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How to Set (& Achieve) Goals

Looking to set (and actually achieve) goals for yourself? Get tips on how to pace your action steps, ideas for how to reflect on what went well (and didn't work), even grab free printable pages for recording your goals!

how to set goals printable

What a time to be alive.

And by “what a time,” of course I mean what a strange, weird, new, different, exhausting, challenging, chaotic time.

Do any of us really know what we're doing right now? Chances are pretty good that basically nobody reading this post has ever been through something like this. (Note: this post was originally written during the 2020 pandemic.) We're all at home, meaning there are more challenges in your day than ever before. If you're anything like me, you're balancing work, homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, and a smidge whole lot of anxiety about what the future holds.

So how in the world are you supposed to set goals during such a crazy time?

It is doable. It's not easy, but by being intentional about what goals are actually within reach, we can all make progress and grow during this time. I thought I'd share a few tips for what has worked for me today!

Be Realistic

Guys, we're living through a crisis. It is totally ok to set goals that reflect that. Literally, as I'm typing this, I just took a break to answer a question about homeschool and talk to my son who needed to show me a toy. It's totally understandable that I'm not going to accomplish the goals I normally do when I have uninterrupted work time for a few hours a day.

This is going to vary for everyone, but don't lie to yourself about what you can accomplish given your current circumstances. And you know what? That's ok! I saw a comparison on social media recently that equated this time to the time at home during the newborn stage of parenthood. If you've been there, you know – it's a time when you do what you have to for survival. If you can accomplish something, that's great! But nobody's going to judge you for doing what you have to do to make it through.

Write It Down

I've always said that writing something down is one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable for any given goal. Having that visual accountability is huge.

Looking to set (and actually achieve) goals for yourself during lockdown? Get tips on how to pace your action steps, ideas for how to reflect on what went well (and didn't work), even grab free printable pages for recording your goals!

So I've got a new printable for you today! (Download here.) This is an overall view of your goals, both big and small, along with a due date column (more on that below) and a checkoff column. It feels so incredibly good to check off the goals you've accomplished – this is a great way to keep a visual representation each month/year to reflect on what you've done. This one matches the other goal and time organization printables in The Year of Intent – that's my huge collection of over 100 printable organization and planning resources. Check out more about it here.

Looking to set (and actually achieve) goals for yourself during lockdown? Get tips on how to pace your action steps, ideas for how to reflect on what went well (and didn't work), even grab free printable pages for recording your goals!

Break It Down

I've shared this printable before, but it's so incredibly powerful that I thought it deserved another mention. (You can download it here.) With this sheet, you'll set your big overall goals (the ones mentioned on that first printable), then break them down into manageable action steps that can be completed in small segments of time (usually under an hour). I discuss using this printable a little bit more in this post.

Set a Deadline

Once you've figured out your completable action steps, set a reasonable pace to figure out your goal due date. Let's say you have 6 action steps for a goal that will take about an hour each. If you have 3-4 hours to dedicate to a task per week, it's reasonable to estimate it will take 2 weeks to accomplish that overall goal.

With that said – it's crucial that you figure out your (approximated) deadline when you set your goal! Ever heard the saying “a goal without a deadline is a just a dream?” It's so, so true. I'm just as guilty as anyone else with this one – I have home goals that have been on my to-do list for months/years – guess what hasn't been finished? The ones that don't have a deadline. It doesn't have to be written in stone, but you do need to have something that drives you and gives you an estimate of how much work needs to be done in any given day/week/month.

Get an Accountability Buddy

Not the easiest right now, is it? But anybody can be an accountability buddy, even if they're not physically present with you. Obviously, those in your home are a great option, but you can always find a friend that agrees to text you daily/weekly to check in. There are great Facebook groups for so many goals, especially exercise and fitness accountability. You might even consider joining a productivity or workout app – for example, I'm a huge fan of the Peloton app. There are challenges and paced workout series that do the planning work for you by breaking your goals down into manageable classes. That's just one example of the huge number of apps to help keep you organized and paced in your goals.

Reflect After the Week/Month is Over

Looking to set (and actually achieve) goals for yourself during lockdown? Get tips on how to pace your action steps, ideas for how to reflect on what went well (and didn't work), even grab free printable pages for recording your goals!

The timing of when you use this printable (download here) totally depends on your goal. If you're setting a bigger goal that's going to take months to complete, you'll want to reflect on it probably once a month or so; smaller goals that can be accomplished in around a month might require this sheet to be used once a week. The timing isn't the big factor in using this; the fact that you sit down and actually reflect on how your goals are going in regular increments is the important thing.

Think about what wen't great (and what went not-so-great); change the things that didn't work for you. Then, make a plan that roadmaps what you'll do next to accomplish this goal. Remember to think more in terms of those action steps than the overall goal when you're roadmapping your next steps; it's so much easier to knock out small chunks of something than to try and complete it all at once.

How are you making it through quarantine – any tips on how to stay goal-oriented? Leave them in the comments below!

You can check out my of my organization posts here.

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