According to a recent poll, around the same time last year, nearly 80% of people reported that they either had not set goals for the year, or had already fallen off their goals. In the survey, only 22 percent reported that they stuck to at least some of their goals.
So if you feel yourself slipping, or things are not going as you hoped for so far, I want you to know that you’re not alone. In fact, not having things go as planned (or falling off track) is a normal part of success. It happens even to the best of us. This is true specially at this time of the year where the fresh burst of the motivation we got from the New Year has worn off. I know I’ve definitely strayed in some areas with my goals and this is my chance to get myself back on track.
So I want to invite you to do the same because this is the perfect time to do it! We are approaching the second quarter of 2023 and Spring is just around the corner. This is our chance to use this new revived energy and get back on track. I know your goals are important to you and I know that you’re capable of achieving them. So I’m here to make the process a little easier and to cheer you on!
Setting and achieving goals is my zone of genius. For over 13 years, I’ve studied this. I’ve worked at the psychology labs at the Rotman School of Management—one of the top business schools. I’ve also done research at the Motivation & Goal Pursuit Labs at Carleton University, and through my own consulting business at LB Well-Being Performance Inc. I have delved deep into what leads to successfully meeting your goals, and have also learned how to do it while increasing your well-being and mental health too.
All this to say, you’re in good hands! Take the tips I share with you and put them into practice. This is going to help you get back on track no matter how your year’s going so far, and help you move forward in your goals.
Tip #1. Write down your goals and revisit them often
Writing down your goals helps you remember them better and gives you something concrete to work with. If you haven’t already written your goals down for the year, do it today. If you have them written down, this is the perfect time to revisit them. This will help keep you focused and on track. As a rule of thumb, you want to revisit your bigger goals every month, and at the least every 3 months. Don’t wait longer than that.
A study published by Dr. Gail Matthews, who is a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. This means that by taking a few minutes to write down what you want to attain can help you significantly boost your chances of success. How amazing! You don’t want to skip this step.
Tip #2. Reflect on your wins and take out the lessons every quarter
Reflecting on your goals is an important part of staying on track. This will help you evaluate where you’re at, boost your focus, put your energy in the right place, and learn from the lessons along the way. By reflecting, you can see what you’re doing right and what you can do better. It will also help to enhance your motivation by celebrating your achievements and help to keep you moving forward by problem-solving your challenges. These are all important if you want to successfully meet your goals.
I’ve attached a simple printable PDF Template and Instruction sheet to do your “End of Quarter Review”. This is where you can celebrate your wins, and get clear on your challenges and solutions. Fill it out and let it inform how you go into the second quarter of the year.
Tip #3. Use the SMART system to optimize
The SMART system is the recipe for setting great goals. It makes your goals much more clear and easier to achieve. The SMART system stands for having your goal be “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound”. You might have heard of this before, but are you putting it into practice? Go back to your goals and make sure you have this in place and make any adjustments you need.
Here’s a breakdown on how you can make your goals follow the SMART system:
Step 1. Pick your top 3 goals
For example, “be healthier (mentally and physically)” ,“take my business to the next level”, “strengthen my relationships”.
Step 2. Clarify the specific goals within each category. What does your goal look like exactly?
For example, for the goal to be healthier mentally and physically, that can be “drink 8 cups of water a day”, and “do yoga 4X a week”. For the goal to take your business to the next level, that could look like “double the number of followers on social media”, and “increase income by $50K”. For the goal to strengthen your relationships, that might look like “spend more quality time with family”.
Step 3. Indicate the action(s) required to reach each goal (there will likely be several).
For the goal to drink more water, an example could be to “keep a water bottle at your desk at all times”, “keep track of how much water you drink”, “have a friend keep you accountable to it”, etc.
Step 4. Specify the time commitment needed to do each action/task
For the goal to drink more water, an example could be to keep a bottle of water next to your desk everyday from 9:00-5:00. At 5:30 pm everyday, take 1 minute to keep track of how much water you drank, etc.
Step 5. Slot your actions into monthly increments
For example, “keep a bottle of water next to my desk (Jan-Dec)”, “post 3X/ week on Instagram (Feb-April)”, etc.
Step 6. Set a location, date, and time for each action
For example, “keep a bottle of water next to my desk, everyday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm”, and “post on Instagram on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6:00 pm; content creation in the office on Saturdays from 12:00-2:00 pm”.
In a recent book published by Harvard Business Press sharing insights and best practices to lead professionals and businesses more effectively, it suggested that “deciding in advance when and where you’ll take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.”
That means choosing a location and time to take action on your goal can boost your chances of success by 2-3X! This can be really simple and effective.
Step 7. Schedule your plan into your calendar
You can use Google Calendar or something equivalent to systemize your planning process and get notifications. I also recommend using a paper planner for everyday use. If you have your goals scheduled already, revisit your deadlines and plans to make any necessary adjustments.
I’ve included an easy to follow printable PDF template and instruction sheet to make it easier to use the SMART system for your goals. Print it out and use it.
Tip #4. Simplify, simplify, simplify
Many of us over-complicate the process of meeting our goals which creates unnecessary obstacles. Take the easiest and most direct way possible. Specially to start, and specially with the goals that you are struggling with. This will increase the chances of you successfully following through and will help you avoid unnecessary problems like overwhelm. Go back to your goals, specially the more challenging ones, and simplify your plan.
Tip #5. Put in an accountability system
Having an accountability system means having ways to be held responsible to meet your goals. Research suggests that having accountability may increase your chances of success by 95%! So do not skip this step.
How do you set up a proper accountability system? You can start by:
Scheduling things into your calendar
Using frequent checklists and scorecards to keep track of your progress
Find a person (ex: partner/friend/coach) to share your goals with and to do weekly check-ins. Tell them what you’re aiming to accomplish, what’s working, and not working on a weekly basis
I offer this through my Accountability program and would love to help you keep on track with your goals. Click here to find out more.
We’re almost done! But this is an important piece that most people miss:
Tip #6. Believe that you can do it.
Your mindset is one of the major key factors that determine your success and whether you reach your goals. If you don’t believe that you can achieve what you want, you will constantly hold yourself back. This is where procrastination comes in, this is what can make you feel drained and suck the energy out of you, and hold you back in more ways than you can imagine. All this to say, it’s worth taking the time to put in strategies and people that will support you in feeling competent and able to accomplish your goals.
As always, I’m happy to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on my social media (Instagram:@leylabgh).
I can’t wait for you to crush your goals this year!
With lots of love,