At the beginning of every year, and even several times throughout the year, I like to sit down and write out my goals for the year. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because, to be perfectly honest… I don’t think they work. But I am a fan of goal-setting. I’m going to walk you through a proven technique to help you set achievable goals this year.
This system is also outlined in detail in my book Time-Blocking: Your Method to Supercharge Productivity & Reach Your Goals, but I’m going to walk you through a portion of the steps today.
Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Time-Blocking method, it’s most often used in more of a day-to-day context to help you get tasks done in less time. And that’s huge! However, just being able to get stuff done shouldn’t be the goal. We want to aim for true productivity, not just achieving busyness. And of course, the ultimate objective is to reach our goals and design the life we want to live.
So, to make sure we’re not simply achieving busyness, we need to follow a very important rule. There are actually 5 rules to follow to make Time-Blocking effective, and this is one of them: determine your essentials.
What this means (for our purposes) is that we need to determine what our essential goals are. And, to do that, we need to know what our life essentials are- things like your purpose and your values.
Let’s get started!
Steps to Set Achievable Goals
Get your pen and paper ready because we’re about to dive into the first step!
(And, if you want an even better method, check out The Time-Blocking Day Planner, which I released recently. It provides space towards the beginning of the planner to go through these steps.)
1. Write Your Purpose Statement
You can think of this as your life’s mission statement, or your “why.” Now, I know many of you may never have taken the time to create a purpose statement, but now is the perfect time.
What drives you? What gets you up in the morning? What are you called to do? Try your best to boil it down to one or two sentences. To give you an example, my purpose statement is: To use my gift of creativity to empower the poor.
This is very specific to me and what drives me. First, creating is my gift and doing it is what makes me feel alive. But also, my ultimate calling is to help the poor and the least of these. We have a non-profit organization that works in Haiti to empower a rural community there with resources like water, jobs, and more. So that’s where my purpose statement comes from. And yours is going to be different. So put some thought into what this is for you.
2. Create a List of Your Values
Now we want to be as specific as possible here. We need to expand outside of general things like “family” or “making money” or “religion”. Versions of these values could literally be on anybody’s list.
So get specific and try to couple it with an action. Some examples could be:
- Going on monthly dates with your spouse
- Never missing your kid’s sporting event
- Caring for an elderly parent
- Debt freedom
- Success in business
- Supporting veterans
- Volunteering with local charities
Why do we do this? Well, as we’re creating our goals, we want to always have our essentials in my mind. If we’re setting goals, we want to make sure they truly align with our purpose and our values.
3. Write out Your Life Goals
These can be anything that you want to accomplish this year or forty years from now. Even the most outrageous goals are fair game here. Feel free to take a moment right now and dream big!
To give you some ideas, here are a few of mine:
- Have the means to travel and live abroad in exotic locations with my family
- Own more than five rental properties
- Donate or raise more than one million dollars to empower the poor
- Pay off student loans
- Become a best-selling author
4. Choose This Year’s Goals
Now it’s time to actually choose our goals for this year. Look at your list of Life Goals. Which of these do you want to tackle this year? Write them down as a separate list.
For these, we’ll want to use our SMART goals framework. SMART (S-M-A-R-T) is an acronym that stands for:
What you’ll likely notice is that some of your larger life goals may not be realistic for completing this year. Often, achieving our biggest dreams takes longer than just one year.
What I want you to do is take that larger Life Goal and reverse engineer the steps toward achieving the goal over the next several years. Then, choose one of those steps and make it your goal for this year. This way, you’re always pushing the needle forward towards your larger goal.
The problem, when we set such high goals, is not that we’ve set our sights too high, but simply that we stop there. These big goals are often too abstract, making it impossible to take action on them. And that’s why we often come to the end of the year without achieving that goal.
I’m actually a big proponent of setting those “big, hairy, audacious goals,” but those must eventually translate into real plans. That’s why we must reverse engineer our goals into smaller ones.
5. Estimate How Long Each Goal Will Take
Next to each goal, assign an amount of time that you think it will take you to complete that goal. This could be anywhere from a few days to several months. Just jot it down right next to that goal.
6. Star Your Top 3 Goals
I want you pick three goals on your list that you would deem as most essential and put a star next to them. Ask yourself, “If I were to come to the end of this year having accomplished only three outcomes, what would I want those to be?”
7. Macro-Block Your Goals
For for our last step, we’re going plan when we are going to tackle our goals for this year, using a process called Macro-Blocking.
As I mentioned, this is all outlined in my book Time-Blocking, but Macro-Blocking is one of the three forms of Time-Blocking where we approach productivity at the Macro level.
To do this, pull out your calendar and begin blocking off the spans of time you are committing to focus on each of the goals that you wrote down. The purpose is to serve as a general timeline for when you’ll work on each of them. Start by Macro-Blocking your top three goals that we determined before, to make sure you prioritize them, and then fill in the rest.
At this stage, you may realize that you need to pair down some of your goal, since you now have a more visual picture of what it’s going to take to complete them.
The whole philosophy behind Time-Blocking is learning to manage your focus, so blocking off these dates is not necessarily saying you will only work on that thing. Instead, it’s saying that your main focus will be on that thing during this span time.
Be sure and check out my book Time-Blocking (now available on Amazon), which goes into even more depth on what I just shared.
This book will give you the framework not only for planning your big goals for the year, but also for completing your daily and weekly tasks in less time.