How can I get started?
Setting Goals - Build a System
Setting goals without understanding the underlying systems that affect those goals is dangerous. It is much easier to improve if the focus is on behavior adjustments rather than simply stating what you hope to accomplish. If you want to start achieving more, then go through a process of addressing the systems that control that particular goal.
The first step is to focus on direction. If you want to pay off your debt then look at it overall instead of specific amounts. The specifics will come later, but trying to guess at a number rather than a direction can mislead you into thinking that effort must be the only factor to achieving your goal.
Once you know the direction that you would like to take to see improvement, evaluate what you do regularly that relates to that direction (daily, weekly, every time you get stressed etc.). If you want to lose 10 pounds but eat junk food every time you get bored, or get a McDonald's breakfast every morning, you are continuously doing things that are moving you away from success, not towards it.
If you are doing things that are taking you away from the direction that you would like to go, make changes to the system. If you are regularly doing things that are moving you towards that direction, what can you do to maximize this? This will help to get a better understanding and provide the "how" aspect of goal setting. This will let you know "how" you will get there - not specifically what that place is.
Finally, look at the overall systems at work and make adjustments to the system or build a new system to address this. Make sure you start with easy, step by step adjustments. Deciding to exercise every day for four hours is way too difficult for most people and will cause you to go back to your old systems. But, starting by exercising for 10 minutes every day and then moving it up to 20 minutes and then to 30 minutes means that you will increase effort as you increase your motivation and confidence in following the system.
Accomplishing goals becomes easy when you understand the underlying systems and make adjustments to improve the systems. It will also help you to understand what goals are reasonable and what goals require an extreme, unrealistic system. Being a professional athlete requires extreme systems but simple systems are usually all that is needed to get healthy. Being a millionaire takes extreme systems but creating a $5,000 emergency fund is easier. Being the President of the United States takes years of extreme systems but one can get involved in the leadership of their community to get started and take on a leadership role.
The more you understand the underlying systems the better equipped you will be to succeed!