How to Set Daily Goals
Goals are an important part of life. We all have them. From our finances, to our careers, our health, and our relationships, goals can run the gamut in our lives. Most of us have some experience with setting long-term goals.
But, what about daily goal setting?
How many people actually engage in daily goal setting, or something I like to call active goal setting, as opposed to the more passive goal setting that comes along with setting them once in a while?
Daily goal setting is an integral part of any successful routine because it allows us to weigh and analyze just where we stand on a day-to-day basis. Since it’s easy to lose sight of our long-term goals, especially when dealing with the millions of distractions in our lives, daily goal setting allows us to stay on track and on point.
But, what does setting goals on a daily basis involve? How difficult is it to set our goals on a daily basis?
First off, if you’ve never set long-term goals, then I would suggest going back and reading this post on goal setting. If you have set some long-term goals, then great.
The Purpose of Daily Goals
Long-term goals are great, but they’re easy to lose site of. However, when long-term goals are reinforced by daily goals and milestones, pushing closer to your dreams becomes far easier. Daily goals allow us to act on the micro while focusing on the macro.
So how does this actually work? Well, the daily goals that you set should be derived from your long-term goals. For example, if you have a one-year targeted weight loss goal of 60 pounds less than your present weight, then you can use daily goal setting by first breaking that 60-pound target down.
If you wanted to lose 60 pounds in one year, or 12 months, that equates to 5 pounds per month. Considering that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories (not an exact measure but more of a close approximation), we know that we now need to lose 17,500 calories per month, which equates to approximately 583 calories per day (minus the decimal point).
So, we now have a daily weight-loss target of 583 calories per day. How can we analyze and track this figure? Well, first we would have to figure out our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). What’s the BMR? It’s the amount of calories we would burn doing absolutely nothing. The BMR can be considered as the amount energy needed for our bodies to maintain life.
Calculating your BMR isn’t that difficult, but does require some simple math:
BMR = (6.23 * their weight in pounds) + (12.7 * their height in inches) - (6.8 * years of age) + 66 For Men
BMR = (4.35 * their weight in pounds) + (4.7 * their height in inches) - (4.7 * years of age) +655For Women
Once you know your BMR, and you’re able to calculate your caloric intake of food and your output of exercise or walking, you can determine just how many calories you gained or you lost per day.
Without daily goal setting and some tracking, it’s far harder to gain this kind of highly-intuitive insight into the progress towards your goals.
Improving Our Finances
Another common long-term goal that people have is to improve their finances. This either involves reducing and eliminating debt, or increasing savings and net worth. So, if one of our long-term goals was to eliminate $12,000 of debt in the next 12 months, how would we do it?
Similar to the weight loss exercise, this is rather simple and involves some basic arithmetics. To pay off $12,000 of debt in the next 12 months, we would need to come up with $1,000 per month. That doesn’t mean we would necessarily need to earn $1,000 extra per month. It just means that we need to pay off $1,000 per month towards our debt.
How can this be done? Well, earning more money is one way. What are some other ways? Cutting expenses, of course, would be the natural course of action. But, however we do decide to do it, we know that this equates to saving about $33.33 dollars per day in expenses.
Once we know that we need to save $33.33 dollars per day, we have a daily goal. Paying off debt isn’t that difficult when we can refine it down to micro-goals like this. The difficult part is staying committed and actually following through.
Daily Goal Setting: Step #1
The first set in setting daily goals is to know your long-term targets. You can’t have daily goals until you know what you’re aiming for. Knowing the destination you’re traveling to is much more important than knowing the direction or route to your destination.
The direction and route can change or be discovered along the way, but the destination must be known.
As you’ve seen, the long-term goal is a pre-requisite to the short-term goals and milestones. If we don’t know where we’re headed, how are we supposed to make a plan to get there?
Step #2: Planning
The second step to setting effective daily goals is to look at your day from the start as if it were the end. What do I mean? Well, we want to determine just what we accomplished in that day. If the goal was weight loss, cutting an expense, saving money, writing 2000 words in a journal, or anything else, that’s what we want to get out of the day.
So, what will get us towards that goal? This planning is a necessary means to an end. For example, let’s just say that we’re focusing on the weight loss goal of 583 calories per day. How could we achieve that? Well, we could focus on walking more. 10,000 steps per day will burn approximately 350 – 450 added calories depending on our BMR and some other factors.
So, to walk 10,000 steps per day, what would we need to do? Well, first we would need to determine how many steps we’re presently walking in a day. We can do that by carrying around a simply pedometer or using any one of a number of smartphone apps that are readily available for this particular purpose.
Once we know how much we’re walking, how could we add to that? We could park further away from the office, grocery store, or wherever it may be that we go on a daily basis. We could wake up 30 minutes early and go for a brisk walk and knock off 3,000 steps.
As long as we plan, we can get things done and slowly move closer to our goals. In this step, write out what you plan to do to when it comes to your daily goal setting activities. If you plan to walk 10,000 steps write it out. If you plan to save $33.33 by saving on certain expenses that day, then jot it down.
The best time to do this is when you first wake up or get going in the morning. Why? The mind is fresh and less inhibited by the day’s tasks and workload.
Step #3: Prioritizing
Sometimes, our long-term goals are far bigger than just paying off some debt or losing weight. Not to discount those goals, but often, when we dream big, we’re looking to make huge leaps in our lives. Some of us are too afraid to dream big, but others do it on a regular basis.
Prioritizing our day, however, allows us to schedule the tasks that will help push us closest to our long-term goals, first. Why do this? Well, we only have a limited supply of will power. Like a muscle, will power can get fatigued, so it’s best to set yourself up for success by prioritizing.
For example, if your long-term goal is to buy a new house or start your own company, prioritize the tasks that will help you get closest to your goals right away. There’s always something that can be done on a daily basis, right now, to move us closer towards a goal. What are those tasks for you?
We could set one of our daily goals to research business names, or brainstorm business ideas, register a domain name, setup a Website, interview a successful business person to gain their insights, and so on.
This step involves the simple task of shuffling your tasks or daily goals around to order the most important ones at the beginning of the day, something that Mark Twain once coined as “eating the frog,” or tackling your most important or biggest task of the day first.
Step #4: Analyzing
The final step in daily goal setting lies in careful analysis. The only way that we can move towards that which we desire, is to analyze and track our progress. Setup some system of analysis that you can use and stick to it.
Since your daily goals should be set in the morning, your analysis should be conducted in the evening. How much of what you set out to accomplish that day, did you follow through with? If you got sidetracked, what threw you off?
When we analyze in the evening we can gain perspective on just how we followed through during the day. Further, when we setup a system to track and analyze our daily progress towards our goals, we can watch our progress as it unfolds over time.
Looking back, we can see just how far we’ve come, and maybe just how far left we have to go. But, without analyzing your daily progress, it’s easy to forget just what we’ve accomplished.