Inside: How to set goals, reach them, and win at life.
I’ve wanted to do it for the longest time, but I didn’t know how. I was afraid to take the first step, and just thinking about it made me feel like a fish out of water. That’s why I sat on my idea for years and did nothing about it. And I began feeling like I was failing myself and my big dream.
When I was five, my grandmother taught me the art of crochet. A little later I learned how to knit, make rugs, do needlework, paper crafting, and much more. I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember.
For years I’ve cherished the idea of having my own handmade brand. The dream wasn’t big scale-wise, but it was enormous to me. I imagined myself making beautiful things in the evenings, sending them off on their merry way in the mornings, and spending the rest of the day mothering my children.
That was nice, except there was a problem. I thought I had a goal of someday doing this thing I daydreamed about. But the truth was, it wasn’t a goal. It was simply a dream, a wish.
the difference between a dream and a goal
It’s quite simple, really. Dreams are important. They are the main driver of what we want to achieve. Dreams are our big reason. But goals are what get us there. Katherine Patterson once said, “A dream without a plan is just a wish”.
So here’s the formula for success: dream + plan = goal.
How to reach your goals and win at life
Have you ever set a goal for yourself only to find that you’ve fallen off the wagon a short time later? For an excuse, you may have said to yourself things like, “It’s not that important,” or, “It’s too hard,” or, “It takes too much of my time.”
The truth is, we can accomplish anything we set our mind to. Want to lose 20 pounds, study for your doctorate’s, or open a business? You can do it. Want to learn a new language, declutter or renovate your whole house, or become an ace at decorating cupcakes? You can do it.
You already know what you want. But before you jump in head first, you need to prepare. Preparation will set you up for success.
Step 1: Find your “WHY”
Why do you want to do what you want? If you want to renovate your house, it’s not simply the fact that you want a nice looking house. Maybe you want to offer hospitality, or make beautiful memories with your kids in it. Or maybe you dream of House and Garden coming and taking photos of your home, which will help you inspire hundreds of thousands of fellow homeowners. When you look for your WHY, go deep.
Next, write your WHY down and put it up somewhere where you will see it every day. This will be your inspiration and your drive.
Step 2: Break it up into bite-sized action steps
A famous quote says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Although we don’t eat elephants, you get the point. How do you look at something enormous and not back down? How do you overcome it? The only way to do it is one step at a time, concentrating on the step at hand, and not the giant heap before you.
When you are climbing a tall mountain, looking up to the top will make your head spin. But if you look down at your feet and concentrate on taking one step at a time, you’ll reach the top before you know it. This post contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
If you want to lose 20 pounds, decide what you can do to reach your goal. Step one may be to stop drinking soda. On step two, you may start avoiding sweets and substitute the sugar in your morning coffee with a monk fruit sweetener. On step three, you may begin walking 20 minutes per day. On step four, you may begin weaning out the gluten. One by one, build habits that will get you to your goal.
If you come across a big step, like getting off gluten, break it down into baby steps. For example, baby step one can be researching what foods contain gluten. Baby step two could be finding a gluten-free support group. Baby step three could be finding and saving gluten-free recipes.
Write all the steps down. Having it in your head and not on paper will not work. If you use a planner, do it there. This is the planner I’m using this year, it’s great for time blocking.
Let’s take a look at a different scenario. Let’s say you want to declutter your house. Write down every room and every closet that needs some TLC. You can break it down even further by dividing each room or closet into smaller action steps.
Step 3: Assign a date to each action step
If you are a planner user, you know the drill. Block out time each week (or each day, if you can) for you to complete the small steps you’ve written out in a previous step. If you don’t use a planner, you can simply write or type up your plan.
Take your big goal and assign a realistic end date to it. You may want to lose 20 pounds by your birthday, which is five months away. You may want to declutter your house by your anniversary, which is in three months.
Take a look at your schedule and find two or three hours per week you can dedicate to decluttering. It can be in three different chunks, or one big block of time on a Saturday when your husband takes the kids to the park. If you don’t have the time, see How to Find More Time in Your Day.
Assign an action step to each weekly or daily block of time you’ve dedicated to the task. Assign a date to each action step.
Step 4: Follow the steps
You’ve done all the hard work. You’ve planned out all the steps and given each one a date. Now you know exactly what to do and when to do it. Keep your big WHY motivator up, and let it be your drive when you don’t feel like completing a step.
Imagine how good it’ll feel when you finally fit into your high school jeans again. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment and a load off your shoulders when you make the last Goodwill drop off with all the things that took precious room in your house. Keep up with your plan.
Helpful tip #1: Stop waiting
You may be tempted to do it later, to wait for a better time. A very wise Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The truth is, if you wait for the perfect time, it’ll never come. Plant your tree now, and enjoy its benefits sooner than never.
Helpful tip #2: Don’t do it all
You may be inspired to plan out two or three goals for yourself. If you do it, you’ll set yourself up for burnout. Take one goal at a time, commit to it, and do it well.
Helpful tip #3: You have to want it bad enough
When you feel your drive start to dissipate, think back to your big WHY. How bad do you want it? If you feel you might not have enough drive to reach your goal, you don’t want it bad enough. Rethink your WHY and fuel your efforts with it.
Helpful tip #4: Keep swimming
Remember the blue fish from Finding Dory? “Just keep swimming” was her motto, even when it got tough and she was scared. She just kept swimming. Don’t give up, be patient, and just keep swimming.
Helpful tip #5: Find someone to keep you accountable
When we have our own goals to reach, we answer to ourselves. It’s easy to make excuses for yourself to yourself. It’s harder to make excuses to someone else. Accountability builds responsibility. You will be less likely to skip a step if you have someone to answer to. Find an accountability partner, show them your plan, and keep them accountable, too.
Helpful tip #6: Pray about it
As a believer, I give all my plans and worries to the Lord. I seek His guidance in my life and ask for His blessing on my endeavors. It’s so comforting to know that I have a Father who knows what’s best for me.
Helpful tip #7: Reward yourself
Now that you know how to reach your goals and win at life, what will you do when you cross the finish line? How will you celebrate? Will it be a weekend away with your husband, new jeans that fit just right or a full day dedicated to self-care? Don’t forget to write down how you will reward yourself for a job well done.
Once I turned my dream into a plan and took the first step, it became a real goal. I’ve narrowed down my handmade items to baby-related gifts and built my handmade baby brand, Meadoria. I followed the plan step by step and my dream became a reality. I learned about online presence, marketing, building a website, and many, many other things I never thought I would ever be interested in. But all these steps came together to build something I long wished for. Some of these steps I loved and some weren’t pleasant at all. But I did them all, because I had a big WHY, a step by step plan, and an end goal in mind.
Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was scary. But the truth is, if we don’t do things scared, we stay in our little comfort zone, and we don’t grow. Comfort zones are made for passiveness, not progress. If you want to reach a big goal, you have to step out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done before.
How to reach your goals and win at life includes defining your WHY, making a plan, and following the steps. Do this, and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your big goal and avoid feeling like you’ve failed your dream. I’ll be rooting for you!