If you're anything like me, sometimes you have to trick yourself into being productive. "I'll just do this one thing, and if I can get that done, I'll watch a YouTube video." I bargain with myself for computer time. It's sad, but it helps me complete tasks when I'm dead tired.
Today is going to be all about figuring out at least one long term goal, and breaking it down into actionable steps.
If you've not done this type of goal setting before, pick a six month or a one year period of time. I've found that when I go beyond that, I start to lose my drive. But I've also been in the position of saying, "I don't even know what I want!"
Make a list of what you DON'T want. This can be as long or short as you deem it necessary. Write down all the things you don't want in your life.
I don't want...
A dirty house
To stay in my current job
To drive my crappy car
To be overweight
To always be late
Make a list of things you DO want. If you're stuck on making a goal or it's hard for you to decide, take some of your don't want items and flip them.
I do want...
A clean house
To get a better job
A new car
To be fit and trim
To be on time to important appointments
Pick one goal to pick apart and make specific. Notice something about the "want" list? There are no specifics. And that's where it's hard for us to get excited about them.
Let's rip apart an easy one. A new car. Well, which car do you really want? What make, model, and year? How much does that car cost? Are you wanting to take out a loan for the car? Lease it? Pay cash?
I'll break it down as if it were my goal.
Let's say I want a 2018 Chrysler 300. I went to the website and constructed my dream car with all the bells and whistles. That car costs $34,560. Then I went to my bank's website and researched car loans, because I wouldn't be paying cash. I would need a down payment of $2,500. My monthly payment would be around $675. I'd also look at my credit score to see if I need to improve it. Which would get me the interest rate I want.
Now I have three parts of my goal already in place. I need to save up $2500 in cash, make a budget where I have an extra $675/month, and raise my credit score twenty points by paying off $3000 in credit card debt. From here, I would break down if I want to earn extra money and increase my income, cut expenses in other areas of my life, sell some things I'm not using around my house, etc. I'm not going to go all the way to the end, because no one needs to know my expenses. (Yikes!) But you get the idea.
Make a list of every step you need to take to get to your goal. If you don't know a step, guess what? Your first step is to research.
Decide on a timeline for your goal. When are you wanting to accomplish this goal by? Is this a 1 year goal? 3 years? 5? Make a decision on the period of time you want to give yourself to accomplish this.
All the individual parts of your goal from Step 3 are ready to come into play now. Is there an order they need to go in? In the car example, I'd want to pay off the credit card debt first. And breaking it down further, I'd decide which card to pay off first. Looking at my current budget, let's say I want to pay off my first $800 credit card balance in 3 months. I'd need to pay $267/month PLUS interest on that credit card.
NOTE: Remember when I said you had to be honest? This is another instance where that comes into play. Especially when we're talking time constraints and money constraints. Goals should push you, but they should also be humanly and fiscally possible. If you're working full-time, have kids, and pets. Taking up a hobby that is going to require twenty hours of training per week, is probably not feasible unless you get yourself a Hermione-style time turner. I'm not saying you can't take vacation time if you have it available, or that you shouldn't hire some part-time help from a cleaning or pet-sitting service to find that time in your schedule, but you need to prepare for that.
Evaluate and redesign your goal. If you get to the end and look at the journey ahead and decide this timeline isn't realistic, change it. If you realize you can't get one step done without adding a few more, adjust them. Or if you end up looking at all the steps or costs involved in your goal, and think..."I'd rather spend my money elsewhere if I'm going to work that hard for it." Well, you just came up with another goal. Work on that one.
Give yourself the chance to want something big. Something you're excited about. Something that makes you go all gooey and crosseyed at the thought of it. Do you want to publish a book? Have you written it yet? Are you in the edits phase? Remember your "Why" we started out with on Day 1? How does your "Why" fit into your goal?
If you haven't been working this out in your journal, I want you to pick up your journal now and do your three pages. The journaling is important. Remember in the beginning, you promised to write in your journal every day? Even if you're making lists or drawing a giant middle finger because I'm doing this to you, it counts. I'll even give you some prompts if you're stuck.
No. 1 = Write a diary entry as yourself from the future. This version of you has already accomplished your chosen goal. Write about how this goal has made your life better, and how you got there. Write about how grateful you are to have worked hard to get to where you want to be.
No. 2 = Give yourself a pep talk as if you were talking to a friend. The way we talk to others is often very different than the way we talk to ourselves. Imagine your friend had your goal. What would you say to him or her, to remind them how awesome they really are.
No. 3 = Write exactly how you're feeling about your goals. How does setting a big goal make you feel? Are you nervous? Excited? Overwhelmed? Explore what emotions pop up when you think about the future. Our inner monologue can help or hurt our chances of success. You can't change negative talk until you acknowledge it's there. And you can't take advantage of excitement if you don't nurture it.
Add your first steps of your goal to your calendar. Work your goals all the way down into something you need to do daily or weekly. What days are you going to do this thing? How long are you going to spend doing it?
This is for your big goal. One thing main thing you want to accomplish. If we don't plan for the future we're stuck spinning our wheels instead of moving forward. That's why THIS item goes on your schedule before anything else. This is your goal. This is what you're working for, and what is going to make starting your routine and your schedule worth it.
Even if it's not a huge goal, consider this. Accomplishing any goal at all is training for when the big momma goal comes into play. If you want something, you have to take those first steps forward. You have to build momentum, and it's going to start a chain reaction. We're getting ready to kick ass. All we have to do is take the first step.