A guest post by Amanda Warfield, Live Organized, Live Simple
Everyone has goals, but not everyone achieves those goals. In fact, research by Strava showed that most people’s goals for the new year fail by January 12. That’s less than two weeks! Two weeks of working towards something before giving up for the entire year.
Ready for another crazy stat? Research done by the University of Scranton showed that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
First and foremost, before we go any farther, I want to encourage you—if you’ve already given up on your goals for the year, it’s not too late. You haven’t failed. You didn’t mess it all up. You can pick those goals back up and start again. Today. Right now. Even if you are reading this on December 31st, you can make progress.
And that is what working toward your goals is all about. Progress. Slow and steady progress. I spent a lot of time (like, the first 24 years of my life) setting crazy goals and expecting to accomplish them in a week or a month, tops. I thought that I should be able to see immediate results and get it done as soon as I decided I wanted to achieve something.
Inevitably, that lead to burnout, frustration, and overwhelm. Not to mention a whole lot of negative self-talk.
Thankfully, I’ve learned that this just isn’t how it works. Our goals take work. They take time. They take hundreds or maybe even millions of baby steps to reach them.
Maybe you’re thinking about those goals that you thought you’d failed at already and are realizing that they just don’t excite you anymore, and that you don’t care. That’s okay. Not all goals are the right goals for you. Going forward you have to make sure you are making intentional goals though. Unfortunately, that’s a whole other topic that I won’t be getting into today, but I do happen to have a blog post written on setting intentional goals if you’d like to check it out.
Maybe you’re looking at those goals you thought you’d failed and after reading the last few paragraphs, you’re feeling excited about them again. You’re ready to try again and take those tiny steps towards reaching that goal. But how do you do that? How do you make sure that you will continue to put yourself closer and closer to reaching that goal?
That, my friend, is exactly what I’m here to talk about today. (Shout out to Kate and Melissa for so graciously sharing their platform with me!)
The Best Way to Make Goal Progress is By Using Intentional Routines
Let’s use the goal of decluttering your entire house for example’s sake throughout this post.
Step One: Create Baby Steps
What would happen if you attempted to declutter your entire home in one go? You’d get overwhelmed, frustrated, and fed up. You’d end up throwing your hands in the air and walking away from the entire thing.
Instead, what would happen if you broke that big goal into a bunch of smaller baby steps? Let’s say you, instead, decided to make a list of every single area in your home that you want to declutter. Looking at just one of those areas, let’s say the linen closet, makes the goal much more easily attainable.
You can spend just a few hours working on decluttering that closet and walk away feeling accomplished and ready to tackle the next baby step on your list. By only looking at one step at a time, you make it much more likely for you to complete this goal (and not become part of that 92%). But how do you find the time to consistently take those baby steps?
Step Two: Anchor Your Steps into an Already Set Routine
This is where the intentional part comes in. Take a routine that you’ve already intentionally created — one that works well for you, not one that is stressful and not useful — and anchor your baby steps into it. Why? Because routines help you make your priorities, priorities.
Side note: if you feel lost on creating intentional routines, I have a freebie just for you at the bottom of this post!
Let’s say that within your weekly routine, you have Thursday afternoons set aside for household management tasks — errands, laundry, cleaning, so on and so forth. Since your decluttering goal is similar, this would be a great routine for you to anchor your baby steps into.
When Thursday comes around, you take step one of your decluttering list and work on it. You declutter your linen closet and you walk away feeling proud and accomplished. You know that you’ve made progress, without having to stress yourself out about finding the time to do it because you’ve intentionally set time aside for it.
What happens if you don’t anchor your goal progress into a routine?
You’ll spend all week long telling yourself you’ll get to it tomorrow, but tomorrow will never come. You’re less likely to make it a priority if it’s just another item on your to-do list that you’re trying to get to.
You’ll feel it hanging over your head all week. Just waiting for you to find the time for it. And as soon as you finish step one, you’ll be worried about when you’ll find time for the next step. What happens when you feel overwhelmed by a goal? You give up on it.
By intentionally putting time for making goal progress into a routine, you are making it a priority. You’ll know that there is a time and place for it, so it won’t have to hang over your head. And once you’ve completed that routine for the week (or day, or month depending on what your goal is), you can stop thinking about it until it’s time for that routine again. There’s no stress, no overwhelm, just goal progress.
Step Three: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Now that you’ve anchored goal progress into a routine, you just keep at it. Each time you cycle through that routine, you take another small step, and eventually you’ll have completed that goal. How quickly you’ll finish depends on how big your goal is, and how many baby steps it will take. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve set a goal for 2019, but you don’t finish it until 2020 or 2021, or even later. As long as you are making progress, be proud because it’s not about the finish, but, instead, the journey.
We all have goals living inside of us that are just dying to be acknowledged.
But expectations can be entirely too high. It can be scary to dream big. It’s so much easier to just stay exactly where we are in life because change is scary, and reaching for our goals means lots of change.
If you’re ready to let out those goals that are living inside of you, and create intentional routines to anchor them in, I’ve put together The Intentional Routines Starter Kit to help you.
I believe in you, friend. I believe that you can make progress towards those big goals in your heart and in your head. You can choose to take those small steps, to enjoy the journey, and to prioritize your goals. It may take more time than you would like, but I promise you that it’s worth it.
Amanda Warfield is the owner and creator of Live Organized, Live Simple. She’s a recovering perfectionist turned simplicity lover, routines enthusiast, and capsule wardrobe expert. Her mission is to use her passion for teaching and her love of minimalism, organization, and productivity to help every overwhelmed woman find JOY through simplicity.
Amanda is married to Russell, the funniest guy she knows. They are South Carolina natives living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and enjoy traveling, reading, and all things Disney (okay, maybe that one is just Amanda).