Goal Setting Instruction Booklet
The Long and Short of It
Created By: Sybil R Smith

Have you ever made unrealistic goals?
Do you neglect to make any goals for fear of failing?
I sure have.

When thinking about the future, I am often discouraged because there is so much to do that I do not know where to start. Or, maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum like my friend Mary. She does not make any goals or plan for the future because she does not know what she wants.

Your life is what you make it. So, why not plan a little bit of it out to ensure your success?

There are five steps to take while setting your goals.

Just setting goals as they come up is where most people get in trouble. They shoot too high, too soon, or too low. They quickly end up frustrated. There is a little preparation that needs to happen in order to set yourself up for success.

1. What does your BIG picture look like?

Think about what you want your life, career, or relationship to be in 10 years or more.

How do you want to feel when you are 80?
What do you want to do when you retire?
What kind of family would be ideal in your older years?

Knowing these future details will help you figure out what to do today. Until you know this, what I call the “BIG picture,” you will just be wandering around life, taking whatever happens to land in your lap. The BIG picture is malleable; I've changed mine a few times just this year. As it changes, the smaller goals change too. Knowing the BIG picture helps focus your attention toward what is most important.

How do you do this?
Use your imagination.
Sit and ponder.
Let your mind wander and dream big.
Draw or paint a picture.
Write a song.
Listen to music that represents how you want to feel.
Write it out in your journal.
Talk about it to a friend.
Don't be afraid to aim high!

Whatever way you choose to find your big picture, make sure it gets out of your head, and into your life experience – through some sort of expressive action. This sets the goal in motion.

2. WHY do you want the BIG picture?

The next step is knowing WHY you want the big picture.

Knowing WHY you want the big picture will bring clarity to the goals that will form later.

Why do you want that fancy car? Why do you want a huge house?
Is it because you want to feel safe? Do you want others to see your success?

Why do you want a huge family?
Because you thrive in that situation? Because you want to feel needed?

Find your WHY. Be specific. Post it up on your wall, mirror, or in your car. Your WHY brings ease to the goals you are about to form.

3. Listen to Your Body.

Listen to your gut feelings. It is a necessity. Do not make goals that feel uncomfortable to you.

This means paying attention to that funny feeling in your tummy that makes you think, “Ummm, this doesn't feel quite right.” Going against this gut feeling only causes inner turmoil, which creates un-health in your body.

4. Work Backward

If you can imagine the big picture with ease, try breaking it down into 3 smaller parts, or into 3 short-er term goals (5 or 3 years from now). Then, create your 1 year goals, and so on until you reach a daily goal.

Maybe you have the big picture, 3 year goals, and 1 year goals, but the 3 month goals are giving you some anxiety. This funny-feeling-in-your-gut means that you need to take a step up to solidify the big picture a little more.

5. Be compassionate with yourself

Give yourself permission to stop and wait. Be patient and forgiving with yourself if the little steps do not come immediately. The uncomfortable feeling in your gut is telling you that you are not quite ready to move – yet. Or, it may be telling you that you are moving in a direction that is not consistent with your centered self – your WHY of step 2.

When this happens, be gentle. Practice self-compassion. Reevaluate the goals. Go back to the BIG picture.

Reevaluate your big picture to see if it has changed. If so, let it change. There is no sense in holding on to something that does not want to move forward. If change is not needed, let yourself simmer on the big picture a little longer – with patience.

Once you have done all five of these steps...find your big picture, know your why, listen to your gut, work backward, and be compassionate with yourself...you will then be able to set your goals with ease.

I hear you saying, I want to move now!

I've been there. Seriously. In a way, I'm still there – as is everyone.

When I opened The Journey Center, I KNEW what the big picture was going to look like. I quit my job, found the perfect office space, and then felt that uncomfortable gut feeling. Yep, it was time to reevaluate the big picture.

To my surprise, it changed.

And then it changed again.

And yet again!

Over the first few months the big picture changed half a dozen times!

Does that mean I am wishy-washy? No.
Does it mean I'm on the wrong path? No.
It just means that every step I take gets me closer to my centered self... teasing out the details may take a while. I am OK with taking a while because my WHY is to reach a more authentic, empowered, centered, expressive self. I will do what it takes to get me to my WHY.

Write out your goals for 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 6 months, 1 months, and this week.
Sound overwhelming? Follow the five step process, and you will be moving forward with ease!
(Did you notice that I did not say with speed? Take your time.)

Author's Bio: 

Sybil R Smith is a life coach and expressive arts therapist. She has a wide range of expertise, including music therapy, hospice, child psychotherapy, EMDR, and a M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy. She has helped clients deal with a range of issues including anxiety and panic disorders, life transitions, depression, and grief. Her mission is to show people how to live empowered lives so they can move past therapy and into forward motion. Sybil R Smith uses her training as a musician and performer to present creative ways to help move people through anxiety, depression, and grief to create smooth and joy-filled transitions. You can sign up for her thought-provoking EZine and meet her at www.sybilRsmith.com.