This Year’s Word Podcast Shownotes: Episode 3, The Art of Self-Love – Goal Setting
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, and every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
– Swami Vivekananda
Hello and welcome to This Year’s Word Podcast, I’m your host, Courtney Symes. I’m an author, entrepreneur, mum, and wife. In this podcast series, I will share my Word of the Year experience as I explore the meaning of the word “Love” and how you can use this word to change your life, one day at a time.
This month, we have been focusing on the Art of Self-Love, and actions we can take to ‘put on our own oxygen mask first’ in our lives. In the last episode we discussed “finding flow” through activities that excite and engage us – if you haven’t listened yet, jump back to this episode when you’ve finished this one as I share some great tips.
In this episode, I will be discussing a topic I could talk about for days – goal setting. I could dedicate an entire podcast series to goal-setting, but I’ll try offer you my top-level tips on goal setting so I can fit it into one succinct episode for you.
I have been setting annual goals for a number of years now, and believe they are vital for personal growth. Goal setting is an act of self-love, as it helps you to determine what’s important in your life.
Here are five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about goal setting over the last few years:
1. Goals are more than New Year’s resolutions, and can be set at any time of the year.
2. It’s ok for goals to change – they are not set in stone, and sometimes it’s helpful to recognise a goal set previously is not serving us anymore, or has morphed into a new goal.
3. Set your own goals, and don’t set goals for other people, because the only person we can control and change in life is ourselves. Your goals can include other people, such as “spending more time with our family or friends”, or be set in conjunction with a partner. This is particularly helpful when you’re setting financial goals together, or planning places you’d like to visit. If you are setting goals with a partner, I would recommend setting your own goals first, and then collaborating on shared goals.
4. There is no limit to the number of goals you can set. The secret lies in defining if they are short, medium, or long-term goals. In Jim Rohn’s audiobook on Goal Setting, he challenges his listeners to make a list of 50 life goals. Sounds easy right? It’s not – try it – it’s incredibly hard! Whilst we think we want lots of things in life, when you do this exercise you’ll discover there are only a few core things you want. When you get to number 20 (or less!) this is when you have to dig deep with your goals to become super specific.
5. Put your goals somewhere you can see them – everyday. It’s not enough to have them efficiently typed up on your computer, or neatly written in your journal. Print them out, laminate them or pop them in a plastic sleeve and stick them in your shower, on your bathroom mirror, save them on your phone screen – whatever you need to do to see them regularly at least once a day. Sir Richard Branson said he believed millionaires read their goals 1 to 17 times a day and billionaires read their goals 19 to 29 times a day. For himself, Sir Richard reads his goals on average 21 times each day. So…when did you last review your goals?
If goal setting was easy, everyone would do it. As James Clear accurately puts it in his book, Atomic Habits, “Winners and losers have the same goals.”
So, what are some of the biggest hurdles, and how can you overcome or avoid them?
To begin with, many people struggle with the discipline of actually sitting down and writing a list of goals. For me personally, I need to schedule time in my diary at least once a year to review my goals, update what I’ve achieved, amend current goals or set new ones. Scheduling time to do this is the key to success. I block out time to review my personal goals, as well as time to review my business goals. If I don’t have time to review both in one sitting then I split these into two sessions.
You can also block out time to reassess your goals mid-way through the year, but I personally find I update them throughout the year when I’m looking at them every day. I keep printed out copies where I can see them, but also a soft copy on my computer that I can update when required. Depending on how big the changes are, I can then print out revised copies to refer to throughout the day. Please also note that goal setting can be done at anytime of the year – if you wait only until the beginning of the year to set new goals, you’re delaying your progress. Start TODAY!
The next challenge that many people encounter is the execution of their goals. In the case of many goals, especially the larger ones, there will be a few steps to achieving the goal. When I first set my goals, I also like to identify and plan how I’m going to work through these steps. Whilst it’s not always possible to see the entire path in front of you, you can at least identify the first three major moves you need to take to create momentum and send yourself in the right direction.
James Clear identifies the problem many people encounter when he writes:
“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress … The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
Setting the goal is only one part of the process. James believes that we are more likely to achieve our goals when we have a process in place to create positive habits. Consider what positive habits you can introduce into your life to achieve your goals.
For example, if you want to get fit, this goal might require the commitment and discipline of getting up early four days a week to work out, because at the moment you don’t have time anywhere else in your day. When I was writing my book, I woke up early most mornings and dedicated an hour to writing. This time was reserved for writing only. If I needed to fact-check something I’d make a note and do that later in the day so I didn’t get distracted “researching” on the internet. This was important, because I found after five or ten minutes of solid writing I’d reach a state of “flow” and the words would continue to come. It was like turning on a tap and reaching a state I knew was hard to get to later in the day with the distraction of other people.
Often, there is a reason why we haven’t been able to achieve a goal, and it’s not because we’re do lazy or don’t want it enough – we simply haven’t set up the system around us to make it possible.
The next challenge many people face is trying to achieve too many goals at once. Don’t limit the number of goals you set, but limit the amount you try to tackle at any one time, or you won’t make progress and will feel discouraged. Some goals work harmoniously together, such as exercising and eating well, but others, such as studying and writing a book, for example, may fight for your time. If you don’t feel like you’re making progress with your goals, simply pick one to focus on, complete it, and move onto the next. Knock ‘em down one at a time!
Prioritisation of your goals will help determine what goals you should work on first. In her book, Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo explains what happens when we don’t set clear goals and get distracted when she writes:
“Every choice has a price. Everything you say yes to means you’re saying no to something else. Translation? Each time you pick up your brain-draining gadget and say YES to watching another cat video, you’re saying NOPE to ever reaching your biggest and most important long-term goals.”
If we’re crystal clear on what we want to achieve, as well as the steps to get there, we won’t be tempted by the cat videos.
I’m now going to share the methods I find most helpful for goal setting.
Listening to Jim Rohn’s audiobook on goal setting many years ago was the catalyst for me to start taking goal-setting more seriously. As I touched on above, Jim challenged his listeners to write down 50 ten-year goals. The first time I wrote the list I only managed 40, and some of the goals where very small and trivial – selected just to fill a spot. Many years later, this list has now grown to over 89 items, with many ticked off along the way.
If you’re new to goal-setting, or find the concept overwhelming, I encourage you to start with Jim’s list.
Before you start writing your list though, Jim recommends reflecting on where you’re at in life at the moment, and thinking of five things you have accomplished that you’re proud of. These could be educational achievements, sporting achievements, adversity you’ve overcome in your life – anything in your life so far that you’re proud of. The purpose of this exercise is to prove to yourself that no matter where you’re at in life, you’ve already had some wins – you’ve got some runs on the board and are perfectly capable of achieving many more great things.
Once you have a list of 50 items (or as many as you can), Jim instructs to go through the list and write a 1, 3, 5 or 10 next to each item. This number is the number of years in which you want to complete the goal, for example 1 is one year, 3 is three years, etc.
Once you have done this, go through all of your one-year goals and pick the four most important ones and write down why these are important to you. You don’t need to share this with anyone, so your reasons can as personal as you like.
Next, Jim says to consider the type of person you need to become to achieve these goals. This is a very important part of achieving your goal, so I’m going to say that again: what type of person do you need to become to achieve these goals.
Do you need to become more curious, educated, confident? What skills do you need to develop within yourself to achieve these goals? This is part of the “system” James Clear says we need to cultivate to successfully achieve our goals.
I aim to listen to Jim Rohn’s Goal Setting audiobook every year (I’ll put a link to this in the shownotes) as every time I listen to it I take away something different. For example, I’ve realised over the years how important it is to ask why when setting goals. If we can’t connect to the reason why we are setting a goal, what is the point of striving for it? Once we get clear on our why, we can get clear on our goals.
Another piece of advice that jumped out when I listened to the audiobook recently was Jim’s warning:
“Beware of what you become in pursuit of what you want.”
Beware of what you become in pursuit of what you want.
My understanding of what Jim means here is that there are sacrifices to be made when it comes to goal setting. As Marie Forleo mentioned earlier, this can be as small as forgoing another cat video. In most instances, the sacrifice is time, so what are you not spending time doing when you’re working on your goals. If that’s spending less time in front of the TV that’s probably ok, but if you’re missing out on precious time with your family or friends, tread carefully as it is a fine balance.
Jim talks about a mentor who advised:
“Become a millionaire for what it will make of you to achieve it.”
Become a millionaire for what it will make of you to achieve it.
This statement has a similar meaning to Jim’s other exercise where we selected four of our one-year goals and considered what type of person we would need to become to achieve these goals. The main difference is that one million dollar is a large sum of money, that will require some exceptional changes to achieve. Some of the qualities you might pursue could include: knowledge, understanding of the marketplace, the ability to overcome difficult situations, problem-solving, and bringing value to the market place. What happens once you’ve achieved the million dollars? You can simply give it away, says Jim’s mentor. The money is irrelevant, because you have made changes and acquired qualities that will change your life.
To plan my goals, I use an Excel spreadsheet with a separate tab for personal and business goals for each year, for example, Personal Goals 2021 and Business Goals 2021. All tabs are kept in one document titled ‘Goals’, so I can easily flick between tabs and refer to my goals from previous years. Reflecting on what I have achieved over the last few years is an incredibly empowering exercise.
My spreadsheet also includes a column to record the steps I’m going to take to achieve each goal. This is key, especially if the goal is a big, hairy, audacious one. I sometimes split one massive goal into a few smaller, specific ones.
For example, ‘Get Fit’ might be broken down into:
1. run 5km x 3 times per week,
2. weight train at the gym once a week,
3. and swim 1km every week.
Breaking big goals down into smaller, manageable steps makes them less overwhelming and much more achievable.
I also ensure I print out both my business and personal goals and keep them in in multiple places so I can refer to them regularly.
My final goal setting tip for today’s episode will encourage you to work toward your goals every.single.day. In his book, Life in Half a Second, Matthew Michalewicz suggests writing down 3 things you have done to work towards your goals each day. I incorporate this practice into my daily journal entries. You could write these are the start or end of your entry, or it could even be a complete journal entry.
This exercise is effective because the focus is on taking small, manageable steps towards your goals every day, rather than completing them. However, take enough steps and your will you will complete your goals.
There are more tips on goal setting in my book, A Year of Love: Finding peace a day at a time.
I’ll leave you with today’s mantra:
I set goals in alignment with my higher self and review them regularly to ensure I stay on track.
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