9 months ago 💘 for day 146, 2020 with 631 words.

A Simple Goal Attainment Process

The Big Goal

You start with a goal. Let’s say you want to get fit. What does that mean to you? What does that look like? Maybe you’re 20 pounds overweight and have a paunch, and would like to weight, say 160 pounds and have a flat stomach. Okay, that’s a clear goal. You’ll know when you’ve achieved it.

Set a timeline. It’s hard to make any significant change in a month, but a year is more than you need to level up. Quarters of the year seem to work well. It’s enough time that you can significantly progress, but the deadline will always be close enough that you feel some urgency to progress.

Checkpoints

What are a few checkpoints on the way to that ultimate destination, some intermediate goals? Using the weight loss example, one checkpoint could be 175 pounds. Then 170, then 165, then 160. Then you’ll be there.

Diagramming can be helpful in visually laying out goals and intermediate checkpoints and brainstorming ideas to get there. I like a tool called Whimsical for quick, easy diagramming.

This Week’s Experiment

Now, what are some things you could do to progress towards the first checkpoint? You could exercise, you could eat better. What’s something specific, that you can set out to do today, and you will know when you have done it? Maybe walk around the block.

Can you see yourself doing this every day? The easier it is to do and the less time it takes, the more success you will have. If it takes under two minutes, you are very likely going to be able to do it consistently. If you can see this fitting into your daily routine, you’re set. Now, you’ve started your journey. But you don’t know what exactly will work. So you need to always be experimenting with habits to find the right ones for you.

So don’t commit to walking around the block for a month. Commit to doing it every day this week. At the end of the week, answer two questions:

  • Is this working for me? If I keep doing this for 12 weeks, will it get me to my goal?
  • What shall I do next week? Do it just the same as I did last week? Do 10% more, 10% less? Or try a different approach altogether. Try doing a little workout instead of a little walking.

The Practice

Do this for twelve weeks. Every day, all you have to do is repeat the current version of the habit. Every week, all you have to do is determine if the habit is working or you need to change or replace it. Every month, just step back a bit and see if you are on track to reach your goal. Every quarter, look back on what you’ve done over the past 3 months and congratulate yourself on doing your best and sticking with it. And most of the time, you’ll find that you have a significant accomplishment to add to your collection. And you’ll feel ready to start the process again.

Other Resources

Setting and accomplishing goals is a very well-covered topic. My hope here was to offer something simple that might be able to help a few people. But there is a lot out there, and everybody is different. Here are some great posts on setting goals and achieving them:

  • How to Plan Your Ideal Year: https://medium.com/personal-growth/how-to-plan-your-ideal-year-2d12ff073467
  • How to Change Your Life: 6 Steps to Become the Person You Want to Be https://medium.com/mind-cafe/how-to-change-your-life-6-steps-to-become-the-person-you-want-to-be-389568c03de1
  • This 4-Minute “Keystone Habit” Will Transform Your Next 4 Years: https://medium.com/goactualize/this-4-minute-keystone-habit-can-transform-your-next-4-years-3a69822c254a
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By Coleman Foley

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Software engineer, interested in methods and tools for living better.

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