40 by 40: Break it down and make it happen

This article is the fourth in the 40 by 40 series – 40 goals for my 40th year. I’m blogging throughout my journey to help inspire and guide others to reach their goals.

Read the previous articles here:

40 by 40: Goal ideas
40 by 40: Setting SMART goals
40 by 40: What’s my why?

I’ve developed my goal ideas, made SMART goals and reflected upon why each of the goals are important to me. Now it is time to plan how to make them happen!

Break it down to reach your goals

Whilst some goals are fairly straightforward with a clear path to success, others can be big and overwhelming. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.

Breaking goals down into smaller steps makes them feel manageable. This then increases your motivation, as you are confident in the steps that you need to take to reach your goals.

See the previous article small steps for guidance on how to break goals down.

For each of my goals, I’ve completed a GoalGetter plan to work through all of the points that I want to consider. The GoalGetter plan template is available within the GoalGetting workbook. Alternatively you can design your own format using the guidance in the article small steps.

When your goal is fairly straightforward, you don’t need to complete every section of the plan. However, it is worthwhile spending time planning each goal, as this helps to reinforce the importance of it in your brain, and increases your chance of success.

Think about each step you will need to take to reach your goal. Write these down. Having a clear path will make it easier to keep going if things get tough. Consider what obstacles you might face and how to deal with those. Again, write it all down so that you have it to refer back to.

Consider all the resources that you will need to reach your goal. Will it take time? Money? If you don’t already have these, your plan should include how to get them. Who can help you? Remember to include asking for help in your plan.

Changing behaviours or habits

When your goal is to change your behaviour or a deeply embedded habit, it pays to spend time planning how you will make this happen. It may seem like a straightforward goal – if I want to lose weight I will eat less and exercise, or if I want to quit smoking then I won’t smoke any more. However, you have always known that, and yet you haven’t changed yet.

Spend time considering what is behind the behaviour. What are your ‘triggers’? Do you smoke when you’re stressed? Bored? At certain times of the day? If you aren’t sure of these, then keep a diary to document it.

Once you have identified your triggers, you can make a plan of what to do when you encounter those triggers. For example, when I am stressed I will go for a walk or listen to some music. Or when I’m bored I’ll read a book or phone a friend. When I finish work I will enjoy a nutritious meal and focus on my health.

It is very important to be clear on your why when changing behaviours. If you haven’t already, read the previous article 40 by 40: What’s my why and set a vision for your motivation.

You are getting some reward from your current behaviour, or you wouldn’t be doing it. You need to ensure that the reward from your changed behaviour outweighs that. Remember, this needs to be personal to you. You won’t quit smoking just because it’s bad for you or because someone else wants you to.

Make it happen

Once you’ve identified all the steps towards your goal, you need a plan to make them happen!

Do you have a deadline for your goal? If not, think of when you would realistically like to achieve it by. Then look at the time needed for each step as outlined in your GoalGetter plan. Use a calendar to map out each step.

You may find that you aren’t able to achieve it in time. In this case, you would need to alter your goal, the timeframe, or the amount of time that you are able to spend on it – or you may be able to delegate something. Check out the Make it Happen article for more ideas.

Schedule the steps into your calendar and treat them as an appointment that you need to show up for. Otherwise it is easy to push them aside for more urgent (but perhaps less important) tasks.

Of course, if more important things come up you should reprioritise. but putting the steps in your calendar will enable you to see what you have planned and assess which conflicting demand is higher priority.


You now have a clear plan to reach your goals. You are probably feeling very inspired and motivated having spent this time focussing on them. However, there will be times when it is hard to stick to the plan. It might be challenging, it may be that you have conflicting demands, or you might just struggle to find the motivation to keep going.

You can increase your chance of success to up to 95% if you set a specific accountability appointment with someone. It needs to be a specific appointment, rather than just commit to someone. Think of it like a performance review in the workplace. Read more in the Accountability article.

Don’t have anyone to hold you accountable? Come and join the GoalGetters community. We are starting afresh so you may be the first one there, but I’m opening up membership for free for the first 40 users – just use the discount code 40by40. If you are the first one there, I’ll be your accountability partner until the others arrive πŸ™‚

Final thoughts

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

This article looks at the importance of planning to help reach your goals. I love planning and organising. I’d much rather come up with a tidy schedule of when I will get everything done than actually do any of the work!! But even I can be guilty of failing to plan. When there are so many tasks that you don’t know where to start, it makes sense to just get on and

When you’re busy, it’s easy to see planning as a waste of time or a luxury. It’s tempting to just get stuck into the next task. But if you don’t take time to plan and assess your priorities, how do you know that the next task is the most important?

It is important to make sure you don’t spend all your time planning rather than doing (note to self). But it is equally important that you spend some time reassessing your goals on a regular basis and ensuring that your daily tasks are aligned to these.

Did you enjoy this article?

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Leave a comment

Leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page to let me know what you enjoyed about the article. Do you have any goals or dreams that you want to achieve? Why not join me?

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Check out the other articles

Take a look at the other articles on the site. You can access them all from the Articles page. 

You may be interested in:

40 by 40: Goal Ideas
Setting Goals
40 by 40: What’s my why?
Small steps
Make it Happen

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4 Replies to “40 by 40: Break it down and make it happen”

  1. Thank your for this post! I’ve also set some goals for myself. Up until now I know I should have SMART goals and make a plan, but I’ve never actually done it. I’ve just started defining my goals and actually planning it! Smoking a huge one of them πŸ™
    I’m also going to try 2 things I’ve never done before: vision board and self-affirmation. Do you have experience with either one?

    1. Hi Marisol,

      You are not alone! Change is scary, so a lot of us spend at least some time avoiding it. That’s ok, it’s all part of the process. For me, what helped me to finally quit smoking was to ask myself ‘if not now, when?’. That helped me to determine that it wasn’t the wrong time (I couldn’t say it would be easier in a few weeks or a few months). Plus being very clear on my why and planning how to cope with my triggers. I do use vision boards (check out my what’s my why article here: https://goalgetters.co.nz/articles/40-by-40-whats-my-why/. I’ve done a little with self affirmations (they’re in my gratitude diary – https://goalgetters.co.nz/2019/07/04/daily-gratitude/) but I need to work on these!

      If you’d like some accountability to help work towards your goals, check out the community. Use the code 40by40 for free membership.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it can be quite a process when you’re new to it, but it soon becomes second nature. Big changes will always take time and effort, but they’re always worthwhile (as long as you’ve checked your why!).

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