The High-Achiever's 7-Step Guide to Setting Crystal Clear Goals

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This new year my family did something we never have done before. In an effort to spend more time with their adult children who have gone from smiling children to stressed out college students with on-and-off relationships and the occasional all-nighter, my parents planned a trip to the Poconos for the holidays. (As a family who is deathly afraid of the cold and own zero snow gear we gave a hard side-eye to the snow-infused activities and spent most of the time in the house playing Uno. #TravelFail)

2 hours before the ball in Times Square dropped signifying yet another year my mother had a trick up her sleeve. She wanted to spend one hour talking about what we did in 2017 that we were proud of... and another hour talking about what we're going to do in the new year. 

But there was a twist. 

Rather than allowing people to simply call out their New Year's resolutions, the family was given an opportunity to ask questions about each person's goals.

Through that process, we encouraged each other to think deeper about the pie in the sky goals we were setting and confidently walk into the new year with a crystal clear vision.

You don't really need a whole committee pelting you with questions to get clarity on your goals (though my family did take joy in interrogating each other). Instead, you can take your use these seven tips to think through your largest goals.


Step 1: Know Your Why

Your goals become more powerful the second you attach a significant meaning to them. Your "why" is the reason you want to accomplish a goal.

Anyone can set a goal to lose weight, pay off debt or make more money, but what does that change mean for you in your life? If you can take a step back from the actual goal and think about how your life will be impacted by this action, you'll be able create more powerful goals. 

For example: 

Your Goal: I want to pay off my student loan debt.
Better Goal: I want to pay off my student loan debt because: 

  1. I will have more disposable income.
  2. I can save more for retirement.
  3. I can be a better role model for my daughter. 
  4. I can focus on investing and creating a better financial portfolio.

Having a goal is great, but understanding why you want to accomplish that goal is even better. If you can pinpoint a few good reasons or great side effects of accomplishing this goal, then these reasons will help you continue to commit to the goal when times get rough. 


Step 2: Quantify it

Quantifying your goals means to attach a number to it. This means breaking down how much weight you want to lose, how much debt you have to pay off or how many times you want to get deep tissue massages. (Just me?)

For example:

Your Goal: I want to pay off my student loan debt. 
Better Goal: I am going to pay off $32K in student loan debt. 

The benefit of quantifying your goals is that you can clearly and easily articulate exactly how much you have to go on your goals. 


Step 3: Add in a due date

Do you remember being in high school and the teacher tells you you have a paper due at the end of the month, but you'll wait until three days before it's due to start studying? Due dates add a sense of urgency. It can give you the kick in the pants that you need to get moving on the goal. 

Your Goal: I am going to pay off $32K in student loan debt.
Better Goal: I am going to pay off 32K in student loan debt by December 31st

Always set a concrete date for when you want that goal to be completed. Otherwise, you might be reaching towards the same goal every single year because you did not give yourself a definitive date to get it done. Your goal for the year becomes a "someday" goal.


Step 4: Add in the how

Your "how" is your action plan. Breaking your big goals into the simpler goals it'll take to accomplish the goal, you make the goal more tangible. You give yourself an opportunity to mentally break down what it will take to get there. 

Your Goal: I am going to pay off $32K in student loan debt.
Better Goal: I am going to pay off $32K in student loan debt by December 31st by lowering my living expenses by half, sticking to a strict "fun money" budget and creating online products.

This step is one of my favorites because it forces you start talking in terms of action. 


Step 5: Think about the frequency

Every week on Sunday, I head down to a coffee shop and get to work. I can sit there anywhere from 4-6 hours (like a legit 9-to-5) and that is the day that I'm most productive. When I first started doing this, I would pull myself out of bed, shower and have breakfast then (after a half hour of convincing myself that this was good for me) I'd head to the coffee shop. After weeks of doing this every Sunday, no matter where I am or how I feel that day, my body pulls me into a coffee shop to work. 

Adding in the frequency that you will perform an action that helps you reach your goals (whether it's daily, weekly or monthly) will help you develop a habit over time. 

For example:

Your Goal: I'm going to work out more. 
Better Goal: I'm going to work out three days a week. 
Best Goal: I'm going to work out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

Getting super clear on your on when you will work on your goals - and sticking to it over time - will increase your ability to accomplish your goals because over time you'll develop habits.


Step 6: Make Your Goal Present On Your Schedule

Chris Hart once said

"Show me your calendar and I'll show you your priorities." 

It basically means that we all make time for the things that we want to do and the things that we value in our lives. If you want to be a high achiever, you simply have to make your goal one of these priorities. 

That starts with giving your goals a definitive time on your calendar. 

For example:  

Goal: I'm going to work out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 
Better Goal: I'm going to work out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after work.

When you have time slotted for your goal and nothing else can take that time, you become unstoppable.  


Step 7: Speak as if it's already done

Your brain, while incredibly complex, is also pretty easy to trick. That's why we do vision boards annually and look at them daily - the more your brain sees something, the more it believe's it's already done. The same thing goes for what you say. 

Changing your goals from something you will do in the future to something you're currently doing not tells your brain that you are committed to doing this NOW - it's not something you're putting off to a later date. 

For example:

Your Goal: I'm going to work out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after work. 
Better goal: I work out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work.


Bonus: FOCUS on one goal at a time

My last piece of advice is to focus on one large goal at a time. If you're trying to do five things at once, you're putting 20% of your energy into 5 different things. While you might be incredibly busy, you may have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Choose one goal that will make a huge difference in your life - and once that goal is completed - move on to the next one. 

Happy Goal-Crushing!


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