We tend to think that there is only one way to free ourselves from a goal: by completing it. But there is another way, which gives you immediate freedom: drop the goal from your list (yes, really!).
Now, this is not a recipe to become lazy and forget about everything you want to achieve this upcoming month.
Instead, it’s about selecting what’s most essential.
I do this exercise regularly with my coaching clients, who are craving focus time and have cluttered schedules with too many tasks.
Here is a simple step-by-step process to plan your goals with a ‘freedom mindset’. You can also download the goal filter tool as pdf.
Step 1: Wins from last month
- Make a list of all achievements — small and big — from the last 31 days. This should feel great! Think about how much you can get done, even though your schedule is currently quite full (unless you’re one of the lucky few!).
- Now, reflect on which of these goals really push your career and ambitions to new levels? Did you really have to take each meeting? Were there times of ‘busyness’?
- Celebrate your wins, but also imagine how much more you could achieve with more time, fewer goals, and space of mind!
Step 2: Future self-alignment
- Envision your future self at the end of the year — what have you accomplished? What’s most important to you, and why? What are your three absolute priorities in life?
- Your future self is a wiser version of you. What goals has your future self eliminated from their to-do list to focus on what’s most important? How ruthless are they to make space for priority goals?
Step 3: Your goals this month
- Now that you’ve envisioned your future self at the end of the year, what can you do in the next 30 days to make small progress towards that?
- What are your top three priorities? If you have more than three ‘priorities’, these aren’t priorities anymore, by definition.
- Here are the crucial questions: What can you say no to, or uncommit from, to make time for the priorities that help you become your future self? Make a list of ‘goals to let go of’ in the next 30 days (you can delegate, delete, or delay them). It’s the easiest way to gain freedom of mind and time right now! If you’re struggling, use this goal filter tool to gain clarity about which goals to drop.
Step 4: How much time do you really have?
- Count out your focus or work days between the first and last day of the month. A month hardly ever has 30 or 31 days. You want to deduct weekends, holidays, and recovery days. If you’re a coach, entrepreneur, or author with relative freedom over your focus time, I recommend counting a 2–3 hour block of uninterrupted time as a half-day, and 4–6 hour blocks as a full day.
- How many days of high-quality work time are ahead of you? I bet this number is less than 30 — and maybe it scares you! If yes, jump to the next step.
Step 5: Break down the mountain and keep dropping goals
- Look at your goals for the month ahead and break each of them down into four weekly milestones. What’s the minimum viable version of these goals you can complete?
- Double-check if you can free yourself from some of the goals on your current list. Is your plan really feasible, given the calculated focus days (or half-days) you have, or should you drop another goal from your list? Remember, you can gain goal freedom immediately if you drop a goal — not everything that you want to complete can be your monthly priority.
You now have your Freedom Roadmap for the month ahead that contains a feasible amount of priorities; a clear understanding of how much time you really have; and milestones with concrete mini goals each week.
Most importantly, you have acquired a ‘goal freedom’ mindset: you can either complete a goal or drop it — and gain immediate freedom of time and mind!