Everyone has goals in life whether they like to admit them or not. If you’re a student you likely just want to survive the semester with passing grades; if you’re a professional you might want to do well at your job and work your way up the career ladder. Or maybe your goals are more personal: losing weight, sticking to a workout regime, reading more books, being more social, getting a dog! What, getting a dog doesn’t count as a life goal? 🙂
I have found that identifying your goals specifically is the first step to achieving them. The second step, however, is the most important one. Dividing that goal into smaller, achievable milestones which you can plan to meet timely and effectively.
A goal without a plan is just a dream, right? You can work to achieve your dreams of course, but if you think of it as a goal you’re going to reach, you can map out how you’re going to get there. Consider it the map of your life: you are the mapmaker and have total control of how you’re going to meet this goal, on your terms and in your own time. It’s kind of empowering, when you think about it.
Below are some tips to planning a goal timely and effectively, using a well-known but tried-and true example: money. Saving money, budgeting money. Money makes the world go round, and, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, money is an important part of our daily lives. Saving money for the future is a great goal to have. Only how much money are you wanting to save? And for how long? Get specific!
Start with a weekly plan. How much can you afford to put away this week, whether to your savings account or just cash you are going to hide away? Twenty dollars? I have found that it’s easier to save money and spend less if you handle cold-hard-cash as opposed to an easy-breeze debit card, so withdraw that $20 and put it in an envelop and forgettabout until next week when you do the exact same thing. You’re weekly goal of saving $20 a week is already off to a good start.
Now, substitute the money part of this for whatever your goal may be. Think of a realistic milestone you can reach each week. For example, if your goal is to write a book, your weekly goal can be to write 5,000 words each week.
So, going with the money example, does this mean you want to save $80 per month? Not necessarily. Are there extra expense you have each month that you find yourself always scrambling around for, like gas or unexpected lunches out at work? Use your weekly goal to piggyback onto your monthly goal of have X amount of dollars saved each week.
For other goals, envision where you want to be in one months time. Doing so can better help you divide that time, those tasks, etc. into weekly, achievable goals.
But what if your goals are bigger, like saving $1,000 by the end of the year? It sounds foreboding at first. This is one of those goals that can easily go the route of New Years resolutions, in which you make all these fantastic plans and stick to them for one month and then get sidetracked (on purpose or not on purpose) and quit altogether. But if you start out small by planning weekly, and then monthly, you can easily meet that goal by the end of the year. The key is to be clear about what you want, and strategic in planning how to get there.
Don’t make these steps more complicated than they need to be. In other words, don’t make it harder for yourself just for the sake of giving yourself a “challenge”. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing “I won’t eat out for three months and then I’ll save this-much-money” because that’s simply not realistic.
Sure, we only have a few months left until 2017 is over, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until December 31st to start planning. “A year” can start whenever you want. It can start tomorrow, or today. Finding out what your personality tendency is can be a huge help, too.
What are your tips for planning goals? Do you just wing it and hope you’ll meet your goals or do you actively plan and map how to get there?
P.S. why the sailboat? Because sailing is hard AF but looks easy AF and that’s how meeting your goals is! Once you get there you may find that it looks easy but don’t forget it’s not as effortless as it seems! When you do meet your goals, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!