It’s that time of year again. You’re thinking about what you want to achieve; change; improve; never do again starting midnight on the 31st December. This time is different, it won’t be like this last year. This time you mean it.
Whether its losing weight, saving more money, drinking less we’re all pretty good at pining for something. But where most of us struggle is all the bits in between. That’s why creating change (aka achieving your goals) is a (never-ending) process.
But luckily for you, it’s a process that I’ve documented and going to share with you in detail below, or you can catch the summary video here
Now this process was written for businesses, but I’ve adapted (and simplified) it here for personal goals. If you’re interested in the business process, contact us here.
“If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.”
Scott Adams (Creator of Dilbert)
First Things First
I stood on the shoulders of giants to create the Watson & Watt consulting program. I can take no credit for any of the frameworks or methodologies within it. But what I have done, is package them in a way, that as far as I can find, no-one else has, into a comprehensive, and coherent end to end process to achieve your goals.
In addition to this process, I also highly recommend that you start Bullet Journalling. Bullet Journals are a way to keep yourself on track and accountable. I’ve been using one for the last 12 months and it is without a doubt the best way I have found to do this. Check out the website, it explains it all and get cracking.
So with all that in mind where do you start?
The end of course.
If you’ve read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you will know this concept well. Dr Covey does an excellent job of explaining this so if you haven’t read it, I’d recommend you do. But even if you haven’t read that, you will have probably heard of “Begin with the end in mind”.
In other words what’s your goal? Or your vision? what do you ASPIRE to? Most people are ok with dreaming a little dream and envisioning what they want. The practicality of these dreams however may be part of the issue. That’s where George Doran’s S.M.A.R.T goals (from 1981 mind you) come in.
- Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable– specify who will do it.
- Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Without using this approach goals tend to be fairly vague, and we have no real idea on how we are progressing or if we have achieved what we set out to. A goal like, I want to save $25,000 by 31 December 2018, is very different to “I want to save more this year”. You see businesses screw this up all the time by aspiring to things like “to provide outstanding customer service”. It’s completely meaningless and unmeasurable.
To help with your aspiration, my suggestion is always to be as detailed and clear as possible. Once you have it in your head WRITE IT DOWN. This is where everybody screws it. Committing it to paper, not only helps you clarify it, it makes it real. Once you’ve got it written, re-read it, tinker with it. It needs to be so clear that if someone else reads it, they can see what you want with absolute clarity. Now stick that written aspiration somewhere you will see it everyday. Your bullet journal is good for this.
You need to paint the picture of what you want. You need to be able to see it in your minds eye at anytime you need to (i.e as in every damn day).
Ok, so Aspire is all about what you want in the future, this one is all about where you are now, an honest appraisal of where you are right now. A warts and all analysis of your current reality.
Cover all the areas of your life here. Your goal may be to lose weight, so you think you don’t need to assess your work life, but you’d be wrong, this could be an area that can derail your goals, so it’s important that you cover all aspects of your life. As an example it could look like this;
2 kids under 2
Spouse back to full time work
Kids in long day care
No family close by
10th wedding anniversary this year
Mortgage level makes me anxious
Don’t see them that much, Would like to catch up more, but they don’t have kids
Boss is an arsehat
No payrise again this year
Thinking of leaving
Does wine over dinner count as a hobby?
What’s really important here is that you assess the same criteria you are aspiring to change. For example say you want to lose 10kg this year. You would assess your current weight, take some measurements of your hips, waist, neck, calculate your waist to hip ratio etc and set some goals around what each of these will be if you lost the 10kg. This helps you in the following phases of the process.
As the title suggests this is the blueprint of how you are going to go from where you are now, to where you want to be. You want to lose 10kg, so break it down, how much in each month? You’re more likely to lose weight faster at the start, so factor that in. Work out what your daily, weekly, monthly KPI’s are, so you know if you’re on track.
What changes to your food are you going to make? Are you going to see a nutritionist? How many treat days will you have? How many times a week will you exercise? What time of day? What type of exercise? Where will you do it? What will all this cost? How much time will it take? Are you going to do this with anyone else? What’s your wet weather plans? What’s your plans at work functions, catch ups with friends? Etc
This is the section where you take the big goals, and break them down into the daily activities that will add up to achieving the goal, and just as important, how and when will you measure progress and what are your contingency plans? Because come the 3rd week of January, when the reality of your new workout/nutrition regime becomes truly apparent, you’re going to need a plan to fall back on.
Scenario Planning is all about “If this, then that” Knowing in advance what you are going to do, if X happens, rather than trying to come up with something on the spur of the moment and falling back into your usual habits.
Just as it sounds, act out the plan. Follow the blueprints, measure progress when you said you’d measure progress. Measure what you said you’d measure. Make changes if you’re behind on schedule, or change the plans, if they’re just not workable. If you’ve done the Architect Phase properly you’ll have an action (implementation) plan to follow, like;
Jog Monday & Wednesday from work to home, Swimming Saturday morning, Yoga Thursday afternoon. Daily Calories 2,100 measured daily in MyFitness Pal. Take measurements and weigh myself on the first of every month as soon as I wake up.
An excellent way to keep you going when the times inevitably get tough is to use the “Don’t Break The Chain” system popularised by Jerry Seinfeld. You can read about it all over the internet by clicking here. But essentially you have a big calendar on your wall. When you’ve done the daily activity you are suppose to do, you get to put a big red cross in that day. After a couple of days you’ll have a chain of red crosses. The idea is to never skip a day and break that chain of red crosses.
This phase is about continual improvement to the process you have created. It’s about looking at the process and identifying what needs to be improved, maybe your implementation plan needs more detail, maybe you need to take measurements every fortnight and take progress photos to keep you motivated. It’s about looking at each phase and whether anything needs to change. Is your goal still your goal? Is your eating plan delivering the results you expected/need/want? Etc.
So there you have it, the 5 Phase process that will help you change your life and achieve your goals.
This time is different, this time you will do it.