Wait, it’s “you reap what you sow!” I hear you say. Sure, I totally agree that your input largely creates your result. But “grow what you sow” looks back from the end goal and focuses instead on the instrumental journey to get there. If you’re taking small consistent steps forward then the end goal will take care of itself.
We’ve all heard “a goal without a plan is just a wish”1, right? Your goal might be improving your mental health, more quality time with your kids, or anything in between! Regardless of your goal, if you don’t have a plan, if you’re not taking steps to achieve that goal, then ultimately you only have a wish. What are your chances of waking up tomorrow to find you’ve magically developed the physical fitness to run a marathon? Compare that to your chances from working to a plan that gradually challenges and increases your physical fitness. Grow what you sow. Lay the groundwork and step by step nurture what’s important to you.
This article gives you the practical steps and framework to confidently and consistently move forward with achieving your goal.
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR VISION
“Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe”2. Our thoughts are powerful. They influence our feelings and actions thus play a big part in creating our reality.
Dedicate time in a quiet space to explore your highest grandest vision possible for your life. Not what your mum wants for you or what you think society expects of you. What do YOU want? Dream big. Go wild. But, be honest with yourself about what you truly want. We’ll call this Your Vision.
Now is the time to get clear on your values, that is the things you believe are important in your life. This might be your family, work, health, or travel for example. Your Vision must align with your values. If Your Vision doesn’t align with your values then you are going to struggle with consistency, motivation, and ultimately obtaining the result. Acting in misalignment with your values is like trying to swim upstream. You’re fighting against the current. Find your values and create Your Vision in support of those values.
This may be easier said than done. If you’re unclear on your values then it’s time for reflection and a deep dive on what makes you ‘you’. There are lots of free online resources to help pinpoint your values. A good place to start may be Dr John Demartini’s website (drdemartini.com) and his “Determine My Values Now” quiz 3. Dr Demartini has also written several books. If that’s not your flavour then do a web search or hit your local library. Whatever method you choose, be honest with yourself and write a list of your top values so you can refer to it as needed.
STEP 2: MAP YOUR “IDEAL WEEK”
Do you know the average person has about 6,000 thoughts per day?4 So, how do you cut through all the noise to make actionable change? Use a written plan. Thoughts are powerful. So are words.
Now you have Your Vision it’s time to move into planning mode. What do you need to do each day or week to sow the seeds for Your Vision to grow into reality? Pull apart Your Vision into four or five goals, then break those goals into small achievable steps. It is important to keep it:
If you’re struggling with forming realistic steps then consider whether you need to break your goal into smaller pieces. If I couldn’t achieve 5km then I might consider starting at 1km. Too far? Drop it down to the corner of the street. Still too far? Go to the letterbox. Break it down as small as you need. Any size step forward is still going in the right direction.
Take a minute to reality check your plan. Drill down into what you need to do to make it work. I need to consider which days and what time I’m planning to walk so that I can realistically hit those goals with family and work commitments. If my plan is to walk early in the morning do I need to set out my workout clothes and shoes the night before? Exactly what route am I going to take for the walk? Plan it out from start to finish and you will set yourself up for success.
I record my plan in an “Ideal Week”. I use a simple table with a column for each day of the week and a row for each general category of my vision, like this:
If needed add more rows to suit Your Vision. Label each row with your value category. If your goals are all in the same category then you might find it useful to label the row with the goal instead. For example, if all my goals were health related then I might have a row labelled “run 5km” and another “level 3 stretching” etc. In the square under the day heading (eg. Monday) I record the specific, measurable, and realistic step that works towards achieving the goal.
Depending on your goal it may be advantageous to plan out the next month. For example, if I wanted to turn my 5km walk into a 5km run then I would add a specific number and duration of runs interspersed throughout my walking routine. The duration of runs would then be gradually increased across the next month.
If your goal is health related I strongly recommend you firstly consult with your doctor and/or fitness professional to ensure you set safe and appropriate goals for your health condition.
STEP 3: TRACK YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS
“Each day if you do not make the decision to win, you have automatically made the decision to lose” 5. Review your Ideal Week each morning to remind yourself of your goals and the steps you need to take to get there. Stick a copy on your bedside table and fridge. Put one under your keyboard at work. Wherever it needs to be so that it stays in the front of your mind. If you’re struggling with motivation then check back in with Your Vision and values (ie. why it’s important to you!). If you need an extra boost write down or create a picture board of Your Vision and keep it with your Ideal Week.
At the end of the day jot down the steps you took to grow Your Vision. Find a method that works for you, whether it be creating a note on your phone or computer, or printing out a basic blank calendar, like this:
STEP 4: REVIEW AND REFLECT
Monitoring your progress increases the likelihood of attaining your goal 6. At the end of each week and month look back over your recorded activities. Take a moment of gratitude for yourself for prioritising Your Vision, and to reflect over what worked and what didn’t. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t hit your Ideal Week. There’s no failure just opportunity to learn and adapt 7.
Think about what you need to tweak to hit your target. Do you need to change the day or time? The location? Your preparation? Is the goal truly important to you? Ie. does it truly align with your values? People find time for what is important to them. The things that aren’t important fall off the priority list.
STEP 5: ADJUST YOUR PLAN
“Failure cannot cope with persistence” 8. Set your plan for the next week or month ahead.
You may not 100% hit your Ideal Week. But…
Lay the groundwork, make sustainable deposits to nurture what’s important to you, and watch the amazing-ness unfold as you build momentum and accelerate towards your goal.
No time to read? Here’s the summary:
1 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
2 Oprah Winfrey.
4 Tseng, J., Poppenk, J. Brain meta-state transitions demarcate thoughts across task contexts exposing the mental noise of trait neuroticism. Nat Commun 11, 3480 (2020).
5 Andrew Carnegie.
6 Harkin, B., Webb, T. L., Chang, B. P. I., Prestwich, A., Conner, M., Kellar, I., Benn, Y., & Sheeran, P. (2016). Does monitoring goal progress promote goal attainment? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 142(2), 198–229.
7 Inspired by “There are no failures in life: only learning opportunities” Maneet Chauhan.
8 Napoleon Hill.
This blog is not medical or health advice. Medical or health advice must be sought from a health professional. This blog is intended for general educational purposes, to further the discussion on wellness, and to encourage you to find your happy. Be a wellness warrior. You are in control of your life. Make changes today and work towards a future of your design.
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