What Exactly is a Goal?
Goals are nothing new. Goals are short-term or long-term objectives that we set in order to obtain a specific result. It’s safe to say that everyone has had a specific goal they wanted to achieve at one point in their life. Goals can be major confidence boosters when achieved. Think about New Year’s resolutions (and why they suck). This is a very common form of goal setting. However, what about when we don’t achieve our goals? Boy-o-boy it can really take a dump on our confidence levels. This is why I choose to hack my goals.
So, how do we ensure we have the highest probability of achieving our goals? How do we set ourselves up for success? Well, my eager, goal-setting friends…we don’t, we hack them! That’s right. Around here, we don’t achieve our goals, we hack them! I am going to explain exactly how we do it. Don’t worry, it’s not all the current mumbo jumbo that’s on the web now. You won’t find any “write your goal down every day” or “expect to fail and prepare for it” nonsense. Ok, maybe nonsense is too harsh a word. Ummmm, maybe it isn’t.
Why Rational Thinking Sucks
Hear me out. Personally, I have set a bazillion goals in my life thus far. Everything from losing weight to obtaining my dream job have been among my repertoire of life goals. Generally, I would type my goal into Google and search for “secret-tips” on how to achieve it. I tried writing my goal down in a journal every night before bed. I tried visualizing myself achieving my goals every morning. I even tried establishing reasonable goals that I knew I could achieve. I literally LOL-ed when I typed that. This was actually one of those “secret-tips” I had found online when I was trying to get my dream job. Really?! If you set a reasonable goal that you already know you can achieve, then is it really a goal?
Once I decided that this hamster wheel of set-goal-fail-goal was not working for me, I decided to break the rules. After all, my fourth grade Principal will attest that I mastered this ability at a very young age. Here are my “secret-tips” on how I hack every single goal I set for myself.
Put Your Finger on It
First, you need to know exactly what your goal is. Be as specific as you can. For example, instead of “I want to save money”, you could elaborate more and say “I want to save $10,000 by the end of this year to buy a new car.” See this difference? You are turning your goal from being very general into something extremely specific and personal. It is no longer an everyday Joe Blow goal, it’s yours. Own it.
This wraps up a huge chunk of goal setting steps into one.
- Know your goal and what you want to achieve. I want to save money, done.
- Set a measurable goal. I want to save $10,000, done.
- Specify the amount of time needed to achieve your goal. I want to save $10,000 by the end of this year, done.
- Find the main reason you want to attain this goal. I want a new car, duh.
Congrats! Just by putting your finger on your goal and specifically figuring out your what’s and why’s, you have bypassed more than half the chapters in most of the goal setting instruction books out there today. Hack your goals! Can you believe there are actually courses you can take online that teach you this stuff? Some of these courses cost hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. Yet, here I am. Giving away the goods for free. LOL So, now what?
Write It Everywhere
I am not exaggerating when I say everywhere. Write your goal down on post-it notes and place them all over your house. Use a sharpie marker and write it on your bathroom mirror (don’t worry, it wipes right off with rubbing alcohol). Write it on an index card and put it in your wallet. Better yet, right it on a piece of masking tape and place it on the front of your debit card as a quick reminder before you swipe. #evilgenius This truly helps you hack your goals.
Now, I have used all of the ideas I just listed above. However, the one I currently use is a goal tracking sheet. I write my goals down on 4 tracker sheets and put each sheet in a cute dollar store frame. Then, I strategically place these frames throughout my home. One frame goes on the bathroom counter, one on my office desk, one in the kitchen and one on the coffee table in the living room. Not only am I reminded of my goals all day long (regardless of what room I am in) but it also looks super cute with my decor. Dontcha think?
You don’t need to use my goal tracking sheet, but if you want to you can download and print a free copy here. Just scroll down until you see this image and click ‘download’.
Right and Wrong
Next, grab a piece of paper and fold it in half length-wise so that when it is unfolded it forms two columns. Column one will be labeled “Right” or “Do’s” and column two will be labeled “Wrong” or “Don’ts”. Now, in the “Right/Do’s” column list out everything you can do on a day-to-day basis that will help you achieve your goal. Using our example goal above, our list might look like this:
- Keep track of all my spending – log everything you spend. Doing this helps to identify areas of weakness (it’s Starbucks for me) and helps you put into perspective what a “need” purchase is versus a “want” purchase.
- Start the Dime Savings challenge – implementing simple savings challenges can help jump-start your goal. You don’t have to use this one. Simply Google “savings challenges” and you will quickly be overwhelmed with the thousands that are in existence.
- Use only cash for purchases – I currently do this. I am less likely to go shopping if I know I have to change out of my pajamas and go to the bank first to withdraw money. Removing the modern day convenience of using a debit card is in fact a huge inconvenience. But, it helps me save money.
- Start a budget and stick to it – You have to know what is coming in and what is going out when it comes to your finances. You can start a budget with just a sheet of paper or you can download budgeting apps. Again, just Google “start a budget” and you will get tons of ideas. You can also use the budgeting method I use. I found a super simple approach that works for me and I share it with you here.
- No more impulse shopping – this means not spending money on things you want at first sight. It’s always a good idea to take time to think about whether or not you really need something before buying it.
- Stop buying fast food this month – this isn’t really hard for me. My biggest vice is Starbucks. However, I solved this dilemma for myself and now I get my Starbucks for free. If you’re interested in doing the same, learn how I do it here.
- Do not use my debit card – no need for an explanation, right?
- No online shopping for 30 days – Hands off my money Jeff Bezos!
Be Your Own Hype Man
Now that you know what your goal is, you’ve written it everywhere and you know what your Do’s and Don’ts are, it’s time to tell the World about it. Feel free to share your goal on your social media platforms to keep yourself accountable or write it down in the comments below. The point is to make it known to everyone. You are more inclined to stick to a goal if you know that your peers will be aware of your success or failure, because Science. Hack your goals, my friends.
Personally, I like to work my goal into every day conversations. For example, I’m making dinner at home and my kids ask me, “Why are we having spaghetti for dinner again?” I can then, very confidently reply, “Because it’s cheap and it’s helping me save $10,000 by the end of this year to buy a new car.” #winning. Another example would be in the checkout line at the supermarket. After handing my stacks of coupons to the cashier, he annoyingly says, “you sure have a lot of coupons.” This provides me with the opportunity to say “Shut up and scan!” just kidding. I would say “Yeah, I know. All the money I save with these coupons is helping me save $10,000 by the end of this year to buy a new car.” Hack your goals. There is something about hearing myself verbalize my goals aloud that help me achieve them. Again, Science.
Fake It Till You Make It
Finally, walk the walk. What I mean by this is to go about your daily life as if you have already achieved your goal. Act like you already have that $10 grand in your bank account and browse online at the car you will purchase. Altering your mannerisms and your routines to reflect the behavior your future self will have after achieving your goal rewires your brain. This causes your brain to be on the same frequency as it would be when you achieve your goal. Check out this super interesting article from NCBI about The Neuroscience of Goals and Behavior Change. I know, I know. I like nerdy things and I cannot lie but this stuff really interests me.
Now Go Out & Smash Your Goals
I don’t mean to make everyone a believer of how I hack my goals. Nor am I saying this is the end-all-be-all of goal setting. This is what works for me and since I have implemented these hacks, I have slayed every goal I set out to achieve. However, don’t take my word for it. I challenge you to try these hacks out on your next goal and see if it works for you. Then, let me know how it worked out! I love connecting with others and building this community. Now get out there and kick some goal-booty!