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[How to] Set Goals and Change Your Life

Years ago, I decided to be braver and bolder, and started to set much clearer goals. And, by getting clear on what I wanted to achieve and taking small steps to get there, I began to actually achieve my goals, that were once simply fantasies. By achieving some of my goals, I was naturally inspired to keep at it and set new ones. This journey of focus and taking it step by step has proven to me that anything is possible with a roadmap. Here’s a post based on my personal experience with goal setting, and I hope to inspire you to set clearer goals and change your life too!

NOTE: You can set all kinds of goals. Anything from getting a work project done to visiting a friend. For the sake of clarity, this post focuses more on setting life goals – Looking at what’s important, setting clear goals, and drawing up a roadmap towards improving your life. That said, this goal setting framework can be applied to anything, so keep your mind open! 🙂

Why is setting goals important
How to set goals and change your life
— STEP ONE: Take the time to get clear on what you want
— STEP TWO: Pick a goal to focus on
— STEP THREE: Break down your goal into smaller steps
— STEP FOUR: Create your roadmap to success
— STEP FIVE: Commit and go for it
Tips to help keep you on track

Why is setting goals important

For one, if you’re not clear on what you want, how are you going to really get anywhere?

By getting clear on what you want and taking steps towards your goals, you can actually create a life you truly love! That’s a good enough reason for me!

By setting goals you start to focus in on what’s important. You give your life focus, and that feels good.

It also helps prevent overwhelm and a chaotic mindset, because you can bring yourself back to your single-pointed focus.

Most of all… you realise that you CAN achieve more than you think. Step by step I’ve managed to achieve things that I’ve previously just thought about for years and years. Like moving to Europe… that was on my mind for years. It was only when I was in clear goal setting mode that I said ‘right, I want to move to Europe’ and I laid out the steps to get there. And, boom, I was on a plane to Italy.

Also, once you achieve a goal, you are so motivated to go for the next one. And, slowly you develop a goal setting mindset. By working your important goals, you give your life more and more direction.

So, there are many benefits of goal setting. However, if you want to take one thing away from this post, it’s to know that: By deciding on what’s important to you, setting goals and going for it, you have the opportunity to create and live your most wonderful life. Goals setting helps you take charge of your own life and make it its absolute best!

How to set goals and change your life

Do you have certain goals, big or small, that you want to achieve?

The process of goal setting doesn’t need to be a complicated one. It’s actually quite simple. The difficulty comes in getting really clear on what you want, and being realistic in terms of the action steps that you can handle to get there.

Below is a basic goal setting guide.

STEP ONE: Take the time to get clear on what you want

For some it’s really difficult to decide on what they want. They either want many many things, or simply feel like they have no idea what they want.

Take some solo time to sit down and ask yourself some deep and serious questions.

Questions like:

Who am I? What do I want? What is really important to me? How do I want to live my life? How do I want my life to look like in 1, 2, or 5 years time?? What does success look like to me?

Then use tools like journalling, brainstorming, and vision boards to find some clarity. I use all three of these tools, and find they work so well.

Journalling helps me quiet my mind by getting out all the stuff swirling around in my head out onto paper. Over time, journalling really helps me sort out the madness and start finding solutions.

Brainstorming is a lot of fun too. I get a big white piece of paper and a bunch of coloured pens, and off I go. 2 or so hours of brainstorming ‘My Life’. So many wonderful ideas start flowing and I start to see patterns and figuring out what’s more important to me.

Creating a vision board is a brilliant exercise too. Divide your life into categories, and then look for imagery that represents what you want it to look like 1, 2, 5 or more years ahead. There are obviously many many images to choose from, so just the process of having to choose your best photos to represent that area of your life forces you to start deciding what you want most. It’s a great exercise in prioritising. Read this specific blog post on How to Create a Vision Board.

Meditation & Breathing Exercises can seem hippyish to some, but I’ve found it to be hugely helpful in clearing my mind and finding focus. Just the act of sitting down for 15 minutes in the quiet morning, listening to a guided meditation, makes me feel so calm and centred at the start the day. Especially when very busy or feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a simple 5 minute breathing exercise can help calm and centre me, helping me stay focused on what’s important instead of getting swept up in life’s madness.

After doing some ‘soul-searching’ as I like to call it, write down the things that are most important to you.

STEP TWO: Pick a goal to focus on

Of course you can pick as many goals as you want, big or small.

For this post, we’re focusing on one goal at a time.

Decide if you want to start with a shorter smaller goal or a longer bigger goal. Write it down.

Be sure to write down your WHY next to it. This is what will keep you motivated to keep going.

For example, I wouldn’t just write down “I want to go remote in May next year”. I would also add in “so that I can have more freedom and time to study health coaching”. Remembering your WHY is powerful when goal setting, as it has a far more emotional attachment.

After writing it down, sleep on it. Let it simmer in your mind for a big, and then revisit it after a few days.

Then, make a commitment.

STEP THREE: Break down your goal into smaller steps

Now, look at your goal and break it down into smaller steps.

Don’t be scared to make each action step as small as you like. Make each step feel manageable.

Seriously, make sure your steps are small enough to handle. Imagine you’re already taking that first step – Does it feel challenging but still manageable? Good! If it gives you complete overwhelm and anxiety and makes you want to truly run a mile or hide under your bed, maybe you should make it smaller.

List all the different action points (activities) you need to do, in order from start to finish.

Depending on how big or small your goal it will determine how many smaller steps you’ll have. A bigger goal may have 20 different steps, while a much smaller goal may only have 10 steps.

STEP FOUR: Create your roadmap to success

With your goal in mind, think about a realistic deadline for your goal – 1 month? 6 months? A year?

Choose a realistic timeframe. In the beginning I’d set myself ridiculously short timeframes, putting way too much pressure on myself. That’d freak me out and I’d end up not doing anything. Now I challenge myself, but I give myself more time so that I can still live my life, and still manage to take the steps. It may take a little longer to achieve a goal, but the important thing is, I’ve set myself up for success!

Choose your timeframe, and start creating your roadmap.

Open up your calendar, and map out your smaller steps leading up to your goal.

You may already have a timeline in mind. If so, start by adding your final deadline in. Then look at how much time you have and fit in the steps in between.

If you don’t have a timeframe, look at your action steps and think about how much time you need to take each of them. Perhaps you map out 1 action step a week or every 2 weeks. This will depend on how big or small your steps are.

In your calendar, be aware of the rest of your life, and events or activities that may be coming up. For example, if you know you know you’re going away on vacation this summer, perhaps you want to leave more space between action steps during that time.

Once your steps are added to your calendar, look at your roadmap as a whole. Do it feel challenging but still manageable? If it feels too intense, extend it and spread out your action points. Or, perhaps you may want o break up your action steps into even smaller steps.

STEP FIVE: Commit and go for it

Have your goal written down somewhere that you can see or refer to. Some like to write it on a post-it and stick it up somewhere visible. I keep my goals in my Goals Journal, where I can easily refer to them whenever I need to.

Remember to have the WHY behind your goal written down right next to it. For example, when I wanted to work remotely, my big goal was in my journal as “Leave 9-5 and work remotely so that I can have the FREEDOM I so desire“. Next to it I also outlined what that extra freedom would give me: The time to study at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, more time to build Live the Wonderful, the opportunity to travel more, visit family and live anywhere.

As I worked towards the goal, I would regularly refer to this page to remind me WHY I wanted this. This kept me motivated through the tough times.

So, keep your goal and the WHY behind it close by to keep yourself motivated.

Look at your goal and truly commit. I like to look at my goals and say ‘Ok Sian, let’s do this!’ 🙂

Now it’s time to take that first step. Ready?

Tips to help keep you on track

Sticking to goals can be really difficult.

Here are some tips that help me keep on track:

Be realistic.

Seriously, be realistic about how much time you have and what you can do in that time. I used to set myself ridiculous goals in very small timeframes. And, by doing that, I wouldn’t reach my goal in time and I’d feel disappointed. Over and over it would happen, making me feel very demotivated. Now, I still push myself, but I give myself enough time to actually get it done. So, don’t set yourself up to fall – find a balance of being realistic but also pushing yourself a little.

Truly commit.

Make your goal a thing. Write it down. put it in your calendar. Say it out loud. Focus in on what exactly your one goal is, and why you deeply want it, and keep referring back to it. Say to yourself “I can and I’m going to do this.

Be prepared for change.

Sometimes goals change. We can even change along the way. And that’s okay. I wanted to move to Europe and initially wanted to move to the Netherlands. Along the way that changed and we moved to Italy for various reasons. No matter what changes, be assured that just by setting the goal and taking action, your life starts to open up in the right ways. Now when I look back, I’m so glad I moved to Italy over the Netherlands. It was, in the end, the best choice for me.

Be prepared for setbacks.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it’s not as simple as just executing your steps. Life happens and things get in the way.

I’ve had to adjust my goal timeline countless times. I wanted to study at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and was writing to them for over 3 years before I finally was at a place to actually enrol. Sure, I got frustrated and upset, but the important thing is that I never gave up. I just moved the marker and kept trying to move forward. Eventually I got there.

Keep remembering the WHY.

The big reason WHY you’re working towards a goal will keep you motivated. You don’t just want to “lose weight”. Your specific goal and reason WHY may be something like “I want to lose excess weight so that I can fit comfortably into my new bikini for summer and feel healthy, strong and amazing!” That feeling of you feeling healthy, strong and amazing in your new bikini is what will keep you going. Far more that simply ‘losing weight’.

Be kind to yourself.

Some steps can be difficult. We may procrastinate and mess up our timelines. We may have an excessive amount of work and simply have no time. Unexpected events may come up and throw our schedules out the window. Remember, life is unpredictable, so don’t be hard on yourself. We all fall off the wagon, but only some of us keep getting up again and again. Be prepared to get back up and keep trying.

Get your priorities in order.

Often we waste time on things that don’t really nourish us. Look at what you spend your time on and start deciding what’s really important to you. This way, you can start to free up more time to work on your important goals.

Be clever with your time.

One of the best tips is to work out when you work better on certain activities. For instance, I know that I need to exercise first thing in the morning, before the day starts. If I schedule exercise in at the end of the day, I’m far less likely to stick to my goals. I also know that I am much more able to tackle difficult tasks, like a writing project, very early in the morning, and leave other creative and strategic thinking for the afternoon and evening. Look at your day and think about how you can be clever with your time.

Are you ready to start setting some goals?

I hope that this post has inspired you to start setting some important goals, and going for your dreams. With these simple steps, you can start developing a goal setting mindset, and turning your dreams and into a reality. Along the way you’ll also get stronger and stronger!

What’s one goal, big or small, that you’re going to commit to? Let me know in the comments!

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