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Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
– Tony Robbins
Having goals, even a vague idea of one (or more) is the first step. If you have a goal, it means you have an idea of what you want to achieve in life, what you want to do with your time, which is way better than just blundering along hoping to discover what fulfils you by pure chance.
The second important step is writing them down. Pick any book (good ones) on goals or personal development and they will recommend that you write down your goals. The principle behind writing down your goals is the same as journaling. When you write things down, your brain connects with your words, your emotions and your subconscious. I’m sure there is some kind of scientific explanation for it, but I don’t know it. I know from my experience, and having read and heard about other people’s experience. Writing things down works.
Life has a way of throwing curve balls. Goals have a way of falling off the radar, or losing their urgency. That’s why it is essential to regularly review your goals.
Here are some things you can do to stay focused on your goals:
Have Big Picture Goals
Is there a particular ambition you have in life? Something that you desperately want to achieve? Perhaps you want to succeed in a particular career, or make a certain amount of money, or send your kids to Ivy league universities. Perhaps you want to retire in style, or travel around the world. What is your big picture goal? The thing that you dream of, and imagine will happen “one day”? These are your big picture goals. Write them down.
Have Annual Objectives
A year seems like a long-time on January 1st, but then before you know it, Christmas is around the corner again, and you have no idea why 365 days went by so quickly. Each year, have at least one thing that you want to achieve, that will make it seem like your year’s been worthwhile and time well spent.
Don’t get over-ambitious (I’m guilty of this). If you have lots of really difficult goals, you may end up making some progress on all of them, but achieving nothing. Focus on few things that you can dedicate yourself to, that will make a real difference.
Ensure Your Short-Term Actions Contribute Towards Your Larger Goals
How do you spend your time? What are the items frequently showing up on your to-do list? What percentage of these items contribute towards your larger goals? You need to appreciate time, and remember that the present moment is the only guarantee you have. If you always postpone the things you really want to next week, or next month, you may never get there.
Seconds make up minutes.
Minutes make up hours.
Hours make up days.
Days make up weeks.
Weeks make up months.
Months make up years.
Years make up decades.
So….as highlighted in Kaizen Journaling Manifesto, TIME IS LIFE.
How you spend your time, is how you spend your life.
If you want to find out just how much time you spend on doing things that are not important to you, track your days for a week. For seven days, straight, make a note of absolutely everything you do with start and end times. Just keep a mini-notepad with you, and you will be able to jot it down.
07:05 woke up
07:08 – 07:30 – bathroom
07:30 – 07:45 – breakfast
07:55 – 08:15 – commute
But then don’t just write “work” – be specific. See how productively you are spending your time. Break your down in chunks for every single task you do, whether at work or at home, or out socialising. This is to give you an idea of just how many empty pockets of time there are in your days. When you know what you are doing with your time, so that you don’t ask the usual question, “Where did the time go?”, you will be able to have a better control over how you spend your time.
You will be able to have a better control over your goals.
Review Your Goals
This is important. You must review your goals, big picture goals and the sub-goals, regularly. At least once a month. Goals are easy to forget about, or just neglect. Your goals may have even changed without you realising. By reviewing them regularly, you can ensure that you are prioritising the right things, that you are spending your time (and your life) on doing the things that contribute to creating the life you want.
Goals are the stepping stones. Use them to create your Kaizen Life. Even if your goals change over time, the journey you make towards achieving them, and the skills you learn along the way (such as self-disciplined) will be useful in any new goals you have throughout your life.
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
– Henry David Thoreau
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:
Write down your big picture goals. Be very specific, and have a clear idea of what you want your life to be about. Then, create a focus for next 12 months. What do you want your next 365 days to be about? Make it something that you would take you towards your big picture goals.