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Your personal goals matter.
Productivity = accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, but that doesn’t mean your goals have to all be about work. Below, I walk you through a few ways to approach personal goal setting with more intention and awareness—so you’ll be more likely to follow through and feel supported through the process.
Step 1: Identify which goals you want to focus on.
You obviously need to know what it is you’d like to focus on before you commit your focus! However, before you sit down and write up a list of 100 things you’d like to do or feel like you should do, I want you to give yourself permission to focus on just one to three goals at a time.
Doing this will set you up for success, because when you limit your personal resource expenditure (aka time, energy, focus, money, spoons, etc.) to just one or two or, if needed, three things, you’re less likely to burn out, or worse, feel like you failed. Limiting your number of personal goals will enable you to accomplish them, in part because they will feel accomplishable.
Step 2: Figure out what “accomplished” will look like for your goal.
When we set a goal, it’s very easy to want to dive right in, and if we don’t see quick results, we tend to give up. To avoid this bummer feeling, it’s important that you know precisely what steps you need to take through the process of completing your goal. This means breaking the goal down into actionable and acheivable steps and making a clear plan for when and how you’ll approach them.
If you want a little guidance on making your goal actionable and acheivable, check out my aptly named and free How to Set Actionable and Achievable Goals Guide:
Step 3: Schedule a timeline to experiment with approach and accountability. Adjust as necessary.
The last two months I’ve been focusing on just one new personal goal per month. In February, I wanted to commit to daily meditation. I accomplished this goal by setting up a new habit via the CUE > ROUTINE > REWARD process. This means I sleep with my phone outside my room, wake up to an analog clock, and only allow myself to check my phone after I’ve meditated for ten minutes. It worked so well that I’m still doing it, halfway through March!
In addition to my continued meditation practice (which included a bonus side goal of no phone in the bedroom!), I set a March personal goal to drink 75 oz of water a day. I’m accomplishing this goal by using my Todoist app for accountability, and instead of writing one to-do item to check off that says “drink 75 oz of water,” I’ve set up three separate 20 oz to-dos and one 15 oz one, like this:
This way, I can track my progress and experience achievable “wins” throughout the day, which motivates me to keep going!
I leave you with an encouraging note just in case you feel weird or guilty about focusing on yourself.
Establishing a new personal goal can feel simultaneously small and challenging. Starting a new habit (like meditating for 10 minutes or drinking 75 oz of water) might take relatively little time, but to complete it, you must must prioritize putting your needs first, at least in those moments.
I reflected on how putting your goals first can feel difficult in my blog post “On Doing Things Religiously, Or How I Value Myself.” Here’s an applicable excerpt:
The actions on my “Wow, I’d love to do these religiously” list are actions that are fueled by self preservation and self love; to do them, I would need to admit to my body, mind, and spirit: “I choose you now, I’m with you now, I prioritize myself.” My actions would benefit me greatly and would accrue amazing results, but no one else would know. I’d need to value myself enough to do them. I’d need to see self preservation and self love as rewards. I’d need to spend time, energy, and focus just on me.
If it feels weird at first to dedicate personal resources like time, energy, and focus to your personal goals, I encourage you to check out the full Doing Things Religiously blog post. If you’re looking for some practical guidance in setting and focusing on personal goals, check out my blog post “Achieve Your Goals Brick by Brick,” peruse my free worksheets and guides, or consider booking a one-on-one Success and Accountability Coaching session with me!