115: Goal Setting
You would think with a name like “goal digger” I would be a giant fan of goal setting but the truth is, in the past it hasn’t always worked for me. It’s that time of year again – the goal setting central time of year when everyone creates resolutions and announces them to the world in hopes that maybe it will actually stick. Now I don’t know about you – but a lot of times I totally flop and fail on these goals and I usually start writing in a planner and by February 2nd, I don’t even know where that planner is and I haven’t written in it for two weeks. I’ve tried and tried to crack the code on how to approach New Year goal setting and I finally figured out a few hacks that helped me not just achieve my goals but crush them.
As I was preparing for this show I really started to dig into psychology behind what makes use achieve our goals or leave them in the dust! One of my biggest findings that somewhat shocked me is that motivation has VERY little to do with the success factor of a goal. Say what? I thought that being motivated meant I would crush my goals but it turns out INTENTION is more important than motivation. British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% people who planned their intention by writing down when and where they would exercise each week ended up following through.
In an article by James Clear, he says: most people talk about making change and achieving goals. Words like motivation, willpower, and desire get tossed around a lot. But the truth is, we all have these things to some degree. If you want to make a change at all, then you have some level of “desire.” The researchers discovered that what pulls that desire out of you and turns it into real–world action isn’t your level of motivation, but rather your plan for implementation.
In fact, over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: people who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.
You can apply this strategy to almost any goal you can think of, and certainly to most health goals. For example, if you want to start a daily meditation habit this month, then you’ll be more likely to stick to your goal if you plan out when and where you’ll meditate each day.
So we talk about being intentional in relationships, online, with how we are presenting ourselves but how are we being intentional about our goals? It’s easy for us to say: I’m going to work out every day but if we never take time to specifiy when and where this will take place, life is going to find a way to suck away all of our hours and leave us exhausted lounging in yoga pants that never made it to yoga.
James Clear said this and it stopped me in my tracks: If you don’t plan out your behaviors, then you rely on your willpower and motivation to inspire you to act. But if you do plan out when and where you are going to perform a new behavior, your goal has a time and a space to live in the real world. This shift in perspective allows your environment to act as a cue for your new behavior. To put it simply: planning out when and where you will perform a specific behavior turns your environment into a trigger for action. The time and place triggers your behavior, not your level of motivation.
So what’s been working for me? Not setting goals for the entire year but more for a quarter at a time… because a year is an awfully long time and it can feel restricting. When I joined my first mastermind this year, we wrote down goals for income, impact, and us as individuals – something for YOU not tied to work. Then we shared them with the person next to us, just speaking these goals into existence and not letting them sit on a page in the notebook helped them feel more real and helped us set with conviction.
After setting these three goals, we had to write down 3 action steps to make them happen and when we would complete them. So at the end of the day you had NINE steps to complete in the span of one quarter to get you towards your income, impact, and individual goal.
So for example, I wrote down:
- I want to make 400k in Q3, which was a big stretch goal because we had zero launches so in order to set an intention, it helped me want to get my new course into automation, to work on mini funnels to connect the links for people who hadn’t been offered a product, and then focus on other revenue streams that I had neglected like our condo, social media sponsorships etc.
- For my individual goal, I wrote down that I wanted to lose 20 lbs: of course that’s a pretty mega goal for just one quarter of time but I cut out gluten, I set a goal for how many steps I was getting each day, and I challenged myself to study how to lower my stress, thus reducing my cortisol.
- Impact goals are my favorite because while it sounds generic, you can set some really big goals in terms of making an impact. For Q3 I wanted to fund an entire water project in the Dominican Republic, so it helped me support my income goal knowing that if I could hit that, then I could donate more and impact more. We also looped in an email sequence sharing our goal and shared a video of the community we wanted to impact.
For me, quarterly goals feel better because I’m not stuck for a year or I don’t feel like a total failure if after one month I haven’t progressed because I love the notion of focusing on “batch” achievement in a sense of working hard at one thing for a period then making progress before moving on to the next.
So what happens when I don’t hit the goals? Well, nothing. Because working towards them means I’m progressing more than if they never existed. I just “missed a goal” a few weeks ago and instead of being mad about it, I could see the beauty in our efforts and the fact that there were giant wins beyond just the goal itself.
Goals shouldn’t back us into a corner, they should give us the intention to be thoughtfully moving towards something. Yes, we can be motivated, yes, we can be inspired but the beauty lies in the intention and the action plan. As you start to set goals for the new year, create 3 steps you’re going to take to make each goal happen and include the “when” and “where.” If you want to increase your chances for success, share it with someone who understand what you are working towards and give them the chance to challenge your action plan because sometimes we complicate things or choose the wrong place to start.