Mapping Your Goals

Mapping your goals is an integral part of success, and I'm here to teach you how!

We all have hopes for the future. Sometimes we barely dare to hope, but even then, we have some idea of what to expect or where we would like to end up. These half-baked plans are common, but just because we would like to learn how to make soap one day, it doesn’t mean that it will just happen. That’s why we need goals. But even then, there is a process. Mapping your goals is a sure-fire way for you to achieve success!

A Little Bit About Me

I am (and always have been) the sort of person with a ton of big plans. I wanted to be an author, start a vegetable garden in my apartment, learn how to sew my own clothes!

Clearly, I wanted a lot of things. But none of these wants were “I was” or “I started” or “I learned”.

Making plans is something I’m good at. I was (and still am) awful at the follow-through.

Without some external force pressuring me, like my professors or bosses, I struggled to finish the things I said I would finish. The fact this is my 14th ever blog post (yay!) is actually pretty impressive.

Once I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I realized this had to change.

I was tired of being the person who said they were going to do something while never actually doing it. By this point, I heard that mapping your goals helped you stick to them. But I had made to-do lists before. That didn’t mean I always “to-did”.

So, what was the secret? What were the steps to mapping your goals? How do other people manage to actually motivate themselves to success?

Ever-the-student, I hit the books.

Mapping Your Goals: Goal-Setting Theory

As someone who earned a minor in Psychology, I was shocked by how many different goal-setting theories there were to choose from!

Cecil Mace, Frank Smoll, George Doran, to name a few.

Apparently, psychologists have long been interested in studying what exactly makes humans tick.

So there must be something in all of this that I could use to succeed. Right?

Luckily, if you’ve ever studied psychology, you’ll know what I mean when I say that researchers love to talk over one another. Even though two psychologists generally agree on a topic, they have to have different terminology to set apart their theory. Research on mapping your goals proved to be the same.

Smoll had his ABC goals, while Doran advocated for SMART goals. Later on, another psychologist decided to make SMART-ER goals, and the E-E-E model followed soon after.

I am not going to make you study theories. I’m just telling you this to let you know this is a hot topic. And the good news? Pretty much all the theories said the same thing.

Mapping Your Goals Does What?

When you take time mapping your goals, it does some pretty interesting things to your brain.

  1. Setting goals boosts systolic blood pressure, which increases “your zeal to act”. Don’t worry, this isn’t a dangerous blood pressure increase.
  2. Writing down a goal stimulates your reticular activating system. This helps us see “signs” and images related to our goal, which keeps it at the forefront of our thoughts.

These changes in the brain, increase brain activity and function, which in turn helps boost our ability to achieve our dreams!

How cool is that? By simply writing down a goal, your brain becomes your number one cheerleader!

How to Map Your Goals

So we know that mapping our goals changes our brain. We know this has been extensively studied.

So, how do we do it?

I’m going to save you the trouble of reading the long (though very informative) article linked above. Instead, I am going to do what psychologists do best. Present my own theory!

Disclaimer: This theory is untested, and pulled from previous psychological research for the purpose of this blog alone (and personal use if you like it). However, it is researched.

I call this theory… drumroll please… dramatic pause… The Goal Map!

Why? Because I’m a nerd who loves maps, and I like to plan things visually. If you are also a visual learner or a lover of maps, then this may be the right goal-setting strategy for you!

As I mentioned, many goal-setting theories have common themes. I want to present those themes in a clear concise manner that adds value to your plans rather than confusion.

Mapping Your Goals! With a Map?

First, let’s discuss what the common themes are in goal-setting theory. Afterward, I’ll show you how you can begin mapping your goals today!

A good goal, defined as a goal that you will likely achieve, has 6 characteristics.

The goal is:

  1. Specific and well-defined
  2. Quantifiable. You can measure your success, and have a deadline.
  3. Challenging but attainable. Moreover, you have planned buffers and strategies in case you experience setbacks or failure.
  4. Rewarding. It aligns with your core values, and you plan rewards throughout the process.
  5. Introspective. You consider your strengths and weaknesses when planning your goal, and use resources when needed.
  6. You are held accountable throughout the process of achieving your goal. Team up, or have a designated supervisor to monitor your progress.

That’s not so hard!

If you’re like me, your head is probably swimming right now. That’s a lot to remember on its own. Isn’t there an easier way to plan your way to success?

That’s where the goal map comes in!

By plotting your goal out visually, as well as the checkpoints and rewards along the way, your brain’s success-mode is activated! And you can have fun with how it looks!

A goal map has several distinct features. Most notably, a beginning and endpoint. Moreover, it outlines various steps or sub-goals that exist along the way.

Mapping your goals helps define and outline the steps necessary to achieve them.
Goal Map by Danielle Hauck

It’s important to remember to reward yourself at each step along the way! This ensures you stay motivated throughout the process.

Other Considerations

Additionally, it is essential that you build in back-up plans in case you experience unforeseen difficulties along the way. By having a set strategy, you can make sure you don’t give up!

When first planning your goal, you have to define it.

The more specific your expectations, the easier it is to remember why you set this goal in the first place. Furthermore, using measures (such as performance times or quantity) makes it easy to know when you’ve actually reached your goal! Aligning your goal with your core values is also an essential practice.

The last, but no less significant, part of mapping your goals, involves understanding yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Who will be holding you accountable for reaching your goal?

Once you answer all of these questions, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your dreams!

Mapping Your Goals: Free Printable

If you are interested in implementing this practice in your life, subscribe to our newsletter, and receive a free printable that outlines this process, as well as worksheets to guide you!

You will also receive Your Weekly Dose of Wellness in our newsletter, which outlines the new articles that we write each week!

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4 thoughts on “Mapping Your Goals

  1. Intriguing read! There are, indeed, so many theories to choose from, but whatever is your personal preference, is also a matter of perspective. This is where the ‘rewarding’ and ‘introspective’ parts of your goal-setting theory come into play. So we can actually apply your goal-mapping tactics to choosing our desired approach, as well! I especially love the ‘rewarding’ part: you *need* to know your why, in order to persevere. An important process (not just a step) that is often overlooked, so I appreciate you’re bringing this to light from a fresh perspective. Thanks for your mindful post! Love, Susanne

    1. Hi Susanne, thank you for your own insight! You’re right, the reward is often over-looked when people set goals. When I was younger, part of the reason that “losing weight” never really stuck for me as a goal was that it didn’t align with my core values and I didn’t give myself proper motivation. It’s always important to ask yourself why the goal is important to you!

  2. I relate to this so much I feel like I could’ve written it. I have massive plans (write a book, be an aerial teacher, open an Etsy shop, learn Spanish!) and struggle to stick with it. Thank you for this! I think a visual will really help with focusing and prioritizing!

    1. Hi Julie, I’m glad that this point was helpful to you. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to my email list to get my free printable Goal Map template for your own personal use.

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