The Simplicity Sessions: How to Simplify Your Goals

How to Simplify Your Goals
First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
— Epictetus

Welcome to Part 2 of the Simplicity Sessions series, where we are diving into what it looks like to embrace purposeful simplicity in 12 core areas of life.

If you haven't checked out Part 1, click here to read it then make your way back here to dive into simplifying goals!

Goal setting is one of those things that is easy to overcomplicate. Our whole lives we're told that we can do anything we want to do, to dream big and reach for the stars.

Every January the whole world is buzzing about what New Year's resolutions they'll set, as if this ritual will actually result in real forward momentum and progress. (It usually doesn't....according to this source, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February!)

When setting goals we typically look at our lives and pick apart everything that isn't the way we want it, and set goals to change #allthethings. I've found that usually people's desires and goals fall under two categories: they either want more of something or less of something.

I am one of those people who LOVES setting goals for myself, and I am highly ambitious. There's a million things I want to do and see in my lifetime, and I always want to be better and do better in my life.


For years I would approach goal setting like this:

1. What's wrong with my life the way it is now? What don't I like? What isn't perfect?

2. What specifically needs to change?

3. Set #allthegoals in #allthethings then slay those goals and live a perfect, happy life.

4. .......twiddling thumbs a few weeks later, "Umm...what were my goals again?!"


Not so effective, right?!

Over the years I've learned to simplify and hone a system of setting the kinds of goals that actually matter, and breaking them down into bite-sized, actionable steps that actually move me forward.

Setting goals (and actually achieving them!) doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, I'd say that the more we overcomplicate setting and working toward goals, the less likely we are to successfully achieve them.

If you're tired of spending your days wishing and hoping that one day you'll be healthier, one day your house will be more manageable, or one day you'll read the mountain of books sitting on your nightstand, I have a super simple 3-part framework to share with you that will help you simplify the process of setting goals and actually making them happen.

But first, there are a few basic principles of simplified goal-setting that I want to share before we dive in. Laying a solid foundation of understanding is important in anything we do in life!


Know your core values & vision

In order to know what kinds of goals are going to move you forward in creating the kind of life you want to live, you have to first know what kind of life that is!

Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose. Those are the ones with vision.
— Andy Stanley

Core values are SO important because they are your internal navigation system in life. They guide and direct and influence how you see things and make decisions.

When you set goals, make decisions, and live in a way that aligns with your core values, the result is peace, joy and fulfillment.

But when you set goals, make decisions and live out of alignment with your core values, the result is frustration, discontentment and disillusionment.

No matter how much you succeed or accomplish in any area of your life, it won't ever be enough because you aren't accomplishing the things that matter most.

So I challenge you, before you set another goal, click here to read my post about how to uncover your core values and grab your FREE core values assessment.

Ready to uncover your core values?

Knowing your core values will clarify your focus and goals and help you live on purpose (heck yes!)

Narrow your focus

If you're anything like me, you can think of about a million things you'd like to set goals for. At any given time, my brain dumped list of possible goals might look like this:

  • Get more sleep
  • Get more exercise
  • Play with the kids more
  • Give up sugar
  • Take a vacation
  • Call an extended family member every week
  • Read more books
  • Read the Bible every day

And on, and on, and on....

The problem with actually setting goals in all of these areas all at the same time is that we are essentially forcing our brains and lives to multitask (which isn't a good thing and doesn't even work!)

Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.
— Nido Qubein

So, when setting goals, be sure to keep your focus narrow. Choose to focus on just one or two at a time, devoting all your effort and energy there until you're ready to move onto the next one.

Don't let a perceived shortage of time in life or a preoccupation with perfection scare you into thinking that you have to fix #allthethings in your life right this very moment.

There is time. Spend your time where it will count most, both right now and in the future. Set a goal there, work toward accomplishing it, then rinse and repeat.

Now that we've got those basic principles out of the way, you're ready to actually start setting goals (woohoo!) This process can be used to set any goal in a simple, concise, effective way.


Step 1: What do you want?

Take a look at your life and where you're at. Figure out what's working and where you'd like to improve. Where do you want to grow? What do you want more or less of? Get really clear on what it is you want. And be specific.

Instead of just setting a goal of "reading more" determine what that means for you. Does it mean reading for a certain amount of time every day or reading a certain number of books per month? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to determine when you've achieved your goal.


Step 2: Why do you want it?

Next, you need to spend a few minutes getting clear on why you want what you want. Having a "why" attached to every goal you set and everything you do will help you stay motivated as you keep the end result in mind.

Take the time to actually write out why the goals you're setting matter to you. Don't skip this part.


Step 3: What needs to happen?

This last step is essential to actually making your goals happen, and this is the part where people often fall off the horse before ever leaving the gate because they don't know what needs to happen to achieve their goals.

Start with your main goal and then do some reverse-engineering. If your goal is to read four books per month, what needs to happen in order to ensure that you will achieve your goal?

Broken down, this goal would look like reading roughly one book per week. Depending on the size and length of the books you're choosing, you could set a daily goal of reading for a certain amount of time so that by the end of the week you've hit your goal.

Every single goal you set can be broken down in this way. Don't overcomplicate it or let perfectionism derail your efforts to keep this process simple.

Identify what the essential steps are in reaching your goals, and then integrate those steps into your life (by way of your calendar and some accountability!)

Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
— Pablo Picasso

That's it. Once you've uncovered your core values and narrowed your focus, setting goals can really be as simple as answering three questions: What do you want? Why do you want it? And what needs to happen to get there?

All that's left is to take action and celebrate your progress along the way (which is way more fun when done with other people!)

If you love the idea of connecting with other awesome women learning to embrace purposeful simplicity in their goal setting come join us in the Simply, Life on Purpose Community, my free Facebook group.

Every week we share goals and intentions, encourage and cheer each other on as we all work to become the best versions of ourselves and live simplified, purposeful lives of peace and joy. I hope to see you there!

Need some community in your life?

Come connect with some awesome women gathering + growing in their pursuit of a life lived well.

Words Of Wisdom From Women Just Like You

Here is what our Simplicity Sessions contributors had to say about how they approach simplifying the process of setting and achieving grace-filled goals. And trust me, you want to listen to these ladies because they've all accomplished some amazing things in their lives as wives, mamas, and business owners!

Valerie Woerner

"Don't get hung up on the perfect tools. I use Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters! As a designer myself, it can get easy to want to design everything your own way and then you realize you are spending more time on the tools instead of actually pursuing your goals. It sounds silly but how I simplify goals is to create a plan and then move my behind out of the planning phase and start doing." - Valerie Woerner, Founder of Val Marie Paper & Author of The Finishing School

Robin Long

"I focus on seasonal goals. Each new season I set goals - some personal and some business-related. Some goals are long-term and others are weekly or even daily. But each month I check in on those goals and adjust them based on how things are going. No guilt, just adjusting as life plays out." - Robin Long, Pilates & Barre Instructor & Founder of The Balanced Life Online

Natalie Gingrich

“My approach to simplifying is to begin with defining your family (and personal) mission, build boundaries, and simplify through prioritization. Once completed, you build your work and life around this foundation. This "system" makes it less emotional and more focused so you are able to genuinely show up for the roles or people that you hold most valued.” - Natalie Gingrich, Business & Project Manager Extraordinaire & Founder of the More Mom Movement

Sami Womack

“I keep my goal setting process simple by setting general long-term goals and only getting really specific with my short term goals. Then, I take time each month to reevaluate and adjust my goals. This way I’m able to recharge my motivation or give myself grace....whichever is needed.” - Sami Womack, Budgeting Coach & Founder of A Sunny Side Up Life

Tonya Dalton

“When setting grace-filled goals, I always begin with reflection. I take a good hard look at where I've been and where it is I really want to go. I look at my successes and my failures and then formulate goals with intention. This helps me make sure that the goals I want to achieve are aligned with my mission. I believe, too, that it's not enough just to set goals - you need to create a roadmap to make them achievable. I set mini goals to help keep me on the path to success and I plan rewards for when I get to each of these milestones.” - Tonya Dalton, Founder + CEO of inkWELL Press, Co-Host of the Productivity Paradox Podcast

How to Simplify Your Goals