If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you have big goals that you want to make happen in 2023.
But here’s the thing: setting goals and having a vision of what you want to create is the easy part – the real work begins when you set out to make them a reality.
Because the journey to making it our reality is always different to what we imagine, don’t you agree?
And while we may start the year with the best of intentions, along the way, it’s inevitable that we’ll get tripped up by the challenges and obstacles that we’re faced with.
In fact, the statistics show that approximately 80 percent of people who set New Year’s goals and resolutions have dropped them by the second week of February.
The report by Strava shows that people are most likely to ditch their new goals and commitments to themselves by January 19.
Because setting your goal and achieving it requires a few key ingredients: namely grit, determination, persistence, and above all, the willingness to be uncomfortable and do hard things.
And it’s the willingness to sit with those feelings of discomfort as you choose to take courageous action and move forward with your goals that will determine your outcome.
But the hard truth is that a lot of people aren’t willing to do that. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it, right?
So how do you go about making your big dreams a reality?
The good news is that it is definitely possible to stick with your goals, regardless of how big and juicy they are – and make them happen.
And it’s actually a lot easier than you may think.
But first, we need to get clear on how our mind works: our brains are hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
So when we give up on our goals, it’s not because we’re faulty or flawed, it’s inherent to every human – we are literally designed this way.
And once we learn how to override our brain’s natural tendency to default to the easy option – AKA giving up when things get hard – our success becomes inevitable.
Next, is getting clear on the difference between goals and habits:
While goals give us clarity and direction on which way we’re headed; it is the systems of continuous improvement that help us make progress and achieve an outcome.
AKA, it’s our daily habits and commitment to the process that will determine our progress.
So today, I’m sharing the three actionable steps that will help you set and achieve your biggest goals in 2023.
01. Make a concrete plan and stick to it.
The first step is getting super clear on what it is you want to achieve this year by setting really good goals (link to growth mindset post). It is your goals that give your dreams direction and ensure you’re focusing your time and energy on what matters, so this is the most important step in the process!
Once you’ve determined your goals, you then need to make a plan for how you will get there and stick to it.
Without sugarcoating it, this is where the work begins and it can often feel scary and daunting, trying to work out how the heck you’re going to make this all happen.
As part of making a plan that you’ll stick to, it’s important to consider:
- How much time you’re willing to dedicate to making your goals happen.
- That not everything can be a priority – you need to choose what you will focus your energy on, otherwise you’ll be on the fast track to burn out.
- Being intentional with your time and understanding what the needle moving tasks are that will propel you forward. Often it’s easy to get caught up in busy work that we *think* is productive, but is actually not really helping to move us forward.
- What tools will help keep you on track and measure your progress.
Once your decision has been made and you’ve put the wheels in motion, then it’s about making a commitment to yourself that you will keep showing up for goals no matter what.
No matter how hard it gets, no matter how many challenges and obstacles you are faced with; no matter how many times you don’t feel like it – remember magic happens when you don’t give up.
Which brings me to the second step in the process…
02. Create a system that will support you executing your goals.
Creating a system – AKA establishing the habits – that will support you executing your goals, is what will ultimately determine your success.
Habits are the daily, unconscious or automatic behaviors that our brain is programmed with. They can either be healthy or unhealthy – ie, help you to reach your goals; or hinder you from reaching your goals.
The quickest way to build new habits is through repetition. We form positive habits by retraining our brain through consistent daily action.
It’s important to get clear on the positive habits and that will support you reaching your goals.
Some examples include:
- Taking action when I don’t feel like it.
- Spending less time scrolling online.
- Going to bed early.
- Waking up early to workout.
- Committing to taking one courageous action each day.
- Not looking at my phone first thing in the morning.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about a couple of different strategies that can support optimizing your environment so you can cultivate your new habit system more easily:
- Habit stacking – this is where we pair one existing habit with the new habit so it becomes the cue for us to perform the new behavior.
For example, say you want to commit to taking one courageous action everyday, you could pair this with your morning cup of coffee – so that whenever you pour your morning coffee, that then becomes the trigger for you to take your courageous action. Repeat this enough times and it will become an automatic part of your day.
- Create your habit environment – visual clues in our environment become the biggest catalysts for our behavior. So if we want to reinforce new positive habits, we can create an environment with visual cues that support our new habit formation.
This could look like moving your phone to another room while you work if you want to limit your scrolling; installing an extension on your computer like Blocker X that bans you from certain websites so you stay focused on your work; or leaving your workout clothes out the night before so you see them in the morning and workout first thing.
So, while your goals give you direction; it is the systems of continuous improvement (AKA your daily habits) that will help you achieve the outcome you desire.
The more you focus on implementing the systems that will support you making consistent action, the more progress you will make towards your goals…
…Which brings me to the third step in the process, which is to keep moving forward no matter what.
03. Keep moving forward and do it for your future self.
It’s the daily consistent action that will lead you towards your goals. The intentional choice to show up, no matter how hard it gets and regardless of whether you feel like it or not – a choice that your future self will thank you for.
The truth is you probably won’t *ever* feel like it, but when you show up, even when it feels uncomfortable as hell to take that action – you will begin to build a level of self-trust with yourself that you’ve got this and can totally do this.
The trick is to continue showing up – even after every setback and every failure, because there will be many! It’s so easy to want to quit after a setback, but by shifting perspectives, this simply becomes an opportunity to learn from it, and build the inner strength and resilience to continue to show up.
And when you get stuck and are struggling to move forward, it’s just a sign that you need to find a new way, not quit altogether. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking there is only one way to go about something – but the truth is there are many different paths that can lead you to a goal. It’s your job to find a different path, experiment and have fun with it along the way.
Seeking feedback and support is another way you can problem solve and come up with solutions that can help you to move forward.
There are many ways to do this – reaching out in Facebook groups; going to co-working spaces and asking fellow members for support; joining an online membership or group coaching program; listening to a podcast; seeking support from a coach or fellow business owner.
Here’s the thing: failure is only final if you quit. Failure is simply an opportunity to learn what didn’t work and adjust your strategy accordingly.
When you get stuck, it can help to imagine your future self and the version of you who has persisted in the face of these challenges and come out the other side.
What words of wisdom would that version of you share with you?
I hope these actionable steps have given you a framework that you can implement as you begin this new year and take action towards your 2023 goals.
If you are looking for a journal that can help you get clear on your goals and give your dreams direction, along with the panning tools to help you keep moving forward, I’d love to invite you check out the Morning Ritual Journal – a daily journal that integrates goal setting, mindset and journaling tools to help you activate a growth mindset, overcome obstacles and cultivate self belief, so you take action on your dreams and remain accountable to your goals.
It also supports you taking exquisite care of yourself and honoring your needs, so you can enjoy the journey and this beautiful process of becoming.
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