Some days it seems as if everyone else is doing so much better than we are. How is that everyone has it together, while we’re just floundering? Good news! You’re not alone. First of all, they all feel the same way. Second, you can end the pity party and begin working towards your crazy goals right now.
I love the phrase, “A dream is a goal with a deadline.” It begs the question: What do you need to do to make your dreams come true?
Goal setting starts by breaking down a big goal into small steps that you can achieve (with relative ease) over time. A weekly schedule makes it possible to stay on top of goals, checking off one task at a time until completed.
Today, I’ll teach you how to take a step towards your goal and translate it into a weekly action schedule. This allows you to measure your progress at the end of each week. Slow, deliberate actions that lead to larger – dare we say, jaw dropping – achievements.
Before you can do anything, you’ve got to have a goal in mind.
Choose your goal by thinking small. Your loftiest goals can wait until the smaller goals are met. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t want to run a marathon without first training for it, would you? Smaller goals let you build up momentum. They keep you from tiring before you reach the finish line.
Each mile you take on gets you one mile closer to the ultimate goal, the marathon.
One of the gravest mistakes a person can make when goal setting is to take on too much when they first get started. When you shoot too high too fast, you’ll become overwhelm and sink. Instead, ask, “What can I do today that will bring me closer to my goal?” Once you’ve identified a few steps, decide which one needs your immediate attention.
Then define your goal by making it specific and measurable.
Here’s how I broke down a big dream of mine into a very specific goal, that at first glance may not even seem directly related.
There are a lot of unachievable-sounding goals I have in life. These include:
- Traveling to and living in a significant amount of the world.
- Learning multiple languages.
- Training in various skills, as authentically as possible.
- Helping others achieve their own goals.
- Bridging the education gap between classes.
- Creating resources to help folks become self-sufficient.
That’s a lot really. And in the end, a typical office job isn’t going to make any of those things realities. Hands-on experience and relentlessly pushing forward is what it takes.
What would enable me to get started? Well, being able to live location independent while not worrying about starvation is a good start. Eventually being able to live off of my creative projects and ideas, rather than being tied into clients would be awesome too.
How does one get to a place where that’s possible? Having a large group of people who believe in the same things I do, who appreciate the creative work I do, paying attention to when I produce something new.
Where do you even begin to build that kind of audience? There’s many methods, some more questionable than others, but the slow and steady is usually the longest lasting.
In today’s world, it seems that having a solid social media following can be a big boost when it comes to publishing work that gets clicked on, read, shared, and promoted. I have a pretty small social media following at the moment.
Ok… So, what’s my current goal? To build up my following, beginning with my social media accounts.
This can in turn draw attention to my email newsletter. From there, I will have a group of people who love what I do to help me when I pitch writing, creative work, and visions down the line. The larger my network, the more likely I am to succeed as I position myself for the more lofty goals of making a real difference in the world.
Next, you’re going to want to identify all of the steps necessary to meet your larger goal.
If the steps you’ve chosen seem too complicated, it’s time to rethink your smaller goals. Take the step you’re stuck on and start over from the beginning to determine what it will take to succeed.
There’s no fault in starting over so when it feels like you need a fresh start, by all means, have one. Your priorities and direction may change over time, and that’s okay.
Here’s an example worth considering.
Let’s pretend your mini-goal is similar to mine and you want to create an impressive following for your brand by way of social media. This serves as social proof when pitching projects to clients. Maybe eventually it helps you find an even bigger kind of freedom.
You’ll begin with the smaller, actionable goal of reaching 1,000 followers for each account. Of course, you want to attract followers with high quality content and other organic methods. (Paying for followers isn’t worth it.)
That means your general requirements are:
- Regular posts and interactions with each profile.
- Fresh, engaging content to share across your platforms.
But take a step back for a moment. Maybe what you need is something a little different. Maybe you need a handful of in-person mentors and connections.
You’re going to need:
- Relevant events to attend and connect with people.
- Regular time spent with a mentor.
- Time to practice whatever skill you need to get where you’re going. This could be getting in shape, practicing your art, writing 500 words every day – anything!
Don’t forget the power of people and getting feedback. Want to be an incredible writer? Join a writing group and ask for feedback. Looking to conqueror some sweet hiking trails? Join a hiking group. Curious about increasing your social media audience? Ask social media superstars to critique your platforms.
When you first begin, you’ll have to grind it out to meet your goals.
There’s no way to avoid tackling the repetitive actions required yourself. At least, not until you can afford to outsource them in the future (if it’s a business related goal).
If it’s not a business related goal, I’m guessing you’re trying to get better at something. If you want to be a good photographer, you need to take a lot of photos. If you want to be a better painter, you need to paint a lot of paintings. So on and so forth. You need to build up your experience little by little, instead of expecting to get better all at once. It takes time and practice.
Imagine if you had started this habit several years ago. Now, the next several years are going to go by whether you want them to or not. The difference about where you’ll be is determined by whether you put effort into your dreams starting now.
As a digital nomad, my life also involves a lot of atypical work. Pardon my tangent on outsourcing jobs here. Depending on what your tasks are, you may have a few options for doing it faster and cheaper.
You can outsource any number of jobs through the following tools:
If you need a bit more than that, here’s a post with outsourcing resources, organized by the type of job you need done.
Good news – some automation can be outsourced for free!
Personally, I love the site IFTTT, which connects many sites and apps together as if by magic. For my social media goals, I’m using Buffer and Hootsuite to make sure my accounts get updated throughout the day.
With the right tools in your tool belt, you can determine which weekly actions it’ll take to achieve your goal.
Moving onto the central tasks. How can you streamline processes altogether to save yourself time and effort?
There are two stages to this: Finding the actual tasks that need to be done, and then determining the tasks that must be done to automate it.
The Actual Tasks
Start by listing out the individual steps you need to take to achieve your goal. To show you what this might look like, here’s what I came up with for my own social media goals:
- Post once daily to Facebook and Instagram.
- Post 3x daily to LinkedIn and Twitter.
It’s a simple schedule, but without automation this would quickly become overwhelming.
The Scheduled Tasks
No matter what your goal is, there is a way to maximize the use of your time. The question is, what can you do to maximize the task at hand?
To continue with our example of social media: Do you need to go to each social media site every two hours to post new content, or can you schedule that in advance? With the right tools, you can totally automate that.
This is working smarter, not harder.
That means your ultimate task isn’t to post to Twitter every two hours, it’s to organize a list of content that will get scheduled in the future across every profile on a site like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Now, go back through and list the actual tasks you’ll need to do every week. These are the ones that you’ll hopefully automate, if you can find the right tools to do it. Try searching “how to automate -very specific task-” in Google to see what other people are using.
Here’s my process to narrow down central tasks. Ask yourself:
- Can I batch work together?
- How else can I maximize my use of time?
- What pieces can I automate?
Let’s go back to the idea that maybe your goal isn’t business related. The questions are similar, but tweaked a bit.
- Can I team up with people to practice this skill?
- How can I create a network of accountability?
- Is it possible to work my tasks into something I already do?
- Which pieces can I do cheaper, or more efficiently?
Pursuing a goal shouldn’t make you bankrupt or leave you stranded. It should make you better, faster, stronger. Get creative in how you implement your new goal.
Now that you’re crystal clear on what you need to do to succeed, you can create a schedule that allows you to make it happen. This part takes the automation techniques from earlier and puts it to good use.
It’s pretty straight forward to do this.
- List out all your tasks.
- Spread out batched work across the week.
- Follow the weekly schedule.
That said, I learn by seeing. When it comes to building a social media presence, the following example schedule has been working wonders for me.
- Prepare a week’s worth of daily posts for Facebook and Instagram.
- Batch schedule these to Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Take 15 minutes to read your subscribed news feeds. (I use Feed.ly for this.) Queue your favorite three links to LinkedIn and Twitter for the day.
Suddenly, my social feeds have been filled with activity and I’ve barely disrupted my usual schedule. I call that winning.
But, let’s say you’re trying to become a published photographer. It might look more like this:
- Go to a new location and do a shoot.
- Edit and prepare files for viewing.
- Add top one to three new photos to portfolio.
- Remove the bottom one to three photos from your portfolio.
- Pitch to one new gallery or publisher with a link to your portfolio.
Over time, you’ll learn what galleries are looking for, learn how to pitch your photography, refine your portfolio, get feedback on your work, and eventually – you may just land someone who will publish your work. Instead of building yourself up for one big letdown, you’re going in knowing that it’s all practice. And one day, you’ll discover you’re not practicing anymore… because you actually know what you’re doing.
You can apply this same kind of weekly thinking to any of your goals. I promise, they’ll get you moving in the right direction.
Ultimately, attaining big goals is a matter of reaching much smaller ones. The trick is in identifying what those smaller goals should be, rather than taking wild guesses. Not having a direction only leaves you wondering why nothing has changed, in spite of all your effort.
When you identify a targeted goal, you can easily determine which specific actions that you need to take next. By breaking these down into manageable weekly behaviors, you’ll build up momentum. Sooner than you realize it, you’ll be ready to take that next step! Shortly after that, you’ll have attained all sorts of goals you didn’t know were possible.
It all comes back to the consistent repetition of the right actions.
What huge goal are you trying to achieve? Have you broken it down into smaller steps that you can build a weekly schedule around yet?