax more).
You list will change daily. something that was yellow yesterday could be red today. Something green last week could even jump to red this week. This is just a simple way to keep your daily tasks organized and help you prioritize what is most important.
Facing Road Blocks and Challenges in Conquering Your Goals:
Life happens. Unexpected roadblocks can and will get in the way of us trying to achieve what we want but that should not stop us from trying. If you were training for an event and sprained your ankle, you may be out of commission for a bit but you can still train in other ways, you can focus on mental training, and you can get back on track once you heal. If you sprained your ankle say the day before your event, that is a bigger frustration, but you can always reschedule. Races happen multiple times a year, big ones are annually, and expeditions come in seasons as well. Fighting with the airline and expedition team about refunds is a nuisance, but has to be done in that scenario. In the even of an injury or life altering event, many expedition teams would be flexible and allow you to join them on a different date in the future and transfer your reservation. I know with COVID-19, many of us had cancelled plans, trips, vacations, and events. We continued forward, the goal remains, we just know it’s not now.
Mental resiliency in the face of challenges and adversity is going to be a key skill to learn. This is ultimately what sets people apart in those who are successful at achieving goals, and those who aren’t. We ALL hit road blocks in some form or another, but it is the ability to move past them and keep going. This comes in the form of utilizing coping skills, strategic critical thinking, and planning to push forward.
YOU CAN DO IT!
You can achieve anything you set your mind to if you practice effective goal setting. Lose that weight, climb that mountain, read 100 books an a year, get that dream job, finish that PhD, learn a new language, a new instrument, or simply a new hobby. Implement new habits into your life. Conquer Your Goals! Conquer Yourself!
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One thought on “How to Conquer Your Goals”
Thanks so much. I knew about SMART goals but had never heard of the Stoplight method. I’m going to give it a try!