Right around the end of the year, I had a few meetings where it seemed like everyone was asking me about my five-year plan.
At the time I was drowning in a riptide of personal feeling and could barely wrap my head around how I was going to get through the next day, let alone forecast the next five years of my life.
…But because so many people were asking me about it….I wondered if perhaps I was missing something. Maybe my lack of a five-year plan was the reason I was having such a hard time. Without true direction, I was floating aimlessly, and sure, wasn't that part of what was bumming me out too?
What I came to realize was that when you're bummed out, any extra effort – particularly the effort and chutzpah required to accomplish a five-year goal is incomprehensible, and thus begins a super vicious cycle.
I vowed to myself I was going to go easier on myself this year than in year's prior.
So in my efforts to be kinder to myself I decided to say, “f*ck the five-year plan.”
And instead ask: What's going to help me live better right now?
So after I published this post, I started digging: I journaled, started working with a coach, and completed a life-changing workbook by a coach named Emily Williams at I Heart My Life (P.S. It's FREE!) and it really helped me think about what I wanted out of life and how to push past the ways I've really been locking myself up: both in life and in business.
Emily's workbook also had me detail my own strengths and weaknesses. And as it turns out, breaking things down into small manageable chunks is something I'm very good at and have lots of practice in.
I'm definitely a goal getter by nature, but I have some experience in setting goals and what it takes to achieve them step-by-step (I once set a goal of paying off $8,000 in 90 days).
Where is This All Going…?
At the top of the year, I created the goal that I didn't want to only focus on my business (the way I had in 2015 and 2016), I instead wanted the priority to be my health and happiness.
But what does that look like? How do you create an action plan for making that happen?
So I turned to my background in goal setting to create a master plan for this…and because I'm a creepy worksheet freak…I made worksheets for all of us to use. (Yes, they're free!) I loved what I came up with and look at my worksheets every day.
Technically these worksheets work (and damn well I might add) for any goal: business or otherwise, but for the sake of humoring me, please use them for something you'd really like to work on in your personal life to make you a happier human being: your relationships, your health, creating a better work-life balance…things like that.
By focusing on your own success rather than your business – you are going to be happier, and your business will succeed further as well.
About five years ago….
….The business I worked for sold a strategic planning software set and because I was doing all the content marketing at the time I had to learn all about strategic planning in order to write about it. Turns out, strategic planning is a lot like personal goal setting and it doesn't take much to be very effective at it. It's mostly just planning, and rewarding yourself when things go right so you reinforce that behavior.
At the end of the day, we're all just dogs with big food bowls. 🙂
The software always asked about your one big goal in a given area.
- Then it asked you the smaller goals you wanted to complete as part of that larger goal.
- Then it asked you the strategies you were going to take to meet those “sub goals”
- and finally the tasks – those easy items to put on your to-do list every single day.
Sounds easy enough, right? So here's the tutorial for the worksheets just in case you're a little confused on how it all works. I'll share what my personal action plan looks like and hopefully you can create one of your own too!
Part 1: What is the one big goal you'd like to accomplish this year?
And yes. You have to pick just one. If you're wanting to get super crazy you can print out a set of these sheets for every aspect of your life that you have goals for: money, job, personal, whatever.
I'll admit, at first I did this too. Mostly because of my aforementioned love of a good worksheet, but also because I wanted to improve on ALL THE THINGS.
But the funny thing about improvement is that it is a dish best served focused. If you really, really want to change something you need to give it your undivided attention. Sure, you can spend the rest of 2017 incrementally improving in several areas, or you can completely change your life and improve it beyond belief by just focusing on the one thing that matters. Personally, I'd rather experience life changing than incremental.
Also – having to pick one thing clears away the bullsh*t….fast.
You can only pick one priority. It's called a priority for a reason. This is the area of your life that deserves your undivided attention.
If you can't pick just one goal, picture yourself at the end of this year, December 31st, 2017.
What do you want to have achieved, and most importantly, how will you know you've been successful in creating this achievement?
I can't take credit for that question, I got it from my coach, Dawn, and I just had to borrow it because it really helped me visualize how I wanted to live this year.
Below is how I completed the worksheet so you can see my example.
Part 2: The sub-goal.
I'm sure it seems weird to have one big “goal” and then a sub-goal, so maybe we'll label it differently.
The “big goal” should be the priority, and the sub-goal should be a more resolution-style goal you'd like to achieve in the next 365 days that supports the overall goal. Below is another example.
Part 3: Strategies
Ask yourself: What will it take to make that sub-goal a reality?
Don't focus so much on action items, but larger scale initiatives that will likely take you the rest of the year to complete.
Part 4: Finally, the tasks – the meat and potatoes.
Tasks – the action items, the things you put on your daily, weekly, monthly to-do list that you cross off each day. These are what make you feel you're moving-shaking-making-progress. The beauty of it is if you do the tasks right, the rest of the categories above will fall into place, so you don't have to worry about them as much.
The tasks should support the strategies, the strategies the sub-goal, and the subgoal, the overall goal.
You're getting it by now, I think.
But doing the work is only the first step. Phase 1 if you Will.
You have to ensure your success and where many falter when it comes to setting goals is in the accountability. Here's how to do this.
Create Mantras for Yourself that You Repeat Often
Below are some of my favorites. And you don't have to do them all each day (although you can.) I like to have a repertoire of mantras because I like to pick and choose depending which one I use based on what I'm dealing with each day.
These worksheets I made have sections for you to write down some of your own.
Ask: What are you really struggling with? What messaging would you like to really reinforce with yourself?
2. Schedule Rewards (Yes! #Treatyoself)
This is something I have long touted as essential to debt payoff. There's even a whole section about it in the Debt Master Plan, but it never occurred to me to implement rewards for other non-finance related initiatives too.
It doesn't matter how lavish or simple they are, just so you set them in advance. Give yourself a treat for every month you do all the things you set out to do. For me, implementing rewards was crucial to my success on forming a new workout routine. Now, for every month I do 16 workouts (four a week) I gift myself something I've been longing for. Last month it was face cream, this month it will probably be a new desk for the apartment, but hey, I really earned it this time.
For me, implementing rewards was crucial to my success on forming a new workout routine. Now, for every month I do 16 workouts (four a week) I gift myself something I've been longing for. Last month it was face cream, this month it will probably be a new desk for the apartment, but hey, I really earned it this time because I haven't worked out on this consistent of a basis in forever.
My Opinion on Why This is type of Goal Setting is Infinitely Better than a F*cking Five Year Plan
I hope you enjoyed a little tutorial on some of the stuff I've been working on personally that's helping me to heal a lot of the emotions I laid bare in my first emotional entrepreneur post.
With all that said, it's hard to goal set for an entire year, let alone five.
It's even harder when you fail at those goals and look back because you feel so badly about yourself for failing.
A five-year plan is supposed to be motivational, but for many it can be overwhelming (raising my hand, right here.) I think this is better because it's gentler. It's a different kind of goal setting that allows you to practice healthier habits in your own life, which will in turn work wonders for your overall feelings of happiness (and yes….your business.)
And you know what…if this is a more mellow year for you and you don't set any goals at all. THAT'S OKAY TOO. We've all been there. The main takeaway – be gentle with yourself. And if you're not good at that? Use the worksheets above to help you get started.