I’ve always sucked at making achievable goals.
Last year, I realized 20% of my resolutions, and this year I was already giving up on half of them.
Sometimes, I don’t achieve my goals at all. Maybe because I set too high expectations, or perhaps this is only an excuse. But some other times, I get so close to the target that it pains me to think about my failure.
If only I had taken that extra leap — I think.
But lately, I realized that accomplishing a goal does not mean succeeding 100%. I should not be displeased about reaching a goal only partially. On the contrary, I can celebrate that partial achievement.
So it all became clear to me, and I came up with the idea of layered goals, which is making me already achieve more than 15% of my yearly plan in only a month.
How to create a Layered Goal
First things first: what is a layered goal?
When I first came up with the concept of layered goals, I thought about an achievement that builds up in difficulty. For example, instead of aiming for 20K push-ups in a year, a layered goal will include different steps:
- Do 15K reps for an average result.
- Do 20K reps for an optimal finish.
- Do 25K reps for the best outcome.
As you can notice, I built a goal with three layers, one for an average, one for an optimal, and the last one for the best result. But how to choose those layers?
Here are 5 steps that will guide you through the process.
1 — Define the Time Frame
First of all, what is the time range in which you want to achieve your purpose? Is it a yearly goal? Is it a semestral goal? Or anything in between?
Personally, I like to set goals that last for 3–4 months, so I can tweak them once in a while. But for the purpose of this analysis, I will consider a yearly goal.
Also, I will call End of the Goal (EOG) the final date of your intentional power to achieve success. This is the most important day, and for this reason, I should make it clear and easily visible.
2 — Define the Tracking System
Still, something is missing — a goal needs a tracking system. For short-term goals, a weekly system could work. Longer ones, instead, could require a monthly one. However, if you are statistics addicted, like me, you can use both.
Near the time frame, I will usually write the EOG weeks (and months), no matter the system. Moreover, if your purpose can be downgraded in daily actions, you can define an EOG days value.
3 — Define the Strategy and the Improvement Target
Once the timing and the tracking are explicit, I usually define the necessary actions to achieve my goal.
In this case, I have a simple one because I just need to do push-ups daily. But for others, I would write more than one strategy. For example, if I wish to lose weight and build muscles, I may use the following strategies:
- Do push-ups, sit-ups, and squats daily.
- Go to the gym 3 times a week.
- Read about muscle building and weight loss monthly.
However, a strategy is not enough. When I set a goal, I want to overcome the expectations, so I also establish an improvement target. And based on how confident and willing I am to take risks, this improvement target will be higher or lower.
For example, 20K push-ups in a year could have an improvement target of 25%, which means up to 25K reps in a year.
4 — Define the Success Percentages
Until now, I did not set any layers. I have a time frame, a tracking system, and an ambitious goal but no layers. So how do I create those?
First of all, I decide how many levels of success I want, and then I define some percentages for each of them.
The easiest way is to set 3 layers and put the middle one as the initial goal target. Then, downgrade and upgrade it with the improvement target to obtain the other two levels. The result will be the initial layered goal.
- 75% of the target is 15K push-ups in a year for the average result.
- 100% of the target is 20K push-ups in a year for the optimal finish.
- 125% of the target is 25K push-ups in a year for the best outcome.
This allows me to celebrate successes even if I reach only 75% of the target, which is still a glorious achievement.
5 — Calculate the Repetitions
Constant repetitions are the basis of a good strategy. So once the success percentages have been defined, I need to calculate these repetitions to secure the triumph. I have to know how much I need to work daily, weekly, and monthly to achieve the 75%, 100%, and 125% of the target relatively.
For example, to achieve 75% of the initial target, I need to do approximately:
→ 1250 push-ups monthly (15000/12).
→ 290 push-ups weekly (15000/52).
→ 41 push-ups daily (15000/365).
If you calculate the same thresholds for each layer, you will have your final repetitions:
- Average (75%): do 41 push-ups daily or 290 weekly.
- Optimal (100%): do 55 push-ups daily or 385 weekly.
- Best (125%): do 69 push-ups daily or 481 weekly.
Here, you can see how I structure each of my plans to create a layered goal.
First, I define a general goal. Then, I highlight the time range I have and, most importantly, the EOG variables.
I decide on an improvement range based on how much confidence I have in the task. And finally, I calculate the success percentages and the repetitions.
Also, one last thing that motivates me to work in the morning is to keep this detailed plan next to my bed.
Every day, when I wake up, I ask myself: Do I make this the average, optimal, or best day of the year? And then, I have a list of things to follow to make it so.
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Originally published on Change Your Mind Change Your Life.