3 Strategies to Actually Achieve Your Goals This Season
This is my first September not going back to school since 1999.
But (from many years of conditioning) I’m still feeling that back-to-school magic. In fact, I think most of us sense a new energy in the chillier air.
I’m calling this back-to-business season. It’s a time to check in and see if we’re aligned with the kind of life we want to design.
The thing is, it’s hard to make something new happen in our lives if we’re following the same old patterns. Saying yes to a goal or habit always means saying no to something else.
Our lives are filled with things we have to do — for our families, our jobs, our households, or other commitments. It can be easy to put our own goals on the back burner, call them selfish, and try to forget about them.
But it’s not selfish to live in a way that lets us show up at our best! In fact, living the kind of life that makes us excited to get up every day is something we can’t afford to wait for.
When we let ourselves become miserable, broke, and burnt out, we’re no good to anyone, let alone ourselves.
Think about that whenever you’re tempted to put off working towards a career change, a move, or focusing on your health. If it doesn’t seem urgent enough, believe me: you don’t want to get to the point when it is urgent.
You might not see yourself fitting in hours of work towards something that seems years away. I get it. So, I’m offering my suggestions for small, efficient changes that are not only achievable but will keep your motivation strong.
Here are 3 strategies to actually achieve your goals this season.
1. Set aside 15 minutes a day to work on one goal
I recently listened to a podcast by Darren Rowse, in which he said he wrote a book in a few months, just by working on it for 15 minutes every day.
This was pretty impressive to me, but more than anything it was a reminder of how consistency is the key to success.
When we look at where we want to be in a few months or years, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking:
One day I’ll be inspired to start.
One day I’ll get the opportunity to go after it.
One day someone will give me a break.
And you know what, one day will happen.
One day, a few years ago, I took a class with a certain professor. This professor introduced me to a university I had never heard of. I applied to that university and ended up doing my Master’s there. The end.
But of course, that’s not the whole story.
You see, hearing about that university stood out to me because I was looking into schools in New York City. I was already taking steps to make my goal of living there happen. My brain was primed to notice anything and everything related to it.
Most of the process — working on poems, filling out applications, and reaching out to references — unfolded because of gradual, consistent effort I put towards my grad school goal.
Our "one days" are made possible by taking small steps towards them. In this way, we become aligned and primed to notice the things that will make them happen.
Now, you might feel far away from the life you dream of designing, and it might seem like it will take many, many, many steps to get to that place. But you can start now.
I love this quote by Tony Robbins: “If you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself, you don’t have a life.”
We all have time in our day that we can use more wisely to actually motivate some change.
This week, decide when you’re going to set aside that 10-15 minutes and what you’re going to do with it. Commit to aligning yourself with who you want to be, a little at a time.
2. Start “Practising” a New routine
I love hearing about people’s routines. I get totally lost in the morning / night/ work day routine videos on YouTube.
These videos can get a little dangerous, though, because we can start to think that we have to copy someone else’s routine to have their level of success or satisfaction. But this is totally not the case.
I recently wrote an article about setting writing challenges. One of my guidelines was to set the challenge around your own existing habits. This applies to any kind of challenge or change you’re making.
I’m a big believer that, while our new routines might require some effort to start, they should come naturally.
This means that to find the right routine, we have to allow ourselves to be flexible and honest about our needs and wants.
Maybe we say we want to get up at 6 a.m. every day, but after trying it for a week, we feel more miserable than ever. If 6 a.m. is our standard of excellence, we can start feeling guilty for not being able to make it work for us.
But this is a really unproductive situation — because instead of compounding our misery with this guilt, we could just try out 6:30 a.m.
Our routines are meant to work for us.
If you want to be an earlier riser this fall, start experimenting with times tomorrow, and set a goal of deciding on the (realistically) best time for you, by the equinox.
Practise a new routine by playing around with it before you let it become your standard.
3. Break down one Long-Term goal into tasks
We all have long-term dreams that are going to take time and gradual effort — whether they’re financial, personal, or work-related.
These dreams can be very intimidating. We might view them as so huge that we don’t even know where to start. But as I’ve preached in my writing about wealth, our future is built a little bit at a time, over the long term.
So let’s get real for a moment. I want you to pull out that scary goal from the back of your mind.
By when do you want it to happen? Working backwards from this date, what are the steps you need to take today ?
I’ll give you an example.
Let’s say you want to save $10 000 by September 2021.
That means you have about 24 months to do so.
So, you need to save about $420 a month. If you’re paid biweekly, this means you should save $210 per paycheque.
Now, let’s say this seems impossible in your current situation. Maybe you haven’t saved more than $100 a month for the last little while.
First, you need to look at what you’re spending money on to see if you can cut back on anything. Sometimes we don’t even realize that our money is going to things that aren’t actually contributing to our wellbeing.
If you still can’t scrape enough together, you might need to find ways to increase your income. Now you have a new thing to work towards — either asking for a raise, looking for a new job, or starting a side hustle.
So, your task for today is to research new job opportunities.
This step might not seem like it’s getting you $10 000, but it’s the first step that brings you closer than ever.
Our long-term goals are in the future for a reason — we don’t have the resources, knowledge, or abilities to make them happen now. Okay, fine. This means we need to do something to get those resources, gain that knowledge, or start practising those abilities.
Your dream life is closer than you think.
Let me share a story with you.
About 5 years ago, I started filling a Pinterest board with pictures of New York. In the description boxes, I wrote cheesy things like, “I will live here one day,” or “This is the city for me.”
Then I forgot about it. I didn’t have Pinterest on my phone for the longest time, and I rarely logged in.
A few weeks ago, I came across all of these NYC-related pins, and it was kind of shocking.
Because I’m now on the other side of my New York chapter.
But five years ago, living there was just a dream.
This future long-term goal is now history. It no longer seems like this big, out-of-reach thing. In fact, it seems like something that was just meant to happen.
Think about this when things seem out of reach. You’ll wake up one day and realize it all happened, just as you hoped it would.
Keep dreaming, keep doing, and have the best back-to-business season ever!