Do you have a productivity system? Many methods of achieving everything that you want can seem daunting or hard to manage. But you don’t have to create a complicated schedule to accomplish your objectives.
Planning your goals from the top down can help you get your minor to-dos done and work toward your life’s mission. Goal-setting allows you to live with purpose.
Why Are Goals Important?
According to John Kehoe of Mind Power, discipline is one of the keys to achieving success and fulfillment. He says that you must discipline your thoughts and actions so that you can play to win and maintain strategies for accomplishing your goals.
He goes as far as to suggest that if he could offer only one piece of advice to people who wanted to achieve success, it would be to “master the discipline of setting and achieving weekly goals.”
Goals serve as a target that you can shoot at. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Living without goals can make you feel aimless.
Some benefits of goal setting include:
- Improving your focus
- Measuring progress
- Reducing distractions
- Overcoming procrastination
- Keeping up your motivation
Goals are tools that help you direct your energy. They’re not set in stone and can change as your priorities do.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts?” Effective goal setting requires more than thought alone. It involves intention and action.
You might have a few days or weeks during which you feel especially inspired. Perhaps you get a lot done during that time and are incredibly productive.
That’s wonderful, but what do you do when the inspiration starts to fade? Do you flounder and wonder what to do next? Do you worry that your achievements from the previous few weeks will disappear into the ether?
If your life feels like a roller coaster and you don’t feel the balance that comes with consistency, you might want to try setting goals.
Why Set Weekly Goals?
Your goals take some of the pressure off of you to consistently feel inspired. They are a framework that you can use even if you have questions, aren’t motivated or can’t come up with creative ideas.
When you start by picturing your big vision for your life, you can hold that with you no matter how enthused you are at the moment. Many of your daily actions can be aligned with this larger goal.
If you have a big vision and a daily to-do list, why do you need to set weekly goals? These intermediary goals can help you make sure that your daily tasks are lined up with what you really need to be doing. Weekly goals can also help you:
- Schedule infrequent activities that fall between daily and monthly tasks
- Plan for projects with long deadlines
- Prevents procrastination when you’re working toward a bigger goal
- Maintain momentum
Weekly goals make your other objectives hard to ignore. If you’ve broken down long-term goals into weekly activities, you won’t lose sight of them when things get busy.
Moreover, one week is long enough to get a significant number of things done. But it’s short enough to evaluate whether what you’re doing is working.
When you get into the habit of setting weekly goals, you can use the end of the week to review what happened. Look for pockets of inertia or procrastination. Get honest about your bad habits, and celebrate the ones that propelled you further. A week is the perfect time frame in which to practice your system of goal setting.
Imagine Your Greatest Dream
Before you can set weekly goals, you need to know what you’re working toward. A goal-setting ladder allows you to envision the big picture, imagine your greatest dreams and break them down into workable chunks.
If you don’t have a systematic approach to goal-setting, that’s ok. You’re in the perfect place to bring alignment and productivity into your life immediately.
Start by taking some time to fantasize. You might try journaling about the following questions:
- What do you want out of life?
- Where do you see yourself when you’re 60?
- Who do you want to be in 10 years?
- What do you want to have accomplished in 5 years?
Don’t limit yourself by worrying about what’s possible or realistic. Allow your imagination to run wild.
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can start whittling away at your grand vision by narrowing down the goals that you need to accomplish to reach it. Ask yourself:
- What do I need to do in the next 10 years to be closer to my vision?
- What can I do this year to pursue this dream?
- What can I do each month to move toward my yearly goals?
Once you know what you want to accomplish each month, you can get a handle on your weekly goals. By the time you get to this point, your weekly goals become manageable achievements.
Some will be action steps. Others will be outcome-based goals that are supported by daily tasks.
Consider Having Three Weekly Goal Lists
It’s easy to get discouraged if you’re setting weekly goals without achieving them. We often bite off more than we can chew.
When we wake up on Monday morning, we may be enthusiastic about everything that we hope to accomplish this week. By Wednesday, we’re wondering why we haven’t made any headway. At that point, we can hustle to get everything done or scrap our goals for the week altogether.
If you find it challenging to accomplish your weekly goals, consider making three different lists:
- One is made up of things you’d like to achieve (but don’t have to).
- One is made up of the things that should happen within the week but aren’t urgent.
- One is made up of the things that you can’t compromise on.
Prioritize the last list. Make it your job to accomplish it, even if you need to break it down into daily goals and baby steps. Celebrate when you complete everything on that list.
Then, when you’re feeling extra inspired, add in some of the goals on the second list. It won’t hurt if you end up needing to move those to the following week. Because they were on a list with a lower priority, you might not feel as disappointed if you don’t complete them.
The list with the least priority is a bonus. If you accomplish one of those goals, you’re a rock star! If you don’t, you’re still totally efficient and making the right moves. As you get used to setting and achieving your goals, you may find that you can re-prioritize the types of items that you place on each list.
When Should You Set Your Weekly Goals?
Timing matters. You probably already know this if you’re used to procrastinating.
If you don’t schedule things in advance and fly by the seat of your pants, you might feel perpetually guilty or anxious. Even if you’re a daily goal-setter, you might be overwhelmed if you haven’t looked at the bigger picture. That’s why it’s important to set weekly goals as well as daily ones.
You should set weekly goals at the beginning of each month. Consider breaking down your monthly goals into four or five (depending on the month) weekly lists. Then, insert them into a calendar.
But you’re not done there. You need to look at your weekly goals at the beginning of each week.
Things may change from week to week. Being flexible is important, and you may need to shift things around. If you have a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to goal setting, you won’t be able to adjust your schedule to take these changes into account. Plus, you’re less likely to be on top of things by week four if you haven’t spent time looking at and reflecting on weeks one, two and three.
Regularly looking at your goals reminds you that they’re important. When you first start this practice, you might spend a lot of time on it. It can take an hour to plan out your week based on your goals. But as you make it a habit, you’ll find that goal-setting becomes automated.
You can’t just drop the discipline once you’ve gotten into the flow, though.
Goal-setting is like keeping track of your budget. When you’re paying attention to your income and expenses, you usually seem to bring in exactly what you need to get by (or more).
Then, when you’re feeling abundant, you neglect to check your bank account or pay attention to how much you’re spending. If you keep ignoring your finances, you may get overdraw your account or neglect to save enough for that vacation you were planning to take next summer.
Even when you’re a goal-setting pro, you have to keep doing it to maintain your proficiency. Giving yourself time to plan each week lets you live in the present while taking into account the past and the future.
Scheduling a Weekly Review
Planning for the week ahead isn’t the only crucial factor in goal setting. You need to make time to look back at the end of each week.
If this seems like a tedious process to incorporate into your personal life, treat yourself as you would an employee. Consider this part of your work. The beauty of looking at your goals like that is that you can really relax once you’ve reviewed them.
When you know exactly what you’ve accomplished during the previous week and what needs to happen the next, you aren’t holding routines, schedules and to-do lists in your head. You can be confident that you can enjoy your leisure time because you know exactly what to do when it’s time to buckle down and be disciplined.
Some questions to ask during your weekly review include:
- Did I accomplish everything that I planned to do?
- Do I feel like I’ve moved toward a larger goal?
- What didn’t I accomplish, and why?
- What were my strengths this week?
- What were my weaknesses?
- Did I avoid certain tasks?
- Did I embrace certain tasks?
Once you have a picture of your habits and tendencies, you’ll be able to plan better in the future. You can design techniques for improving your problem areas when you understand where the obstacles lie.
One of the best questions to ask yourself during your check-in is, “Were my goals achievable?” This helps you be realistic so that you’re not always trying to accomplish things that are out of reach.
Your goals should be challenging enough to get you excited without making you feel like a constant failure. If you feel like you’re setting goals that are too far out of your reach, ask yourself whether they can be accomplished with more time. If so, you can move them to monthly or yearly goals and allow yourself to work toward them.
Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture
If you’ve set up your goal-setting strategy effectively, most of your weekly goals should progress toward a larger goal. However, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details if you’re also breaking up your weeks into daily goals.
When you check in at the end of every week and plan for the following one, ask yourself how your current goals support the bigger ones. It’s ok if they’re unrelated. You may have some things that you need to achieve right now but don’t add up to your greatest dream.
Just don’t allow yourself to neglect your priorities.
One goal to add to your list of weekly goals might be: reflect on my monthly, yearly and lifetime goals. Coming back to the big picture regularly can help you adapt it to your ever-changing life. Although it might seem like overkill to come back to it that often, keeping it in your mind’s eye may make it more achievable.
What Should Your Weekly Goals Be?
Weekly goals vary from person to person. However, if you’re new to the practice of goal setting, you might want to borrow from the list below as you determine what works best for you.
We offer you some ideas that are broken down by category.
Weekly Personal Goals
- Stay accountable for your new goal-setting habit
- Read one chapter of a new book every night
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier
- Go to bed by 10 p.m. every night
- Write in a gratitude journal
- Spend time learning a new language
- Only check social media in the evenings
Weekly Health Goals
Health goals aren’t just about exercising. They have to do with nutrition and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Your weekly health goals could even involve going outside more often.
- Run or walk X number of miles
- Plan and make 3 plant-based dinners
- Eat breakfast every day
- Make a green smoothie at least 5 times
- Try a new recipe
- Drink X gallons of water
- Spend 2 lunches walking and eat at your desk
- Play with your kids outside one day after school
- Go for a walk in the park one weekend day
- Go to one yoga class
Weekly Relationship Goals
Even if you enjoy your alone time, you’re programmed to require some level of interpersonal connection to live a fulfilling life. Setting relationship goals allows you to do the maintenance that’s often required to keep your bonds strong. These can be used to help you develop more meaningful personal or intimate relationships.
- Send a message to someone just to tell them you’re thinking about them
- Hold a family meeting
- Spend 10 minutes talking and listening to your spouse after dinner
- Go on one romantic date with your partner
- Invite one friend to coffee or lunch
- Tell your kids that you appreciate them every day
- Count to 10 before raising your voice
Weekly Career Goals
Weekly career goals may be one-time assignments or recurring tasks. Setting them can help you structure your schedule and delegate responsibilities better. Keeping track of your weekly goals can also show your boss that you’re organized and forward-thinking.
- Clear your email inbox by Friday at lunchtime
- Keep customer service calls down to 2 minutes
- Work in 25-minute periods before taking a break
- Make progress toward your monthly project
- Return all of your phone calls between 1 and 2 p.m.
- Spend X amount of time on your resume
- Attend a continuing education class
Weekly Spiritual Goals
It’s easy to overlook your spiritual life when everything else is overwhelming. However, setting and maintaining spiritual goals can help you feel balanced. These don’t have to pertain to a specific religion; you can also think of these as personal development goals.
- Spend time meditating every day
- Read from a spiritual text or book that moves you every day
- Establish an inspirational mantra
- Set an intention for the way that you want to show up in life
- Start the day with a prayer or gratitude practice
- Forgive yourself
- Volunteer or give to charity
Weekly Financial Goals
Keeping an eye on your spending is integral to your success. A keen awareness of the funds that go in and out of your bank account can keep you accountable. Maintaining weekly financial goals can help you save for a vacation and prevent you from overdrawing your bank account.
- Designate a weekly grocery budget
- Put X amount of money into a savings account
- Replace one expensive form of entertainment with a free one
- Contribute to your emergency fund
- Track your expenses
- Research some investments
- Apply X amount to your debt
Weekly Household Goals
Running a household can get overwhelming, especially if you procrastinate or let things slide. Most people don’t want to have to spend their weekends cleaning or rush to get out the door in the mornings. Setting weekly household goals can help life feel smooth and make you feel like you’re not devoting all of your free time to tidying up.
- Do the dishes every time they’re in the sink
- Do one load of laundry every day
- Clean the cat’s litter box while you wait for your coffee to brew
- Make sure the kids’ rooms are clean by Wednesday of every week
- Keep the garden free of weeds
- Mow the lawn
- Stick to the chore plan
- Do yard work together as a family
Some of the goals from the lists above overlap with daily goals. It’s up to you to determine whether you want to do something every day or a certain number of times per week.
Your goals don’t have to be the same every week, either. If you’re working toward a certain project, like starting a blog, you could split it up into monthly goals, with weekly objectives to move toward the finish line. If that were the case, your weekly goals might look like this:
- Week 1: Research domain names and web hosting
- Week 2: Get your website up and running
- Week 3: Write your “About me” and “Contact Us” pages
- Week 4: Write and edit three blog posts
Motivation Hacks for Staying on Track
Even if you’re setting goals regularly, you may fall off the trajectory from time to time. You might be busy with obligations that are outside of your control, you could get sick or you may just be uninspired.
Here are some tricks for keeping your motivation high so that you can attain everything that you set out to achieve.
Join a Group
Social expectations hold a lot of power. When you’re accountable to someone other than yourself, you’re less likely to let things slide.
If you commit to someone, you’re 65 percent more likely to actualize your goals. The chances of success jump up if you have an accountability appointment with that person.
Consider joining a group online or in person to help you stick to your plans. Set an appointment to gather at a specific time and day every week to go over your goals. The commitment may be enough to prevent you from slacking off when you’re feeling unmotivated.
Use a Vision Board
You don’t have to create something Pinterest-worthy to illuminate your goals. Just posting a picture of something that represents the way that you want to feel when you achieve your goal can help you stay on track.
When you’re building your vision board, take the time to sit with each representation of your goal. Really feel the emotions that come from your sense of accomplishment. If you can harness those feelings at any time, you may be more likely to succeed.
Make it Fun
If you hate exercising, you’re going to struggle with it as a goal if it involves grueling workouts. Whatever your objectives are, figure out how to make them enjoyable.
You might break your goals down into 10-minute to-dos so that they don’t take over your life. You could treat yourself every time you accomplish something. Whatever it takes to make it a pleasure instead of hard work can keep you moving in the right direction.
Seeking inspiration can help. Maybe you’re striving to be more like someone that you look up to. Follow them on Instagram, or ask them what they’re up to if you know them personally.
You can also look for inspiration in music, blogs and success stories. When you find something that fuels your fire, keep it handy. Bookmark that blog post so that you can reference it easily. Print out a meme and post it on your refrigerator. Make a playlist to rev you up.
Write Down Your Reasons
It helps to know why you want to achieve a particular goal. Understanding your motivation can keep you from quitting when you’re feeling low.
Everyone gets the urge to stop or slow down periodically. Learning to recognize those impulses can prevent them from destroying your motivation.
Knowing your “why” can also give you the push that you need to keep going. Make your reasons powerful. Don’t hold back.
When your goals are purpose-driven, you’ll find more pleasure in accomplishing them. You may also handle difficult situations more creatively and with grace. Understanding the motives behind your behavior helps you make the right decisions and feel a sense of flow in your life.
It’s gratifying to know that you can make headway on your big dreams by breaking them down into smaller chunks. As you see the momentum, you’ll stay motivated.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you don’t meet your weekly goals. Instead, look at every Sunday or Monday as a clean slate.
Adjust your schedule and goals if they’re not working for you. There is no reason to force something that’s not working. Your goals are supposed to make your life easier, not more overwhelming.
The beauty of weekly goals is that you can make continual progress without running yourself ragged. Those baby steps can add up to big accomplishments.