How to Cultivate Finish Line Goals

How to Cultivate Finish Line Goals

by: Emily Thomas

In the 2022 PowerSheets®, we suggested categorizing your goal efforts into one of three buckets: Habits, Finish Lines, or Big Dreams.

Habit Goals: These actions establish rhythms in your life and create consistency. You may have Habits you want to continue growing, or new Habits you want to cultivate. 

Finish Lines: These goals move you from where you are now to where (and who!) you want to be. Finish Lines can be completed in the space of a year and are specific and measurable. You achieve them by defining action steps and completing those steps in an order that makes sense. Think of them like projects!

Big Dreams: These goals are often new, bold, or life-changing—taking extra effort or a leap of faith to complete. These goals may feel thrilling (or even a little nerve-wracking) to create and leave you inspired at the thought of achieving them. Most of us will set no more than 1-2 each year, and they may take several years to complete.

These three types of goals work hand-in-hand: for example, a yearly goal (or a Big Dream!) is often accomplished through completing several Finish Line goals and a handful of Habits adding up. Categorizing your goals like this helps you to understand the amount and type of effort that will be needed to achieve them. And when we have accurate expectations, we're less likely to get frustrated or overwhelmed!

Here's a cheat sheet:

Habits, Finish Lines, and Big Dreams are best accomplished in unique ways. Today, we're sharing some easy and proven ways to break down and achieve Finish Line goals from Team Cultivate and the CWM community!

A Closer Look at Finish Line Goals:

In the PowerSheets system, your yearly goal might be a single Finish Line goal, or you might complete several related Finish Line goals as you work toward your yearly goal. There is a lot of flexibility here!

Here's a quick example of two options for framing your yearly and Finish Line goals.

Option One | Your yearly goal and your Finish Line goal are the same: Complete a 2021 family photo album.

  • You could break this down by organizing photos and laying out pages one month each month. Or, maybe you're a teacher and you're able to complete it in Q3, while you're on summer break!

Option Two | Your yearly goal is accomplished through multiple Finish Line goals.

  • Your yearly goal: Record our family's story
  • Your Finish Line goals: Complete a 2021 family photo album, get baby books up to date, and make a video for our summer vacation
  • You could break this down by assigning one Finish Line goal to each quarter and listing out action steps for each.

How big you decide to make your yearly goals (and Finish Line goals!) should be reflective of how much time you can realistically spend working toward them. And remember, there’s no shame in downsizing your goals or extending the time horizon! (Your quarterly refreshes are perfect times to reflect and regroup!) 

How to Break Down a Finish Line Goal:

There are two steps to breaking down Finish Line goals: 1) define action steps, and 2) pace yourself. Let's look at each!

First, for each Finish Line goal, define action steps that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. 

  • To know where you want to be, you have to define what success looks like for your goal - there's space for this in your Goal Action pages!
  • If you’re having a hard time coming up with action steps for a specific goal, your first step might be to do some research (listen to a podcast, read a book, ask a friend). 
  • Action steps should be small enough to be completed in one sitting.
  • But, don’t be afraid to jump in and start while you have momentum - you can always pivot later! Planning can feel like motion but it doesn’t actually achieve anything on its own.
  • Remember, you do NOT need to know action steps A through Z to start on step A. You only need to know step A.

Second, pace yourself by spreading out your Finish Line goals and action steps over the quarter and the year.

  • Trying to start everything at once is a recipe for goal failure. No matter how much you break your goals down, they’ll still feel overwhelming if you try to tackle 3 action steps for 8 goals all at once. The path to lasting, sustainable change is embracing little-by-little progress over time—not all at once.
  • If you’re struggling with which goal to tackle first, go with whatever you’re most excited about or what is best for the season you’re in.
  • Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given day, week, and month. Remember there are 12 months in a year to make progress, and that we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a week, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
  • Add a few action steps to the Monthly section of your Tending List and work on them little-by-little.
  • If you’ve broken your goals down and paced them out and you still feel overwhelmed, cross half of them off. Seriously! It is far worse to feel paralyzed and do nothing than to complete four goals instead of eight. Write them in your mid-year refresh and re-evaluate halfway through the year.

As an example of what a yearly goal supported by Finish Lines and Habits can look like, here's a peek inside Emily's 2022 PowerSheets!

And here is Emily's January Tending List, where you can see action items and habits for this goal, as well as some of her other yearly goals!

As you break down your Finish Line goals, remember: your first step will not be perfect. Your first month and first Tending List will not be perfect. Imperfect progress is still progress. Perfect is the enemy of the good. Just do it!

We'd love to hear:
 what Finish Line goals do you have for this year? What other questions do you have about breaking them down?

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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