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How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula

How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Every October I seem to get into productivity mode. The kids are back in school, we’ve started to settle into our new routines, and I start thinking about accomplishing things and setting goals for next year. Since I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who could use a little more organization in my life, I thought I would take the next few Mondays and do a little weekly series about productivity. I’m calling it Project: Purposeful Productivity because I feel like all too often I’m not intentional enough about the way I spend my time; I’m busy, but not necessarily productive. This month I’m hoping to be more deliberate about how I choose to fill my days and genuinely pursue purposeful productivity rather than just defaulting to chaotic busyness. Sound good? 🙂

For me, productivity always starts with goals. Without goals, I feel like I’m aimlessly busy, running around trying to deal with the “emergency of the moment” because I haven’t clearly defined my priorities and the ways I should be spending my time. I also find that when I don’t have my goals and priorities in order, I’m usually allowing others to impose their priorities on my time. Now I’m all about helping people, but there are definitely times where I need to say “no” to others’ requests in order to preserve things like family time, which are at the top of my priority list. Goals help me to be intentional about my time and my resources; they give me focus.

But how do we go about making goals and prioritizing our lives?

Not surprisingly, because I am all about systems and routines, I have gotten into a system for goal setting over the years and since I have had several questions about my goal setting process recently, I thought I’d lay out my system here in case it might be helpful for others too.

 

1. I start with the big picture.

How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

When I sit down to do my big goal planning session at the beginning of each year, I try to look 10, 5, or even one year down the road and ask myself where I would like to be at that point in my life. If everything would go “perfectly,” what would my life look like? It’s fun to dream about what the future could hold and think about the road ahead.

It can also be a little intimidating and scary, but that’s a good thing because it means I’m stepping outside my comfort zone and challenging myself. It was about three years ago at this time that I sheepishly admitted to Donnie that I wanted to start a blog. I was scared to death even to tell him about it, let alone actually go out and do it. Who knew that just a few short years later, that blog that I was afraid to start would become a full time job for both Donnie and me?! And it all started with a goal, one that intimidated me big time, but that I was determined to accomplish anyway.

Not sure where to start or what your goals should be? Think about your strengths and abilities. What skills do you have that you could use do something you really love? For me, that was writing. I had always loved to write and knew I had abilities in that area, and blogging provided an avenue for using those skills while still being at home with my kids. {Similarly, I have to be aware of what my strengths aren’t. I could be the most committed person in the world, but there are some things I am just not capable of. For example, I enjoy running, but I am beyond S L O W, so my goal probably shouldn’t be to become an Olympic runner. Running a 10K or half marathon could be totally do-able, though! 🙂 }

Think through the different areas of your life… faith, family, health/fitness, job, friends/relationships, finances, hobbies, etc… which of these areas would you like to change or improve or grow over the coming years?

Out of this “big picture” dreaming and scheming, I usually come up with 3-5 big goals that I most want to focus on for the upcoming year. It is really tempting to make about 27 goals because I want to get better in every single area, but realistically, I’ve found that I’m more successful if I make it a point to really drill down on my very top priorities and narrow my focus rather than just doing an okay job at a ton of different things. It’s these 3-5 big picture goals that then help me decide how I should be prioritizing my months, weeks, and days.

2. I break it down.

How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

So once I think through the big picture and narrow down my 3-5 key goals for the year, I start thinking about what it would take for me to get there. What do I need to do this year, this month, this week, and today to start working toward making that big picture a reality? Not only does breaking the big goals down into smaller chunks help them seem more manageable, it also helps me get those “small wins” that are so encouraging and keep me going when it feels like I’m not making much progress.

Let’s say, for example, that one of my goals is to pay cash for our next car. If we break that big goal down, it could look something like this:

This year: Save $12,000.

This month: Save $1000.

This week: Come up with a plan to spend less money and/or bring in additional money.

Today: Schedule a meeting with my spouse to discuss finances. Make a list of possible additional revenue streams.

All of the sudden that goal of paying cash for a car doesn’t sound all that impossible. Maybe you can’t save $12,000 today, but you can take the first baby steps toward making that happen. Then tomorrow you can take a few more steps. And eventually, all of those things add up.

3. I add action steps.

This ties in closely with #2– it’s not enough to just write down a goal or even break down the big goal into several smaller goals; I also have to make a plan for getting there. Looking at our “saving for a car” example, $1000 dollars isn’t just going to show up in my savings account each month. I will have to find ways to spend less money or make more money in order to be able to save that additional amount. My plan could include things like cutting down eating out to once a month, doing a “no spend” month, selling items on Craigslist or eBay, taking on some VA work, watching others’ children in my home, etc.

I find that the more specific I am with my action steps, the more likely I am to follow through with my plan. At the beginning of each month, I look back at my big goals and make a plan of attack for that month. Each week I break down the monthly plan down into action items and put them on my calendar. Then each day I schedule in time to work on specific parts of those action items. Break it down, make a plan, take action!

Setting Goals | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Any other visual learners out there? 😉 Charts always help me visualize concepts more clearly!}

4. I can’t be afraid to pivot.

I am one of those people that gets tunnel visioned pretty easily. When I set my mind on something, I run as hard as I can toward it, doing everything in my power to make it happen. Many times that tenacity and determination is a good thing, but other times it keeps me from seeing other opportunities that could be even better than my “master plan” I so carefully created for myself.

Sometimes I need to pivot.

At the beginning of 2015, Donnie and I had two big goals for the year: move out of our townhouse and make enough through the blog to bring him home to work on our business full time by the end of the year. The plan was to get the house first, then work on getting Donnie home. Then at the end of January, Donnie got laid off and we had a choice to make: does he take a new job even though it would probably not be one he liked so we could continue with the house plans? Or should we throw ourselves full force into the business while he had extra time on his hands and try to make that take off, even though being self employed would mean we would have to wait longer to be able to be approved for a house loan? Obviously we took option #2, and even though that means we won’t achieve the house goal this year, we wouldn’t change our choice for a second. Donnie being home helped us to grow our business faster sooner and put us in a better position for the long term. (Not to mention how wonderful it is for our boys– they love getting to spend so much time with him!) We chose to pivot.

How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Photo by elle and arre photography.}

I am a huge proponent of big goals and plans (clearly!), but we can’t control everything and we don’t always know what the future holds. Along with committing to our plans and working as hard as we can to achieve our goals, we also have to be willing to be flexible and recognize when it’s time to make a pivot, many times in order to let go of our “good” plans to make room for something even better.

5. I commit to learning.

This might seem like an odd step to include in the goals process, but I really do think that it’s an important one. A big part of achieving what we set out to accomplish is getting better at our craft, honing our skills, and learning more about the area we’re focusing on.

I love blogging. I even wrote a book about it. But I am the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to the ins and outs of running a blog. I am constantly trying to learn from others around me who are better than I am at the various aspects of blogging. I take classes in graphic design and photography. I read eBooks about marketing and strategy. I listen to podcasts about online business. I’m part of a few mastermind groups that challenge me and hold me accountable. No matter how much we know about something, there’s always room to improve and get better, and finding ways to do that is a big part of crushing our goals.

How I Crush My Biggest Goals: My 5 Step Formula | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

So… I didn’t mean for this post to get so long. But I’m just a little bit passionate about this topic. 🙂 One of the reasons I love talking about goals so much is because I believe they work! I was the girl who was afraid of everything! But when I figured out this process and took the big, scary, intimidating things that I wanted to do and broke them down, it wasn’t nearly as scary anymore!

If you haven’t recently, I encourage you to take some time this week to start dreaming and creating your list of goals. I’m always amazed at how much more I accomplish when I have my priorities in line and am purposeful with my time. Let’s get out there and crush those goals!

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31 Comments

  1. Rosa @ Cat Lady Confidential says:

    Great post! My blog is only six months old, but I notice I waste a lot of time browsing the web, looking through social media or planning rather than taking action. This 5 step formula is a great way to stop procrastinating and take action. Thanks for your tips Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh girl, the internet sucks me in sometime too, and you’re so right about it being a time suck! Congrats on reaching the 6 month mark with your blog– that’s awesome!

      ~Abby =)

  2. I’ve only recently discovered your blog but I am LOVING it. I think we’d be friends IRL 🙂 Thank you for posting on this topic. As a momma to a 10 month old, it’s really hard to stay intentional about the free time I actually DO have during the day. I think it’s time to sit down and do some goal making so I am no longer in firefighter mode.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      “Firefighter mode”– I love that! It’s so true. I always default to that when life starts to get crazy, and then I know it’s time to sit down and regroup! So nice to “meet” you, Miss Amanda!!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Love this post Abby! Goals are great but don’t do much unless you have a plan to attack them 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So true!! Hope you’re having a wonderful day, Marie!!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Tiffany (A Touch of Grace) says:

    I love this Abby! So many times people set big goals and that’s it. They just stay goals and never set action steps to get there. I love how you break it down to the little steps. It’s all in the details. 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So true!! Thank you so much for your sweet words, Tiffany! Hope you’re having a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  5. LOVE THIS SERIES!!! Best thing, ever. Can’t wait to read more. Thanks for sharing this info!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Nicholle! You are the sweetest! Hope you’re having a wonderful (and productive 😉 Monday!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Great post! I really like the tips!
    And love the Goals breakdown sheet (visual)!
    Would love to get that as a printable or editable version! 🙂
    Just a suggestion…:)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh you know me and printables… Love them! I wouldn’t be surprised if one showed up at some point… 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day, Leah!!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Abby! You are awesome and I loved every bit of this post!

    I am also all about goals. I have a goal of making $10K per month within one year through blogging and freelancing! (I also work FT and have two toddlers!) I KNOW I can do this, because I have a plan in place similar to your 5-step plan. This was so encouraging, and seeing that you and Donnie are at home with your kids together gives me hope for my own future. I so badly want my husband and I to be home together with our kids. Congratulations on achieving that goal, and thank you so much for being so willing to share how you got there!!

    – Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  8. I’m starting to love your blog. I tried downloading the pdf copies for organizing my life, my goals and it’s very helpful. This kind of thing is also my interest! It makes my heart leap! 🙂 Good luck to your blog Abby.

  9. Great tips, Abby! I am a terrible goal setter… I think it’s the fear of failing. It’s time to set and crush. xo

  10. Sarah@TheOrthodoxMama says:

    I am definitely a goal-setting person! One of my goals for 2015 was to publish a piece of writing. I was actually a little embarrassed to even tell my husband about the goal. Who was I to think I could write something good enough for others to read? But, he immediately said, “Absolutely you should. How are you going to do it?” So I began writing guest posts for a couple of blogs that I love. That led me to starting my own blog. Which has led me to writing my own book. So–you never know where your goals will take you!

  11. Ruth Anne says:

    Thanks so much for your 5-step formula for goal-setting. I have had a scattershot approach to blogging that simply does not work! Intentionality is so important–that has been hard due to so many variables in my day–but I think I need to set priorities daily, take the reins in deciding on my goals, and really focus, focus, focus on them. Thanks again for breaking it all down into manageable steps! Looking forward to your upcoming Monday posts!

  12. I’m wanting to bring my husband home too. He can retire he has his 25 years with the state but with 3 kids in private school he can’t unless we have the income. Would love to know how you did it.

  13. This post is exactly what I needed to read today. I have been blogging off and on for several years now-mostly personal reflections. I recently decided to withdraw from optometry school to be a stay-at-home mother with my 6 year old daughter and 3 month old son. However, I know that I’ll need a hobby. So I decided to embark on a journey doing something I love-writing. I have your ebook on blogging and I have been slowly building my site. Unfortunately I tend to have big dreams but I don’t think in baby steps and remain faithful to my goals. This post was perfect. Thank you! And I didn’t mind the length at all. You are so inspiring!

  14. Loved this post, Abby! You always inspire me when you write about goal setting. I am struggling finding the time to build my blog, but you have once again renewed my enthusiasm! I purchased a large desk calendar to use to help me stay focused and organized. I’m looking forward to the rest of the productivity posts! There is so much to Learn about blogging, thank you for the inspiration!

  15. Hi Abby,
    Love the post. I need help with goal setting thats for sure, sometimes when life gets crazy It is very difficult to focus. My blog is just a few months old, I know I will get better at blogging with time and effort. I know setting goals is the way to go so your mind is not all over the place LOL. Thanks for reminding me how to accomplish more.

  16. Love this post. I have to admit I’m often too impatient when it comes to really writing down long term goals. I have tasks lists per categories and then I create weekly and daily to do-lists based on those tasks lists, but the big picture stays in my head. I’m sometimes also afraid that writing down things is actually a way for me to procrastinate on doing them. I’m such a big list maker, but the key is to scratch the things of the list…

  17. Annabelle Rose says:

    Hey Abby!
    I’ve been following your blog for like a year now, and it’s super impressive. I’m in an odd situation though where reaching my goals (no matter how I break them down) seems realistic. It wouldn’t be so tough if I hadn’t rushed right through and built a wall in the opposite direction that took years and years and loans, smh the grad loans. Its my fault, but I was young and felt the need to prove something to a couple of people that…I should have been out to prove myself to me! And now, I just feel deflated. Because through my twenties, I’m 28 now, I know what I really want, what I actually care about! And it’s not like I can have a do-over. Advice?
    Sorry for the blathering! You always get me thinking…if I could just figure out a way!

  18. I love how you break it down into steps. I need to find or make a sheet to write down all my goals and action steps that go with them, I think I need one for each daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and big ones. What do you use to write them down and keep track of them? Sorry if you already posted about this, I just saw this one.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Sydnee! Great question! I actually created a planner just for the purpose of planning each step of my goals process! You can see it here: https://justagirlandherblog.com/planner . Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  19. I just came across your blog and I LOVE IT! Thank you for the beautiful content. I enjoy looking at your blog and the worksheets are perfect for me! I love to be organized, yet I struggle with the HOW. my brain just doesn’t break things down to simple steps so I need these visuals to help with the overwhelm life as a mother can be! xoxo!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thank you so much Misty! So glad it was helpful for you! Have a great week! 🙂

  20. Oh yes and how may I print this big picture worksheet?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Misty! Do you mean the chart? It’s not really in printable format, but if you would like to print it, you can right click to save the image, and then put it into a word processing document and print from there. I hope this helps! Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  21. Jacquelyn says:

    A very timely post. Thank you! 🙂

    Over the last couple of months, a lot of things have changed in our lives and new goals have formed: our first baby is arriving in September, we’ve been helping my parents start their own business, trying to start my own business to be able to transition into working from home, etc. I have done a little bit of big goal planning, I have not really sat down and worked out the weekly and baby steps part. So even though I have been moving forward, it has not been at a consistent pace. Working out the weekly/baby steps should help correct this by giving me a clearer picture and the motivation to follow through!

  22. Best of luck for everything.

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