Breaking Down Your Goals

Welcome to Part 5 of Goal Setting Mastery.  Where I talk about breaking down goals, it’s not like breaking promises or breaking rules, although goals are like a promise to yourself aren’t they?

The breaking we will be doing is breaking your goals down into manageable actions.  Anyone can have a goal to buy a Mustang GT but how the hell do you get there?  All the steps we’ve taken so far are moving towards that end but what is it you will actually need to do to achieve the end result?  You’ll be setting out a plan, a step-by-step guide for yourself.

Visualize yourself taking those steps and eventually achieving your target.  Or you could start from a position of abundance and look back at your journey to the goal itself.  Both of these techniques will cement the goal and the journey to that goal in your mind.

In my book Pull Yourself Together, I talk about making your work as automatic as possible. I’ll say here right now that I consider any actions that are done for the purpose of achieving a particular thing, work. Totally appreciate that many types or work cannot be automated. There’s no way I could automate the writing of this, for example, but I could automate the process of putting aside the time to write it.

This is extremely relevant to breaking down your goals into manageable tasks.

As a writer, I know many other writers or wannabe writers and for many, writing their first book is a big deal for them. Many will never get there, it’s a sad fact, but the majority of people come up against so many barriers that, for whatever reason, they don’t overcome. I try not to give unsolicited advice to fellow writers but if one of them did ask, I’d say that a big part of writing a book is to break down the process. Make it your goal and then bridge the gap from where you are to where your endpoint is.

If you think about writing a book with 100 thousand words, it seems like an enormous task. Let’s say the average writer churns out about 800 words per hour. That’s 125 solid hours of writing. Make time for typos, editing, planning, re-writing etc. and you’re looking at least 250 hours. That’s about six months of writing. For an average person. If you had nothing else to do or were laser focused I believe you could do it much faster indeed, but let’s work with something that seems doable. Looking from a distance makes it seem easier.

“Yea, I could devote 90 minutes a day to writing my book.”

You could, for sure, but will you?

If you’ve followed the first four steps of this program and also follow these next six steps, I believe you will devote that time. If you just jump in, without planning, what will probably happen, as has happened to many, many people I know, you’ll get to about 10k words and then falter. You’ve written your heart out and then you realize that you’re only 10% of the way through and you feel like you’ve been doing it forever, although it’s been only thirteen hours. By then thirteen hours seems like ages.

It’s exactly the same for any big goal. If your goal is to lose 40 pounds and you want to do it by changing your lifestyle for the better. You stop eating junk food, cut out all sugar and start going to the gym. You lose four pounds in the first week, two in the second and then less than half a pound in the third week. You fall off the wagon and then put a pound back on in the fourth week and when you think back over the last month it’s six pounds in a month of deprivation and it suddenly becomes not worth it any more. You haven’t planned your goals out properly and you’ve lost momentum and motivation.

When you break your goals down it gives you a long term (as long as the goal lasts) plan to achieve what you are setting out to achieve.

Looking at the above examples if you were determined to write that book in six months and decided four months for the writing, a month for re-writing and the remainder for editing etc, you’d be able to split that out over that time frame pretty easily. 25k words per month, target a thousand words a day (which is extremely doable) or less than 90 minutes. Stick that time in your calendar and do so every day for the next four months, giving yourself monthly milestones of 25 thousand. Giving yourself little mini targets along the way keeps your motivated and you know exactly where you are. The act of booking the time in with yourself automates it to a degree so you’ll train your body and brain to be ready for maximum efficiency at that time and you’ll make conscious decisions to keep yourself to that as well. When you decide ahead of time what you’re going to be doing it makes it much easier to make the right decision when it becomes time to make it.

If you knew that losing a pound a week was a reasonable target and you set yourself a forty week goal duration to lose that forty pounds and after a month if you had lost six pounds you’d be over the moon. Ahead of target, the milestone being four pounds, and you’ll be super motivated to forge ahead. Automation might seem like something that can’t help with a goal like this but it definitely can. Your body and brain will love you for putting in strict meals and meal times. If you had a weekly menu that you set up in advance and had the same thing each day each week, knowing that it was an incredibly healthy option designed to help you lose weight, you’d lose that weight for sure.

“Ooh, that sounds boring,” I hear you say. It’s food, not entertainment. Using food to excite you might well be the reason you need to lose forty pounds.

Any goal, long term or short term, can be broken down into smaller components.  If you find that this isn’t the case, your goal might be part of a bigger objective.  As we have seen, breaking your goals down has numerous advantages:

  • Makes them appear less daunting
  • Gives you achievement milestones along the way
  • Easier to motivate yourself to achieve those milestones
  • Feeding the achievement mindset
  • Automating your time and actions

Big goals, especially long term goals are the result of many thousands of individual actions. Planning and automating those actions as well as possible will make them much more achievable, make them appear infinitely more achievable and reduce the likelihood of you losing motivation.  This will in turn encourage you to think bigger and plan better goals, raising your game until goal setting becomes a part and parcel of your every day life.

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