When it comes to November, one of the first things I think of is Nanowrimo. It’s inspiring how writers like Marissa Meyer found their start by participating in Nanowrimo. Despite my love of writing fiction, I have never done Nanowrimo, mainly because of my complicated feelings towards word count.

Word count is great for documenting progress, and I value it for that. However, trying to reach a specific word count by the end of the month is too much stress for me. I’m much happier when I tell myself, “I’m going to finish this project by the end of the month, regardless of the word count.”

But what I like about Nanowrimo is that it lends a lot of inspiration for setting and reaching goals. Although goal setting is often thought of as a yearlong thing, you don’t have to set goals with the next year as the due date.

If you find sticking to a goal for an entire year overwhelming or limiting, setting a goal for just one month is a good alternative.

Why Monthly Goals are Awesome

Monthly goals are great because of their flexibility.

If you decide to set a goal that you want to reach by the end of the year, monthly goals can be a way to work towards that a little bit each month. If you don’t want to set a yearly goal, you can still set a monthly goal of working towards something that you’ve always wanted to do.

Deciding to stick to a monthly goal is a simple way to test if your new goal is something you want. If you’ve kept to your goal all month and you see it’s something you would like to continue, you can set the same goal for the next month. As you see what works and what doesn’t, it’s easy to adjust where you’re going.

Monthly goals also work well for those who want to reach multiple goals. As a multipotentialite, there are so many things I want to try. In the past, I’ve attempted to go for multiple goals at the same time, and I usually ended up frustrated because I never reached any of them.

I’ve found that focusing on one goal at a time makes success more likely. And setting monthly goals makes it easier to work on one goal at a time without feeling caged-in. I can rotate through my goals throughout the year.

As I work with my multipotential, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of rotating or juggling what I want to do instead of trying to do everything simultaneously.

How to Set Monthly Goals

First, start by figuring out what you want to achieve.

When it comes to goals, we are most likely to prioritize them when they match with a need or desire that we hold deeply.

When our goals are part of trying to meet a need, our level of commitment is much higher. So when trying to decide what goal to set for the month, ask yourself:

  • What is my need for this month?
  • What goal can I set this month to meet that need?
  • Is a month really enough time to reach this goal? Or do I need to make it smaller?

Once you know what goal you want to reach, write it down. Turns out that those who write out their goals are more likely to reach them.

Figure out the steps you need to take to reach your goal.

Take a moment to list everything that you will need to do to reach your goal. The information you need to research, the supplies you need, everything, and anything that comes across your mind.

Some people are fans of the recipe approach. When planning how to reach a goal, they’re like, “Step one: I do this. And then step two I will do that–” and so on.

If this is how you like to work, then feel free to set up the steps to reach your goals in chronological order.

However, I’ve found that when trying to reach a goal, there are usually steps that I didn’t expect, which can throw off the “recipe.” Also, the order that you imagine things happening in may not be how things need to happen in reality. Besides, I’m a nonlinear thinker, so I rarely follow directions exactly, even for recipes (this is probably why I’m terrible at baking!).

So what I do is brain dump all the stuff I know I need to do. Then I look at the list and pick something. I don’t worry about the order to write “the steps” in. I just pick what needs to be done. Once I do that, I choose something I want to do from the list.

Deciding what needs to happen and doing it is how I reach my goals.

Consider the obstacles

You will hit barriers when trying to reach your goals. Ask yourself, “What obstacles will I likely face when trying to reach my goal this month?”

Write down what they are, and try to think of what you can do to overcome them.

One question I like to ask myself is, “If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, I would…”

I love this question because sometimes when trying to reach a goal, we have our minds set on the “ONE WAY” of doing things.

However, when it comes to reaching goals, there are often interchangeable ways of arriving at the same destination. Knowing alternative routes is the way to make the most of unpredictability instead of letting it throw you off track.

Plan to encourage yourself and celebrate showing up

Having a plan for your goal is great, but you also have to know how you are going to continually motivate yourself as you try to reach it. Trying to finish a project or accomplish something new can be draining, so it’s important to have little things in place that keep nudging you forward.

What are some things that can help you to keep going? Here are some of my favorites:

  • Writing down everything I get done, no matter how small. It keeps me aware of my progress.
  • Planning to give myself goodies or snacks after a session of working on my goal.
  • Giving myself permission to enjoy something fun or exciting after spending time working towards my goal.
  • Taking time to envision how reaching this goal will make my life or the lives of others better.

Some people like having accountability partners or working alongside someone else to reach their goals.

What are some things you can think of to keep yourself motivated as you work on your goal? How will you celebrate what you achieve at the end of the month?

I suggest not tying your “motivational treats” to outcomes. Sometimes no matter how hard we work, reaching a goal doesn’t go the way that we imagine it would.

Still celebrate your efforts and tries. Sometimes just showing up is the best you can do. Unexpected outcomes are still important learning experiences that deserve your appreciation.

Make the time

After having in mind what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, aligning all of that with the time you have is essential. Goals need your time and attention if you are going to reach them.

So what is one small thing you can do this week to make progress on your goal?

What is one small thing you can do today?

Looking at the small steps can help you to start working on your goal, even if you feel strong, internal resistance. Something as simple as doing research is a good start. Don’t underestimate the value of writing one paragraph or sewing one seam, or any other small steps it will take just to get started.

However, keep in mind that if you want to reach your goal within a month, you will have to match your tasks with your time. For example, let’s say you came up with a list of 10 things that you need to do to reach your goal by the end of the month. A month has around four weeks in it. That means to reach your goal, you will need to complete at least three tasks or milestones on your list per week.

Make sure your plan is realistic, and remember what you would do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly.

So as a quick review, to set a monthly goal you will need to:

  1. Write out the goal you want to accomplish this month.
  2. List what you will need to do to reach your goal.
  3. Count how many items are on your list and divide them by the four weeks of the month.
  4. Evaluate how realistic your goal is. Do you really have the time for this? Can you make time for it? Or will you have to make your goal less ambitious?
  5. Prepare ways to keep yourself motivated and overcome obstacles.

I hope this post has given you some inspiration on how to keep motivated and reach your goals! What I’ve shared here is how I manage to publish blog posts and books regularly.

I’ll be sharing more about reaching goals and planning in my upcoming book, which I’ll be publishing this month. To get notified of when it’s out, you can follow me on Payhip.

12/4 UPDATE: My book is now out! The title is Thoughtful Planning: How I Learned to Use Journaling to Set Intentional Goals & Design Flexible Days**. It’s now available at your favorite ebook retailer.

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