Somehow, life has a way of passing us by, almost in the blink of an eye. One moment we're caught up with work, another moment it's onto something else. We wanted to read at least one book per month. We were committed to going to the gym 4 times a week. Did we achieve any of this? What happened?
It's important to remember that while you didn't follow through with the goal, the intention was still there. The first thing that comes along with setting a goal is having a strong intention of doing so, and for actually achieving it.
Setting monthly goals is an excellent way of holding yourself accountable and keeping track of your systems. By setting monthly goals, you can set exactly what you hope to achieve, and can use systems as steps to get yourself there. Monthly goals also contribute to our year's purpose. As we break down our goals into systems, we aim to achieve these goals in 30 days or less, and take incremental steps towards our long term goal. Tony Robbins mentions how success and failure are not giant events, but they are a result of the things you do overtime.
The problem is that motivation is not enough for most people to actually follow through with their goals. Motivation will hit us intensely at some points, but will diminish at other times. What sticks with us is our drive to achieve our goals, and our systems which will help us get there. If you're anything like me, writing down your goals will allow you to visualize exactly where you want to be, and then you will be able to create systems of how to get there.
New Month, New Goals: Setting Your Goals
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten"- Tony Robbins
The first step to achieving your goals is to… of course, set them!
Monthly goals should focus on multiple areas of your life- whether this be fitness, relationships, education, finance etc. Reflect on which life buckets are most important to you and where you think you would most benefit from personal growth in these areas.
There are a few different steps I take when setting new goals for the month ahead. The most important thing to remember is to set goals that are right for you, and that fit the current situation you are in.
It can be so easy to not only compare ourselves, but also our goals and aspirations to others. We hear about people accomplishing these amazing things, and we often take a moment to reflect on how wonderful that must be, and how we wish we were doing the same thing. But do you really want to be doing exactly that? Or do you just like the idea of success? We think this in the moment as we compare ourselves to them, but in reality, we probably don’t wish we were completing that exact goal.
Each of us have our own unique goals that fit what we hope to accomplish in our lives. Remember that you have the ability to create your own version of success, whatever that means to you. Success isn’t meant to look the same for everyone. This brings me to the next section: Reflecting on the past month to get a better understanding of your definition of success, and the goals you hope to achieve.
Reflecting on the Past Month
A great way for you to identify the right goal(s) is to start with reflecting on the past month. This will help you identify what you have learned, what you would like to change, and what you have yet to learn. Be sure to make these goals as clear and specific as possible. This way, you’ll have a much better chance at following through with them when they are easy to understand.
Looking Forward to the Next Month
Who said goal setting can’t be fun? You’re meant to have fun during the process of setting your goals! If you aren’t looking forward to setting these goals, then are they the right goals for you? Make sure you enjoy the process of outlining your goals, because after all it’s meant to be something for you to look towards! With a positive mindset, you’ll be so much more likely to follow through with your goals.
Set Practical Goals
This step is essential if you want to stay consistent and have your new goals stick! Be sure to set realistic goals you will be able to attain by the end of the month, and prioritize what is most important to you. For each of these goals, it’s important to be very specific in what you want to achieve by following the SMART Principle (we’ll go into more detail on this down below). Write down your goals that seem particularly important and most time-sensitive to you. This will give you a better understanding as to which goals need to be prioritized first over others.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set goals that are above and beyond, of course you should! I can’t stress the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone enough. But in order to get yourself to that place, you first need to set monthly, quarterly and yearly goals which will help you stay on track towards the long term goal you have in mind. Here are 3 of the best tips I find very valuable when planning my goals:
3 Goal Planning Tips
Create Goals Using the SMART Principle
Have you heard of this principle before? If so, that’s perfect as what I’m about to tell you will be that much easier to understand. If not, this is another reason why you need to focus on what I’m about to explain. The S.M.A.R.T framework is the absolute essential framework you will need to actually achieve your monthly goals.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. SMART goals use the very specific set of criteria outlined above to ensure that objectives are outlined very clearly to attain set goals.
By using this approach to goal setting, you will limit the guesswork that goes into determining whether or not you can achieve a goal. You will no longer feel as though you can’t hit your goal, because you will have a step by step plan on how to get there. All you’ll need to do after that is stay consistent!
Stay Consistent with Daily Habits
If you want your new goal (s) to stick, you need to start by building consistent, daily habits. These refer to the systems you will set, which will lead you towards achieving your goals.
As James Clear mentions, we improve 1% everyday, and following this mindset, we can expect to achieve success over time. As much as we may wish to achieve 100% success overnight, success is a process that requires time, effort, and multiple failures.
With that being said, we cannot rely on motivation to achieve our new month, new goals. Motivation will come and go, often over short periods of time. If we rely on working towards our dreams only when we are motivated, then we cannot expect to get very far.
I highly recommend Mel Robin’s newest book, The 5 Second Rule as it outlines the simple secret to changing your life. She provides the exact framework and mindset habits to start believing in yourself, and from there have more confidence to achieve what you dream to do.
Drop the Excuses and Start Achieving Your Goals
Did you know that if you talk about something enough, you can trick your brain into believing that you actually did that thing? It sounds crazy, but it’s true! This is why so many people struggle with talking about all of these goals and aspirations they have, but when it comes time to put it into action, they don’t do it.
I challenge you to be one of the few who don’t talk about their goals, but put them into action instead. Research actually indicates that when you tell enough people what you’re planning to do, the very act of doing may cause you to reduce your efforts, or forget about that goal entirely.
Not only this, but another recommendation I find so valuable is to avoid the temptation to state your goal from a negative perspective. When I say this, an example may be “ My goal is to not complain as much, reducing the number of times I complain to once a week.”
While this is not meant to be taken in a negative way, you could reword it with a more positive outlook, which will increase the chances of you pursuing this goal. For example, you could reword your goal to be “ I will take the opportunity to reflect on 3 things I am grateful for this week.” Look at the situation as finding the good in every day, and eventually you won’t make room to see the downside.
7 Monthly Goal Ideas
Now that you’ve learned why most people find it difficult to set goals and the framework you can follow to set your own goals by implementing systems, I’m going to outline 7 of the best monthly goal ideas you can start with to create your own goals today, and stick to it!
1. Keep a Habit Tracker
Habit trackers are so effective because they allow you to be honest with yourself. By tracking your habits, you can see which habits you are staying consistent with, and how often. Tracking your habits gives you a better chance of following through with your habits, and eventually your long term goals. I’ve included a FREE Habit Tracker as a part of my freebie, The Self Reflection Journal. Just subscribe with your email and you can get your FREE copy instantly!
2. Start Waking Up Earlier
You may be thinking “ Do I need to do this? How will waking up earlier make a difference in my life?” Some people are naturally morning people, while for others it can be more difficult to get going early in the A.M.
If you’re not a morning person, make it a priority to wake up just 10-15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Continue this week by week, continuing to wake up just a little bit easier than usual. Eventually, you’ll find that you are waking up an hour, or even two hours earlier than you were before! Remember: Change is incremental, it doesn’t happen all at once!
3. Do a 30 Day Health/Fitness Challenge
"One of the hardest things to do in life is to just get started. Whether you are starting a new job, new business, or life in a new city, just get yourself to put one foot in front of the other."- Live Intentionally
I absolutely love the idea of doing a 30 day challenge of any kind. I’ve personally done the 30 day MOVE Challenge with Yoga by Adrienne and I absolutely loved it. If you are new to yoga or working out in general, or are quite advanced, her YouTube channel offers classes for all levels.
Doing a 30 day health/fitness challenge is one of the best ways to test your commitment and consistency. It can provide you with a boost to change other aspects of your life as well, and it only gets easier to stay consistent as you continue on with the challenge.
4. Set a Budget for the Month and Stick to It
This has to be one of the goals I’ve outlined that is probably the most difficult to stay consistent with. Setting short-term financial goals will give you the confidence you need to take control of your life. Have a dream you would love to make a reality but finances are in the way? Setting a budget and developing this habit early can help make that dream become a reality for you, since you won’t have loans or debt to worry about.
You can make use of a free budgeting program such as Mint to help you take care of your finances. Mint is a platform that brings everything from spending, balances, and credit score into one easily accessible area. Another option is to set a specific percentage of your pay to go into your savings account. For example, you could set 25% of your biweekly pay to auto deposit right into your savings account, this way you know you cannot spend that portion of your paycheck unless it's an emergency.
5. Do One Thing that Makes you Uncomfortable
" You are capable of so much more than you believe. You just need to get to a place where you realize that."
You may not want to hear this, but doing something uncomfortable is the key to success. You will only be successful if you are willing to push yourself beyond your boundaries, beyond your limits. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s entirely possible to become used to the idea of making yourself uncomfortable. By aiming to do 1 very uncomfortable thing a month, you can slowly implement more and more of this into your daily life, become more comfortable, and realize your potential.
6. Do 5 Positive Affirmations Everyday
I just recently started practicing positive affirmations each morning, and I can confidently say I have already seen so much improvement. Positive affirmations are statements you can either speak directly to yourself, or statements you can listen to that start to affect the way you feel about yourself.
I personally listen to guided affirmations, and then recite them back when I’m told to do so. By implementing this as a daily practice, it can help you overcome feelings of self-sabotage, self doubt, or fear, and bring you positivity and confidence.
7. Take an Online Course to Learn Something New
One of the best things you could do for yourself is give yourself the opportunity to learn something new. Taking an online course ( paid or free) is so valuable because it allows you to break free from the typical thought patterns you may experience during a busy workday, and reminds your mind that you can learn something new in that spare time. Learning something new prompts us to share our experience with others, and will leave us feeling positive and hopeful. I highly recommend using courses such as Skillshare, Coursera, or EDX to enroll in a free course today. With the unlimited options we have today, it would be impossible not to find a way to learn something new. What are you waiting for?
I hope these monthly goal ideas are valuable for you! Feel free to include any or all of these monthly goal ideas into your agenda! You can specify these goals to match your needs, and make them more specific using the S.M.A.R.T method mentioned above!
What are your goals for the month? I would love to hear from you!