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How to Reach Your Goals: 5-Step Goal Review Blueprint


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Goal achievement is hard.  It’s easy to get distracted, become less motivated and get off-track.  That’s why it’s important to conduct a mid-year goal review process that’s designed to help you reach your goals by helping you to:

  • stay focused on your goals and motivated to do the hard work (no matter what challenges arise),
  • reassess (and potentially revise) your goals,
  • create habits for effective goal achievement, and
  • identify your next steps to continue your momentum forward in the best way possible.

Because it would be a shame to spend lots of time setting big, inspiring goals only to get off-track and never reach your goals.


Why A Good Goal Review Process Is Important (If You Want to Reach Your Goals)

Your goals aren’t the only thing that take up your time.  You have regular obligations and responsibilities in addition to your goals.  And sometimes your performance won’t be as effective as a result.

And life has a habit of getting in the way of your goals.  This year is a perfect example of life getting in your way.

As I write this it’s July 2020, and COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on most people’s goals.  But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to.  Yes, it’s an unexpected challenge.  But challenges can be dealt with.

The BEST way to ensure that you reach your goals is to occasionally reassess and readjust as you go.  And that’s what a mid-year goal review is all about.  It’s an invaluable readjustment tool designed to help you:

  • realistically reassess where you are (and the gap between where you are and where you wanted to be),
  • honestly determine what you’ve done (or not done) that has contributed to where you are (and aren’t),
  • creatively plan around challenges, and
  • leverage all that you’ve learned to to more effectively move forward (and possibly course correct).

This process is a difference-maker between ultimate success and failure.  And note: this process can and should be use for both personal and professional goals.


Picture of woman at coffee shop working


The 3 Phases to Reach Your Goals

Before we get into the step-by-step goal review process to more effectively reach your goals, let’s take a step back to ensure that you’ve set the right foundation for optimal goal achievement.  There are three main phases to successful goal achievement:

  1. Setting the right goals.
  2. Planning for successful goal achievement.
  3. Taking action on your plans.

Phase 1: Goal Setting for Success and Happiness

The goals you set are the foundation to successful goal achievement.  What that means is that, if you want to successfully achieve your goals, you’ve got to start by setting the right goals. 

Because goals that aren’t achievable, won’t keep you motivated along the way, and/or won’t make you happy are pointless.  You’ll either give up part-way, discouraged or end up somewhere you didn’t want to be.

Goal setting for success is about setting purpose-based goals that are S.M.A.R.T.  You’ve likely already learned about S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting, which stands for:

  • Specific.  Be detailed about what you want to achieve and why.
  • Measurable.  Your goal should be quantifiable.  How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
  • Attainable.  Your goals should be challenging yet realistic.
  • Realistic. Do you believe your goal is possible?  Are you willing and able to do the work needed to achieve your goal?
  • Time-bound. Your goals should be attainable within a reasonable amount of time (not too far in the future). Be specific about your completion date.

What you might not know is that S.M.A.R.T. goals aren’t enough.

Goal achievement is hard work. It’s important to set goals that motivate you to do the hard work necessary to achieve them, including when you’ve encountered unanticipated setbacks, make mistakes and need to course correct. That’s why I recommend setting purpose-based goals.

Purpose-based goals will inspire you to get started, keep you motivated and focused along the hard path to achievement, and bring you to a place that’s more fulfilling. They are key to achieving the things you really want. Learn how to set purpose-based goals in my article about How to Set Personal Goals for Work and Life That You’ll Actually Achieve.

Phase 2: Effective Goal Planning

Once you’ve set your goals, it’s important to utilize a framework that’s designed to help you more effectively reach your goals.  A blueprint that:

  • Takes into account your habits (and how to leverage – or diminish – them for successful goal achievement),
  • Helps you to stay focused, and not get distracted (especially when things don’t go as planned), and
  • Keeps you organized and consistently moving forward.

This phase is more than just picking your strategies and planning how you’ll go about achieving them because it includes an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses (and how to leverage your strengths to your benefit while planning around/diminishing your weaknesses). And it also is about having a goal-achievement system/framework that is designed to help you be consistent, measure your results and reassess so that you can take corrective action if needed.

For details around how to effectively goal plan and my step-by-step framework for successful goal achievement, read How to Achieve Goals (Your 5-Step Blueprint).

Phase 3: Taking Action to Reach Your Goals

Phase 3 is the hard part.  It’s where you do the hard work needed to reach your goals.  This is where you:

  • use your calendar to block off time for goal-achievement items,
  • create better habits to help you effectively achieve your goals, and
  • reassess, identify what you’ve learned and course correct along the way.

It’s where you actually do the things you planned out in the prior phase, using the system you mapped out (also in the prior phase).


Woman conducting a self-review


How To Use A Mid-Year Goal Review To More Effectively Reach Your Goals

If you read the article mentioned above (that contains my recommended goal achievement framework), you’ll find that I recommend breaking your large goals into smaller 90-day mini-goals and work in 2-week increments. I love this system because it allows you to better plan, assess and course correct as you go (and hence will help you to better reach your goals and be happy with the end result).

You might be wondering why you would need a mid-year check-in on your goals if you’re already following a system (like mine) that requires you to reassess as you go. Here’s where I’m going to surprise you…

You do not have to do this part. I know lots of high-achievers who don’t (and are quite successful in their goal achievement).

But I’ve found (myself and through my clients) that a broader review at the half-way mark helps you to better identify and analyze recurring themes, challenges and mistakes that are hindering your efforts. Doing a mid-year goal review enables you to step back and look at your performance from a big-picture basis, enabling you to course correct more fully and reach your goals more quickly.

Here is my 5-step mid-year goal review blueprint that will help you to more effectively reach your goals:

Goal Review Step 1: Identify Your Progress (and Celebrate It!)

First, identify your original goals.  Write down the big-picture goal for the year and where you expected to be at this point.

Next, identify where you actually are.  Even if you’ve not made as much progress as you’d hoped for at this point, identify what progress you have made.  No amount is too small here.

When going through this process, ask the following questions:

  • What were your original goals at the outset?
  • What have you accomplished so far?
  • What challenges or obstacles have you faced to this point?

Also, ask how you’ve gotten to this point.  Look at the skills you’ve used, how you’ve collaborated with others, gotten help and/or leveraged your unique strengths.  Write everything down so that you don’t forget anything as you move forward in this process.

Finally, celebrate what you’ve done right and the progress you’ve made to date.  Although you might want to skip this, don’t.

You owe it to yourself to celebrate what you did right.  Find a way to reward yourself for any/all progress. And don’t forget to include what you’ve learned (because that’s progress too).

The simple act of celebrating what went right will help create a better mindset for moving forward.

Goal Review Step 2: Identify the Gap

Here’s where you finally get to start beating yourself up (just kidding).  This is where you look at where you’ve missed the mark.  In what areas did you think you’d be further along by now?

There are likely several reasons for this, so identify why you’re not as far along as you thought you’d be (and be honest about the “why”).  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where did you mis-allocate time (where it took longer than you thought it would)?
  • Where did you make mistakes (describe them specifically)?
  • What got in your way that wasn’t planned for?
  • Where are your areas of weakness that weren’t originally planned for?
  • What habits and/or behaviors might have hindered your abilities?
  • Where might you have been unreasonable around what could be accomplished by now?
  • Where did you struggle most and what does that tell you?

When going through this step, don’t berate yourself or worry about what to do about your answers.  This part is about identifying the gap between where you wanted to be and where you actually are so that you can still accomplish your goals.

Remind yourself that you still have time and be honest yet objective (without beating yourself up over it).

Goal Review Step 3: Self-Evaluation and Reflection

This is where you start looking behind the curtain to determine what you’ve learned and how to leverage it to your benefit.

Start By Asking The Right Questions

To effectively reassess and learn so that you can best move forward, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can be learned from your mistakes and failures?
  • How could you have tackled obstacles and challenges differently (and how can you use that information moving forward)?
  • When looking at where you struggled most, how can you deal with that moving forward?
  • What habits, behaviors and routines might help you better reach your goals moving forward?
  • When it comes to areas of weakness, how can you better support yourself so that they no longer get in your way?

Once done, identify your 3-5 biggest lessons so far and what they mean moving forward.  Push yourself to identify how you can leverage them to your benefit.

Focus On Patterns

When going through this process, be sure to look for patterns of behavior.  Where are your patterns of struggle?

I’m not talking about not getting something done on a particular day because a true emergency came up.  This is about consistently putting something off, procrastinating or not being focused.

And then ask what’s behind that struggle.  Try to identify the thoughts and fears behind these behaviors.  That’s what’s really prohibiting you from making more progress.

How to Identify Beliefs That Are Limiting You

The fears that most often hold people back are fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of what others might think.  But don’t focus too much on your fears because that’s not what’s holding you back.

What’s keeping you from progressing are the thoughts behind those fears.  They create that fear (and in the coaching world are called limiting beliefs).

Limiting beliefs are the so-called “rules” about your capabilities, how the world works and how people behave.  Fill in the blank for the following statement:

I’m afraid to/unable to/fear doing/feel uneasy about [name the activity/task or overall goal] because [______________].

That last part (where you fill in the blank) is a limiting belief.  Once you identify your fears and limiting beliefs, it’s time to start challenging them so that you can overcome them.

For how to challenge and face your fears (and the beliefs behind them), read 5 Effective Tools to Stop Living in Fear and Worry.

The Importance of Being Grateful

I want you to identify what you’re grateful for around your mistakes and failures.  Do this by getting crystal clear around what you’ve learned and how you can use that moving forward.

Being grateful for what you’ve learned is a way to re-frame so-called failures into success.  This isn’t just a mindset hack, but a proven way to rewire your mind to be growth-oriented and resilient (and hence more likely to succeed in the long-run).

Goal Review Step 4: Review And Reassess Your Priorities

Sometimes your experiences will affect your priorities – and hence your goals.  That’s why it’s important to review and reassess your current priorities (because they may have changed).

When reviewing and assessing your current priorities, review every area of your life.  That would include the following:

  • Physical & Mental Health
  • Finances
  • Career Growth & Learning
  • Community
  • Relationships
  • Spiritual Life
  • Physical Environment & Possessions
  • Hobbies & Recreation

And then score how satisfied you are within each one, on a scale of 1-10 (a 1 being unsatisfied and a 10 being completely satisfied).  Next, rank each category in order of importance (from most important to least important on the list).

This will give you a rough guide for your current priorities.  But note: just because something isn’t considered as important as something else doesn’t make it irrelevant (or not a priority), so go with your gut.

Finally, ask yourself what’s been getting in your way of your goals that aren’t priorities.  It’s time to consider how to off-load some of those things (either by delegating tasks, enforcing boundaries and/or pushing things off to a later time/date).

For more about how to prioritize properly, listen to my podcast episode about How To Be Productive (Prioritizing To Do Less, Achieve More).

Goal Review Step 5: Course Correct and Recommit to Reach Your Goals

This is where you identify the changes you want to make – both to your goals and to your behaviors. 

Revisit Your Goals

Ask yourself whether your original goals are still relevant to you and your life.  Life experiences and unexpected changes can change your goals.

But beware not to use this as an excuse not to go after something that’s more difficult than you thought it would be (yet still attainable).  Consider whether you need to:

  • change your goal,
  • change a portion of your goal, or
  • course correct how you go about reaching your goal.

Examine and Change Behavior

Consider how you can change behaviors and habits to help you more effectively reach your goals.  This doesn’t mean you have to change everything you identify (or even anything).  But be honest about what could be changed to help you progress further faster.

Here are examples of possible changes to make:

  • changing a routine or pattern
  • adopting a new habit
  • putting a support system in place
  • learning how to prioritize better
  • challenging a belief and/or fear
  • asking someone to help hold you accountable
  • learning how to better use your calendar as a productivity tool
  • being more realistic about how long some actions/tasks will take
  • leaving more free time within your calendar for things that come up

Time To Recommit To Reach Your Goals

Now it’s time to make a commitment.  Identify your goals, where you’re course correcting (if at all) and recommit to making it happen.  Commit to taking the actions you’ve identified so that you can reach your goals. You’ve gotten this far, don’t let mistakes, setbacks and/or bad habits hold you back from getting where you want to be.

Recommended Resources

Take a look at the following resources designed to help you successfully reach your goals:

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Hey there, I’m Heather

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I’m here to help purpose-driven lawyers and other professionals (like you) build your ideal career to support the life you actually want. Because you shouldn’t have to choose between professional success & personal happiness.

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