Most people think of their goals in yearly terms.
Most new year’s resolutions always start with the same phrase, “this year”.
“This year, I want to lose 10 pounds” and “This year, I want to socialize more”.
“This year I want to learn how to play the piano”
There is nothing really wrong with this method of goal setting in itself.
But to do the same thing, the same way, over and over again, and expect different results?
Snap out of it!!
You’ve been setting the same New Year’s goals and resolutions for about a decade now.
And you keep abandoning those goals?
It’s time to think differently. It’s time to set your yearly goals differently.
This post is going to teach you how to break down your long-term (yearly) goals into manageable monthly bits.
If you really think about it, Long-term (yearly goals) goals can seem vague, cumbersome, and so far off in the future—with 12 months at least between you and the outcome of your goals.
When most of your goals are not broken down to monthly, manageable bits, thinking about them can be overwhelming.
And most of the time, when the human brain is overwhelmed, one of its avoidance techniques is, you guessed it, procrastination.
The procrastination loop
Consider this very common scenario of when you think of your yearly goals in January; you’ll think “well, I still have eleven solid months to go, I’ll get to it next month”
March comes around and you’re still thinking; “well, it’s not even the middle of the year yet, but I’ll make sure I get to it before May”.
Then it’s the first week in June, and you are still thinking; “well, four months should be enough to execute the goal, so I’m still good”.
Then it’s September, only this time, it’s different. This time you are feeling
a little bit really frustrated for letting yourself down again. Also, you don’t know where to start acting on the goal anymore. It’s all a giant hot mess now.
Then, you hear that voice again, telling you “Don’t worry, you can always get to it next year”.
And voila, January 1st rolls around again, and you are making another resolution and you’re setting that goal again.
And you start the procrastination loop, all over again!!
The other reasons why setting monthly goals are important
Apart from helping you to combat procrastination and helping you to really commit to your long-term goals, let’s look at the other vital reasons why you should consider setting monthly goals this year.
Setting monthly goals is the best way to execute a new goal because it helps to build better habits quickly
Experts claim that it takes an average of 66 days (approximately two months) (link here) to form a habit.
And one thing I’ve learned from my constant and obsessive goal-setting habit is that habits are the most effective catalysts for achieving most goals you set.
Once you form a habit around executing the processes and systems involved with your goals, at that point, it’s no more a question of whether you’ll achieve the goal anymore; it’s more of a question of when you’ll achieve the goal—Frank Daemon
So, instead of stressing about how to achieve a new goal, why not break the goal down into monthly goals and watch the magic start happening.
After the second month of working on the new goal, you gain a lot of momentum and you start enjoying the process more.
Setting monthly goals will help to increase motivation for long-term goals
The motivation circuits in the brain get lit up when there is a promise of reward for doing something.
That’s how the brain is wired!
That’s how habits and addictions are formed!
The promise of reward!!
From a psychological standpoint though, Long-term and yearly goals are quite handicapped when it comes to being motivated to work on the goals.
Because the rewards for achieving these Long-term and yearly goals are so far off in the future. And as a result of this, the brain will discount the benefits of achieving the goals.
Unless you have a well-developed prefrontal cortex, and you have a high ability to delay gratification, getting motivated for long-term goals is hard. Because the rewards for doing them is not immediate.
That’s where monthly goals come in.
The rewards for achieving monthly goals and milestones are more immediate than that of yearly goals. So, the brain gets the dopamine, serotonin and all the motivational juices flowing for you.
When these hormones start being secreted regularly, habits are easily formed around your goals.
This was found in an experiment conducted on gym-goers (and link).
Setting monthly goals can help to pinpoint when a goal will likely be completed
When you work on your goals in monthly chunks, it is much easier to track results.
If you know your goal destination (where you are going quantity-wise), it’s easier to calculate how long it’ll take you to reach that goal destination from your monthly results.
For instance, you want to lose 10 pounds for the year, and after the first month of working on the goal, you lost 2 pounds. You’ll know that you should be able to complete the goal after five to six months.
The best way to break down long-term yearly goals into monthly goals
Take it one habit at a time, or at most, TWO!!
I wouldn’t set more than two New Year’s resolution in a single year, and here’s why;
A lot of things we set goals to change are always habits that are bad for our finances, our health, our relationships, and so on.
- A person that has a goal of saving more money this year is already in the habit of spending everything he/she earns
- Someone that wants to lose weight is highly likely to have an unhealthy eating habit, sitting around watching Netflix all the time, not exercising enough.
These habits are already automatic.
They’ve been done over and over again and are now wired into their brains.
To change these habits is often very difficult.
Going by this, an example of this scenario is a person who is; an introvert, overweight, financially in debt, and also happen to be a chronic procrastinator who is in love with biting his nails.
This person can’t wake up on the first day of January and set the goals of; getting in shape, becoming a social animal, paying off all of his debts, getting things done on time, stop biting his nails, all crammed into a single year.
It doesn’t work that way.
I know you’ve always been told in the past to DREAM BIG, Set MASSIVE GOALS, Set 101 GOALS and you’ll achieve them all.
I’m here to tell you that realistically, it doesn’t work that way. At least when it comes to your habits and the yearly goals you set to change those habits.
You have to focus your energy on just one major goal for the year. At the very most, two goals for the year.
After you’re done achieving that goal and have successfully habituated the whole process, you can take on another one.
That’s the best way to approach habit change and goal setting in general. It’s better to stack habits and goals on top of each other, one after another, than to try and change like five habits at the same time.
This effective model of habit change is known as habit stacking.
Be as specific as humanly possible for your long-term goals
After you’ve prioritized and trimmed your goals for the year down to one or two, it’s time to add specificity to the equation.
You are doing your brain a solid with this crucial step.
If you set quantity-specific goals, you are telling your brain a much clearer story.
It’s easier for your brain to calculate how to lose 10 pounds than trying to figure out how to get in shape.
Apart from the favor you’re doing your brain, this will help you to easily create a solid plan of executing that specific goal.
According to the groundbreaking goal-setting theory research, Locke found that the more specific a goal is, the higher the chances of achieving it.
90% more chance to be exact.
Now, if you are thinking that there are some yearly goals that can’t really be quantified (like socializing more, or being happier), you can’t be more wrong.
These types of goals seem abstract, but there is no form of goal that cannot be quantified at the end of the day.
For example, the being happier goal can be quantified as laugh for five minutes, three times daily.
And so on.
Draw up a plan of action to achieve your super-specific yearly goals
The difference between those that achieve their goals and those that don’t is that the successful ones have a concrete plan they want to work on.
So, you’re left with some super-specific goals like the ones above.
The next thing to do is come up with the plan to achieve those specific goals.
Let’s say my goal for the year is;
- To start my own business from home and earn $10,000 this year.
My plan of action can be to;
- Get a website, write blog posts to generate leads from Google,
- Create an email sequence to keep subscribers engaged
- Find good and related affiliate offers and market to my lists.
Check this post on everything you need to know about effective goal planning.
Divide whatever action plan you came up with, by twelve: So as to convert it to monthly goals
To set monthly goals from the plans you have for the year, just break the plans down into monthly goals.
From the example above (the goal of starting my own business from home), the plans above can be converted to monthly goals and plans as listed below;
- Month 1: get a website running and post 2 contents on the website,
- Month 2: post 4 contents on the website,
- Month 3: learn how to create email sequence, post 3 contents on the website,
- Month 4: start creating email sequence, post 3 contents on the website,
- Month 5: Start sending email sequence to subscribers, continue creating email sequence, post 2 contents on the website,
- Month 6: Search for affiliate offers related to my subscribers, post 2 contents on the website,
- Month 7: Promote offers, earn money, post 2 contents on the website.
You can see that by breaking this long-term goal of starting my own business from home into monthly goals, I’m able to know what I should be doing each month.
Not only that, I’m easily able to measure my progress every month. If I’m sticking to my monthly goals and I’m completing them, my motivation level will automatically be increasing.
Where to go from there (Creating workable weekly and daily systems from your monthly goals)
If you want to take your monthly goals to the next level, you can further narrow your monthly goals to weekly goals, and even to Daily goals.
This way, you don’t have to be motivated to know what you have to do for the week or day before you do it.
When you start working on these goals daily, weekly, and monthly, habits will be quickly formed and you won’t have to think about it anymore.
Summary: How to set monthly goals properly
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”—Francis of Assisi
So, how do you eat an elephant?
Well, you do it one bite at a time!
Anybody who has ever achieved success in anything (eaten any form of a gigantic elephant), had felt overwhelmed at a point in time.
But how did they make it to the other side?
Well, they took it bird by bird, company by company, task by task, habit by habit, goal by goal, one or two at a time.
For example, The Virgin Group which was founded by Richard Branson (who is worth more than 5 billion dollars) now has more than 400 companies in its control.
But did you think Branson founded any of these companies in a single year?
He started with Students (a magazine company) in 1966, then Virgin Records in 1972, then Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1981, then Virgin telecoms in 1988, then Virgin Galactic in 2001.
You might be wondering why I’m digressing from setting monthly goals.
But if you give it a deep thought, I’m not.
Because the first step to taking your overwhelming long-term (yearly) goals step by step, bite by bite, is to set proper monthly goals from them, just as we’ve discussed so far.
To show your support for the post, or to antagonize it, or whatever you have in mind, don’t be afraid to use the comment section below.
Till we speak again, remember to STAY GOAL-ORIENTED, and STAY WEALTHY.