Although we still have a few weeks left of the season, September always feels like the beginning of autumn, full of hope and anticipation. And with a new school and university term about to commence, now is the perfect time to do some goal planning.
The difficulty with setting goals is that no matter how much planning we do our daily tasks often take priority, meaning our goals get put to one side. In addition to this, many of us get distracted and as time passes our initial excitement and motivation can begin to fade.
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
If, like me, you find it difficult to stay on track, here are a few things to support you. Some may resonate and others may not, so it’s valuable to find out what works for you and to follow your own path. If there’s one thing I can sure be sure of, it’s that I’ll be celebrating every one of my small wins with some tea and cake!
1. Maintain your focus
Regularly think about your goals to remind yourself of why you want to reach them. This can be done in whatever way prefer, from focusing on them each morning, to including them in your daily journaling. You may even wish to listen to goal focused guided meditations and positive and uplifting music and podcasts. Whatever you decide, find what works for you and stick to it.
2. Create a vision board
Collect some images that sum up your goal and create a vision board to help you stay on track. It could include images, inspirational quotes, mantras or anything else that will support you with some creative visualisation. Having a visual reference point is a great way to stay focused.
3. Simplify your commitments
Look closely at your commitments and how you spend your time to see if anything can be tweaked, combined or removed. To do this you could list your weekly and monthly tasks under two headings: passions and obligations. That way if something isn’t joyful or essential you could consider letting it go. Further reading: how to simplify your life.
4. Set some boundaries
Once you’ve simplified your schedule it’s good to protect your time. Without doing so you may find it gets taken up with something deemed more important. Never feel you must say yes to every invitation, offer or request. Feel confident in making bold choices about how you spend your time and set some boundaries to protect it. That way you’ll have more hours in the day to focus on your goals.
5. Be mindful of distractions
We all have things we can’t resist checking: news updates, email, social media etc. It’s prudent to establish your weaknesses so you can be mindful of when you’re being distracted. If you find it difficult to avoid procrastinating, there are many things you can try. These range from putting your phone on silent to turning off the wi-fi in your home (seriously, I’ve done this!). Your time is precious so don’t let the distractions win! Further reading: six ways to spend less time online.
6. Celebrate the small wins
As you work towards your goals it’s important to celebrate the journey, pausing to enjoy how far you’ve come. Whether you’ve completed a task or reached an objective, stopping to reflect is a positive thing to do. Celebrating the wins creates a healthy cycle, helping us to recharge and motivating us to push forward.
7. Find some cheerleaders
Involve family, friends or colleagues because being accountable to others is extremely empowering. Saying what you’d like to achieve brings it to life and if your goals are met with a little enthusiasm it will motivate you further. If you’re feeling really brave you could share your goals on social media, that way you’ll have a whole host of cheerleaders on your side!
8. Create some white space
White space is a time when nothing is booked in and it can be used to do whatever takes your fancy. It’s great to have this buffer because it gives you space to think, reflect and recharge. It can also be used to review where you are with your goals and to make tweaks and changes if required. When you rest your body and mind it will prepare you for the next stage in your journey.
9. Practice self-compassion
Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism, it will change your experience and better support you. Learn from your mistakes – it might simply mean you need to make a few changes. It is lovely to acknowledge how far you’ve come and tweak your plans when required along the way.
10. Enjoy the journey
Although I think goals are valuable, it’s far more important to enjoy the journey, otherwise, we’ll effectively be wishing away our lives! Goals shouldn’t be set to prove ourselves, they should simply act as sign posts to gently guide us in the right direction. Always remember that it’s okay to fail because there’s value and wisdom to be gained from the experience. Further reading: the benefit of embracing flow in life and work.
In my September e-newsletter, I’ve shared a small exercise on goal setting. If you’d like to receive my monthly letters please join my mailing list.
Thank you, as always, for stopping by. I hope you have a gorgeous day!