By: SWEAT Trainer Paul Michael Rahn
It all started with me when I was 23 years old having just wrapped up my graduate degree after what seemed to be the longest 5 years of my life. I was 6 months into a full time gig making what I thought to be a salary that normal 23 year olds never make. Sitting at our weekly taco Tuesday margarita night, I was on my phone taking calls for work when I realized that I was in the “corporate grind” and I hated every second of it. I felt like all the work I was doing was simply for someone else and I questioned if it was actually benefiting me in any way.
I had this vision then, of a life where I didn’t work for anyone else. Where I could wake up when I wanted to, have my morning coffee without feeling rushed. I thought about being in charge of what was actually coming into my bank account based off how hard I work. In full transparency, fitness wasn’t even a thought at that time. I simply wanted to own a business and afford myself freedom from having to answer to someone above me.
Quickly after, I began writing down my goals, visions of where I wanted to be, what I wanted to buy, and actions I wanted to take. I did this through keeping a vision board. This was a board where I wrote every thought down. No matter the size and scope of my goals, I wrote it down. Be it fixing a relationship with an old friend to purchasing something I REALLY wanted, it was present on that board. I’ve held this practice all the way up to today. It’s not just writing it down, there’s a lot of actions that must occur once you realize your own goals.
This has always been a strong point in my life and something I’m excited to share with you - my steps towards helping you fulfill your own visions and goals. Let me preface, this isn’t easy. Is it suppose to be though? That saying: “if it were easy everyone would be doing it” couldn’t be more true. In fact, I would bet that the percentage of people that actually take the time to set goals, execute them, and continue pursuing other goals is pretty small. This won’t be us though; if you’ve taken the step to begin today you’re already on your way! In my tips below, remember these are MY guidelines for MY own goal setting. It’s not cookie cutter for all. This is simply a set of suggestions I’d offer to anyone. The best part is YOU get to decide HOW you’re going to achieve YOUR own goals. Adopt what you must off of mine, create your own, and use other techniques you know work for you. Be open minded throughout!
Tip 1: It Starts With Vision
Those moments when you’re walking down the street and some random thought pops up and you think you want to pay off your $10k credit card, write it down. When you’re daydreaming at work about having the perfect job where you work from home, write it down. That moment you’re staring at yourself in the mirror and wish you could develop a 6 pack and take a shirtless picture, WRITE IT DOWN! These are visions and this is where it all begins.
SUGGESTION: We all have phones with note pads on them, use it. Don’t wait until an hour later, you’ll have forgotten it by then. Write it down in the moment.
Tip 2: If You Think It, It Will Happen
This is the biggest mind exercise I’ve learned to help stay positive in all parts of my life. If you think positive and think about your life visions actually happening, you’ll desire them so much more than if you simply write them down. Envision yourself actually doing what you write. I literally envisioned myself not having an alarm clock waking me up, sitting in my kitchen sipping coffee, and being able to work from my home computer. This has to be part of your daily routine. Daydream it constantly. I promise you’ll quickly become addicted to making it happen!
SUGGESTION: Set time away everyday, not even 10 minutes are needed, to sit quietly and envision yourself now and where you want to be. Put it on your schedule, that’s accountability.
Tip 3: Write Your Visions & Goals Down
In connection to tip 1, write your visions and goals down the moment it hits your brain. If you wait, you’ll forget and simply push it further down the list. You need a starting point and this is where it actually begins.
SUGGESTION: Use the notepad on your smartphone to write down your visions and goals daily. Don’t worry if the list gets long! You can prioritize later but you have to start somewhere.
Tip 4: Get Your Visions & Goals Out Daily
Now it’s time to take those visions and goals out in the open where you can see them daily. Use your desktop computer, a dry erase board, print them out and post them somewhere you’ll see them daily. This is a great starting point to prioritizing your goals. Rank them in order of what’s most important to accomplish first. Example: should you pay down your debt before you start building your savings account? You decide what you get to work on first.
SUGGESTION: Write your goals down on a platform, leave space underneath for where you’re going to actually map out your ways to success in tip 6. Spend time each week, month, or year deciding what’s most important first then rank them. Know some of your goals are simple actions and others will be long term behavioral changes you must make.
Tip 5: Be SMART
When setting up what goals you want to achieve first, you have to be smart. That means being specific, being able to measure the results easily, being able to put action behind the goal, ensuring your goal is realistic or relevant, and ensuring that it’s timely. By following this standard, you’re going to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success in actually achieving the goal.
SUGGESTION: Write the word S M A R T at the top of your goal/vision sheet or platform. When you write down your goals and start to map out the actions you’re going to take, keep in mind 1) specific 2) measurable 3) actionable 4) realistic and 5) timely. These come in handy for tip 6 next!
Tip 6: Create A Map To Success
As your write your goals down each month / week / day, in a few bullet points underneath write down how you plan to achieve that goal. What are the actual steps you’ll take to make that goal happen? As we know, you can't just say “I’m going to do…” and it just happens! Let’s say your goal is to pay down the credit card debt from the example previously. The map to success may include these bullet points:
-Reduce current spending on entertainment for the next 6 months to $300 per month
-At the end of each month, allocate 75% of the remaining balance in my checking account to my credit card
-Write down the balance weekly in a place you can see daily
-Find ways to make additional income that goes directly to paying off your credit card
SUGGESTION: Under each goal, have between 3 and 5 bullet points with direct actions you will take to achieve it. Keep in mind SMART goals as well as some actions may be long term behavioral changes you must make - how can you make those changes?
Tip 7: Find Your Motivation
Out of everything you do to achieve the YOU that you want, motivation is the biggest yet hardest component. What’s your motivation and how do you sustain it? This is where you find the inner desire to actually be different from your current self. Know deeply that if you don’t change what you don’t like, you will not change and therefore risk your own happiness. You risk a long term dissatisfaction that your future self will not appreciate down the road. I ask again, what is your motivation? Find a little anger inside, harness it, write this dissatisfaction down somewhere in your life. Tell yourself you never want to be dissatisfied with that again. When the pressure hits, go back to that, and center yourself. Find the motivation YOU need and know you won’t quit until you’ve become the person you set out to be. I meet people daily who tell me they’re going to do something only for 6 months, 12 months to pass and they are still saying the same things. How boring of a life to live, right?!
SUGGESTION: Watch motivational videos daily, read motivational books everyday, find motivational people who you want to aspire to be like and hang out with them as much as possible. Find and use all means of motivation to push you each and every day. Get out of your comfort zone, go to a motivational seminar, invest in your own self development, be open to being motivated by things that previously didn’t interest you.
Tip 8: If You Fail, You Haven’t Fallen - ReFocus
Just because you fail doesn't mean you won’t achieve your goals. This is simply a process and if you do in fact fail at an action or goal, I can almost guarantee you learned something in the process, even if it’s what NOT to do! Know that if you don’t succeed on the first attempt, you might need to adjust your map to get you there. Again, this is personal growth and there is ZERO shame in not achieving something on the first try. If life didn’t have challenges we’d all be retired beach side by 25 years old (if not sooner) sipping Dom Perignon, right?
SUGGESTION: Take each setback with a smile and go back to your map and make a change to how you’re going to get to your goal knowing that what you just did didn’t work for you. Again, this is your roadmap to success - it’s not set in stone.