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At the beginning of each year, I become the old grandma that you want to avoid at Thanksgiving dinner. You know, the one that’s constantly asking you "how's school going" (when you spent way too much time drinking and may have to drop a class or two) and the unavoidable “what’s next for you” question you’ve been ducking by quickly stuffing some turkey in your mouth.
My favorite question to ask by far is not the typical “What are your new year’s resolution?” No, it catches people much more off guard than that.
I have the audacity to ask people something they have not thought about at all…
What’s your plan to do that?
You see, I’ve learned one thing about New Year’s Resolutions (and goals in general). People LOVE setting goals at the beginning of the year but they don’t create their plan at the beginning of the year.
However, if you add this one, simple step to your goal setting process, you’ll be able to better determine what you need to do to accomplish your goal.
Thinking about your goal in terms of the goals you have to accomplish on a quarterly basis and then breaking that down further into the smaller goals you must accomplish monthly does a few things for your brain:
- It let’s you know that your big goal IS POSSIBLE.
- It helps you understand EXACTLY WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO GET THERE
- It puts you in a mindset that your goal will be accomplished OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR
That third point is the most important because it transforms your mindset from having a goal – to having a long term goal that you are not prepared to dedicate yourself to.
Now let’s get to the fun part… How do you break down your large goal into quarterly goals and then monthly goals?
Before you get started breaking down your goal, you need to have one LARGE goal to work with. If you're still nailing down your big goal (or still searching for some mental clarity in your vision, check out How To Create Your 5-Year Vision (even if you don’t know where to start).
Once you have your big goal, it's time to break it down into the tiny steps you'll make over the next year to make this your best year ever.
CREATE YOUR QUARTERLY GOALS
As a child, I was a serious gamer. (I actually had an entire birthday party where I asked my friends to show up with their Gameboys to play Pokemon together.) I would get super excited when I hit a checkpoint and now I could do no wrong in the game. No matter what I did, I was not going back to square one.
Think about your quarterly goals like a checkpoint in a video game. Once you've crossed one of these large hurdles, you're well on your way to completing your goal.
What four huge milestones do you have to hit to be able to accomplish your goals at the end of the year?
For Example, if you want to write a book you may want to:
- Quarter 1: Create the book outline and the characters.
- Quarter 2: Write the first draft of the book.
- Quarter 3: Get feedback.
- Quarter 4: Write the final version of the book.
(Side note: Before you legit writer’s start judging, please know that this is my loose – very loose – interpretation of what it would take to write a book. I understand everyone’s process is different.)
Now that you know exactly what you want to do for each quarter of the year, you have already achieved one massive benefit: You don’t have to focus on everything all at once. That means that while you’re creating your outline, you don’t have to concern yourself with writing the book. In fact, you can clear your mind of the next steps entirely because you know exactly what you will do – and when you’re going to do them.
BREAK DOWN THE GOALS INTO THE MONTHLY GOALS.
With three months in each quarter, we’re going to take the quarterly goals and break them down further into three bite-sized goals.
Let’s take the Quarter 1 Goal from the first example.
Quarter goal: Create the book outline and develop characters
- January: Create the outline for the book
- February: Develop the plot, conflict and scene
- March: Describe the characters look and personalities
By breaking your goals down in this way you can celebrate your small wins each month, while still having a legitimate plan to get to the rest of your goals. You can also work on one goal without the pressure of feeling like you have to do "it all" right now.
With that mental weight off your shoulders you can fully immerse yourself into what you're working on right now. You can slowly think through exactly how you want your book to flow (or start your weight loss journey with eating one less piece of fresh-baked sugar cookies or reclaim your time by NOT letting Netflix force you into an additional episode of Stranger Things) knowing that you'll get to the next step of the process shortly. #GoodLuckWithThat
Taking some time to develop your largest goal into an annual plan will help you map out your goals and ensure that you complete them by the end of the year.
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