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Now it’s time to take everything we’ve been working on in this goal setting blog series and set a foundation for your continued progress. Without putting something on paper, your goals will easily become just another good idea that never comes to pass.

There’s a saying that goes: “When humans make plans God laughs.”   There is an element of truth to this. Often we make plans and, well, plans change. We need to remain flexible so that our plan can adjust to the the twist and turns of life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make one. If you route your GPS to take you somewhere and a road block comes up, you just re-route. You don’t just avoid looking at the map all together! 

The 30-60-365 action plan is the tool we use to map our route to where we want to go. We start with our “big picture” goals that we wish to accomplish in one year (365 days). Then we work our way backwards to determine where we would need to be at a given time to be “on track” to reaching our goal. Notice, we only include a 30 and 60 day plan. The reason for this is that, predictably, plans change after about 60 days. By re-assessing our plans every 60 days, we give ourselves the commitment and accountability of a solid plan, but leave room for flexibility should life have something else in mind for us. 

Success is about creating a balance between commitment and flexibility.   In the worksheets that accompany this article that you will receive if you sign up to receive this blog, start by summarizing your dream—your larger, lifelong vision. This helps you remember why you’re doing all of this! Next, write down measurable goals that you wish to accomplish in the next year. Then, ask yourself what goals you would need to accomplish by the end of 60 days in order to be on track toward your year goal. From there, consider what goals need to be accomplished in 30 days, and finally, what needs to be done this week. Then, pick one to three actions that you can take RIGHT NOW.

Now that you have your roadmap, you’ll need to add a little more detail to your plan. Take a look at the 30 and 60 day portion of your goals and brainstorm as many of the tasks that will need to be accomplished in that 60 day timeframe. Come up with as many things as you can. Then, reorganize them into meaningful groups. Next, highlight or circle the items that are PRIORITIES—these are items that need to be done prior to working on other items. 

After assessing everything that must be done you’ll be even clearer what needs to be done in 30 days and what can wait until 60 days. Anything that seems farther off in the future than 60 days, make a not if there is any part of it that must be done sooner, and then take it off your list. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

One of the greatest tools and habits you can have is to commit to a weekly planning session. At the beginning of every week, or even on Sunday night, take a few minutes to determine what tasks you need to accomplish during the upcoming week to stay on track toward your goals. 

You will either need a notebook, a calendar, an online list, or a white board. Make a list of all of the tasks you can think of that you intend to do in the coming week. If items need to be completed on a specific day, note this. If items are priorities that absolutely must be completed this week, star or highlight them and focus on these first. 

As the week moves forward, it feels great to be able to cross items off the list. Keep them on your list, do not erase them. This helps keep you motivated by showing you what you've accomplished. Remember that sometimes life happens and not everything on your list for the week will happen. That's okay, simply move it forward to the next week! 

One of the biggest challenges that people find when working towards a goal is following through.   Accountability is a tool to help you keep commitments. It is about having a reason to push yourself to continuously be motivated so that you can meet your goals. You can find ways to hold yourself accountable by doing some of the things already discussed, such as having a Ta-Da List and setting deadlines. However, going at it alone can prove to be challenging. Having others to be accountable to keeps you on track and also helps you create the success you want.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is reality!” --John Lennon 
This does not mean that you have to go into business with someone to be successful. It does mean that you may need a network, or a couple of individuals, that can share your journey. It’s helpful to have an outside perspective from time to time, and it’s really helpful to have someone who know what you’ve decided to do and is there to follow up with you to see how you’re doing.

For example, when I first started this business I met a couple of other people that were on a similar journey as me. During that process we would share our experience with each other, including our progress, challenges, and intentions. I have got so much out of the collaborative piece, the group has served as a great support system and at the same time as an accountability group that helped me stay focused in the right direction and with the right frame of mind. Because of the support of like-minded individuals, we continued to move forward and maintained the belief system that anything that we could accomplish anything we wanted. 

Finding Accountability Partners 
Your accountability partners should be folks that can be counted on for encouragement and reinforcement of what you are trying to accomplish. These can be individuals that are friends, relatives, colleagues, or business acquaintances. These individuals do not necessarily have to be on the same path as you or share similar goals, but it does help to have at least one person that shares your interests and can better understand your challenges. You should think of at least three people that would be a good source of accountability, and make a commitment to share your goals with at least one of them regularly. 

Create a system where you can share your goals with your accountability partner and they can share theirs. The key is to meet or talk regularly. The purpose is to share your intentions and goals, and then because you know that someone is going to be asking you about how things are going on a certain date, it keeps you motivated to have something good to report back to them. You can share what you will be working on today, your weekly plan, or even your bigger vision. This does not mean that you have to talk to them every day, but you should at least have a weekly time that you discuss what is going on and what you plan on doing for that week. This can be done in person, by phone, or through email. Doing this will help you stay heading in the right direction. Some of these individuals may even turn into collaborative partners. 

A good example of an effective accountability partner is a workout partner. If your goal is to get in shape or work out and you’ve decided to exercise regularly, it’s a great idea to have workout partner to join you when you exercise. Then, on the days you may not be feeling motivated and feel the itch to bail out, your partner will be calling you asking “see you there at 5?” You can also play this role with them. If a physical partner is not a possibility, having someone who shares similar fitness goals whom you talk to on a pre-determined schedule will keep you going, knowing that on Wednesday you’ll be checking in with your accountability partner and you don’t want to report that you skipped aerobics class. This process works well for any goal.

Take Massive Action 
Many times when we are reaching for a goal or something new we are tempted to take a small step to get our feet wet. It’s a form of indecision. It’s almost as if we are preparing for it not to work out and so don’t really go for it so that we have an excuse to not truly commit. The reasons that small steps do not work is because they do not truly show us what is possible, they do not create enough momentum, and even if we fail they do not teach us enough to be able to do it differently the next time. In other words, if you are truly committed to your goals the best thing you can do is to take massive action to get the ball rolling. Taking massive action demonstrates to yourself that you have made the decision to be successful and are truly committed to achieving your dreams and desires. 

Two of the biggest lessons I have learned from my journey and from studying truly successful people are: 
Never leave the scene of a decision without taking action. 

Indecision is a form of self abuse. 

Make decisions quickly and then immediately take massive action in that direction. Don’t worry whether it’s the “perfect” decision or whether it’s the “right” direction. Taking action in any action in any direction get things moving. For example, if you got in your car and turned on the GPS, it may not initially lead you to the right direction if it does not recognize which way you are facing or if has not updated your location. However, as soon as your car starts moving it will get oriented and then tell you to go in the direction you need to go, even if it means turning around. The same thing happens when you take action in life. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you make a move—any move—it becomes easier to assess if you’re going the right way and what steps to take to correct your path. Whatever you do don’t get stuck in indecision. 
Ask yourself, “what can I do RIGHT NOW?” 

The perfect time to start is now! What can you do that makes you feel “invested”? This can mean investing in yourself and your goal financially, physically or mentally. Once you take a massive action, you feel more committed. For example, you can: invest into a program, buy equipment you may need, buy a book, start writing ideas, make a phone call, share your idea, do research and write what you find, or join a program. Think about it: if someone wants to lose weight or get fit they can think about it all they want or they can take immediate action by joining a gym right away, going for a walk, finding a workout partner, writing a schedule on their calendar, or doing all of these things. It’s vitally important to take the first step now. The bigger the initial action step, the better the results you will get long term. 

One common mistake that many people make is that they rarely asses their results. They take massive action and make a solid plan, but then they continue to take the same actions and follow their plan even when it’s not working. At that point, their effort is pointless. They need to assess what aspects of their strategy are working and make changes to both their plans and actions. 

If we take the time to asses the results of our strategies, we will be better able to adjust our actions, often finding that small tweaks create major changes in results. 

Every day, ask yourself, “what did I learn? What went right? What could have gone better?” The same thing can be done every week. Take a day to reflect on your goal strategy and assess what is not working, what is working, and what changes you can make. Then reassess again the next week. 

When working toward your dreams and goals, it’s important to stay focused on the OUTCOME without being attached to the means (the “how”) by which you get there. You want to be committed to your goal, but you also want to remain flexible. By assessing your progress and your strategies’ effectiveness, you stay heading toward your goals while adjusting and trying new paths along the way. There are dozens of ways to get there. Never give up, just try something new. When something’s not working, it’s not a reflection of you. But your willingness to acknowledge and address what needs changing says you’re committed to reaching your goals and you’re willing to do whatever it takes. 

Other posts in this Goal Setting Series include:
 
 
 
 
So far in this blog series you’ve already assessed what you really want. You’ve created a “vision”—a big picture, long-term vision of what you would ultimately like your existence to encompass—no limitations, just pure dream. But, sometimes this dream seems so far outside of your current reality that you can’t quite get yourself to believe it. Even after finding evidence that you can, in fact, achieve it, you still need to prove it to yourself by GETTING STARTED! It’s often that first step that’s the hardest part. The good news is that when the first step is onto a bridge to your dream, you can see right away that you will get there. 

We know this because we’ve experienced it. We’re really good at thinking big, without limitations, and really believing our dreams are ours for the taking. But, we’re so good at it that we find ourselves living in limbo—one foot here in the now and the other floating somewhere in the ether, trying to find firm ground in that dreamland in our minds. As you can imagine, this position can leave one quite unstable. 

So, the question is, “How can you take your dream out of the clouds and make it concrete?” as well as, “How can dreams be more believable and immediately attainable?” The solution is to break down your dream into more manageable chunks—separate tiers—creating a bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

Visions and dreams tend to be big-picture, long-term oriented. For them to feel attainable and for one not to get stuck “waiting” to enjoy life in the process, it’s important to build a bridge. The bridge consists of two parts, the beginning and the middle, where the “end” is your dream or goal. The first part is enjoying today. You “get on the bridge” by finding ways to make your life TODAY more like what you dream. The second part is getting prepared. This is where you work on YOURSELF along the journey to your dream so that you are who you need to be in order to be ready for living your dream. 

There is a worksheet available to assist you with this if you sign up to receive this blog.

Not all goals are created equal! Believe it or not there is a science to writing and creating your goals. Knowing how to create goals is one of the major differences between why some people are so effective in reaching their goals and why some are not. In fact, the “smart” goal principles have been popular for quite some time, first appearing in 1981 as presented by George Doran in a business journal. However, the principles behind “smart” goals can be found in books that are over a century old. Success leaves clues, and these goal setting principals have been proven successful. As you go through this section, take a look at your goals and make sure that they follow “smart” goal principles. If they do not, then make the necessary changes. 

SMART GOALS are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed. 

Specific: It is critical that your goals are as specific as possible. Many people set goals that are vague in nature and not precise. The problem with this is that it makes it hard to determine how to get to them and how to judge when we actually achieved them. For example, a statement like “I will be wealthy” or “I will lose weight” is too vague. Ask yourself, how will you know with certainty if and when you’ve reached your goal? In other words, you may reach your goals and still not know that you are there or you may find that you do not have the motivation because you really don’t know what you are striving for. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to have the goals say something specific like “I will lose 5 pounds in the next month” or “I will be making ten thousand dollars a month in a year.” At the end of the month or year it will be simple to take a look at your weight and look how much you are making and compare it to your goal. 

Measurable: As demonstrated in the above example, goals also need to be measurable. For example, if someone is going to school they may say, “I want to be more committed and involved in school,” but that may not be measurable. How would you be able to tell the goal has been reached? What is the criteria? This person could instead state clear objectives such as, “I will attend every class this month and study for an hour every day.” Another goal might be, “I will sign up for a student club or organization this week.” These goals are simple and concrete. Having goals that are measurable makes it easy for you to track your progress. 

Achievable: To build confidence your goals need to be reasonable and achievable. In other words, you do not want to set yourself up for failure, as it will not help you achieve your goals or stay motivated. For example, if a person is trying to write a book they may tell themselves, “I will start and finish the book in two weeks.” However, let’s say that the person has other responsibilities, such as a job, family, or life; is it reasonable for them to be able to write the whole book in two weeks? No. Especially if they’ve never considered all of the steps it takes. Instead, the person can take a look at their schedule, take all the steps required into account, and say, “I will write the outline for my book this week and dedicate two hours per day for the next two weeks. Then I will reassess my schedule and see how much more I have to go.” Again, it may be that the person finishes the book in two weeks because they get really inspired or ended up having more time that they initially anticipated. However, it is better to go above and beyond your goal than to make a goal that is not achievable and then have that demotivate you. 

Realistic: Another aspect of goals is that it needs to be realistic. With that said, we are big believers in thinking big and stretching reality. However, you do need to understand your capabilities and current abilities when you are making goals. For example, if your goal is to become a professional basketball player, and you're not currently playing on a team, never played a competitive sport, haven’t practiced very often and was not in the top tier of physical talent or ability, is your goal realistic? It is important to honestly evaluate yourself. Do you have the ability? Are you committed to making your goals a reality? Are you doing what it takes? Or can you adjust your goals to make them more realistic? Again, the point here is to build confidence and not set yourself up for failure. But, by all means, if you want to dream bigger and go for the “big time,” no matter what that is—then go for it! Just be sure you thoroughly understand everything it takes to be successful. 

Time Framed: One of the most important aspects of goals is to have a time frame. Having a set amount of time to achieve the goals gives the mind the structure that it needs to help you achieve them. For example, someone may want to change jobs, start school, or start their own business. However, if they truly look at it, they may find that they talk a lot about doing it, but never get anything done towards that goal because they have no time frame for it. For any goal to be effective it has to have a sense of urgency. Having a specific time frame gives you the motivation needed to get started and finish. For example, for a person that wants to go back to school, they may set a deadline for themselves to register for classes or for financial aid. A person looking to start a business may set a time frame for completing specific research, developing a business plan, and getting the business started. 

Remember, there are only two types of goals: the ones that we talk about but never do and the ones that we are truly committed to and will achieve. The difference between them is that the achievable ones are S.M.A.R.T. goals, while the other ones may just be a way of wasting time. 

Now take a look at your goals and ask yourself if they’re SMART! 

The importance of OUTCOMES 
When working on goals, there is a big difference between having a bunch of to-do’s and having a focus on outcomes. There are many people that stay busy, but are really not getting anywhere towards their goals. It’s like they have filled up their calendar but do not truly understand their direction or what is a priority. It reminds me of a hamster spinning their wheels and going around in circles. It’s not enough simply to do the motions—to make a list of tasks and chip away at it. Having a lot to do may make us feel busy and productive, but it can often be simply busy work and not productive towards our goals at all. What’s missing is an understanding of WHY you’re doing the task. 

What’s the OUTCOME you’re hoping to achieve? Simply a completed task is not the outcome. For example, if someone is in sales and tells themselves “I am going to make four phone calls a day this week” they may be able to make those four phone calls, but not actually achieve what they really wanted—which was to make two sales for the week. If the outcome is two sales a week, then that is his goal—and he’d probably need more than four phone calls. 

Here’s another example: someone is going to school and prepping for a test that has 20 words and definitions. They say their goal is to look over their words and definition every day for a week. However, that goal may not get them the outcome they’re looking for—an A on the test. It may serve them better if their goal is to memorize three words and definitions every day and review the ones that they learned the previous days so that by the end of the week they are guaranteed to know all the words. It may seem like a small change, but this small change can make the biggest difference on whether or not a person will achieve what they want. So, ask yourself are your goals focused on “busy work” or tasks, or are they goals that will help you create the outcomes you want?


Other posts in this Goal Setting Series include:
 
 
We all take the time to learn a new skill or trait, whether it is for work, school, or to pursue a hobby. We were not born knowing how to walk, tie our shoes, use words to communicate to each other, or ride a bike, but we are pretty good at those things today. So, how are those seemingly simple things different from the areas you want to work on changing now? They’re not. 

The process of change remains simple. First, recognize that there is something that you want to change. Second, recognize that you need to do something differently in order for it to change—such as practicing more—just like you did when learning to tie your shoe. Today you don’t have to put any thought into it. Your unconscious mind does the work. 

This is the way the mind works. When it learns and practices something new enough times, it develops implicit memory and the new behavior or response happens automatically. We won’t get into all the technical, psychological side of it here, but it is important to understand how your mind works, especially when you’re looking to make changes in your life. 

Here’s another example: have you ever driven home from work and spaced out, and when you finally got home you could not remember how you got from point A to point B?  What you experienced here was autopilot. This happens when your unconscious mind knows the way, releasing your conscious mind from having to pay close attention. This is happening all the time. Your unconscious mind quickly adapts to new, practiced thoughts, behaviors, and actions of all kinds. It’s why you brush your teeth in the same order every day (don’t you?). It’s why you can walk to the bathroom at night in the dark or with your eyes closed without bumping into anything. It’s why activities you do through your job or a sport you play are so easy—you’ve changed your mind by training it. 

All change eventually gets accommodated by your mind. Even scary changes will one day feel normal. What starts out feeling hard will slowly become habit, second nature. New ways of thinking and acting will eventually feel natural. 
And what does this mean? That change is only uncomfortable for a little while. Now, you just need to learn how to make it through that challenging period at the onset of change. You need to break the change cycle. 

Break Through the Change Cycle 
Nothing in life stands still. Science has shown us that the entire human body—every cell—completely regenerates itself within a span of about seven years. Brain scientists and psychologists have agreed that in each moment our brains are taking in new information and our minds are constantly assimilating this information into our neural network of thoughts, beliefs, and associations. 

You cannot have a new experience without it literally changing your mind, and life cannot exist without continuous growth and expansion. You are actually changing as you read these words. You are moving, growing, expanding, and changing. It is no secret that the world around you is constantly changing as well. 

We live in a time of unprecedented change, as technology expands our reach and capabilities and as global connectivity transforms our borders and cultures. There is no question: You are changing. The wonderful thing is that you have the power and ability to direct changes in your life. In fact, that’s what you’re reading this blog. Reaching for goals, by its very nature, means making changes. Even when you’re not actively working toward what you desire, what you feel, think, say, and believe about your life is constantly putting change into motion. 

You are creating your life as you go along, so you might as well create it intentionally. 

What determines your success or failure, and whether you direct your life’s change or feel like a victim of it, is a choice. YOU ARE AT A CHOICE POINT. You can choose to continue on with your life as you currently are living it, letting the external world and your past dictate what you experience, or you can choose to create your life to be everything that you dream.

Even if your gung-ho about transforming your life, there is an important obstacle you need to address in order to be successful. Most people find deliberate change to be a difficult process. Many well-intentioned people have changes they want to make in their lives and goals they want to reach, but they get stuck repeating the same “change cycle” over and over again. Below you’ll find this common cycle, and you’ll most likely find it to sound oddly familiar because most people experience this process of inspiration and resistance when they face a decision to change. 

1.  Discontent—You grow increasingly unhappy and discontent with an area of your life. You “hang in there,” tolerate, ignore, repress, or otherwise deal with the circumstance because it is comfortable and familiar, and you fear change. 


2. Breaking Point—Eventually your level of discontent builds high enough that you cannot take it anymore. You reach a “breaking point,” either through exhaustion or due to a dramatic event occurring that triggers the break. 

3. Decision—You decide you’re ready to change and declare that you will no longer tolerate the undesirable situation. You take the first step toward change, giving you a short-lived sense of hope. 

4. Fear—Usually, shortly (or immediately) after your feelings of empowerment, you encounter your fear. You become uncomfortable and anxious about the idea of changing. You doubt your decision. Both options look bleak. You feel helpless, empty. 

5. Amnesia—The fear of change grows strong enough that it makes the original situation look much better than you originally thought. You perceive the original situation as less anxiety-producing than the change. You’re used to it; it’s comfortable; it’s familiar. Plus, it has become part of your identity, so you resist letting it go. You temporarily forget why you wanted to change it so badly. 

6. Backtracking—Most people choose to go back to or stick with the item they wished to change. You essentially talk yourself out of changing. 

Inevitably, you soon will find yourself unhappy and discontent once again. Your level of pain will continue to increase until you reach another breaking point, this time even more extreme and more painful. This cycle will continue until one of two things happen: 

1. Extreme Pain: You have a breaking point that is severe enough to push through the change cycle. For many people, unfortunately, it takes an extreme circumstance to push them to evolve, such as major financial loss, job loss, loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a severe accident, or a nervous breakdown. You see, your True Self knows what you truly want and will lead you to it. If you resist changing long enough, something will happen in your life that will put you in a position where you have NO CHOICE but to change. 

You do not need to wait until there’s a flood to move your home away from the shoreline. 

2. Self-Honesty: You have the humbling experience of realizing that there’s a part of you that doesn’t really want to change. You are comfortable with your habits, with what you know. You have a lot of fear that holds you back. You have many self-limiting beliefs. You receive some sort of benefit from staying where you are. You are unhappy because you want to be unhappy. You are addicted to the situation. You believe your pain is you; it’s your story. You can see your resistance to letting it go. Only after reaching this level of self-honesty can you truly choose to change.

Can you see how this change cycle has impacted your life? Are you ready for it to stop? Have you experienced change amnesia before? If so, you know that the more you move toward the changes you want the stronger your fear and resistance will become. Are you ready to swallow the pill of self-honesty, even if it is hard, because you are tired of being dissatisfied? Are you ready to take responsibility for your life and create the life you dream of having? Are you at the point where you will accept nothing less than what you truly want? 

Consider the following reasons you may have been allowing yourself to fall victim to this cycle: 

You don’t want to change. You don’t really want the thing you think you want. You may be trying to convince yourself to change to appease others or conform to what you believe you “should” do. If you don’t want to change, accept it. This is very common with people who say they want to quit smoking. They don’t really want to quit, they simply think they should quit. It never works. You have to want it. 

You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you really want or you’re not allowing yourself to think about what you really want because you don’t think you can have it. So, you end up thinking you want things that aren’t what you TRULY want, and your True Self knows it. You’ll never feel inspired enough to follow through on change if it isn’t even what you want. Try imagining what you would want if time, money, and people did not limit you. 

Your dream isn’t big enough. The reward isn’t big enough. You aren’t excited. Happiness is excitement. Passion is what makes you willing to endure to attain a goal. What would you do anything to attain? 

You’re letting your fear be bigger than you. You don’t believe you can do it. You don’t trust yourself. You put everyone else before yourself. You’d rather tolerate severe pain than face temporary discomfort. Are you really willing to settle? Isn’t the fear of being stuck in a life you don’t want and missing out on your dreams more painful than the temporary experience of changing? 

You are attached to your problem. Your ego and identity are wrapped up in your problem, and you fear that if you let go of your problem you’ll have nothing to talk about. Who would you be? Would it be better? 

You’re benefiting from your problem. The benefit you’re receiving from not changing is bigger than your perceived benefit from changing. It gives you an excuse and something to talk about. It allows you to hide deeper issues from yourself and others. 

What are you holding onto? How does it benefit you to not change? Failure no longer has to be an option. Neither does doing nothing and staying stuck where you are. If you’re facing a potential change that’s nagging at you to be made, take some time in self reflection and be brutally honest with yourself. Is your desire for more, for fulfillment, for happiness finally strong enough that you are willing to encounter the obstacles and endure the fear? If so, congratulations, you will succeed—you are ready to break through!




There is a series of worksheet exercises and activities to help you embrace change that will be sent to you if you sign up for this blog at www.agri-marketingsolutions.com/thoughts.html.



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    Author Jennifer Archibald

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