Goal Setting Sucks! Here’s A New 5-Step Approach (FS194)

Goal Setting Sucks! Here’s A New 5-Step Approach (FS194)

Today we are talking about goal setting… which is not a favorite subject of mine.

If you feel the same way, this conversation is for you because the Steph will literally change everything you think and feel about goals.

I know because it happened to me… live… as we recorded the episode.

In this episode she walks us through a kind of 5-step process for setting REAL goals… not the fake stuff that you set and feel hopeful about for a few weeks before fizzling out.

If you want to learn how to set goals that you’ll STICK with, press play and download the workbook below to follow along. Enjoy!

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“Goal setting sucks! Here’s a quick 5-step approach instead”


Get the WorkBook

We made a simple Workbook you can print out to walk you through each of these steps as you follow along the episode:

Download the Goal Setting WorkBook

The 5 Steps

Here are the 5 steps simplified for you. There’s much more in the episode (above) so be sure to listen to that as you read.

  1. Start by going really big. Set a timer for 15 min and see what comes out at the biggest level of your dreams for this year. This is big, possibly embarrassing stuff; write it down anyways! “Write a book,” “appear on television,” “find a partner.” Just write some of the big things you’d really want to do. Everything that could possibly happen. Don’t edit yourself — anything you could think of. Don’t read it as you go, just jot down anything that comes to mind. Even if you’re not that into it, write it down! The trick here is to not edit as you go (just like great brainstorming). You might notice there’s a little adrenaline and creative juices flowing at this stage!
  2. What worked last year and what didn’t? Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper; on the left write what didn’t work, on the right, what did work. “Valuing what other people think about my work,” “excuse making” are examples of what might go on the left. “Weekly checkins on my projects with the team,” “writing more blog posts,” “meeting new people and being inspired by their stories,” could be on the right side. Include projects and specific outcomes, but also include ideas about HOW you work, the processes you use, the mindset you often inhabit. Again, we emphasize NOT editing as you go; just write as it comes.
  3. What are you going to say “No” to, what are you going to say “Yes!” to? What did I say yes to last year that really isn’t helping me? Might be a project, a role at your job, a friendship… Does it feel right to say No to that instead? Checking email after 5pm, starting yoga, etc. You’re looking for things that you can strategically let go of and strategically make room for. This is where the rubber meets the road from step #2!
  4. 10 goals, why, and mini steps for each one. Now, from all the work you’ve done, come up with 10 goals. 10 may sound like too much; Steph likes 10 because she likes the division between 5 personal goals and 5 professional goals. But some years she has more or less, so follow your own way here. Then the WHY is there to sort of check yourself. Do you have trouble coming up with the why statement for a goal? Maybe the goal doesn’t need to be there. Then, tangible steps that need to happen in order to get that goal done. For example: Write a book (why? Because I’ve always wanted to see my name on a book cover in Barnes & Noble). So the steps are: create an outline, table of contents, start writing 10 pages every week next year. This is where we can bamboozle ourselves! Beware of being excited about setting a goal but not properly setting yourself up for success. And your why statement, watch for that one because if you lose touch with why you want to pursue a goal you’re going to have some heavy resistance along the way.
  5. Go back and re-read EVERYTHING you’ve done at this point, all the brain dump, all the working/not-working, everything. The whole time you’re reading be looking for a single word that stands out to you. This, by the way, is an optional step, but it can be really helpful to keep you ON TRACK throughout the next year as you pursue these goals and this LIFE for you! This word is kind of an anchor for you. Steph’s word for 2016 was “Gentle,” and when she remembered that word it helped ground her in the direction she was taking throughout the year. It’s kind of the one word that encapsulates this whole process for you. It’s like this word ties the whole thing together, gives you the essence of the whole thing.

Show Notes

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  • This is definitely a new approach to me. I noticed, in the article, that Steph differentiates between personal and professional. I like that, but I also evaluate other areas like: spiritual, financial, relationships, etc. Could it be that all other areas fall under “personal?” Just curious.

    • Steph Crowder

      Hey Justin, great addition. I do naturally and subconsciously file those sub-areas into “personal” myself, but you could totally divide up the 10 goals in a different way if it suits you. (ex. 2 professional, 2 personal, 2 financial, 2 relationship, 2 spiritual!)

  • Susan Wheeler

    This is always a good exercise to put yourself through deep thinking. My problem has always been, that I start the year well and then forget about it. Last year I did this and put categories on Trello, and then made a “rule” to review once a month, it proved to make a difference. I did add some visuals to each one too,

    • Brenna

      Susan, that’s a great follow through step! My fault lies in writing down or saving ideas and goals, then my brain thinks they’ve been completed, and I forget about them! This year, I’m reassessing so I don’t have too much to keep track of, and prioritize what are important steps and components to moving ahead and reaching successful targets. Here’s to a very productive 2017!

  • Di Williams

    Making a late start on the goal setting for 2017 but finally go around to listening to this podcast – did the workbook at the same time and just wanted to say it is totally awesome!! Thanks so much Steph and guys – this definitely should be made into a fizzle course – feeling really motivated to move everything forward this year !!

  • Steph, thanks to you my word of the year appeared suddenly. After a few days, I understood that the word BOLD doesn’t let me go. I was not expecting it. We set a theme of the year with my life partner.

    Also, because of this episode, I didn’t skip the [what went well/didn’t go well] analyses, as I liked it the year before.

    After remembering everything that happened over a year in one journaling session for two years in a row, I decided to make it a monthly thing in ’17.

    January’17 [What went well] list consists of 66 points vs. 57 for whole year’16. Lots of precious memories, achievements and highlights were forgotten.

    Do you do this review only on a year basis? Do you have a process for the monthly reflections?

    Thank you for sharing your process with us!

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