how to think big and work backward to achieve your goals

Feeling like you don't know what you're actually working toward? This is a much more fun and effective way to plan where you want to eventually be so you aways know where you're headed and how to break down your goals into manageable pieces. Click through to discover a better and more creative way to setting your long and short-term goals and get your free worksheet pack from Bountiful Path.

When I was first starting out on this entrepreneurial journey, I was completely floundering around. There were so many ideas swirling around in my head and so many directions to take that I just didn't really know which way to go. I had no clear path laid out in front of me for the first time in my life, and that was a very hard thing for someone who likes order and planning. I mean, the lack of a direction all pre-planned for me made me extremely uncomfortable and, I think, really hindered my ability to move forward at all. It was almost crippling that there was no guidebook to tell me where to go and what to do, but still I knew that I needed to do this for myself.

Fast forward several years to where I am now. I've gotten really clear on the picture of the life and business that I want for myself. This hasn't come easily. It's taken a lot of time, trial and error, and contemplation, but through all of it, I've worked out a path to lead me to where I want to be and clear milestones to hit along the way. Now, you don't just get your whole, giant plan laid out all at once crystal clear. What you do, though, is to start with what you know right now and build off of that. You constantly grow and evolve your plan making tweaks here and there until it feels right. 

I gotta tell ya, though, I see a lot of people get the whole goal-setting thing wrong. They try to set goals for the next week or month and then for maybe the next year or so just based on what's sounds good to them at the time. Kinda like those New Year's resolutions that don't ever really end up happening. Yeah...Here's the thing that would make all the difference in the world, though: you need to start big and then work backward to narrow it down from there. When you try to just set random goals that you'd like to get done during an arbitrary time frame, you're still not really headed in any specific direction for your life overall.

Change the way you set your goals so that the end is always in sight.

What do I mean by that? Well, first of all, you have to determine what the end goal is for you. I like to use the term "painted picture." You may have heard me talk about this before since I'm big on visualizing things. The greatest thing you can do for yourself on this entrepreneurial path is to have a picture of what you ultimately want to achieve. This can be anything from a totally passive income generating business to having the freedom to pick your kids up from school in the afternoon and be present for them. Whatever it may be for you, you need to make it a "painted picture" that becomes your go-to image for what's at the end of this entrepreneurial rainbow for you.

Now, let's talk about how to actually do this if you're still working things out. Well, my dear, you started this whole business thing with a purpose in mind, didn't you? There was some reason that was driving you to do all of this in the first place. Your muse. Your motivation for going it alone. That's your starting point. Take that and make it the center of your painted picture for your overall goal. Everything else about the life and business you want can build around that, but that will be your starting point to build your goal around. 

We're talking about your long-term, lifelong goal here in one big picture that you can visualize all put-together. Ask yourself, how you will feel when everything comes together? What will your personal life look like? What will your business look like? What will you have accomplished? The answers to these questions get rolled up into one big "painted picture" for what it looks like at the end of this entrepreneurial path for you (even if that's just the beginning and you don't know it yet!). This is your starting point for developing all of your goals from here on out.

You have to see the forest before you can see the trees.

Okay, I have to tell you that I love, love, love this analogy! It's one of my all-time favorites to use because it's so pertinent to goal-setting and project management. My dear, you need to practice seeing the forest first and then moving in closer to the trees. I know, you're saying, Kristen, what are you talking about? Here's my point: you now have a big giant goal that you can envision. That's your forest. The next step is to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces that become the tiny trees within the forest. Those are your short and long-term goals. Those are the ones that build up to huge accomplishments when all put together. The big, huge forest. Get it?

This is where you start to take your big painted picture and work backward. Figure out what each component is in that big picture and define it as one of your long-term goals. Let me give you a couple examples. If your painted picture included living in a cottage on the coast somewhere, then maybe your long-term goal will be to make enough income to afford that cottage on the coast. Or maybe you envision traveling the world with your family, so your long-term goal will be to create passive income that will sustain you through your travels. You see, it all comes back to the big picture that you made for yourself.

Make a path to follow.

I think we're starting to see how this all make sense, right? So let me take you through how you keep breaking this down even further until you've got short-term goals for yourself. See, those long-term goals you now have will take several steps to achieve. They don't just happen overnight or with one check off the to-do list. Those are the ones that you really need to work for. The ones that give the biggest rewards for the biggest effort. It's not that hard to achieve those, though, if you can start to see the steps to get you there.

It's all about breaking down your massive goals into much smaller, more manageable pieces. You can actually accomplish a great deal when the steps don't seem so huge. It's all about perspective. Remember that forest and the trees? Yeah, now we're focusing on growing those trees one at a time. You can use the broken down steps to guide the decisions you make, what to say "yes" or "no" to in your life, and every other thing that you put on your plate.

Now, let's talk about how to break it all down. Keep your steps as simple and basic as possible when you lay out what it will take to get to your long-term goals. This is where you'll create your weekly, monthly, and possibly even yearly goals based off of those little steps that add up to your big goal. You can't grow your forest overnight, so you need to do it one step at a time along a consistent course. This will be your path forward to use when checking in with yourself regularly and making sure you've still got a clear direction you're headed in. 


I know I used a lot of metaphors in this post, but I gotta say, it really helps to have an image in your head while you work through all of this. Just having it all down in list form can really drive you crazy. It just gets so stiff and boring that I like to change things up and make them more inspiring. Seriously, wouldn't you rather be thinking about the giant forest that you're growing instead of just checking things off of a list. Yeah, we're on the same page. More creativity in life and business is good.

Alright, so I want you to make the most of your goal-setting and really start approaching it in this more inspired way. That's why I've got a handy-dandy worksheet pack to go along with this post. So just sit right down with these sheets and start planning out your big painted picture and how all of your smaller goals break down from there.

From now on, you're in charge of your time, energy, and resources. No one else should dictate the many things you must balance in your life to be a successful woman. You're on your own path taking you exactly where you need to be going. Roadblocks are inevitable, and that's okay. What's important is that you've laid out a direction for yourself, and it doesn't include what's on anyone else's agenda but your own. Now, go grow your forest and don't forget to see the trees!