Step 3: Plan it OUt
This is the second step in the Pace & Pattern Method, a subtractive as well as additive approach to goal-setting meant to help you simplify your schedule & to-do list by focusing on what matters most. This 5-step process is designed to empower you to choose a few meaningful goals that align with your values and integrate them into your real life.
Now the time has come to dive into what I consider to the most fun part of the goal-setting process: brainstorming possibilities! If you are nothing like me and enjoy saying “no,” don’t worry: your time will come. It just isn’t right now.
For these next couple of steps, I want you to pretend you’re opening a restaurant*. If part 1 in the sustainable goal-setting process is like choosing a theme for your restaurant, then step 2 is building your menu. It’s hard to build a cohesive menu without first choosing a theme, so if you haven’t completed Step 1: Vision + Intents, do that first! If you have no idea what the Pace & Pattern Method is all about click here!
Step 2 in this sustainable goal-setting process is exploring concrete actions you can take to get you closer to your vision and intents. You can put as much bamboo on the walls as you want, but it isn’t a Japanese steak house without fried rice and hibachi shrimp.
Step 1: Prepare to Brainstorm
Find a peaceful place to work, whatever that means to you. To me, that’s the coffee shop near my house that has big windows and marble tabletops and a delicious iced vanilla latte. Get out a notebook or a few pieces of scratch paper and three different-colored pens, and cozy down to enjoy the process of brainstorming! This can be a fun thing to do with a friend or spouse (as long as they’re working on their goals too so they won’t distract you). I can’t not talk to someone sitting at a table with me, so I usually do this part by myself.
Be sure to keep your vision statement and your five main intents from step 1 in front of you. Looking at where you want to go is the key to choosing the right path to get you there.
Step 2: Understand the Three Main Species of Goals
Going back to the restaurant analogy, if you were choosing dishes for your menu, where would you start? My guess is you’d think through a few different categories like entrées, appetizers, desserts etc.; then you might make a list of options for each before editing down to the ones you like best. The same process can be really helpful when you are brainstorming goals.
But one thing people miss when making goals is understanding what kind of goal they’re working with. “Making my bed every day” and “finishing a marathon” are both concrete; but they’re completely different kinds of actions, and they each take their own approach.
Starting with a good understanding of the three main categories goals fall into can be a great place to start when you thinking through the possibilities. It also provides a helpful framework for editing and integrating your goals later on in the process.
Goals fall into 3 main categories: habits, projects and rhythms.
Habits are the backbone to sustainable goal-setting. These are the tiny, yet mighty elements that make up the fabric of your daily life. In many cases, habits are the things your future self wants you to do that your present self has a hard time doing. Specifically, they …
- are actions you do without thinking
- happen most days
- are fairly simple
- are repetitive
- writing/painting an hour each day
- cleaning the kitchen
- running every morning
- drinking tea instead of soda
The beauty of forming habits is that you don’t have to argue with yourself to do them once they’re formed; they almost happen on autopilot. This is where you can see big change happen one small step at a time.
Rhythms are chunks of your week or month that you devote to one of your values. In many cases, rhythms are things we want to do, but end up not doing because something else comes up. When you integrate a rhythm into your schedule, you’re choosing to protect a value from getting overrun by the busyness of everyday life. Rhythms …
- are time set aside to focus on a value
- happen at regular intervals (once a week, twice a month etc.)
- often (but not always) involve other people
Examples of Rhythms:
- Date Night
- Yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights
- Family Dinner
- Book club
- Art class
Projects are one-time events or tasks you want to accomplish. They may involve habits (running for an hour each morning to prep for a marathon) or rhythms (painting every Monday and Wednesday afternoon toward an art show); or they may just require a series of one-off steps to accomplish. Projects …
- are things you want to accomplish
- have a finish line
- may require habits or rhythms
- or may be a series of one-off-steps
- can be delegated
Examples of Projects:
- Running a marathon
- Building a raised garden bed
- Having an art show
- Organizing a neighborhood block party
- Finishing the basement
Step 3: Brainstorm
Write down each of your intents at the top of your paper or notebook: leave plenty of room under each to write out ideas. I like to use a different page in my notebook for each intent. Now, read each of your intents, and using one of your three different colors of pens (for some reason habits seem like they should be green to me), write down any habits you think might be worth pursuing. Switch colors of pen and do the same thing for rhythms and projects.
Remember, you aren’t committing to anything yet; you’re just getting your ideas on paper. Take your time. You may surprise yourself with some of your ideas.
If you’re looking for extra credit, try pushing yourself to include at least three of each type of goal under each of your intents.
Step 4: Select
Score all your goal possibilities 1-100.
Now, cut all the goals you scored 89 or lower.
Being able to remember your goals is a good first step in achieving them. Based on your resources, look at the possible goals you have left and choose just a few to pursue.
By this point you probably already have a good idea of which ones you think are most important. This part of the process is really about helping you let go of those other “good” goals so you can wholeheartedly pursue a few “great” ones. Even if you have only one goal this season, that’s awesome!
Great. Now pick ONE goal (or none!) in each catagory, giving you a max of three goals total, a habit, a rhythm, and a project.
Now that this is done, you'll have a small (but truly important) set of goals that you realistically think you can achieve - that's exactly where you want to be.
Next up- creating a plan of attack for integrating these goals into your real life!
Once you've done that you're ready for step 4: Design your dream ordinary