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Productivity is the name of my game, and finding effective ways to set goals is a huge part of that. Goals provide us with a framework for the changes we want to see in ourselves, our life, our business, or even our family and community. But contrary to how it sounds….reaching a goal isn’t just as simple as setting it and forgetting it. There is actually strategy and accountability required to go from setting a goal to achieving it, and in today’s episode, I’m going to walk you through my process for achieving the goals I set.
We cannot talk about goals without also talking about habits, because at the end of the day it’s really hard to reach your goals if you aren’t also willing to develop new habits.
So although I risk sounding like a broken record yet again, we’ve gotta start off by talking about Habit Stacking. I have an entire episode about this, so if you’re new to this concept go back to Episode 026 to learn about the process that happens in our brains as we age that makes it more difficult to change our habits or create new ones.
The good news is that you hack this system through a method we call Habit Stacking. It is truly one of the most powerful things I’ve learned in the past decade and I’ve used it for simple things like emptying the dishwasher or applying face serum, but also for creating habits and routines that have led to really big goals and breakthroughs in my business.
So, first things first: before you set out to tackle huge goals, make sure you understand how to develop new habits. This will save you so much stress and wasted time along the way. If you aren’t familiar with Habit STacking, listen to episode 26 to get familiar with the concept so that you can utilize it alongside these tips for setting goals.
Always write It Down
Another quick housekeeping item before we really dive into the meat of this episode is the power of writing things down. So many of us set goals in our heads or just type them out in a word document or email.
But did you know that we are 40% more likely to achieve something when we write it down?! Like that’s crazy, right?! It’s such a quick, simple thing that can have such a huge impact on the outcome that it would be ridiculous not to do this.
The physical act of writing provides motor feedback to our brain that helps us process information and feel more responsibility for it. Avoid keeping your goals in your head, or even organizing them in a digital program. Typing does not have quite the same positive impact on our brain. So when you’re creating your goals, put an actual pen to paper and write them down. If you decide to transfer them into your online calendar or digital task management system, that’s great. But make it a priority to write them down somewhere first.
So, with those two things out of the way I think we’re ready to set some goals! But goal setting isn’t as simple as we thought it was as kids. Right? Like let me just write down all my goals and dreams in this padlocked diary and someday they will come true. Eventually, we realize that there’s a bit of strategy and intention required to actually achieve a goal.
My favorite method for goal setting is called the SMART method and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. So let’s work through each of these to get a bit more insight:
S – Specific – The “S” in SMART stands for Specific. Make your goal as specific as possible so that you can really focus your efforts. The more specific you are when you set the goal, the more of the feedback your brain has to work off. Think about why this goal is important to you, who is involved in it, or what resources you’ll need to accomplish it, how it will feel to achieve it and include them when you write down or record the goal.
M – Measurable – M represents Measurable. If your goal is measurable it will be easier for you to feel a sense of accomplishment at each phase of progress, making you more likely to complete the goal. To make it measurable try being specific about the quantity, size, duration or other quantitative elements that pertain to your specific goal. Examples would be identifying the exact amount of sales you want to make this month, the distance you plan to run, the number of new followers you plan to gain. Find specific metrics that can be tracked and use them when you identify your goal.
A – Attainable – The A in SMART stands for Attainable. This means that your goal should be something that is achievable with your skills, resources, time, so on. Try to be realistic with yourself and set yourself up for success rather than failure, even if that means setting a smaller or simpler goal initially. It is always better to have ten small goals that are all achievable, rather than one huge goal that would kind of be a miracle to reach. This is because reaching those smaller milestones along the way helps create momentum that pushes us toward the bigger achievement.
R – Relevant – We are now onto the R, and the R in smart is for Relevant. It’s hard to care about a goal if it doesn’t really matter to you. That’s why making sure each goal is relevant is really important. Think about the future and how this goal will help move the needle toward your bigger dreams and goals. What aspect of your dream life will this goal help make a reality? Connect your goals to real aspects of your life to help them maintain their relevancy over time, and if your vision for the future changes, adjust your goals accordingly to help them remain relevant.
T – Time-bound – Now, last but not least, T, which stands for time-bound. Goals without a deadline are merely a dream, my friend. It would be like running a race with no finish line. Not much fun. You can always adjust if needed, but make sure you identify a clear time frame or deadline for each goal. I also recommend having a schedule for regular check-ins along the way.
Now, although we have worked our way through SMART and hopefully you have a better understanding of how to use the SMART method when you’re setting goals, I want to end the episode by teaching you another simple acronym. This one will help you understand why some parts of the SMART method are so important and how the actual science behind the method works.
The acronym is DOSE, and it stands for:
D – Dopamine (reward hormone)
O – Oxytocin (love hormone)
S- Serotonin (calm hormone)
E – Endorphins (willpower hormone)
Those are the four hormones that are released in our brain to give us a sense of accomplishment. Even something as simple as putting a checkmark on our to-do list next to a simple errand or returning an email can provide us with a beneficial amount of DOSE.
You might be wondering what DOSE has to do with goal setting. The benefit of understanding DOSE when you set goals, is that you can take advantage of this reaction in the brain to help keep yourself motivated. The more often you can give your brain that hit of DOSE, the more motivated you will be and the more energy you’ll have moving you toward that end goal.
So thinking back to the SMART method you’ll see why it’s important not to only give your goals deadlines, but to also schedule regular check-ins to observe and celebrate smaller milestones along the way. You’ll get a little boost from the DOSE release and feel more connected and motivated to achieving the goal.
For example, if I’m hoping to get 1,000 new Instagram followers this year it will help if I do a check-in each month not only to look at the numbers and stay on track but also to celebrate my progress and get that DOSE so that I stay motivated to see it through to completion.
So let’s review this information really quickly. To set intentional, achievable goals start by understanding Habit Stacking so that developing the habits and routines you’ll need to achieve your goals becomes easier. Get a thorough understanding of Habit Stacking by going back to episode 026.
When you are ready to set goals, plan on writing them down — pen to paper. This helps make you 40% more likely to achieve them thanks to the sensory feedback it provides to your brain.
When creating your goals, think SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
And when you are using the SMART method it is helpful to understand and utilize DOSE- which stands for the 4 hormones released in our brain’s achievement cocktail: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Set small milestones and frequent check-ins to provide yourself with more opportunities for momentum-building DOSE.
And there you have it. I have no doubt that you’ve got some big goals planned for the year ahead and I hope these tips help you not only set clear, intentional goals….but also achieve them.
Episode 026: How Habit Stacking will Change Your Life
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