How to set goals if you are not a planning geek

I am not a planning geek, but I still need to move with my plans and set goals.
I’ve been noticing some kind of springtime relapse in the writers of posts about the importance of goal-setting lately.
The number of posts in my social feed grew with the rise of the temperature outside.
All these posts are about the same: to be successful you should set goals and follow them.
5-year plan, 3-year plan, 1-year plan, quarter plan, and finally day plan, if not an hour plan.

I just wonder how many such superhumans you know, who can plan years ahead and stick to their plans?

I know very, VERY few.
One day I fell victim to all those planning guru calls and honestly started to meticulously plan my life.
I did that more than once and always failed. Moreover, each time I felt worse and more guilty that the previous time.
Each new failed plan created even more self-blame. I found myself in a sort of vicious circle.
Ok, I could visualize what I wanted and I could build decent and quite detailed plans on how to reach my dreams. At least this is what they thought us well in the universities, but with so many uncertainties in life and so fast-changing environment around us, all my plans led to nothing and became obsolete almost instantly.

I usually do not give up too soon. I also wanted to find what would work for me, because I like certain order in my life and I do not feel comfortable in chaos.

So let me share with you what finally worked for me. Maybe my experience will also help you to reach your targets without breaking your neck with all that planning.

The difficulty of setting goals is that we do not even know if and how we can reach our goal.

There is nothing wrong with goals. Some are by choice, while others are forced upon us. But here is the problem with many goals we set out to achieve… they are unrealistic or “larger than life” on paper. They’re just too big! And that makes them daunting, which conversely, sets us up for failure more times than not.

Let’s assume I am a beginner hiker and I want one day to climb Mont Blanc. How the hell I can set such a goal and even more build a plan if I only did short walks with my dog?
But does it mean I can not climb Mont Blanc at all? Well, the famous answer of all coaches will be: “It depends.”…

Chunk your Big Goal and Make the First Little Step Now!

So what do I do now when I approach a dream that I want to make my goal?

I try to imagine the first LITTLE step that I can make to move toward my goal

The question I ask myself is: “So, what’s now?” What is the next little step I can do to start moving toward my ultimate goal? Next step I can do NOW, not tomorrow or in a week, but NOW!
The most important here is to start doing something immediately as soon as you understand what you want to achieve.
And suddenly you do your first little step and start moving towards your goal.

Chunk your goal

Some may say, ok, this is all great, but what if I do not know what I want? I certainly understand you! I also have such moments. But I will never believe you have absolutely no dreams or desires!
So even if you do not have a clear goal, set your vision the best you can! Even if you can not measure it (say hello to SMART goals).
Even if at the moment it will sound like I want to have more confidence on my next long hike or I want to get stronger.
Any goal-setting coach will say that this is not a goal. So what? But this is at least a starting point for you to start thinking about what you can do now to become one step closer to your dream!
Anything that you will be comfortable with. Just ACT! The first step is what makes a difference.

Celebrate your Small Successes

Do not forget to celebrate your first step! Say something good about yourself and think about the next step and suddenly you will start moving toward your goal.

I will continue with my Mont Blanc example, but my method works for any type of goal.

Concentrate on What is Within Your Control

So let’s assume my goal is to climb Mont Blanc next summer (in 5 months).

If I will focus just on achieving my final goal, I will divert my attention from those little victories that I reach achieving those little steps on my way toward my final goal.
Whether I can reach my goal is honestly outside of my control, because many unexpected things can happen.

But what is within my control is to plan small tangible steps that can bring me closer to my goal and at best reach it!
And this is where I focus! I choose to focus on what is within my control instead of focusing on something that I do not have!

At the end of the day, nobody is going to ask me how long it took me to make it out to the top… they will just applaud the fact that I did. And so will I.

Instead of focusing on the outcome, I focus on the process. I chunk my big goal into small manageable process steps.
The closer I get to the desired outcome the better I can measure it. And if one day I understand that I was wrong with my final goal I will start my journey to my next goal not from where I was, but from where I am today. I will start it with my better I!

Let’s Practice It

So how my process steps (or process goals) may look for my Mont Blanc example?

Mont Blanc

Climb Mont Blanc in 5 months

  1. Walk 30 or more minutes at least 5 days a week
  2. Start strength training aimed at improving your core and lower body strength.
  3. Find if there is a mountaineering club around me and become a member. Such clubs usually have a lot of activities aiming at improving fitness for various hiking objectives. Besides you become part of the like-minded people who will support you on your journey.
  4. Find a good hiking training program that works for you. There are general beginner programs on the internet. Any general program is not ideal, but at least you will start to understand how you should train to move to your goal.
  5. Find a coach specialized in training hikers or mountaineers. This is an investment, but the payoff will be huge, not only because you will get a training plan developed specifically for you, but also a person who will help you to stay on track. I will talk about the coach a bit later.
  6. After 8 weeks of regular walking start long hikes (at least 2 hours) and see how you feel.
  7. 2 months before the event (Mont Blanc climb), start loaded pack walking including one at least 3-hour walk per week on hilly terrain.

As you can see from the above example, each of the steps is completely within your control and each of these steps will help you to move forward toward your goal. Is there a guarantee that you will succeed with the Mont Blanc accent? Maybe not in 5 months. But what I am sure about is that I will get stronger and ready for more difficult hikes and ultimately I will reach the Mont Blanc summit. And last but not least – I will be proud of my better self.

Do you Need a Coach?

Do you need a coach or do you want to go alone? It depends on the complexity of the goal, your preparedness, and many other factors.
I see big courage in people who admit they need a coach. There is a vulnerability in the very fact of admitting you need help.
But a good coach makes a huge difference!
A good coach will have empathy. A good coach will help you reach your successes and will not blame you for your faults. If you miss a week of your training she will explain to you what are the consequences and what has to be adjusted and help you to move on.
Such sort of support you will not get from any Instagram post or Youtube video, because what you get from a good coach is made for you and you only!

So let me summarize how to increase your chances to reach your goals:

*Chunk your big goal in small manageable process steps
*Make the first step NOW. This is very important!
*Do not forget to celebrate your small successes
*Do not blame yourself if you missed your step. Just stand up and move on!
*If on your way you understand that you picked the wrong goal, do not be afraid to change it. You will start from a much better base anyway!
*Hire a good coach if you want to increase the probability of success in your journey.

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