I just finished setting my goals for 2017. I know. I know. Most people do their goals setting and business planning in the late part of the 3rd quarter or early in the 4th. There’s just no way that was happening for me. I did get started right away after the first of the year but it still took me an entire month to complete it because this year I did things a bit differently. I thought I’d share some of my techniques; after all, maybe you’re still working on your goals too or maybe you’re about ready to give up on the ones you’ve already set. Either way, I think these little secrets will help you see results with your goals.

I started out by setting my intentions for the year. Intentions are a little bit different than goals in that they aren’t specific. They’re more general and capture more of the essence of what I want to do and be. For example, some of my intentions this year are “To raise awesome human beings”, “Hydrate, move and eat cleaner” and “Do meaningful work.”

But to even do that, I zoomed the lens out, way out. I went all the way back to reviewing my values, my vision, my mission… I went through a process answering some tough questions like “How will I know I’m living my life with meaningful purpose?” Oy Vey! That’s not an easy question. It took some time and reflection; and while I normally like reflection, this was a bit tough – even for me. Nonetheless, I’m really glad I followed through on the process, because it helped me get clear on my intentions for the year.

Focus on the areas that mean the most.

When I set my intentions, I was careful not to set too many, and overwhelm myself. It can be easy, at least for me, to try to do everything at once. The reflection helped me pick areas that meant the most to me. The rest can happen through life’s process or maybe I’ll realize it just isn’t that important. You’ll also notice that my intentions aren’t specific to one area, like work. It’s important to me to build the other areas of life too like my relationships, and my health.

It’s much easier to accomplish your goals when you’re driven by intrinsic motivation.

I didn’t just focus on the “what” part of my intentions and goals but also the “why” behind what I wanted to do. This is key in successfully reaching your goals, it’s what we call intrinsic motivation. Having intrinsic motivation, doing something because you want to, is much different than relying on external drivers, the “I should”s.

I see this all the time in my 15 month old. When I say “come here” and she has her heart set on “going there”. Guess what she’s going to do? She’s not coming to me, that’s for sure! Unless I can create a shift where coming to me is more appealing so she does because of her own internal motivation. Eventually, as she get’s older, external drivers will have more of an impact on her decision making; just like our heads are full of the “I should”s. Take it from my toddler, though, it’s much easier to accomplish your goals when you’re driven by intrinsic motivation.

Take the smallest step possible to move forward.

Once I had my intentions written out, I could set my goals for the year. But I didn’t stop there. I went on to further break them down into small actionable steps, taking the smallest step possible to move forward.
For example, one of my goals is to hydrate more. I feel better, eat better, sleep better, think better and heck even move more on account of having to use the bathroom more when I’m hydrated well. But rather than challenge myself to drink a half gallon of water a day, which I’ve tried before and failed miserably. I started with just one extra glass of water a day. I could do that!

Link new actions to existing habits.

I even used a little trick I learned about habits. I connected the behavior to a habit that already existed. I usually get drinks for my kids to have in the car on our way home, so while I’m filling their cups I started filling a water bottle for myself. It didn’t’ take much more effort on my part and I hardly had to think about it. Getting their cups was a trigger to remind me to get one for myself. And before I knew it I had increased my daily hydration! Since then I’ve found other ways to build in more hydration, like filling my water bottle after lunch. Having some success gives me confidence and drive to keep going. Success breeds success.

Do more with the support of others.

Once I had my goals complete and written out I shared them. I’m really lucky to have a group of other professionals whose work is similarly aligned. We’ve developed a network where we encourage each other in our respective missions. I also have a few close relationships, like my husband, who will help me stay on track and pick me back up when I fall short.

In the goal setting process we’re encouraged to share our goals with others, to have accountability. But to be honest, I’ve personally struggled with that. In my world, accountability often meant holding myself out for judgement; to be scrutinized and told about everything I did wrong. That’s not the kind of accountability we’re looking for. Rather it’s about finding people you trust, who believe in you and your vision, and are willing to help you achieve your goals. I once believed I could do it all on my own, but now I realize I can do more with the support of others.

Feel like sharing what you’re working on this year? I’d love to hear about it. Message me back or connect with me on social media.

Want to hear more about tiny habits and how they lead to lasting change? Check out BJ Fogg’s TedTalk.