5 Steps to Effective Goal Setting in 2015

As the old year leaves and the new year rings in, take some time to set your goals for 2015 so that you’re more likely to accomplish them. Below we’ll talk about five strategies for making sure you succeed rather than flounder.

1. Be realistic

One of the major issues with goal setting is when your thoughts are too big for reality. There is something to be said for having lofty dreams of changing the world, but the only way to get to Mount Olympus is one step at a time. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to do the biggest thing on your list right away, because chances are you won’t be able to hit the mark that quickly.

Instead, try to break down your biggest “thing” into smaller, more realistic goals that can be accomplished step-wise. If you want to start a business by the end of the year, start with finding your market, designing one product, or something similar. Maybe you want to change careers, but getting a new job in an unrelated field can be tough, so instead of setting the “change careers” goal right away, make a more realistic goal of taking 2-3 classes that relate to the new job you want. We’ll talk more about setting goals in levels further down, but always keep in mind that you need to be realistic when you do.

2. Be specific

The more ambiguous you are, the less likely you are to actually get anywhere. You need to be specific and concrete when you decide what you want to accomplish, and the easiest way to know if you are is to determine how to measure your goal. If you have no way of actually measuring the outcome, then you probably have something too ephemeral to be considered a specific goal. We see this a lot in fitness with statements like, “In 2015 I want to get in shape” or “I need to lose weight” and the like.

To help move you towards success, choose things that you can see a start and end point. For instance, “I will lose 5% body fat this year” or “I will run a marathon by June 15th” are both goals which have measurable outcomes. In the first case, you can get measured now to determine your starting body fat, and then it’s a matter of modifying your diet and exercise, retesting, and making changes again. In the second case, if you know you can only run 2 miles before you need to rest now, that means you have 6 months to add 20 miles to your abilities before June.

3. Set a time limit

Don’t give yourself an open window of time and then expect things to line up over the next year. A goal with a 365 day limit is really easy to put off indefinitely, but a goal with a one month limit feels much more pressing. When you set your measurable, realistic goals you should also be setting out how much time you have to get there. If you have really big things to accomplish, break it down into smaller goals that have smaller timelines of 1-2 months at a go.

When determining your timelines, be hard on yourself but also realistic. One month to lose 50lbs of fat is not realistic, but you could certainly lose 6-8 lbs in a month healthily. How practical your timeline is depends heavily on what you want, but you should err on the side of caution. Just because someone else went from never running to finishing a triathlon in three months time, doesn’t mean you can do the same thing. Think critically about your capabilities, and plan accordingly.

4. Set goals at different levels

Use Macro, Meso, and Micro goals to help you plan.

Macro Goals should take an entire year to accomplish and should represent your biggest things for the year. Competing in a figure competition, completing a 100 mile bike race (starting from scratch), and similar things are macro goals.

Meso goals should take 3 months to accomplish and lead up to your Macro goal step-wise, so that each Macro goal has four Meso goals. If you want to lose 90lbs of fat this year, then you need to lose 15lbs per quarter or 5lbs per month. Not undoable!

Micro goals are your month to month goals that lead to the Meso goals, and from there to your Macro goals. They should build on one another month to month, help you accomplish your Meso goals at each quarter, and then finally end at your Macro goal.

5. Share your goals

Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell Facebook. Just tell people and commit to the goals you’ve set. You are much more likely to take positive steps towards what you want when you have others to help hold you accountable to your plans. Focus on the supportive people around you, tune out the negative, and remember that in the end it’s really YOU who is responsible for your own success. Use friends and loved ones as part of your motivation, but don’t let them limit you if they’re not supportive. If anything, use the nay-sayers as another reason to push harder, go further, and be more awesome.

Negative people HATE IT when you succeed. 🙂

Have a great new year everyone!