*There may be affiliate links in this post. (Please see our legal pages, link in the footer, for more information.) We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with setting goals.
I love thinking and planning about things I want to accomplish in my life, but I always struggled with actually making these things a reality.
Until recently that is.
You see, I was setting these amazing goals, but I had no plan on how to actually reach them…
But I figured it out, and now I’m hitting those goals like you wouldn’t believe.
So I’ve written this post all about my goal-achieving method AND created you some FREE printable goals sheets that makes the process sooooo simple.
But do you want an example of one of those goals my goal sheet printable helped me finally hit?
Well, I’ve been running this blog for about two and a half years.
The first goal I set myself was to get accepted into a premium ad network (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, just stick with the story).
For the first 22 months of my blog’s life, that goal did not become my reality, despite me being able to help other bloggers reach even harder goals than this through my VA biz.
But in month 24 it happened. I finally qualified for that premium ad network.
My goal setting strategy of course…
Download the FREE Printable Goal Sheets
Want to get your hands on the goal-setting system that changed everything for me?
I mean I could even call it the “how to set goals in life and achieve them PDF” because that’s exactly what it will do!
Why proper goal setting with an action plan is so important?
I bet right now you’re thinking: What changed everything? What is it about this goal-setting strategy that made the difference?
Well, there are actually two things.
The first one you’ve probably guessed — I created an action plan.
But the second one is about the goal itself. I started to answer a few simple questions about my goal to get absolute clarity and see if this was actually a realistic goal for me and my life.
These questions are based loosely on the SMART goal concept. But to be honest, I found them a bit dry, boring and while great for corporate life, they didn’t quite seem to work in real life where things like emotions, kids, pets and well life gets involved.
So I tweaked and tested until I came up with a set of questions that were wayyy more relevant and just worked so. much. better. and then included them on my printable goals sheet.
Now let’s talk about the action plan.
Thinking back on my previous goal setting adventures I used to come up with a goal (plucked out of thin air) and then kind of sat back and waited for it to happen.
Shockingly it did not…
Because I wasn’t doing the actions necessary to get there!
I was doing stuff, but they weren’t specific to that goal and so obviously they didn’t help me reach that goal.
Now I create and implement a full action plan to go with each and every goal. That means I know each step that I need to do to get me there.
And guess what?
When you do the work, you reach the goal.
Because as Antoine de Saint-Eupery said, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”.
Ready to make that plan?
Goal Execution Plan
Now it’s time for me to really spill the beans on my exact goal-setting strategy.
While you can follow along without downloading the FREE printable goal sheets, it makes it so much easier for you if you grab your own copy and then you can literally just fill in the gaps.
The goal-setting worksheets are split into three main parts. The first part is all about actually setting your goal, getting absolute clarity on what you want and making sure it’s something you can realistically achieve.
But I just want to talk a little bit about the “realistic” part.
Currently, there is a trend to set big, crazy, huge goals with the idea that if you shoot for the moon you’ll hit the stars and that’s still pretty darn good!
But I’m one of those people who gets super disheartened when I don’t reach a goal, even if I still get a pretty good outcome.
So I do not do that sort of goal setting. I prefer to set multiple smaller goals so I reach that same place but in lots of increments, hence why the realistic section is so important to me.
The second part of the goal-setting worksheets is all about brainstorming every single thing you need to do to reach that goal and any problems you might face.
While the third and final section is to create that plan of action you need to reach that goal!
Let’s get started!
Figuring Out Your Goal
We’re gonna dive right into the first section — figuring out your goal.
Grab the first page of your printable goal sheets and start working through and answering the questions. Remember, the more precise or the more detail you can include the better.
Question One: What is your goal?
I mean this first question is pretty simple, but write down exactly what you want to achieve.
Question Two: Why do you want to hit this goal?
Now is the moment to write about your why. Really spend time on this because it’s what you write in this section that will keep you working towards your goal even when the going gets tough.
This can also be the section where you might realize you’ve set the wrong goal. If you can’t come up with a decent why then you do need to ask yourself if it’s the right goal for you…
Question Three: How will I know when I’ve hit this goal?
Now for some goals this will be super obvious. Like if your goal is to run a 5K race, then you can easily tell when you will have hit this goal because you will have run the race.
However, with some goals it’s a little bit less obvious when you have hit the goal.
Let’s say your goal is to learn to cook, there’s really nothing measurable about that so that’s when this question comes into its own.
Consider what you want to achieve from the goal you specified. Taking the learn to cook example, maybe you really want to be able to cook a fancy three-course meal without using any recipes. In which case you can write this as the answer to question three.
Question Four: When do you plan to reach this goal?
At this point, we want to put some sort of deadline on the goal.
Make sure it’s a realistic timeline, for example, if your goal is to run a 5K race and you’ve never for run more than a minute before, a week’s time is NOT a realistic timeline.
Make sure as well that your goal timeline is in line with your actual life. Sure, maybe you can reach the goal in 12 weeks, but if you’re going on vacation for two of those weeks then the timeline should probably be 14 weeks to take that into account.
Question Five: Is this goal realistic?
Now you’ve answered all the questions above you should have a pretty good idea whether this goal is realistic and attainable for you right now in your current life season on the timeline you set.
Make sure when you answer this question you explain why this goal is realistic. Again, this will really help you discover if the goal is realistic, but will also help keep you motived when things get difficult because you will know in your heart of hearts that you can do this.
Brainstorm the actions needed
Okay, now we’re super clear on our goal it’s time to figure out every single action needed to reach this goal.
Grab your second sheet and literally start brain dumping. Some people prefer to create a mindmap for this because what’s super important is that all the larger tasks are broken down into their smaller parts.
So let’s say your goal was to run a 5K race.
You might start by listing just three things:
- Prep and train for race
- Find and enter a race
- Buy new running shoes
But each of those things has many multiple actions that also need to be teased out.
For example, under prep and train for race you might also have:
- Find a couch to 5K program to follow
- Research the types of foods to eat to maximize your training
- Do day 1 of the couch to 5K program
- Do day 2 of the couch to 5K program
- Do day 3 of the couch to 5K program… etc for all the days
And so on.
Then, under find and enter race you might also have:
- Research 5K races in your area
- Figure out how far you are willing to travel for a race
- Compared the dates of the different races to when your couch to 5K program will end to make sure you have enough training time
- Actually sign up for a race
- If it’s a charity race make a plan for raising money
And again the list can go on.
Once you’ve exhausted every tiny step then have a brainstorm of any problems you think might crop up and list those out as well.
Part of your goal completion will include solving those problems so they become an action item too. And you might need to break down solving the problem into even smaller action items, so don’t be afraid to do that.
By the end of this exercise, you should be left with a list of many, many tiny actions you need to take in order to reach this goal.
By breaking them down, each action becomes super easy. I mean compare the action item “do day 2 of the couch to 5K program” with “prep and train for race”. Which one do you find less overwhelming and easier to do?
The first one right! I mean it’s so easy (well maybe not the running part but knowing exactly what you have to do is!)
That is why it’s so important to break each item down into such tiny increments because it makes reaching your goal so easy you just can’t fail!
Make your action plan
Now we’re onto the third and final step.
We’re going to take every single action and problem (because don’t forget, solving those problems are action steps in themselves) and create your goal competition action plan!
This is what the third printable goal sheet is for, although don’t be afraid to print multiple copies of this sheet if you have more actions than fit on the one page.
Start going through your list of actions and write them on the action plan sheet in the order they need to be done to reach your goal. Ignore the other columns for now, just focus on getting all the actions written down in the order they must be completed.
Then, once you’ve done that you can go through and add a time estimate for each action item. This step is optional, but I find it helps me plan my day because I can see exactly how much time I need to set aside to work on the next step in my action plan.
Now start scheduling out when you will do each step. Although, depending on how long it will take you to complete your action plan you might not want to schedule out every task.
For example, if you have an action plan that can be completed within a week then I would definitely schedule every task out for which day you will do it and even the time!
But if you have an action plan that’s likely to take three to six months, then I would start with just scheduling out the next week or two. Life, after all, can happen and so I find scheduling out in weekly or two weekly increments means I still reach my goal but I have the flexibility to change things up if I need to.
And there is nothing more disheartening that scheduling out three months’ worth of actions only to have to miss a week and then all your scheduling is wrong!
In the final column, you can check the action item off as you complete it.
Then, by the time you tick the final action item off, you should have reached your goal.
It really is that simple!
Don’t Forget to Download the FREE Printable Goal Sheets
If you haven’t already, now it’s time for you to print out the simple goal setting worksheets so you can do the exercise for a goal you really want to achieve!