Goal Setting: Breaking Down Big Goals into Monthly Ones

The last post discussed how to set overall goals for the whole year. Part of why people have trouble reaching their goals is that a year can seem like a long time so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a larger goal and not know where to start. Unfortunately, sometimes when people don’t know where to begin, they either don’t start at all … or they start but give up before reaching the goal.

If you have a larger goal for the end of 2020, you want to reverse engineer that goal and break it down month by month. This way, you start with small, manageable steps that build on each other and it becomes way easier to reach your goal. I’ll give you a few examples and I’ll also provide a free monthly planning template you can try out.

Health Goal Example:

If you have a year-end goal of being healthier, think of a step you could implement first. Not ten steps–like exercising more, drinking more water, eliminating sugar, cutting carbs, increasing vegetables, meditating, etc. Pick one thing first and do that. Also, try not to be extreme in that one step. For instance, if you are currently exercising ZERO times per week and you put that your goal is to exercise every day for two hours … well, you are most likely going to fail in that goal. You want to set yourself up for success which will cause increased motivation and happiness. So, for my clients who exercise zero or once a week, we set the goal for the first month to increase exercise 2X per week. That’s it. Then, if they exercise more days some week, it feels amazing to them, like they’ve gone above and beyond. Keep it simple.

Financial Goal Example:

If you have a goal of saving for a specific vacation, kitchen appliance, etc, then research what you need to save per month given your desired timeline and make that a monthly savings goal–and put that money into a separate account for that specific thing if possible. Some online banks let you name your savings accounts whatever you want which is a fabulous idea as it creates excitement and motivation. So you can name an account “European escapades” or “kitchen remodel” which makes it even more fun to put money into it.

You would apply these same concepts to career goals, relationship goals, spirituality goals, etc. Start with the first step the first month and then assess how it goes before deciding what to implement the following month. Next week, we will go into specific weekly goal planning in a way that sets you up for success. In the meantime, you can grab this Monthly Planning Sheet to use if you want somewhere to list your goals for this month.

Make sure to check out plenty of other tips on the blog such as 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Ideal Career.  Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

How to Set Realistic Goals for 2020!

Happy 2020! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday season with family and friends. I love this time of year as it’s a literal new beginning and is a great chance to set yourself up for a successful year. I’ve never been a fan of resolutions because they often don’t work for many reasons. However, I’m a huge fan of setting goals, because research has shown over and over again that people make progress in the things that they track.

This is the first in a series of 4 posts on goal-setting and we’ll start with the big overall goals you have for yourself for 2020 and the following posts will show you how to reverse engineer those goals into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks to set yourself up to succeed in those goals. Here are a few key tips to goal setting for 2020:

  1. First, you want to choose overall goals in no more than 3-4 areas of your life. Why? Because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and then become paralyzed into inaction by those feelings. They don’t know which steps to take first, so they take no steps at all. I recommend choosing just 1-2 career goals and 1-2 personal goals for the year.
  2. Make the goals things you have control over. This is a big one. For instance, you can’t say you will get a promotion (unless you’re in charge of giving one to yourself) or that you will meet your future spouse but you can focus on doing things to improve your career such as obtain a new certification, exceed your quotas, etc. or put yourself out there on the dating market.
  3. Be specific. We’ll go more into this with the reverse engineering part of our goal setting in future posts. For now, just get as specific as possible with the overall goal. However, it’s fine to put something like “improve my relationship with my spouse,” “eat healthier,” or “change jobs” because we will drill down into more specificity in future posts.
  4. Use creative visualization. If you’re unsure where to begin as far as goal-setting, then try this creative visualization exercise. Imagine yourself at the end of 2020 and feeling like you just had the best year ever! Feel the glow of happiness and satisfaction until you’re actually smiling. Once you’re smiling because it feels real to you, you’re all set. Now think about this question while you’re still experiencing that happiness: what is different about my life in this visualization than how it is right now?
  5. What will make the biggest difference right now? That’s usually your biggest clue with where to start in terms of goal-setting. What area of your life is causing you the most frustration or discomfort? Start there. Think about that one area of your life getting better and that will help you determine your goal.

Ready to set some overall goals? You can use a notebook, laptop, planner, or just fill out the items below. Feel free to email me at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com if you’d like a prettier version of the planner sheet below or if you would like to set up a yearly planning session with me.

Personal Goals

Health:                                Spiritual/Mindfulness:  

________________________         _________________________

________________________          _________________________

Relationships/Social:                 Other:

________________________         _________________________

________________________         _________________________

Professional Goals

        Career Goal #1                       Career Goal #2

 __________________________      __________________________

Career Goal #3                      Career Goal #4

__________________________           ____________________________

Other:           ________________________________

Financial Goals

Savings Goals:                       Investment Goals:

____________________________                  _____________________________

____________________________                  _____________________________

Other Financial Goals

____________________________

____________________________

Life Coaching Worksheet: Year End Goal Assessment

I have to admit that I love this time of year! Not just because of all the cooking, family time, and snuggling with my dogs by the fireplace. I love that it’s a perfect time to take stock of the year and then make plans for the next one. Whether or not you reached all of your career goals, personal goals, or other goals, it’s so important to focus your energy ahead on what you want rather than dwell on your perceived shortcoming. Give yourself credit for every win you had, no matter how small you think it is. One of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer is: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

It’s your choice whether to see the glass as half-full versus half-empty! Did you have a goal to lose 10 pounds but “only” lost 5 pounds? Rejoice in losing 5 pounds. Have a goal to meditate daily or increase your income by a certain amount but didn’t quite reach it? Celebrate meditating at least several times a week or increasing your income at all. Then make a plan for 2020 where you set actionable and specific goals. Make the overall end of year goal big but make your daily action steps small and doable–even a marathon is only accomplished step by step.

Later, I will share a sheet for setting your monthly goals to set you up for success in 2020, but for now, here is a free year-end worksheet for you to download so you can take stock of 2019 (download below). I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season!! Love and light, Kristi

Life Coaching Insights: 2019 Mid-Year Goal Check

I can’t believe half of 2019 is over already! Mid-year is a great time to take a few minutes and assess how you’re doing so far with your goals for this year. If you’re on track to meet your personal and professional goals, that’s awesome! *throws confetti* You’re doing great and should be proud so take a moment to celebrate and then keep on truckin’ along. However, if instead you are feeling like you blinked and the year is already half-over and you haven’t accomplished anywhere near what you wanted to by this point—don’t despair. You still have time. Six months, in fact. You still have half the year to focus on making 2019 a success for you.

Ready?

Step 1) Assess where you are now. What is the personal or professional goal you wanted to accomplish? What steps did you accomplish so far? What held you back or got in your way? Examine the goal itself—is it a specific enough goal with small attainable steps? Write down the goal below and make sure it is specific to what you have control over. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds,” you would write something like “exercise 30 minutes per day.” Instead of “make more money,” you would have something specific like “work “x” hours per week on my side hustle” or “make 5 sales calls per day.” You get the idea.

GOAL: ____________________________________________________

Step 2) Break the goal down into smaller steps. Over the next 6 months, if you even take one small step per day or complete one action item, imagine where you’ll be in half a year. You can only climb a mountain one step at a time so instead of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer size of your goal, just take one step today. And then another one tomorrow. Movement creates movement, so even small steps will motivate and energize you.

What is one thing you can do today to get you on your next step to your bigger goal? Examples might include: set up a savings account, go for a walk with a friend, organize one drawer, create a profile on a dating app, make a website, etc.

Your one thing for today: _______________________________________

Step 3) Set aside a few minutes per week to review progress and determine steps for the next week. Many of my career coaching and life coaching clients tell me they prefer to do this on Sunday evening because it gives them focus for the coming week but you do you and see what works best. Assess your completed items for the past week and decide what you need to put on your daily list for the following week. Note: Only assign 1 task per day. You can always do more than one thing which is bonus but you want to set yourself up to succeed. A common mistake is when people put 20 things on their daily task list, and being that they’re human, they don’t complete them and then feel like a failure—plus, when you re-write the same unfinished tasks over and over each day, it makes them lose their impact.

Weekly goal for upcoming week:___________________________________

Then, just rinse and repeat each week. The prior week’s tasks will help determine your next steps. When a certain task feels larger than others, break that down into smaller ones that seem doable. For instance, if you’re decluttering your entire house and this week’s overall goal is the garage which is so crammed with things that you want to cry thinking about it, break that one task down into manageable pieces, e.g. Monday: the shelves by the door, Tuesday: the box of holiday decorations, etc. One of my clients who started her own business broke things down into different days and: set up her LLC, obtained liability insurance, got a logo design, created her tagline and designed her website by picking one thing per day to do. You can do anything if you break it down into small enough steps!

Here is wishing you a successful second half of 2019 and that you finish this year amazed at all that you accomplished!

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you’re ready to change careers or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email Dr. Kristi at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.

5 Steps to Smart Goal-Setting in 2019

I’m not a fan of resolutions because they often don’t work—my husband tells me every year how crowded his gym gets in January but then empties out each February after people give up on their yearly gym resolution. However, I am a big believer in goal setting and the New Year is a great time to get started. Why set goals? Well, if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you will get the same results. Therefore, this year will look pretty much the same as last year if you don’t change anything, which is great as long as everything is already amazing for you. If not, decide what changes would feel good to you and make those your goals. I do an annual goal-setting session with all of my clients at the outset of each year and the following is the basic outline so you can set your own goals in order to make 2019 your best year ever!

 

  1. Begin at the end. Close your eyes and flash forward in your mind to the end of 2019 where you see yourself happy and satisfied with your year. I often use creative visualization with my clients as it helps to quickly clarify what they want out of life. The trick to visualization is to do it until you really feel the emotions of happiness, excitement, well-being, etc. Then evaluate what you just experienced in the visualization by asking “what was different than right now?” In that visualization, are you in a different, more rewarding job? Are you healthier or in better shape? Is your relationship with partner lighter and happier? Did you save more money? Does parenting feel easier and more enjoyable? Did you write that book? You get the idea. Jot down what would make the next year feel amazing to you.

 

  1. Use reverse engineering. After writing down some notes about what you would like to have happen in the next year, work backwards to see where you would need to start now. This can be tricky, especially if the difference between where you would like to be and where you are now feels huge to you. If you want to write a book but have written zero words, then pick the very first step—e.g. decide on a book topic. If you want to save more money, your first step might be exploring savings accounts or investment options. Starting a business and running your own company is a common goal I see with clients, so creating a business plan might be the first step for you before looking for office space, etc. Picturing the end goal and then breaking that down helps to see where to start.

 

  1. Start small. This may seem counter-intuitive to the “go big or go home” thinking that is prevalent in the U.S., but stick with me a minute. Too often, I have clients with a big goal and the amount they have to do to reach that goal can be overwhelming. If you want to get healthier, but your initial goals are “drink 8 glasses of water a day, give up sugar, exercise daily, master yoga, and become a vegetarian,” then you are likely setting yourself up to fail. When we cannot do everything, we often throw up our hands and say “oh well, I tried” and give up (hence the emptier gym in February). It is better to pick one thing until it becomes habit before adding another. If you currently exercise 0-1 time per week, then setting a goal of exercising 2 times per week is a realistic goal where you are setting yourself up to succeed—and then you can increase or add the next goal.

 

  1. Schedule regular check-ins. Too often, people set amazing goals…but then the whole year goes by before they revisit them and are disappointed when they didn’t reach them. Goals take time and energy to reach which is why it’s important to revisit them often. I have most of my clients do weekly assessments of their goals and it does not take much time at all. Schedule 10 minutes on a Sunday and assess where you are. Then decide what small step or steps you need to take the following week and write those down. If you do even 1-2 steps per week, think where you will be at the end of the year compared to doing nothing. Small steps add up to huge accomplishments when done consistently.

 

  1. Do it now. As in, right now. Stop and do one thing related to your goals you just created. Drink that first glass of water, open an online savings account, schedule your two weekly workouts into your planner, make plans for a date night with your spouse. Getting started is always the hardest part, but action begets action. You will feel better the sooner you take that first small step and the next steps become easier to take once you get started. Once you start making progress, the intrinsic motivation kicks in and the excitement level builds until you are well on your way to the amazing year you visualized for yourself.

 

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Life Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you would like more help reaching your goals or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email her at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.