How to set goals you'll actually stick to
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Hey friends, and welcome back to the Alex Makes VR podcast. In today's episode, I want to talk about setting and planning goals for the new year. Now, of course, this is the last episode I'm recording for 2020. It's very poignant. A lot of you listening in real time, will probably be thinking about New Year's resolutions and what you hope to achieve and what you want to do in 2021 but you might also be listening in the future, you might be listening on a random day in March and you're thinking, can I still get something from this episode? Was this specifically a new year's resolution episode? No. The principles I want to talk about in this episode, the way that I plan and set goals and you can do this throughout the year, you can do this whenever you are listening, there is never a better time to start than right now, whenever you are listening. So let's get into today's episode.
But before I do, if you've got a question or subject you want me to talk about in future episodes, I would love to hear from you. It's @alexmakesvr on Instagram and Twitter, especially you guys that have been listening throughout the year since I started this podcast. If you've not reached out to say yet, I would love to hear from you. Podcasting is one of those strange formats where, of course, unless you're talking to guests constantly, it's a bit of a…well you're talking to yourself basically, It's like kind of talking to a wall so hearing from you guys makes my day. It also really confirms to me that I'm not just speaking to myself, although, let's face it, I am just wandering around my room talking to my iPhone, but it doesn't feel like that when I hear from you. So please do reach out.
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Okay, so where should you start when planning and setting goals? For me personally, I really like to define the kind of categories that I want to make progress in. So for me personally, I split goals into personal goals, business goals, and creative goals. So that's what I would recommend you do first, is think about those three key areas of life, whether business means is just where you're employed, or your side hustle or if you are a business owner, thinking about what you want to get done next year, maybe it's an area that you want to improve in? Maybe it's something entirely new that you want to kind of have a look at, but haven't. So have a think about what those areas are. And yeah, three areas to me seems quite doable, I wouldn't recommend having loads of different areas because sometimes that can feel a little overwhelming but I also wouldn't necessarily just have one goal. I mean, you could do what you want, ultimately, but definitely have a think about those key areas of life and what goals you want to set.
Now, I like to have both a results based goal and an action based goal. We've talked about this in previous episodes of the podcast but for those of you who haven't listened before, or maybe those of you who just need to refresh, a results based goal is something like: I want to make a 360 video.
An action based goal is: every week, I'm going to take my 360 camera and film something interesting. That's an action based goal, do you see the difference? So one of them is a result. One of them is I want to have this outcome, I want to have this completed thing. It's this future thing that doesn't exist yet and it's kind of quite disconnected from your present self. It's disconnected from what you're doing right now and also it doesn't naturally give you any incentive or structure or any obvious way of achieving it because it's, it's a final thing. It's an outcome. Whereas an action based goal is something that you do. The reason I like this is because when you are working towards an outcome, when you are trying to achieve a specific thing, all you're really focusing on is this thing that doesn't exist yet or it's something that you haven't done yet. It's almost like a negative before you've even started isn't it? Because it's looking to the future for this thing that doesn't yet exist, whereas an action based goal will allow you to focus on the thing that you are showing up every day to do, it's something that is in your control. It’s something positive that you can take action every single day and you can say, yeah, you know what, like, I can't control how quickly I can turn around this thing, I can't control outside circumstances, all of these other people that determine whether or not I make that project or land, that sale or get to that next level with my podcast, whatever it is - I can't control those metrics. I can't control those things but what I can control is showing up every day and taking action on it. So for me with the podcast, it might be that like, an outcome goal, for example. Not that this is one, but just off the top of my head, just thinking about it, you know, okay, I want the podcast to be in the top 100 top tech podcasts next year, that's something that I can't control, that something that's like, a negative because it's like, well… I'm not there. So technically, I'm chasing this thing that doesn't yet exist. Whereas what I can say is, instead of making that the outcome goal, I can say an action based goal is I want to do the podcast, every single week next year, or maybe I want to put out a podcast twice a week, for at least three months of the year next year; something where I have complete control over it. You know, there aren't external factors that control whether I make a podcast because that is completely within my control. So I've labelled the point. So it's really important that if you are going to plan goals that are outcome based, that you also attach an action to it. Another thing that kind of relates to this is, and this is something that I've had a few times over the last kind of few weeks, because I've been in that mindset of thinking about goals, is most people really overestimate how much they can do, especially in a year. I think we all think that we're superhuman or something, and we think, you know, that's loads of time and it is, but it also isn’/ It's enough to kind of show up and make actions and make progress towards something but again, you have no idea what's going to happen, another pandemic could come, God forbid. Something could happen, you know, in your family, like something could take you off an opportunity, could take you off and do something else and take you away for a few months, which means that you've stepped away from the goal that you had. So don't make really, really massive outcome based goals, that realistically you might not be achievable within a year. Instead, make smaller, immediate goals that you can achieve within 90 days.
So imagine if you could achieve four things in a year. That’s, lot, especially when it comes to business and creative. If you could make four projects a year, that would actually be pretty insane, right? Like even creating one thing a year would be really, really impressive because it takes a lot of energy and a lot of planning and lots of other circumstances to make anything these days. So imagine making four things a year, right? That's 90 days. So you've got four goals in a category, like business, for example. So maybe the immediate goal is: okay for the next 90 days, I'm going to focus on landing one five figure client, that's my goal for the first 90 days of the year. Then my next goal, you can reevaluate after 90 days, and then you set your next goal based on what you've just achieved. So instead of making, you know, a big goal that lasts the whole year, that might not hold your attention or might feel too difficult to kind of comprehend and stick to for a year or it might just be a goal, that actually would be really difficult to achieve within a year, make an immediate goal that you can do within the first three months. Of course, you could also do a monthly goal if you want and you could reflect at the end of each month and almost recalibrate, that's also a great way to do it. But 90 days gives you enough time to make something quite big happen. 90 days, I would say for most people is enough to make a big project or land quite a big client, whereas a month actually is quite a short amount of time. So maybe you could land a smaller client or maybe you could make progress on a project or maybe you could finish one aspect of a project, like this script or get the planning in place for the production or something but to actually achieve something within a month is quite an aggressive target. So second tip having immediate goals. So the first tip was setting goals in particular categories and make them action based goals. Tip number two is setting quite immediate goals, that you can achieve in a month or 90 days.
Tip number three and I realise I've just turned this into a list of three tips when it wasn't really originally. I was just planning on rambling about it, but it just seems to have ended up that like this. So tip number three is make sure that you scheduled time to reflect on those goals or on that progress that you're making and don't hold yourself to goals that you made in the past. Okay, for example, my goals this year massively derailed, thanks to the pandemic. So thankfully, I have a process where I actually reflect weekly about things that I'm doing and kind of course, correct. But also every month or every quarter, I will have a reflection session and be like - okay, what did I do this month? What would I like to do next month? Like, have I made progress on the bigger goals that I've set? That allows you to then course correct if things come up, or if opportunities come up that take you off, or if you've been making progress on a project, but it's not quite going the way that you want, you can course correct and say - okay, well, I've tried that for a month or or a quarter. Now, what can I do? What can I do that's different? What can I kind of change? What action can I change or do something differently in order to make progress, and that only happens when you have scheduled reflection time. For me, I reflect pretty much every week and since the beginning of the year, I've actually been doing a kind of personal progress video and it started because when I made Keyed Alike back in 2016, I never actually made a log of that process. I kind of did it and then I couldn't really remember the process and it was really difficult to go from being someone that wrote a script, one random day sitting on a bench by some padlocks in Vancouver, to being someone that was onstage at Raindance Film Festival talking about this project that had to kind of come to fruition and turned out to be one of the world's first rom-coms in VR. That process, happened so quickly and I wish that I had kept a log.
So one of my things for this year was, I'm going to start a log for Bad News, which is my next kind of big drama project so that I can look back on it. Now of course, it's ended up becoming just a weekly progress, kind of update for myself, about what goals I've done that week; what goals I've achieved; what have I been thinking or feeling? What do I want to do for next week? That kind of helps me clear some clutter in my mind, to have a think about all of the things that I've done or haven't done, and also refocus on what it is that I want to be doing the next week. So whether it's weekly, monthly, quarterly, make sure that you schedule some time to reflect on your goals and make sure that you are showing up. Another thing that I like to do actually and recently, I've only started doing this the last couple of months, but it really helps. I've kind of boiled down my immediate goals into a little bit of a mantra, almost like a couple of sentences and I write that out every single day and the reason I do that is it kind of reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing. So you know, even though we're very, very close now to the end of 2020 I still have things that I've been working towards this year, or like things I'm showing up and doing every day to take action towards certain projects. Every single day, it just puts me in the right mindset to write out a mantra that kind of permeates all aspects of my life - my personal life, my business life, my creative life and by writing that down every single day, it reminds me why I'm doing the things that I'm doing. So that's also quite a big tip and it's not something for everyone. It can be a little bit ‘woo woo' but sometimes you have to remind yourself why it is you're doing what you're doing. We talk about that a lot in terms of business, right? Reverse engineering. Why you want to do what you want to do. So even just having a think about when you're setting these goals, why is it that you are setting those goals? What life is it that you're trying to build? What kind of person is it that you want to become by doing those things? By doing those projects? By making progress in those areas? And just make sure you're checking in with that because sometimes and especially in the creative world, we can get caught up in just doing the next thing. The next best thing, the next best bit of tech. What life are we trying to build for ourselves? What is your why? For me, when I started my business originally, it was, you know, admittedly, it was money focused. I wanted to be self sustaining. I've wanted to be able to make my own money. I want to have enough money to get myself out of debt and, you know, have a life, build the life that I want for myself, but now, my life has totally changed. My life is more about, well, how do I want to help people? Whether that is through my creative projects, whether that is through the podcast that I put out, whether it's through my personal life, like how do I want to show up? What kind of person do I want to be? So before you even set your goals, or slash around during that reflection process, make sure that your goals actually align with that future version of life that you're aiming for. And if you change what that is, if you change what the life is that you're aiming for, because actually you achieve it, or you get it, and you're like - oh, it's not actually what I wanted, I don't actually want to spend nine months out of the year, stressed out of my mind working stupid hours a day doing a contract or doing a project that I thought would fulfil me, but actually, in practice, it doesn't. So, let's go back to the drawing board instead. Now, I want to find a goal where I've got a bit more work life balance, where I get to see more of the world, where I get to connect with like minded individuals and make smaller things that I'm passionate about, rather than these big, big fancy projects, or whatever it might be for you take that time to reflect, take that time to align yourself with the why that you're doing all of this in the first place.
With that being said, that's it for this episode. I hope that helps setting and planning your goals and again, this can be done at any time of year, not just the new year, but January 1 does seem like a nice little metaphor for the start of something new.
For those listening in real time, obviously, it's been a really, really difficult year, and well done you for getting through it. Well done, you've been the kind of person that is still showing up and listening to a podcast like this, which is supposed to help you kind of navigate those big ideas and those big kind of thoughts and these new paths in life. So yeah, give yourself a pat on the back, we made it and that in itself is an accomplishment. Set some goals for yourself next year, and let me know what they are. If you fancy talking about them, or if you fancy telling me your different ways of setting goals, if you know you've got your own systems in place, or things that you like to do, traditions that you do every new year, reach out to me, @alexmakesvr on Instagram and Twitter.
With that being said, this will be the last episode for 2020 thank you so much to every single one of you, who has shown up and listen to the podcast. It genuinely has made my year and like I say, you never know what's going to happen in life. You never know what's going to force you to reevaluate and change those goals. Sometimes that will come from reflection and intentional circumstances, or sometimes it will be a massive global pandemic that changes all of your plans and wipes out all of your goals overnight and this is probably the best thing that has come from this year. Actually, I think this has been a pretty life changing year for many of us. So thank you for being part of that for me, thank you for being part of that big change that I know is going to be the thing that I look back on and say you know what, 2020 for a lot of people was a real shit show, but for me though, this seed that I started during lockdown, on the verge of an emotional breakdown has now become the thing that I love more than anything. So thank you for listening. Have a great start to your new year. Wherever you are in the world. I'll speak to you in 2021.
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