Probably one of the hardest parts about having a goal is not knowing how to get started. You know exactly what you want to accomplish – or maybe you have always known there is something you want to do, but you just can’t find the motivation to figure out how and when you are going to get it done.
The time is now – get ready to plan, work and achieve – it’s easy once you get started. Here is your step by step guide for creating a goal planning template, so that you can not only set a goal, but have rules in place to make sure you actually achieve that goal within a specific time frame.
Step 1: Decide on a goal
Your goal planning template should be structured like a pyramid. At the top goes the simplest, most narrow part, the goal itself, followed by all the elements necessary to eventually make sure that goal becomes an accomplishment. The very top is where we will begin.
Here you will include a space for your goal at the very top of your template. It will state clearly what you are hoping to accomplish. There are a few things you can add to your template to make the process of setting a goal a little easier, guiding you from a broad ambition to a specific achievement.
For our purposes throughout this template setup guide, we will choose “write a book” as your goal. In general, this is the kind of goal you can expect to start with. Ask yourself a question such as, “What do you want to do?” In the space provided you would answer, “Write a book.”
Remember to include elements to help you build SMART goals:
- Specificity – making your goal as specific as possible. For our example you might fill in this part of the template with what kind of book you want to write.
- Measurability – you must be able to measure whether or not you have accomplished your goal. “Write a 70,000-word novel” is a measurable goal because once you have written 70,000 words, you know you have accomplished that goal.
- Attainability – You need to be able to achieve your goal. You wouldn’t want to write down “be as successful as JK Rowling by the end of the year” as your goal because that isn’t possible.
- Results-focused – Your goal needs an endpoint. You need to know that when you are working, you are in some way making progress toward your goal.
- Timely – Your goal needs a deadline. A deadline will eventually help motivate you to continuously work toward your goal even when you don’t want to.
It might help to create a fill in the blank statement such as this: “My goal is to ___ by ____” or “My goal is to write a 70,000-word novel by the time I turn 30.”
Step 2: Establish your “why”
It helps to know why you want to accomplish a specific goal, so including this step on your goal planning template is essential. This is the first motivational aspect of goal planning. You need a rational reason why you want to do something, or there is no way you are ever going to convince yourself to follow through with it.
Create a simple statement like this: “I want to ____ because ____.” Or, “I want to write a 70,000-word novel by the time I turn 30 because I feel I have a story to tell and the world needs to hear it.”
Step 3: Choose “micro” goals
“Micro” goals are nothing more than small goals you need to accomplish in order to achieve your overall goal. Breaking your big goal down into smaller ones makes you more likely to accomplish it. It’s best to leave space for at least two or three smaller “micro” goals on your template. For example, one of your micro goals might be, “Write 1,500 words every weekday.” Eventually you will work your way up to 70,000.
Step 4: Include preset affirmations
At some point throughout your journey toward achieving your goal, you are going to have a very hard time motivating yourself to get something done. As you are coming up with a goal, you will want to write in positive affirmations to refer back to when you feel unmotivated. Make sure you leave space for these on your template so that future you can stay motivated. Something as simple as, “If you are feeling like this goal is not worth it, remember that ___.” Or, “remember that your story is important and you don’t want people to miss out on it.”
Step 5: Establish a reward
At the very bottom of your goal planning template, you should include a space for future you to establish some kind of reward, accessible only once you have actually achieved your goal. You can customize your reward later to fit with whatever you decide your goal is going to be. This is the second motivational aspect of goal planning – making sure that you have something to look forward to once the goal has been completed successfully by the previously set deadline.
Setting and achieving goals is hard, especially if you tend to give up easily when motivation is low. However, the more work you put into making sure you have good reasons to continue working toward your goal – before you even set one – makes you much more likely to be successful.
Follow these steps to setting up your goal planning template, keeping in mind that you can use it for both very big and very small goals. Size does not matter. If you get used to the template, you will actually over time find it easier and easier to set goals and follow through with them, because you will already have a better idea of the things that motivate you to work harder and the kinds of rewards that work and do not work. Set goals that are important to you, and never give up.