Achieve your goals consistently (using this secret weapon)

Can you believe March is already here?
It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was going through my 2015 review and we were talking about how to achieve your goals.
And if I think about it, it actually was a few weeks ago.
But March. That sounds far into the year already.
62 days into the year exactly. Nearly 17% of 2016 gone.

Most of the time, we set yearly goals.
It must be all the celebrations and the hype, and the fact that, after all, years are a very scarce resource. It is a big deal.

But years are difficult to visualise, difficult to measure intuitively. Many things happen in a year.
So it’s easy to just keep your goals waiting just one more day, because there are so many more ahead.

If this wasn’t difficult enough, yearly goals tend to be BIG.
This is good. Keep it interesting.
But big goals are also very scary, and often we don’t know where to start.

How I walked to Los Angeles (kinda)

According to my activity tracker, I have walked 349 miles / 562 kilometres since the beginning of the year.
That’s London to Manchester and back.
Or San Francisco to Los Angeles (ok nearly, give me another week).

How is this even possible?

achieve your goals activity tracker

I just walked 10,000 steps every day.
I walked 5.8 miles a day on average, and over time, that builds up.

But if someone told me on New Year’s day “walk to London and back by the end of February” I would have said “No. Chance.”
Maybe I would have even been a little rude.

The same principle applies to yearly goals. When you have a massive goal to achieve it can feel so daunting that you avoid taking action: “how can I walk all the way to Los Angeles?”
But if you divide it into smaller, manageable chunks that you can action every day, then getting to your final goal becomes inevitable.

How to break down your goals

Here’s what I like to do:

  • I set three-year goals.
  • Then, every year, I break them down into smaller objectives.
  • Every month, I divide those objectives into even smaller targets.
  • Every week, I pick two micro-objectives that will get me closer to my monthly targets.
  • And every day, I take action.

By cutting bigger objectives into manageable pieces, you can start moving. And once you start moving, you gain momentum.
It’s like pushing a car that’s out of petrol (or gas, depending on where in the world you’re reading this): getting the car in motion is tough, but once it’s moving you just have to keep pushing. Easy.

The monthly goals secret weapon

Just like years, months are still pretty sneaky. They seem very long and then, all of a sudden, they’re gone. Puff.
So every month, I select three objectives.
Three is a manageable amount, and it allows me to keep balanced and work on all three legs of the tripod of life.

I then take an image I like, put it in Over, and write my three goals on it.
I set it as my phone’s wallpaper for the rest of the month.

This has three major advantages:

1 – It makes you commit to your goals in writing, which helps to clarify them but also internalise them.
2- You are consciously and subconsciously reminded of your goals multiple times a day, with zero effort required.
3- Whenever you need to decide between tasks, you can check your main focus at a glance.

monthly goals

PRO TIP: share your goals with someone else for extra accountability (you can send send them to me via email).

LAZY TIP: if you don’t want to pretty it up, you can just create a list in the notes app, take a screenshot, and set it as your wallpaper.

What are you going to work on this month?
It can even be one thing only, just send me an email and let me know, I’ll keep it between the two of us.

— Matt

goal setting handbook