GOAL SETTING - START TO FINISH
What does it take to move from dreaming about your goals to genuine growth and success? Follow the proven steps below to learn how to structure your goals and follow through with your plans. Download our FREE goal-setting checklist, or get the Uzume App to keep yourself organized and on-track!
TWO TYPES OF GOALS
One of the reasons we fail to achieve (or sometimes even launch!) our goals is that we don’t know what TYPE of goal we have. Goals generally fall into one of two types – habits and projects. Identifying what type of goal you’re working toward is an important step that informs how you structure your goal planning.
A PROJECT is anything with a specific target or outcome. Things like learning a new skill or training for a race are PROJECTS. What distinguishes a project is that you can definitively say when you have accomplished it.
A HABIT is more nebulous. You might have a goal to eat less sugar, or have a family dinner at least two times per week, or wake up early to write. What distinguishes a HABIT is that you only know if you’ve accomplished your goal based on your success over time.
Sometimes PROJECTS look like HABITS. For example, something like learning the accordion might seem like a habit change with something like a plan to practice at least 5 days per week. But simply having a goal to practice isn’t actually a terribly effective way to learn the accordion. Instead, a better way to set it up would be to have a goal of learning book one by a specific date, and then breaking that goal down into tasks of learning individual songs. This takes the complex goal of learning the accordion and breaks it down into manageable pieces. Then once book one is learned, repeat the process for book two! Anytime you can turn a HABIT into a PROJECT, do so.
And sometimes PROJECTS and HABITS genuinely overlap, like in the case of weight loss. You might have a target weight in mind and therefore a definitive sense of when you are done, but the only way to accomplish that goal is to change your habits over time. In cases where success requires a habit change and can’t be broken down into smaller projects or tasks, it’s better to set the goal up as a habit than a project.
WHY DOES IT MATTER WHAT TYPE OF GOAL YOU HAVE?
Knowing what type of goal you have helps you determine how to set your goal up for success.
PROJECTS have very specific requirements and challenges:
- They often require research
- They need to be broken into manageable tasks
Similarly, HABITS have their own pitfalls.
- They can feel overwhelming when the time-frame is indeterminate
- They can be easy to abandon completely when we slip up
- Habits that are only occasional can be hard to schedule
WHAT IF YOU’RE PRETTY SURE YOUR GOAL IS NEITHER A PROJECT NOR A HABIT?
Sometimes you have a very large and somewhat diffuse goal – the example a friend of mine shared was that he had a goal to be a better parent. My first question was, how will you know if you’ve succeeded? If you can’t tell whether or not you’ve accomplished your goal in a reasonable amount of time, you don’t have a goal, you have a value. To be a true goal, you need some kind of metric to judge progress. That said, it’s possible to think of this broad value and break it down into component parts that are real goals.
What do good parents do? Maybe you think a good parent needs to really spend time with their kids. A goal could be to schedule time every month to do a favorite activity with each child, or to coach their soccer team, or even just commit to driving them to and from activities one day per week. If you think that you need to make an emotional change to be a better parent, your goal can simply be around reading more, or even considering therapy yourself. Your goal isn’t to be a good parent. Your goal is to execute the kind of tasks that your version of good parents routinely do.
(As an aside, I’m not sure that there is any obvious way to “be a good parent.” Because this is such a challenging topic for so many, we explore more about parenting and values in the parenting series on this site.)
Planning for the challenges specific to your goal type helps you anticipate obstacles and increases your likelihood of success. The Uzume app is designed to support both types of goals and enable you to use goal type as a starting point for goal management.
In the next article we will look in more detail at how to break each type of goal into an actionable plan.
PLAN YOUR GOALS
Once you’ve identified your goals and their types, the next step is to turn those goals into actionable plans. Click READ MORE to learn about the five easy steps to plan your goals.
Prioritize – If you have a large number of goals, recognize that you probably can’t reasonably do all of them at once. Take a minute to order your goals not based on what is most important but based on what you want to tackle first. Sometimes having a few wins under your belt makes tackling your larger goals seem less daunting. Sometimes tackling the harder things first makes more sense. Regardless, if you have more than a few goals, create your order. You can do everything, just not all at once!
Research – Research takes your goal from idea phase and helps you turn it into either tasks, or a program. This step is critical for projects, and a good idea for habits too. Taking the time to figure out how exactly you want to approach your goal will enable you to dig in and get going.
Schedule – Set target start and end dates for your goals wherever possible. This step is especially critical for goals that are also HABITS. Thinking of habits as unending lifestyle changes gets overwhelming fast. Rather than aiming for long-standing permanent change, try setting a habit change goal for a timeframe you can more easily quantify, anywhere from a few days to a month. Then at the end of that timeframe, check in with yourself. How did it go? How do you feel? Do you want to commit to another round? If so, schedule it!
Phone a Friend – Tell someone you love about your goal. Saying what you want to accomplish out loud to someone helps you make the mental commitment to begin. And no, New Year’s Eve resolutions don’t count. Let someone who loves you know what you want to do when you are ready to start. This helps make your goal feel more real. If possible, solicit a friend to be an accountability partner. Having someone check in with you can help keep you moving forward.
Identify Your Purpose – Nobody makes a goal just to have a goal. We make goals because of who we want to be, what makes us happy, how we want to live our lives. What is the value or sense of identity that is deepened by each goal. The Uzume app has space to store this detail, because we know that remembering why you have made your commitments is critical to sticking to your plan.
Once your plans are researched and scheduled, you’re almost ready to begin! Before you jump into day one of any plan however, research suggests that it’s important to take a moment to think through the challenges you will encounter along the way. In the next article we discuss techniques to anticipate roadblocks and turn your plans into successes.
Looking to go deeper? Click below to read more about each step in the planning process.
STAY THE COURSE
Once you’ve got your goals sorted and set up as plans, how do you ensure that you can actually follow-through? Even the most goal-driven and organized among us has seen our plans derailed when life gets in the way. Fortunately, knowing how and why we get off track goes a long way towards ensuring that when we do encounter issues, we know how to keep moving forward. Click READ MORE to discover ways to avoid the most common goal setting pitfalls.
PLAN FOR OBSTACLES + FAILURES – It’s rare when our plans work perfectly. Every so often we get lucky, but mostly we encounter obstacles and sometimes even outright failures. The thing about most obstacles is that, if we take a moment to think about it, usually we can anticipate them. Our past experiences can tell us a lot about what to expect from ourselves and others today. Before getting started on any plan, it’s worth your time to analyze how you might fail and think through how you can manage these moments. Here’s where knowing your goal TYPE is clutch.
SWALLOW THE TOAD – “Swallow a toad first thing in the morning and you’ll encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day.” – Nicolas Chamfort
Simply put, the idea of swallowing the toad is do the hardest thing first. Sometimes our goals are the hardest thing, but sometimes not! Maybe your toad is a particularly hated chore or mental task. Identify your toad and commit to making it your first priority every day, and you will create a positive feedback loop.
KEEP MOVING FORWARD – Some days you’ll knock it out of the park, and some days you won’t be able to execute your plan perfectly. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Know going in to any plan that some days you might only be 40% successful. Instead of thinking of those days as failures and letting that feeling derail your progress, recognize that any day where you take a step toward your goal is a good day.
IDENTITY IS MOTIVATION – When working toward any goal, who you believe you are is as important as what you believe you can do. Seeing yourself as someone who is capable of following through on your plans is a necessary component for success. Taking a minute to examine your own sense of identity and how it intersects with your plans can help you determine whether or not you have core beliefs that might derail your plans before you even start. Identity is fluid and, ultimately, up to you to decide! Choose well for your plans.
This goal setting series is fairly short, but don’t be fooled – none of this is easy. Setting, managing, and ultimately achieving goals is often challenging and complex and even the best plans are frequently derailed. By knowing the kind of goal we have, the right way to plan for it, and anticipating the obstacles we will encounter along the way, we give ourselves the best possible chance for growth.
Unsure how to manage your goals? The Uzume app is designed to incorporate all the elements in our Goal Setting framework to keep you focused and on track.
Looking to go deeper? Click below to read more about setting yourself up for success!
DOWNLOAD OUR GOAL-SETTING CHECKLIST!
Set yourself up for success! Click below for our downloadable PDF goal-setting guide, which helps you keep track of each step in the goal-setting and planning process.
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