How to Create Goals that Stick

How to Create Goals That Stick How to Create Goals that Stick

Making goals and attempting to turn dreams into reality are as common to humans as breathing. From the time we are able to understand that change is possible—that renewal of self is possible—we begin to almost daily think “what if?”

The real truth about goals is that if there’s not some kind of intentionality behind them, then they’re just dreams—a hazy thought that soon passes away. Even if your dream becomes a recurring thought, it remains nothing more than a fanciful hope, a scheme destined to stay an illusion.

Dave Ramsey says, “Vision that is ready to go to work is called a goal.” The first step in converting a vision or dreams into a goals is to take action by writing out those goals.

Make Your Goals Actionable by Writing them Out

Take out your computer right now—or an old-fashioned piece of paper and a pencil—and write out your goals. Don’t wait, do it right this moment, even if you’re only jotting something down you can refine later.

Why write your goals? There are numerous benefits, but here are my top 5 reasons:

  1. Clarity: Forcing yourself to write out your goals helps you see if you really have an idea of what you want to achieve. Remember, we began determining our goals by asking, “who do I want to become?” Answer that question. [Goals must be specific.]
  2. Actionability: When you get your goals down in a written form you see for the first time whether or not you can truly take action to reach your goals. You may discover that your goal is simply not practical or possible—at least without refinement. [Goals must be attainable.]
  3. Measurability: In order to ultimately reach your goals, you must be able to track your progress. How do you know if you’re going forward or backward unless you can define what forward motion looks like. You begin to set a standard of measure when you write out your goals, and you have a concrete idea of your destination—a success metric. [Goals must be measurable and have a time limit.]
  4. Incrementalism: Once written, you not only have a foundation for actionable steps to reach your goals, but you can also see a bigger picture that will reveal how to break your large, long-term goals into smaller short-term segments. [Goals must be realistic.]
  5. Ownership: Writing down goals helps you determine whether those goals were your idea or someone else’s. Goals cannot be something you’ve been pressured into making, or constructed out of a sense of guilt—that’s setting yourself up for failure. YOU must be the one who desires to change—not your parents, spouse, or boss—you. [Goals must be uniquely yours.]

Having written goals helps you stick with your goals by giving you something specific to look forward to. You have a clear destination in mind and you’re setting yourself up to draw the map and create an itinerary. You’ll be able to know what success looks like because you’ve given it a clear definition.

Now that you’ve written out your goals you’re ready to take your first real steps toward an extraordinary life.

Have your written out your goals in the past? In what ways did having written goals help you successfully reach those goals? Share your answers in the comments.

Goals Can’t Be Compartmentalized

goals cant be compartmentalized Goals Cant Be Compartmentalized

Before you launch into setting down your goals and start making plans on how to reach them, there’s another concept that needs to be understood and become a permanent part of your thinking. Don’t fall into the false philosophy of believing that life can be compartmentalized, that you can keep certain parts of your life completely separate from the other parts.

Living an incremental life is living through stages, not separated episodes—your life is a connected whole.  Life stages are never compartmentalized. Just as your life has naturally flowed from birth through childhood into adulthood and beyond, so do your choices, actions, and experience. It’s foolish to think you can keep any part of your life separated from the rest. When you attempt to keep certain parts separated, your life begins to fragment and you start to feel frayed at the edges.

All of Your Life is Interconnected

Everything you’re involved in, every relationship, every decision, every action, every success and failure, every secret—all of them have a direct effect on everything else going on in your life. When you get a handle on this truth and keep it in the forefront of your mind, your goal-making and life planning process changes dramatically.

How will reaching your goal effect your relationships with your significant other, children, family, and friends? How will the journey toward your goal effect your career, or your mental and physical health? These and many more issues must be taken into consideration as you sit down to map our your goals.

So, for your vision and goals to have long-term positive impact, they must take into account every facet of your life, including but not limited to:

life pie chart Goals Cant Be Compartmentalized

Notice that while each piece above may have a separate label, they’re all connected—all part of the same circle of your life.

As you sit down and begin to think through who you want to become, don’t forget to consider the impact your goals will have on your entire life, not only the parts that most closely associated with that goal. Next,we’ll get those goals put down on paper.

How Should I Determine My Goals?

The Incremental Life1 How Should I Determine My Goals?

I wrote in my last post about how one of the facets of The Incremental Life is to have goals and dreams in mind—a destination to work toward. There are those who have no problems with goal setting, but for those who do, this post if for you.

People who have trouble setting goals often fall into one of two camps. They’re either people with little to no ambition, or people who don’t yet have a focus to point themselves towards. My guess is that, if you’re reading this, you’re more likely to fall into the latter group.

How do you set goals if you don’t know where you want to go? Bill Hybels, in his Simplify sermon series, directs us to ask a far better question.

Don’t ask what you should do; ask, “Who do I want to become?” And when you schedule your life around that idea, the rest will fall into place.

You see, the choices we make today are taking us down a path to somewhere, but is it where we want to go? Who are we becoming as we walk through life, and are those steps molding us into someone we want to become?

Take some time right now to write out a list of attributes you would want someone to use to describe you. Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Cheerful
  • Generous
  • Faithful
  • Successful
  • Entrepreneur
  • Famous
  • Humble
  • Leader
  • Servant
  • Honest

Now let’s take it to a higher level. Write out the eulogy you hope someone might give at your funeral someday. That’s the person you want to become.

Only then will you be ready to begin writing out your goals.

Hybels quote How Should I Determine My Goals?

Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be

The Incremental Life1 Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be

The first step in seeing your goals and dreams realized is to realize that there are steps to reaching those goals and dreams.

How’s that for a convoluted sentence?

A successful life is one that is lived in purposeful increments. Proverbs 13:4 says, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” (NLT) Some translations use the word diligent to describe those who find prosperity. Notice the proverb doesn’t say only Christians or religious people will prosper, or only those who pray a special prayer or live according to a secret formula—it specifically says those who work hard will prosper.

No Easy Prosperity Schemes Here

The kind of life that finds prosperity through hard work is what I call The Incremental Life. The Incremental Life isn’t sexy or exciting to outsiders, but it’s a life set up for success.  The Incremental Life looks something like this:

  • The Incremental Life has goals and dreams in mind—a destination.
  • The Incremental Life has steps mapped out toward those goals—a plan.
  • The Incremental Life has intentionality behind every step—a purpose.
  • The Incremental Life has no excuses for shortcuts—a work ethic.
  • The Incremental Life has counted and understands the costs—a budget.

Climb the Stairs

The Incremental Life is like the staircase of a tall building. Each small step is a mark of upward motion toward your ultimate goal. There can be dozens, hundreds, or thousands of steps between where you are and where you want to be, and getting there will sometimes wear you out and wear you down.

There are landings all along the way, each one with a door that opens up to a new floor to explore. You can choose to stop and explore that floor, but should you? Is there something of worth behind that new door? Will you be distracted or delayed in reaching your final destination on time?

Why take the stairs instead of the elevator? You have far greater appreciation for what’s been achieved because it wasn’t easy. You didn’t take the easy way of staying on always-level ground and pushing a button that magically did all the work to lift you up while you stood still. You moved higher only through determination, focus, and effort. Even if you had to stop and rest along the way, even if you went back down a few steps because you dropped something, or even if you had help now and again, you can say you walked every step from the bottom to the top.

The first step in seeing your goals and1 Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be