6 Steps to Being Unshakably Committed to Your Goals
Confession time: I’m a dreamer. I see myself making millions with my own business. But here’s the thing …
While dreaming is great and encouraged, I’ve learned that if you want to achieve the end result you’re after, you need to set real, specific goals that will help you achieve those dreams. It doesn’t matter if your dream is to be a six-figure copywriter, a romance writer, or a travel writer, goals will help you get there.
Setting Goals That Support Your Dreams
When it comes to setting goals, it’s important that they support your dreams (or core values).
So, what’s the difference between dreams and goals?
The difference – says Mark Ford (writing under his former pen name, Michael Masterson) in his book The Pledge – is that goals are:
- Specific – Don’t just aim for “success.” Instead, figure out how much money you want to make. How many hours per week do you want to work? What niches or specialties will help you get there? What do you want your net worth to be?
- Actionable – If you want to make progress, you have to do something. And your goal must have clear actions for you to take to achieve it.
- Time-oriented – When do you want to see your goal completed?
- Realistic – If your goal isn’t realistic, you might give up. Make sure you feel like you can achieve what you set out to do. But don’t be afraid to reach.
Here’s an example:
A dream: Become a successful writer … someday.
A goal: Reach a monthly income of $5,000, as a successful writer, by the end of 2014.
See the difference?
But how do you take those dreams – whatever they may be – and convert them to goals that are specific, actionable, time-oriented and realistic? Here’s how:
Step One – Write Down Your Dreams
The first thing you must do is write your dreams down.
Setting goals is serious business, and uncovering your dreams is step one. So, now, you’re going to write down your dreams.
Take this seriously by temporarily eliminating distractions like TV, the Internet, and other people.
Escape from the world. Grab a few sheets of paper and go somewhere comfortable and quiet.
Then, spend some time thinking about what you really want out of life. This is big picture stuff.
A big house?
A new car?
More time with your family and friends?
The point here is to get your dreams out of your head and onto paper.
For example, through doing this exercise myself, I’ve found that I value experiences (like sky-diving) over stuff (like a new car).
Step Two – Figure Out Your Core Values
Whether you’re setting New Year’s resolutions for your health or figuring out your writing career goals, there’s only one way to ensure your long-term happiness. Your goals must align with your core values.
According to Mark Ford, core values are the things that are really important to you.
For some, it may be money … for others, family … or wisdom … or experiences …
“If you set goals that contradict your core values,” Ford says, “You will wake up one day and say, ‘I did everything I said I wanted to do. But so what?’”
To figure out your core values, Ford recommends imagining your funeral. I know it sounds a bit morbid, but it worked for me …
Ask yourself, “What will people say about me?”
Then ask, “What do I want them to say instead?”
Write down several statements for the major areas of your life – such as health, wealth, personal, and social values.
Here are some examples:
Health – “She had the best immune system and never got sick!” Or, “She went to yoga three times a week – and never missed a class!”
Wealth – “He discovered his passion – writing – and went on to make six figures every year from home!” Or, “He published 14 books in his life – three of them bestsellers!”
Personal – “She never complained.” Or, “She inspired me to take action toward achieving my dreams.”
Social Values – “She was the most generous friend anyone could have.” Or, “He always went out of his way to make people feel welcome.”
So, what about you? What are your core values? If you haven’t already, take a few minutes now to write them down.
Then, share them in the comments below – if you dare. ;)
Step Three – Convert Your Core Values Into Goals
Next, you’re going to determine your true goals – based on your core values. Here’s how:
- Take one of your funeral statements from above.
- Decide what core value it represents.
- Translate that into a specific, long-term goal.
Here’s an example that might resonate with you, as a writer:
- Funeral statement: “She made six figures every year with just her computer and Internet access.”
- Core value: Living life on my own terms – and from anywhere – is a valuable and admirable accomplishment.
- Long-term goal: To be making six figures as a full-time writer by April 21, 2021.
Here’s another example:
- Funeral statement: “He provided an abundant life for his family, AND he attended every little league game.”
- Core value: Providing for my family – and being present in their lives – is a valuable and admirable accomplishment.
- Long-term goal: Create a passive income stream – bringing in $5,000+ per month – by April 21, 2021.
Once you have your goal (or goals), double-check them to make sure they’re specific, actionable, time-oriented, and realistic.
If you need help, just comment below.
Once you’re done with the above steps, you’ll have your “Master Plan” (or where you’re heading over the next few years).
Now, you just need to break down your long-term goals into manageable yearly, monthly, and weekly tasks.
Step Four – Break Down Your “Master Plan” Into Daily Actions
Ask yourself, “What actions can I take this year, this month, and this week to get closer to my long-term goal?”
Here’s an example:
Long-Term Goal: To be making six figures as a full time writer by DATE.”
First-Year Goal: Make $25,000 writing part-time.
First Month’s Goal: Launch a website for my freelance business.
First Week’s Goal: Write the home page copy for my website.
Before you move on, go ahead and plan out your first 12 monthly goals. Some examples might be choosing your niche, setting up your website, completing a training program, contacting your dream client, or writing an e-book.
Not sure where to start?
Well, one of my key success principles applies here: Ask someone!
Contact someone who has achieved the goals you want and ask how they broke it down. In many cases, successful people have already shared their strategies on their blogs or biographies. Dig around a little, but don’t be afraid to contact them directly. Try the AWAI forum and the AWAI Facebook page.
Once you have your first week’s goal, create a daily to-do list and then do this every week after …
Ask yourself, “What will I do each day to achieve my weekly goal?”
Following the example above, it could look like this:
First Week’s Goal: Write the home page copy for my website.
Monday: Research what information should be included on my home page.
Tuesday: Write the rough draft.
Wednesday: Ask someone for feedback.
Thursday: Write the second draft.
Friday: Make final edits and call it done!
See how something as big as launching your freelance business website can easily become manageable once you break it down into daily tasks?
Of course, remember to keep your daily tasks reasonable. Depending on your other obligations – like a job, family, or hobbies – you may be able to do more or less each day. Be honest with yourself and tackle enough that you’re making steady progress. However, don’t overwhelm yourself, or you may experience burnout.
For example, if you have a full-time job, working toward your goals an hour each day is realistic. Working 20 hours per week while juggling a full-time job, three kids, and your weekly yoga class is probably a recipe for exhaustion. (However, only you know your limits.)
Step Five – Take Action!
No goal-setting plan would be complete without action …
Yet, I spent the first several years of my career waiting.
I was waiting to become a better, faster writer, be discovered, and have someone give me permission to stand up and say, “I’m a writer!”
Turns out waiting won’t help you achieve anything.
There’s only ONE sure way to reach your goals: Take action!
Mark Ford agrees in his book The Pledge (written under his Masterson pen name). After interviewing more than a dozen successful businesspeople about their typical days, he found that, “All of them felt that ‘taking action’ was the most important part” of their day.
If you’re not spending at least a few hours each day on pure action, you’re delaying your goals. Start taking action today!
Once you have your daily to-do list, do the things that will move you closer to achieving your main goals before anything else. This might include your daily writing practice, contacting clients, or submitting a proposal.
Don’t waste your work time replying to non-important emails, reading blogs that don’t get you closer to your goals, or catching up on Facebook.
Instead, take action toward your important goals first and save the rest as a reward. This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of time to work on your business each day.
Step Six – Take Action (Again)!
Action is best taken in regular doses … such as daily. A little action here and there won’t help you achieve your goals quickly.
Carve out as much time each day as you can for action. Then, keep going forward by taking daily action – over and over again.
Review your long-term goals often. And, create each daily to-do list based on your weekly goals. Remember to make your weekly goals based on your monthly goals, and so on.
If you followed along with the steps above, you now have your Master Plan, know your core values, and have corresponding goals. Great job!
You also have a plan for the next few years – one that will help you achieve the goals that support your dreams.
The rest depends on steady, consistent action. Do that and you’ll achieve your long-term goals faster than you think!
So … what about you? What are your goals? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
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