Action-Based Goal Setting: How I Finish Each Wild Day with a Full Heart and a Peaceful Soul

Early last week, I saw a post on Instagram that took quite literally took my breath away. I can't remember the image, but the caption read:

100 days until Christmas

You see – in the beautiful metropolis of Lubbock, Texas, temperatures have just started to drop below 100, and I’ve just begun to wear pants again. But before we know it, we’ll be wearing burnt orange scarves to chilly football games, putting together last minute Halloween costumes and making hot apple cider spiked with Fireball. And by then, it’s game over. The days will tumble one right after the other in a peppermint mocha-scented mayhem, and we’ll wake up on January 1 with glitter in our hair, a nasty hangover and the vague notion that this will be the year we do amazing things in our businesses and our lives.

So, this time around, I’m putting out a call to action before the season gets in full swing. Let’s be intentional about how we finish out this year and prepare to start the next, so that come 2015, we’re in full stride: ready to sing, dance, kick ass and take names.

This fall, I’m changing the way I do goal setting and planning. The common wisdom tells us that we need to set “SMART” goals – literally a goofy acronym for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. A classic example would be, “I am going to lose eight pounds in the next month.” But for me, one of two things may happen: (1) I tell myself I MUST achieve the goal, I must do whatever it takes, and if I don’t achieve it, I’m a complete and total failure who never gets anything done anyways; or (2) I decide to “be gentle with myself” and which starts off innocently enough but dissolves into hours of watching Revenge and eating ice cream straight from the carton. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

So, how do we set exciting goals that make our hearts flutter, achieve big and beautiful things yet still give ourselves the grace we deserve and the freedom to change courses?

I’ve started practicing what I’m calling Action-Based Goal Setting, and it’s allowed me to finish out most of my days with a deep breath and a full and content soul.

Action-Based Goal Setting requires us to admit that we’re not in control – not in the big sense, but that we can create powerful change with focused intensity over time. Here’s how it works:

Start with the end in mind.

Envision your ideal life or business. What do you wish to achieve this month, this season or in the next year? Dream big, y’all! These may look like your traditional New Year’s Resolutions, or they may not.


I’ll go first: I’d like to build a deeper practice and a stronger online network through social media and blogging before the end of 2014.


Propose a game plan.

What do you think the steps to achieve your goal might be? Develop a theory. List out things you can control, and things you can’t. Maybe you don’t know what the last few steps are. That’s fine. Let go of the idea that you can manage every single step. Admit that you might be wrong about some of these steps.


Some ideas:

Consistently delivering high quality and relevant posts.

Developing solid online resource pages to attract new visitors.

Making connections through Instagram.

Continuing to build my email list with well-designed opt-ins and useful messaging.

Get more comments on my blog.

Generate traffic through pinterest / including pinable images.

Be featured on other blogs + media.



Commit to focused action.

Take a look at your proposed game plan, and identify a few of the early steps. Choose specific things that are in your control. Commit to doing them at specific intervals for a finite amount of time, and be realistic. The smaller the action, the more likely you will do them consistently. Your time period should be short enough that you can make a commitment, but long enough that you can reasonably expect to see results.


For the next three weeks, I will:

Post to the blog at least six days per week (Monday – Saturday).

Spend 25 minutes on Instagram each day interacting and making new connections.



This is the spot where you can be tough with yourself. If you’ve set up your action steps properly, it should be completely within your power to execute them.


Evaluate and repeat.

At the end of your interval, take some time to evaluate. Did you complete your short-term challenge? Did the actions you took produce the result you expected? Is your end goal still the same? Remember: if you took the actions you committed to, you won! Celebrate your victory. Revise your game plan using what you’ve learned, and set your goal actions for your next interval.