The Big Idea
Start with the end in mind.
Questions I Answer
- How do I figure out the right goals for me?
- What are the best kind of goals to set?
- How do I make time for my goals?
- How do I make my goals achievable?
Actions to Take
- Write down your goals in order to visualize your starting point, your pathway, and your finish line. Having a clear written version of what it is you want to achieve is so important to start working towards success, and that is what I ultimately want for you. I want you to start with the end in mind, break it down, and make it so it’s bite-size. Make it so it’s easy because I want you to really feel like your big goals and your big dreams are within reach.
Key Topics in the Show
3 different categories of goals
Leaning into an area of focus in order to achieve a specific goal
Beginning with the end in mind through the power of visualization
How to create & utilize milestones to attain your goals
Assessing your milestones in order to identify when you need to readjust
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes:
Welcome to season eight of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton. A podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on planning for success using proven productivity strategies. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.
And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 98. All season long we’re talking about creating plans for success, and no discussion about planning would be complete without talking about, of course, goal setting, so for the next few episodes, we are going to be talking all about goals.
Now, when we talk about goal, people get really caught up in this idea of what goals should be, and quite honestly, we’ve gotta stop shooting on ourselves. Goals can be anything you want them to be. There’s no right or wrong answer to what your goals are, or what they’re supposed to be, and I wanna encourage you to think about goals a little bit differently. Instead of these big abstract things hanging over our heads, think of them as milestones. We need to get to where we want to go. Goals may be projects, habits, or tasks, but they all start with the final destination in mind, and that’s what I want us to focus on today, starting with that end in mind.
Now, if you’ve ever heard me talk about goals, you may have heard me talk about the importance of figuring out where it is exactly that you want to go. Now, it doesn’t do us any good to create goals for ourselves if we don’t know where those goals are leading us. Think of it like a river. Let’s say you’re on one side of a river, and you need to get to the other side. There’s no bridge, there’s no road. Would life always be easier if they were just a clear path? Oh, I can’t tell you the number of times that I have prayed just to see that path, but that’s the thing with life.
Rarely is there really a clear path to follow, because, well, life, right? So, there’s not always this clear road we need to go on, and in this case with this river, if there’s no bridge, or no road to get across this raging river, do we just jump in willy-nilly, and just hope for the best? We have to hope that the water doesn’t cover over our heads, or the current doesn’t swallow us whole, or do you stop, and take a look? And, we can decide, yes, we do wanna get across, but how? How do you get across?
Maybe we start to look for some stones to use to jump across, but even then we don’t just start jumping, right? We look first, and we see what rock is the best one to jump to first. Maybe which rock is close to another rock that we can jump to next, and then, we start to see a little pathway of these rocks that can get us to where we want to go. There’s no guarantee that we won’t fall in and get wet, but there is a
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much better chance of actually making across that river, and it’s the same with our goals.
You’re more likely to achieve your goals when you take some time to plan. Now, for some that may be easy to know where you wanna go, but for many people that can really be a challenge, and then, how do we get to that end point of completing them? How do we keep ourselves on track to succeed? And, how do we grow from these experiences? Let’s go ahead, and back up just a little bit because, at the beginning of the goal setting process, you might feel a little, well, overwhelmed.
I recently did a post in my Facebook group asking about the obstacles people face when they’re setting their goals, and so many people shared, they don’t know what goals to set, so it’s not even the challenge of how do you do it, but where do you even begin? And, I get that. It kind of goes back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago. We feel like we should have these certain goals, and that if it doesn’t really fit us, and who we are, then maybe these goals are wrong, or maybe we have no idea what the direction is that we really want to go.
Let’s begin there. The best way to begin setting goals is to realize what matters to you. You want your goals to be something that you’re passionate about, and something you’re excited about reaching. Don’t set goals for yourself because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. Set goals that excite you. Now, you’ve heard me talk about the three areas of your life, home, work, and personal. We’ve talked about this on the podcast before. Goals fall in really those three categories, so let me remind you, work is goals that are connected to your career, or your workplace, and yes, if you’re a stay at home mom, or a CEO of the home, as I like to call it, that is your job. That’s your work. It’s a non-paying job, but a very important job, nevertheless.
If you’re a student going to school, that’s your job. Your work is essentially what you spend the majority of your time doing each day. Personal goals are goals connected to your relationships, including your relationship with yourself, and that’s a very important relationship. One that often gets overlooked, so health, friendships, hobbies, those fit under that category. Home goals are the goals that are connected to the tasks, and the projects that keep the home running smoothly, so these might be goals like organizing your home, decorating your bedroom, saving up for a big item, finances, etc. Those kinds of things. Don’t underestimate the home category, because that’s a category of life that helps us feel secure. It’s a good solid foundation for us, and that’s what allows us to feel good pushing out of our comfort zone.
The trick here is that yes, we have these three different categories in our lives, but we can’t tackle big results, and all three of them all at the same time, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see people making is, they set all kinds of big goals in all different areas of their life, and they wanna do it all at the same time. We have to lean into one area at a time. This is that idea of imbalance that we’ve talked about. We can’t try to do everything because we’ll end up doing nothing. To grow, and to move towards big goals, we have to shift our effort, and our energy to make that goal a priority.
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In our lives, there are three things we can focus on controlling, our time, our energy, and our focus, and these are our three best resources. Really, our most precious resources, and really harnessing these empowers us to take a firm hold of our futures. When we combine the power of these three we’re able to not just achieve our goals, but exceed those goals, and that’s what gets really exciting, but if you split up these three key resources of time, energy, and focus, that’s when we end up just spinning our wheels, and that’s not a really good feeling, right?
We really want to lean into these different areas of our life, which is why balance can’t exist. It’s okay to spend more of those precious three resources in one area of your life, but what’s key here is that then we have to readjust, and we have to shift back. We can’t stay leaned into one area for too long. We have to counterbalance. In other words, if you have a big vision for where you wanna go with say work, it’s okay to spend more time moving towards that goal, but you need to plan to shift back, and then, put more emphasis on personal goals, or home goals, or whatever. We can’t stay leaned into that same area for too long of a time, but really it’s this leaning into an area of focus. That is what gets us the results we want. That’s what allows us to really achieve our goals.
So, start thinking about which of these three areas of our life of, home, work, and personal, which one do you wanna focus on first? Is it work? Is it home? Is it personal? It’s really up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer. Then just spend a little bit of time focusing on just that one area, and thinking about where you want to be in that area of your life in the future. Now, here’s where people get caught up. They think, “Oh, I have to think about where I wanna be in 10 years, or five years.” And then, they think, “Oh gosh, I can’t think that far ahead.” That’s okay. Even if it’s just thinking ahead for the next three months of where you wanna be in that area of your life, that’s still the future. That still counts, so feel good about that.
If you can think about a year, think about five years, but if you can’t, or if that’s hard, focus on a shorter future, a quicker future, like I said, three months, six months, something like that, and then, just decide on the destination you wanna get to, and plan for the results. Where is it you wanna end up in these different categories of your life? In Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about, “The ability to envision in your mind which you cannot at present see with your eyes.” So, that’s how Steven Covey puts it, that we have to envision with our mind what we can’t see right now in our lives, so beginning with the end in mind is a great visual exercise, and it will help you see what your life would look like once you achieve the goal.
The thought that Covey has behind the beginning of the end in mind idea is based on the principle that all things are created twice, and he says, “There’s a mental first creation, and a physical second creation.” So, first we see it in our minds, and then, we see it in our lives. Visualizing what you want, and then, letting your subconscious and your conscious minds work together. That’s what makes it happen, and this allows you to actively focus on what you want, keeping it front and center in your mind, making it more likely you’ll accomplish it.
And, we’ve talked about the power of visualization here on the podcast back in episode 78, and you know I’m a big believer in it too, but what does this mean to
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visualize what you want to do? Well, let’s say for example, your goal is to travel more. It’s pretty abstract. Where do you want to travel? Maybe it’s different countries, so visualize how those experiences with different cultures will impact you. Think about how encounters with new people, and being on your own in different country, and the sites you will see. Think about how all of those will change you as an individual, and think about what you will take away from this goal. This will help you truly understand why it’s important for you, and why you want to pursue it.
So yes, visualize where you want to go in life. Dream really big, but then, we need to write it down, and we have to get it on paper, and if you’ve spent any time at all listening to my podcast, you know I’m always encouraging you to write things down especially your goals. I mentioned this even way, way as far back as our very first episode, but it’s been proven time and time again through research and studies that physically writing down your goals does improve your success. It clarifies your goals, and it pushes you to achieve that single goal.
When we write down our goals, what we’re doing is we’re taking the abstract, and we’re making it concrete, and that is what makes it more likely that you’ll actually accomplish them. It also makes it so much easier to see those stepping stones we need to use to get across that river. We wanna create a map of how we’re gonna get to that end destination, so we want to really start identifying the milestones. Now, just like we wanted to hop from stone, to stone, to stone to get across that river, that’s what milestones do for your goals. It’s really, really important to use milestones to attain your goals.
Now, milestones are just mini goals that bring you closer to your bigger goal, and what this does is it creates an opportunity to check in, and reassess your progress within your goal. It also allows you time to adjust, and shift your action roadmap to fit your personal life. As with all thing’s flexibility helps here, and you’ve heard me talk about flexibility in all areas of productivity. I think flexibility is the secret to a happy life, not just a productive life because our life ebbs and flows, so we really wanna look for these milestones because then we can use those as checkpoints on getting to that bigger goal. For example, a milestone for big weight loss goal might be a five pound mark, or getting to the 10 pound mark.
For a financial goal, a milestone could be saving $10 from each paycheck, and then, you get to $20, and $30, and so on. Small steps helping you get to that bigger goal. That’s the secret here to getting your goals accomplished. Milestones are the markers of success that gets you to the goal. They’re the key moments that we try to identify early on, and that’s what allows us to track our progress. You see, it’s all about small progression. With small progress, eventually, you see big results, but the question is how do we set these milestones?
Well, in my goal setting plan, I’ll walk you through breaking down bigger goals, and breaking them down into these milestones, and you could do the same thing on a blank sheet of paper, but let me walk you through really quickly how you set these milestones. One of the things that I do is, when I set the goals, I write it out, then I take some time to brainstorm the steps needed to actually accomplish the goal. It’s not enough just to say this is what I wanna do. We need to create a little action plan
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here, right? These steps can be big, and they can be small, but they should always be relevant, and they should have a real impact on your end point.
I find that in general about 10 steps is right, so I take my big goal, and I break it down into about 10 steps, and then, I take my 10 steps, and I group them together. I group them based off of time, or maybe if there’re steps that are dependent on one another, and I look for ways to group these steps together, and what I do is, I allow that to create my milestones that bring me to the end of my goal.
Some people think of milestones as their short term goals, and that’s essentially what they are. Setting milestone goals is the key to achieving the big goals in your life. Why is that? Well, because they’re bite size, which means they’re achievable. That means that they’re not quite as daunting as that big goal that really just makes you wanna procrastinate because maybe it scares you a little bit. We’re all a little bit scared of our big goals, because when we dream really big, it can be a little frightening, but breaking it down and making it bite size really can make you feel like, “Well, you know what? I really can do this.”
Now, these short term goals can be as simple as eating a healthy breakfast two days a week, adding $10 to a jar once a week, or choosing to go for a hike on Sundays instead of spending it inside on the couch. Even though spending Sundays on the couch sometimes can be nice too, it’s setting these little mini goals for yourself. It’s setting yourself up so that as you move through your year, through the weeks, and the months, we’re getting closer, and closer, and closer to those bigger goals.
And, short term goals are typically very achievable, and they only take a small amount of thought, and effort, and that’s what allows you to take one step, and then, another step, and another step until you’re actually there at your end point, so, now that you have these milestones, we need to hold ourselves accountable. The hard part, right? We need to find the best way to measure our progress, and determine when we want to complete all of our milestones, and get to that overall goal, to that end destination.
Now, this timeline may be weekly for a monthly goal, or quarterly for a yearly goal. Ultimately, it depends on your overall timeline that you want to achieve this goal in. We just wanna make sure that we’re checking in with each milestone in each mini goal, and assessing how we’re doing. The reason assessing milestones is so important is that we need to have a chance to readjust. We always need the opportunity to change what isn’t working for us, and move on to something maybe that really will. Failing to take advantage of the opportunity to adjust our plans when we know it’s not working, that’s what sets us up for failure. We have to be okay with needing to adjust our plans, and our systems to accommodate who we really are in our lives, because that’s what’s going to boost you closer to your goals.
And, I’m going to be talking more about this idea later on in the season. This idea of adjusting and changing with the ebbs and flows of life, so look for that in an upcoming episode, but I wanna finish talking about these long-term goals, because really it’s easy for our motivation to fade. It’s so easy to set these goals, and then lose
steam. That’s why it’s really important that we stop, and we celebrate small wins, and ©Productivity Paradox Page 5 of 6
that’s one of the things milestones are really good for. They allow us to stop, and really celebrate which gives us a boost in our confidence as well as our motivation, because we can look forward, we can stop and see what the next rock is that we wanna hop to on our way across the river, and we can also look behind us, and we can see all the rocks we already jumped to.
And, that excitement for when you get to these points works as a springboard to boost us forward, and get us to the next milestone. This is the key, looking ahead to where we wanna go starting with that end in mind, and then breaking it down, but often we feel like, “Gosh, these small steps, they’re not really taking me big places really fast.” So, we undervalue them, but in a recent study by Leadership IQ, researchers found that women are more likely to succeed at their goals. When they accomplish one thing each day, it puts them closer to their goals.
Now, that can be small things. Taking small steps can be the easiest way to make progress. There’s nothing wrong with these tiny steps. Easing into a routine, or a habit of progressing towards your goal makes it feel more natural once you achieve it, and in that same study, researchers found that most women who improved their visualization of their goals, they develop a clear picture of their goals, and they’re more likely to achieve them. Visualizing creates focus, and that develops into achievement.
So, writing down your goals gives you the opportunity to visualize your starting point, your pathway, and your finish line. Having a clear written version of what it is you want to achieve is so important to start working towards success, and that is what I ultimately want for you. I want you to start with the end in mind, break it down, and make it so it’s bite size. Make it so it’s easy, because I want you to really feel like your big goals, and your big dreams, you can totally do this. You’ve got this.
Next week we’re going to continue diving deeper into goals and talking about planning with making time for your goals, and plans, because I know that’s a pretty big stumbling block that a lot of people have, that they have these ideas of what it is they wanna do, and maybe even where they wanna go, but they don’t have the time, so we’ll be talking about that next week.
In the meantime, I would love to see you in my Facebook group. As I mentioned, I use that oftentimes as an area to find what are your struggles, and what are the things that you wanna hear on this podcast? It’s a great place for conversations, not just with me, but with other people who are really interested in supporting each other, talking about productivity, and really ultimately living their best lives, so I’d love to have you go to inkWELLpress.com/group to request an invitation to join. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.