Planning backwards?

If I could tell you for certain if you worked on yourself for 3 months starting without losing enthusiasm you are definitely going to see a change in your life, would you do it?


What if I told you these are the exact steps you need to take to get to that goal, and I am 100% sure you will get there as long as you follow the steps, would you do it?

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When it comes to achieving your goals, how you plan matters. We all understand the concept of our dreams being big enough.


“If your dreams don’t scare you a little they’re too small.” Richard Branson


Well that’s right, the only thing is it can be intimidating looking at that big ol mountain of dreams. In the last episode of the podcast, I talked about setting goals for the new year. The proper way to set achievable goals. The very first step is the kind of goals you set. You don’t want to set a generic goal like ‘I want to make more money this year’. That’s not specific enough. When writing down your goals you need to think smart.


S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time oriented

smart goals

In case you missed the last episode of the podcast you can catch it here. I break down how to set up your year for success. You can also download a free PDF that will help you plan for the new year. Once you’ve completed that, you come back here and this is where we truly break down your actionable goals.



Steps on how to achieve your goals

There are steps to follow when it comes to setting your goals and achieving them. The most effective way to achieve big goals is by breaking them down into smaller ones. By the time you are reading this, you should have already;

  1. Set your intentions for the year
  2. Review your previous year
  3. Set your Big time goals
  4. Set milestones for the big time goals
  5. Have actionable steps to get to those milestones


If you don’t have this, you are missing a huge step in your planning process. Review the first step here.


We already covered that your big time goals need to be between 3 to 5. Nothing more than 5, otherwise it may overwhelm you all together and that’s not SMART either. It becomes unattainable. You are welcome to swap out any of your big time goals once you accomplish them before the year runs out. But make sure you start with 3 – 5.


This is typically where you would want to create a vision board for yourself. Visualizing your goal helps a lot in keeping you focused. I love a good vision board. Learn how to design one that works.


Then we move on to;

6. Plan Backwards

7. Break down those actionable goals

8. Set short term goals

9. Start!

Steps on how to achieve your goals

When it comes to planning, you can either plan forward or plan backwards. Now it may seem counterintuitive planning backwards, considering we all want to move forward. But let me explain.

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What is planning backwards?

Planning backwards can simply be explained as making a plan, starting from your goal. Typically a goal is an endpoint, where you actually want to get to, a final destination sort of. When you plan in reverse, you start from the goal and work your way to where you are right now.


Here is an example;

  • This is the task: You have 6 hours before the day ends, Jack and Jill need to produce 3 pages of an article each. Jack chooses to plan forward, while Jill chooses to plan backwards.


Jack knows he has to produce 3 pages of an article, so he simply makes the plan to start with 1, and then 2, then 3.


Jill however looks at the goal, which is producing 3 pages of articles in 6 hours. She then calculates how long on average she can spend on each paper before time runs out. By her calculation, Jill has two hours to write one page. As long as jill sticks to the plan of writing a page in no longer than 2 hours, she is sure to meet her goal.


Technically both Jack and Jill are writing their articles, but only one of them has a more sure plan. Sure Jack will have 3 articles too, but Jill is clear on the goals, timing and quantity to produce. Jill’s plan is S.M.A.R.T.


A lot of times we just embark on huge tasks without an end in sight. Yes you might have the motivation right now. It’s the start of something new and you are pumped up, but how long do you have before you start to doubt yourself, or lack motivation. Motivation is not permanent, in fact it’s a luxury. If you are going to rely on only motivation to progress in life, now that’s just a recipe for disaster. Because what are you going to do if it doesn’t show up?

how achieve goals

I know this example is quite simple and seems doable. But you need to take the logic and apply it to real life examples. If your actionable goal is to make a total of $36,000 a year selling lip gloss or lose 116lbs by the end of the year, it’s hard to stick through when the progress you make daily is ever so small. You can easily feel like you are not making progress at all. But when you have a plan which you have broken down in reverse, it allows you to measure exactly how much progress a day is enough, and how much progress a week is enough. You are able to break down your goals in a way you will definitely meet them.


When you plan in reverse, it doesn’t mean you start from the last step. It just means you will have all the steps mapped out till the end, and as long as you are on the path, you are sure to reach the end goal.


How to break down goals

digital planning

You get the idea of planning backwards. You need to have a SMART goal set first. That’s the only way you can make a feasible plan. Set SMART goals here.


Now moving on, after planning backwards, you will realize that there are certain measurable milestones you can put in between your goals. Think of it as connect the dot. Using the initial example of jack and jill, their milestone is having a page-long article in 2 hours. Which means they have 4 dots to connect. The first dot is starting, the second is finishing a page in 2 hours, the Third is finishing page 2 in another two hours and the fourth is finishing the third and final page in an additional 2 hours. Bringing it to a total of 6 hours spent. This means the goal of writing a 3-page article in 6 hours would have been met.


Again, this is a very simple and basic example. Obviously, in real life scenarios, the steps may not necessarily be repetitive and they may not be linear. But that’s okay, the goal of planning backwards is being able to fill in the blank. Make sure you have all your steps from start to finish. This gives you certainty, confidence and most of all the fuel you need to keep pushing.


It’s like when you’re about to head out to the park. Your goal is to get to the park. The journey is a whole lot easier if you’ve been there before and you’re familiar with the path.


If you have never been there, you’re a little hesitant. But then you pull out your google map and all of a sudden you are confident. You know you can get there because you have a road map from start to finish. Think of planning backwards as your road map, and your milestones as the dots that connect the road map.

Planning backwards

If you had to go to the park without a map, and you had no idea how to get there, the journey would be tedious. Not only will the journey be tedious, but you might also end up somewhere else or you give up halfway, either way, you get nowhere. You definitely will not get to the park.


If you feel like you are not sure how to get to your milestones, research. Research, research, research. You can never know too much. Research till your questions are answered and you feel like your road map is complete.


What are short term goals?

Short-term goals are the dots that connect you to the final destination. Say you have a goal to be accomplished in a year. You can break them down into quarterly goals. Think of it as a life checkpoint. Where you get to stop, look up, make sure you are still on the path. Make any adjustments that need to be made. Refresh, and keep ongoing.


Quarterly goals are goals to be met every 3 months. It’s a bit easier and attainable than your big annual goal. Get you a full focus planner that will allow you to set your Quarterly goals and review them accordingly.

monthly planner

You can then go further to break your goals down to monthly goals. This means you will have certain goals that need to be accomplished by the end of every month. Keeping in mind that if you continue this way it will take you to your desired destination.


Monthly goals can also seem huge compared to what you will be able to achieve daily. You can go on to break down your monthly goals into weekly goals. This will allow you to track your progress weekly, which seems a lot closer than a month. It also keeps you accountable, that checkpoint to remind you you’re on a journey, not just existing, but you have goals. Your weekly goals can then be broken down into daily tasks using the full focus planner.


Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” –  Matthew Kelly & Bill Gates


If it seems far enough we can convince ourselves it is not possible. And just because you don’t change the world in a day, does not mean you can’t in a decade. Be patient with yourself, and realistic with your daily tasks. This brings me to the 9th step; START!


Not later, not tomorrow, certainly not next year, NOW. If you haven’t already, go back to this post and get your free 2023 New Year Growth Plan PDF. Download it, play the podcast, follow through and start showing up for yourself.

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