goal forecasting: what it is, how it works, & why you should try it

It's January, and everyone and their mom likes to talk about their plans for the new year. Gyms are full, savings accounts are opened, planners are purchased . . . and then what? We're inspired for about a week or two before we realize the resolutions we made were too big, too difficult, or we just don't want them enough, and we quit.

We might not call it quitting - we'd say, we just realized it wasn't that important. Or we went a different direction. Or we're doing a different goal instead, starting next month.

And the thing is, I don't even think it's bad to give up on goals that truly don't line up with what you want to happen in your life. But I do think we have the power to dream big without giving up, and that happens when we plan our goals and give ourselves the opportunity to succeed. I say all of this as a law student who loves making yearly goals. I'm busy, and I get it. I really do. But I think we're all better than leaving our motivation in the first month of the year and promising ourselves that "we'll get 'em next time." Why skip 11 months of personal development, entrepreneurship, and goal-getting just because you missed a benchmark once or twice in the first few weeks?

One of my keys to success is goal forecasting. Goal forecasting is essentially a practice I made up myself where I schedule a check-in and take a look at how my goals are going every. single. week. I probably lost some of you there, because that's kind of an alarming frequency with which to revisit goals - it literally means I check in on my goals for the year 52 separate times before I accomplish them. Have you ever even spent that many separate work sessions on one thing in your life? Probably not. BUT . . . what if you did?

What if you read your outlines 52 times over the course of the semester? You'd barely need to study by the time final exams rolled around. What if you drank 52 sips of water in a day? You'd be the most hydrated lady on the planet. What if you read 52 times a week that you are capable, worthy, and valued? You'd enter the following week with more confidence than ever before.

Okay, you're thinking, fine. If I looked at my goals once a week that would be more than I've looked at them previously. But, so? Just because I'm staring at the same piece of paper with the same words written on it doesn't mean anything. You're right. You have to commit to action too.

I break down my yearly goals into monthly ones too. Say my annual goal is to lose 20 pounds. January's goal is meal-prepping every week instead of eating out. February's goal is doing a 10-minute ab workout every single day. March's goal is to finish a workout program. April's goal is to walk 10k steps every day. They don't have to be crazy goals. They don't have to be you going to the gym every day at 5am, counting Sundays. Your goals should be something that challenges you without scaring you - it's that sweet spot of inspiration. You're inspired to do it because you know you can, not terrified because you suspect that you can't.

Once you finish one monthly goal, you're building up momentum for the next month. Your brain thinks, "Hmmm, I can do this!" because it already has spent a whole month completing a goal - why not do it again?

So, here's some actionable steps for you if it's the end of January and you already feel like you've fallen off the 2020 goal wagon.

  1. Recognize that falling off the wagon doesn't mean you have to walk the rest of the way - just get back on the wagon. Mindset is huge.

  2. Review your goals and identify why you aren't on track - were they not that important to you? Were your expectations for yourself too high? Did you get sick? Do they seem way too huge for you to ever accomplish in one year?

  3. Focus on one goal you have for the year, and then break it down into baby steps. What does this goal look like over the course of the month? How can you work toward that goal in a tangible way without putting pressure on yourself to get to square 12 by the end of month 2. Try to get to square 2 by the end of month 2, since that's a more reasonable way to go about it.

  4. Figure out where in your week you have time for a power hour with just you, your planner, a pen, and maybe some coffee. If you're someone who thinks they don't have time, I promise you that you do - it could be waking up an hour early on one day, it could be skipping that next episode, it could be meal-prepping on Sundays so you don't have to take the time to cook or drive to go get take out every single night. Schedule that hour for just you. You may not take the whole hour, and that's okay.

  5. If you don't have a place that frames your goals for you and helps you reflect and redirect, I encourage you to check out Clever Fox planners. They give you space and intentionally encourage you to forecast every year, quarter, month, and week, so you have so many touch points with your annual goals and tons of opportunities to set benchmarks and flex that goal-getting muscle memory we talked about earlier. They're also beautiful planners - they come in tons of colors, are incredibly durable, and have paper that doesn't let ink bleed. Another reason they're great is that they're undated, so you can literally buy one and start using it any week, any month. *** This is not a sponsored post; I purchase Clever Fox planners for myself and pay full price. I'm telling you about them because I truly believe in their products.

  6. Once you have your new and improved goals ready to go, reach out to someone and TELL THEM about your goals! Ask them to check in on you, or better yet - to do them with you. Accountability is a powerful, powerful tool.

Go forth and goal dig, my friends. This post is for anyone who's ever wanted to accomplish goals, not just law students. Although, I think students need even more accountability when it comes to goals - it's way more easy to slip into the "I just have too much going on!" excuse. I know you have a lot going on, and that's why goals are so crucial - they're supposed to matter to YOU, not just your job or your education or your significant other or your friends. Prioritize things that are important to you personally, and stop letting your excuses prevent you from pursuing things that matter.