We all know the drill. You set lofty, life-affirming, picturesque goals and then it comes down to actually implementing them. It works for a week or two and then “something suddenly comes up”.
You have other priorities, you don’t have time, the TV is calling, work is tiring you out, you need some quality family time, and then there’s the pesky business of cooking dinner. For those of you not busily distracted, then perhaps it’s a mid-goal crisis. Overwhelm overload.
Life goals can be your greatest source of joy or distress. It all depends on how you manage them.
So, let’s take a look at making those life goals a little less daunting, and a lot more doable. Because in order to succeed in the big picture, you need to manage the finer details.
Managing Goals Rule #1 Plan, plan, and plan some more
The greatest of plans can’t be achieved without actual planning. Which makes planning key for managing your goals. A goal is the tip of the iceberg. Now it’s time to focus on the deep-sea dwelling bottom half. The part that’s not so light and fluffy. Because when it comes to managing your goals you need a plan of attack.
So, sit down. Do some serious thinking, mind-mapping, writing, step-by-step processes – perhaps even a Prezi if you’re feeling ambitious. Lay your goal out in more concrete, practical terms. Create an action plan that is manageable.
And then be prepared to change it! Because things will change a little along the way. You may hit a road bump. You may have to make a detour. Don’t be afraid to alter your plans where need be, rather than ditching them as soon as you are forced off course.
Managing Goals Rule #2 Break up your goals
Are your career goals too lofty? Too difficult to attain? Too far off in the distant future? The easiest way to manage the grandiosity of your goals is to pick up a hammer and break them up.
Instead of attempting the great leap of the century, try setting out some stepping stones instead. Stepping stone one: tick. Stepping stone two: tick… you get the gist.
You need to manage your goals with milestones. Milestones are helpful markers that you can create en route to your goals. Reason being? They help you to see the short-term results of your long-term gains!
It makes your big-picture goal smaller, more finite, more manageable, and offers a tad more instant gratification. So, in your planning make sure you add monthly and weekly milestones to keep you on track.
Managing Goals Rule #3 Master the art of discipline
No goal, no matter how big or how small, can be achieved without discipline. Yes, even if you’ve done all the planning in the world. You’re not going to achieve anything if you don’t do anything. Discipline is key in managing your goals and attaining them.
Order and organisation lead to discipline. And discipline leads to goal attainment. By cultivating the right habits you can foster discipline and allow you to truly get things done in terms of attaining your goals.
The greatest of master plans will never be realised without grit. So, batten down the hatches. Create order out of chaos, and get down to organising! And on the seventh day, rest. Then do it all over again.
Managing Goals Rule #4 And if discipline fails…treat yourself!
Okay, assuming discipline really doesn’t work for you, there is an alternate path. Incentivising! Well actually, this works for disciplined and not-so-disciplined people alike.
Sometimes goals can be a little too far off in the distant future. And long-term commitments require sticking power. So how do you maintain stamina to ensure your goals come to fruition? Simple: Treat yourself (when you deserve it)!
Rather than taking a Spartan approach to success, make the journey enjoyable. Reward yourself for completing milestones. Be the kind of (goal) manager you’d like to have. Rewards make the goal journey more manageable and enjoyable.
Take the time to recognise your achievements. It may be taking yourself on a dinner date, buying that thing you wanted, taking a long weekend off, the world’s your oyster.
Managing Goals Rule #5 Eradicate distractions
Time for a search and destroy mission. We have a million and one things vying for our attention all the time. So, no judgements here if you do get distracted by the bright shiny objects bopping around. It’s human nature. So instead of trying (and failing) to control your nature, control your environment instead.
Achieve your goals by eliminating distractions. Take the time to stop, look and listen for all those busy, buzzing distractions in your life. It may be the news in the background, social media surfing, children running amok, a bottle of red wine, anything.
Find out what’s draining your attention. And once you’ve uncovered it, find ways to limit it (or remove it altogether). By removing distractions, you lend more free time to pursuing and managing your goals. Productive stuff.
Managing Goals Rule #6 Manage your time
Goal management comes hand in hand with time management. In fact, this single strategy, if implemented well enough, can help anyone to achieve the greatest of goals.
Create a good system for managing your time (a little discipline in tow) and implement it. By allocating a good amount of time to your goal you effectively utilise your time, rather than squandering it.
Now, the best way to manage your time is to create a morning routine for success. Because morning time is the time of day where discipline is at its highest.
Make it your morning ritual to tackle your MITs (Most Important Tasks) straight off the bat. You’ll also find that this sets the tone for your time allocation for the rest of the day.
Managing Goals Rule #7 Leave room to change your goals
Fact of life: No one’s the same person as yesterday. An epiphany swoops in and boom, that goal you aspired to since day dot doesn’t seem so tantalising anymore.
But you worked so hard for that goal!? And yes, that’s great, but it doesn’t matter now. You need to make sure your goals are in the service of your future self. There is no point in pursuing a goal you don’t really want.
So, give yourself permission to change your mind. You’re not giving up. You’re not admitting defeat. You’re just changing your goal focus. Or maybe, re-focusing your goal with a different angle. You’re finding your 'why.'
Wanting to achieve a goal is what gives you the stamina, determination and passion to achieve a goal. Nothing (good) was ever achieved with a lacklustre desire or attitude.
Managing Goals Rule #8 Beware perfectionism
No one is perfect. Well, some people try to be. But they’re usually boring, obsessive, and/or drive themselves into a mental breakdown. But your destiny is to attain a goal, not destroy it.
High standards are great, within limits. And managing your goals requires you to manage yourself. From implementing some necessary work-life balance to taking and managing career breaks.
So, when the anxious whispers of perfectionism come calling, ease up on yourself. When managing your goals, it won’t all be smooth sailing. Things may not go according to plan. Setbacks will happen. And that’s okay.
Show yourself some compassion. Because if you get too bogged down in the little details you may lose sight of your big-picture goal.
Goal attainment comes with goal management. So, plan out your goals and manage them with milestones and time allocation. Master the art of discipline and where discipline fails… lighten up and treat yourself!
And, most importantly of all, remember, to be human! To err is human. And to change is even more so. So, embrace these inevitable facts of life. Give yourself permission to change your mind and to be less than perfect. Then soar.