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How to set goals and actually achieve them

How to set goals and actually achieve them

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions.

Most of us are fully aware that those promises of losing 10 pounds or saving half your income will be broken before the first month is over. We make a list of resolutions with the best intentions, but if we don’t take them seriously then they’re never going to happen.

I mentioned in why you shouldn’t make a bucket list that I set myself goals or make to-do lists instead of wish lists, as I believe having this mindset will result in getting things done. However, this is only one of the steps in actually achieving your goals.

I’m going to detail how I’ve gone about making my own to-do list for 2015. This method may not work for everyone, but it’s been very successful in helping me get to where I am today. Here are my 5 steps for setting goals and actually achieving them.


Step 1: List your achievements from the previous year

Before we even begin to think about the future year, it’s really important to look back at our past year to see what we’ve achieved. By doing this, we’re proving to ourselves that we can actually achieve something when we put our mind to it.

Here are some of the things I’ve achieved in 2014:

  • Completed my first backpacking trip of 3 months in Europe
  • Quit my full-time job to pursue my own careers in design and travel
  • Started a travel blog which is steadily gaining popularity (yay!)
  • Planned an unbelievably cheap wedding
  • Put plans in place to move abroad in 2015

You might notice I listed putting plans in place as an achievement. Every goal takes preparation, so completing the steps to make goals happen is something you should definitely be proud of.

Paragliding

Step 2: List your long-term goals

This is the fun bit. Don’t hold back – brainstorm all of the things you would like to achieve over the next 5 years, 10 years, or lifetime.

My long-term travel goals include:

  • Visit all 7 continents
  • Move abroad for a few years
  • Visit more national parks
  • See the northern lights
  • Be more adventurous
  • Grow my blog following so that I can make a living working entirely for myself

I have a few ongoing inspiration lists for my long-term goals that I constantly update throughout the year. I’ve saved Google Maps with pins on the places that I might like to visit one day, I have a to-do list app that I add random ideas to, and I have Pinterest boards where I collect all my visual inspiration.

Step 3: Make your list of goals for the next 12 months

You probably won’t be able to achieve all your long-term goals at once, so select a few that you’d like to focus on this year. Be realistic – you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Choose a few to make a priority.

Here’s what I plan to do this year:

  • Visit South America, my 5th continent
  • Do some adventurous activities such as Death Road in Bolivia and hike the Inca Trail
  • Move abroad to USA in July
  • Hit up some national parks in USA

Step 4: Make a plan

How are you going to achieve your goals? There’s no point writing them down, only to forget about them a week later. It’s essential to put a plan in place to ensure they actually happen.

Here are the best ways to go about making your plan:

  • Make a budget for your goals – How much money will you need? How much work will it take to save it?
  • Set a timeframe for when you’d like to have your goals achieved
  • Divide your goal it into smaller tasks to make it seem less intimidating, and set timeframes for each task
  • Set reminders in your calendar or to-do list for the tasks you’ll need to complete

Next Trip Map

Step 5: Create visuals of your goals

I can’t stress enough how important this step is! Make visuals so that you’ll be constantly reminded of your goals throughout the year. Above is a map I created for my 2015 travel plans.

Your visual doesn’t have to be a map, you can use photos, inspirational quotes, or countdown apps on your phone – anything that you can look at as a reminder of what you’re working towards.

By placing these visuals in easy to see places (on the fridge door, the wall above your desk, desktop screen saver, etc) you’ll be inspired and excited to continue working towards achieving your goals.

More tips:

Make it fun! Is there a cool way you can encourage yourself to try a little harder? There’s no point sacrificing something if it’s going to make you miserable in the meantime, so allow yourself the occasional treat and be sure to make the process enjoyable!

Say it out loud. I’ve put all my goals here on the blog in the hopes it will make me even more motivated to achieve them. It will be plain for everyone to see if I don’t make it, so saying my goals out loud (or showing the world in a blog post!) encourages me commit to completing them.

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