“You need a path to follow and it’s up to you to set that path.”
I know, I know. The title of this article sounds like some hippy self-help bullshit, but give me a chance to elaborate. We’ve all heard a million times how you should set goals to become successful and improve your life. But when it comes down to it, most of us suck ass at goal planning.
Sure, we know what we want the outcome to be, but actually planning out the steps to reach that desired outcome is hard. Like, really fucking hard. Even something relatively simple like losing X amount of weight within a certain time frame can seem like a Herculean task when you sit down to plan. Say you want to lose 30 lbs in three months. In your head that sounds reasonable; that’s only ten lbs a month. But when you sit down and do the math, you realize you must lose 2.5 lbs a week in order to hit that goal. And while it’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, losing the weight will be a challenge.
This is where most people fail at their goal planning. They come up with the main goal—in this case it’s losing 30 lbs in three months—but they don’t adequately come up with the smaller goals necessary for hitting the main one. To break it down a little more, most people have trouble with coming up with and hitting daily and weekly goals. This is why stupid diet plans like “eat only cabbage until your ass explodes out the excess stomach fat” become so popular. A lot of people lack the discipline to take the time each morning to jot down the things they need to accomplish that day to reach their final goal.
Here’s the thing, though. Jotting down your daily goals in the morning is the easiest way to succeed. Again, more self-help BS, I know. But in this case, it’s damn true. If you take five minutes each morning to write out the things you must accomplish, you’re much more likely to accomplish them. That’s because the simple act of writing out your goals makes you hold yourself accountable. Plus, it will streamline each day and gives you a checklist of things to do. This makes the whole process less intimidating.
For instance, going back to the weight loss goal, daily planning is critical for success. If you plan out what you should eat and drink in the day, when and what form of exercise you must do, and the times you need to do these things, you’re much more likely to stay on track. The thing that derails most people is lack of direction. We all know what we want to do, but without a plan we are just monkeys throwing shit at a canvas in hopes of creating a Picasso painting.
Don’t think you need to be incredibly detailed with your goal planning, either. Simple goals such as “write 1,000 words a day” or “go to the gym every other morning” are perfectly fine when you’re starting out. The easiest way to create good habits is to jump right in but do it slowly. Meaning, don’t put off something for later; just start it asap. But don’t go crazy and attempt something you’ll most likely fail at. Instead, start slow and build your way up.
Say you want to write a 90k word novel by a specific date. You’re not just going to start writing 5,000 words a day and finish the thing in a month. No, you start slow. Maybe aim to hit 500 words a day for a week or two. You can go beyond those 500 words, but you must at least hit 500 everyday. Once you establish the habit of writing those 500 words without problem, move up to a 1,000. Then focus on hitting that everyday for a few weeks.
Keep challenging yourself to do better, but don’t push yourself too hard or too fast. The goal is to hit 90k words, but you must do so at a pace you can keep up with. The worst thing you can do is set the bar so high you fail to reach it, then give up all together. The most important thing is hitting your main goal by focusing on the little daily and weekly goals. This is how consistent progress is made. If you only focus on hitting 90k words, you’re likely to create mental roadblocks.