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5 underrated tips for achieving ambitious goals in 2024 (At a steady pace and without burnout)

92% fail to achieve their yearly goals, learn how to be part of the 8% who achieve their goals

Hey friend,

Today I want to talking about 5 underrated strategies that can help you achieve your ambitious goals in 2024, Slow Productivity style.

Why? Because I discovered an alarming statistic this week — research says 92% of goal setters fail to achieve their yearly goals!

I was a bit shocked to hear. If we spent all that time planning and setting goals for the year, it feels like a shame that only 8% will hit their goals.

I would love for you and I to be the 8% of people who do achieve our goals come December 2024.

So today’s issue is dedicated a few underrated strategies that I’ve learned and applied over the years that has help me hit my goals like reading 20 books (I ended up reading 34 😅) and launching my newsletter in 2023.

💡 Today at a glance

  • 4 common mistakes to avoid when setting goals

  • 5 underrated strategies you can use to set ambitous goals without feeling overwhelmed or experiencing burnout

  • A quick note, I need your help if you have a spare minute!

But before we dive in, lets look at some of the challenges that people can experience when setting goals.

4 Avoidable Goal Setting Mistakes

There are lots of reason why people don’t end up achieving their yearly goals.

It could be something outside of their control. Or something has shifted in their life, and the goal is no longer relevant. I believe It’s totally ok to abandon goals if it no longer serves you or aligns with your life’s direction or season.

But there are some goal setting mistakes that are within our control that we should try to avoid.

Here are 4 that I’ve made at one point or another in my own life!

  • Setting too many goals.

  • Making every goal due in December.

  • Setting the wrong “kind” of goal. (e.g. setting outcome goals instead of habit goals (or vice versa))

  • Goals are not aligned with values or the vision of a life well lived. Instead it might just be goals people think they should achieve.

I’ve been a goal setter since my early 20s.

The biggest mistake I’ve made is definitely setting too many goals!

I thought I had the energy, and I was eager to do lots in both my career and life outside of my work. But that led me to feeling overwhelmed or miss the mark on half my goals come end of the year. That didn’t feel good.

The strategies below are one that I found most helpful (and simple!) when it comes to setting ambitious goals that are achievable, but at a steady pace without burnout.

Many are inspired by experts like James Clear, Michael Hyatt and Cal Newport.

Underrated Strategies For Setting Goals You’ll Actually Hit

1. Set fewer goals

This is the simplest and most powerful strategy I’ve used.

If you feel overwhelmed with your goals, you might simply have too many. I used to set 3 to 5 goal for each area of my life. That was too many, even for a 20-something with fewer responsibilities!

Now I’m much more intentional about setting a maximum of 1 to 3 goals for each area of my life. And I focus on breaking down goals into “Journey Milestones” (more on that later).

This aligns with my slow and steady productivity approach in this season of my life.

Working on goals now feels more joyful, and I’m actually looking forward to being challenged by hard goals (because I have fewer of them to focus on).

2. Map your goals to your values

If your goals don’t align with your personal values and vision of your life, it’s hard to feel motivated to make progress towards your goals.

It’ll feel like a heavy lift.

I have shiny object syndrome (SOS) and can be distracted by pursuing goals that “sound good” on paper or is what society’s expectations are of you.

I’m not cured of SOS, but here’s what I do for every goal or project I commit to, to help me align my goals with my values: Ask myself 5 whys.

It often gets me to the core of why the goal is important and whether it aligns to my values. If it does, then it stays on the list. Example below:

🎯 Goal: Build a part time business that generates $12k in 2024.

❓️ Five Why’s: I’m multi-passionate and have passions outside of my career that I enjoy pursuing for a more rounded life. I love learning, am a self-starter and enjoy being challenged. I have some skills that I can use to help others in the space of productivity and Notion. I like having the flexibility and freedom of multiple income streams.

💎 Values: Creativity, Financial Freedom, using skills to Help and Serve Others

I store all my Goals and Projects in a database in Notion.

For each goal or project I commit to, I document my whys and values at the top of each page as my reminder.

3. Set a mix of habit goals and outcome goals

Habit goals are based on a process or system (e.g. reading for 30 mins at night before sleeping).

Outcome goals describe the final end result you’re trying to achieve (e.g. read 20 books by the end of 2024).

If you’re doing something for the first time, setting both a habit and outcome goal is helpful. The habit helps you achieve the outcome.

What’s motivating about setting habit goals (with or without an outcome goal) is that it relies on your consistent actions and behaviours, so it’s within your control.

Whereas outcome goals can sometimes be outside of your control. So if you only set outcome goals, you might feel like you’re constantly missing the mark.

4. Breakdown goals into “Journey Milestones”

If you set yourself a big hairy and ambitious goal, it’s important to break it down into milestones that act as your little checkpoints throughout the year.

Think of these like mini goals or projects to tick off throughout the year as a signal to yourself that you’re making progress towards your goal.

For example, I’ve set a goal of reading 20 books in 2024. So when I do my quarterly review I should have read 5 books in the quarter to stay on track.

It keeps me on track with my goals, but also allows me to reflect on what I need to change in the coming months if I’m off track and whether the goal is still relevant to achieve.

5. Extend the time horizon of your ambitious goals

This is the last but my favourite strategy. It comes from Cal Newport and it’s the most underrated of all.

Cal Newport has written 7 books, achieved professional career success and (by all accounts) a successful personal life. But this was cultivated over the last 20+ years, through a slow and steady pace of accomplishment.

We often overestimate how much we can achieve in days and weeks.

But underestimate how much we can achieve over months and years.

This simple strategy of extending the time horizon has helped me reframe my goals and eliminate unhealthy anxiety and disappointment that comes with failing to achieve the goals.

My rule of thumb is, an ambitious goal should be challenging, interesting and push your boundaries for personal growth. But it should not be anxiety or burnout inducing.

If it is, then I think of extending the timeframe for achieving that goal.

These 5 strategies aren’t to let you off the hook of setting ambitious goals. They are just a slower approach to accomplishing things you truly care about at a sustainable pace.

Because it would be a shame to quit before giving yourself a real chance of success (if you’re in it for the long term)

🛠️ Building in Public

I previously shared my goal of grow my newsletter to 2000 subscribers. One of my actions for this goal was to create a testimonial page for the newsletter.

If you enjoy this newsletter and find value in it, consider leaving a testimonial to let other people know what you think of The Slow Digest.

That would be a huge deal for me if you do, thank you in advance!

That’s it for today, thanks for reading.

Hit reply and let me know if you’ll try one of the goal setting strategies and which one —I would love to hear!

See you next week,

Janice CK

p.s. You might have noticed a change in my profile photo on X / Twitter — Don’t worry it’s still me!

📌 Noteworthy

A weekly roundup of interesting or noteworthy resources in the space of Slow Productivity and Notion. Just one thing this week

Do you need a personal brand? Interview with Shanté Cofield (The Examined Life podcast by Khe Hy - 61 minutes) 

So many golden nuggets in this episode where Khe Hy chats to Physical Therapist turned Brand Strategist Shante Cofield. Here are 3 of my favourite quotes from the show:

  1. “Ease is earned”

  2. “You already have a personal brand, the question is do you need or want to monetise it?”

  3. “Thought leadership is a willingness to hit publish”

→ Check it out on Apple Podcast or Youtube

Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

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