This post is a continuation of the daily goals post a few days ago. With the last post, we looked out how prioritizing a list can keep us on track with the most important tasks of the day. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to set future goals to help them become realized. Naturally, these topics are connected; future goals are nothing but a lot of smaller, mini-goals added together, accomplished on a daily basis.
Most people hear “It’s important to have goals” a million times in their lives. And in fact, most people do have goals. I bet you have goals as well, or at least an idea of what you want later in life. If you don’t have any long-term goals yet, no problem! But the sooner you think of some, the sooner you can start working toward them. So I encourage taking time to think about what you really want out of life. As the Cheshire Cat says in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Once you have a defined goal, you can decide exactly which road(s) to take to bring it to fulfillment.
Here are some tips to help us define our goals and ultimately, attain them:
1. Start with a comprehensive list…on paper! Generate all your goals while writing them down. This is highly recommended by many of the most successful people in the world. Getting goals on paper means taking them from the “Well it would be nice to…” phase to the “This is for real, I want to do this” phase. Some things to think about are relationship goals, monetary goals, physical goals, mental goals, spiritual goals, educational goals, recreational goals….or anything else you’d like!
2. Ask the three magic questions: By, why and how?
-By when do you want to accomplish your goal? Be specific! Go from “someday” to “in a few years” to “August of 2014”. Now that’s specific! Like it or not, deadlines get stuff done. Meanwhile, saying “maybe someday” never has.
-Why do you want to accomplish your goal? If you don’t have big enough reasons why, it won’t get done. Think about why you take a nap: because you’re tired! If you’re not tired enough, you don’t take a nap. Same with goals. Why does anyone accomplish a goal? Because they have reasons “why” which make it important enough to find a way to get it done. It’s simple. The more you want something, the more you’ll do to get it, and writing out exactly why you want a goal will help remind you of how important it is.
-How can you accomplish your goal? Notice the question was not “can” you accomplish your goal. Never ask “can”; it implies the answer could be no, and if the answer is no, your brain says “Ok, well I might as well stop trying.” But if you say “How can…” your brain is put into high-gear and starts churning out possibilities. This step doesn’t have to be perfect, but get the ball rolling. Brainstorm ideas and possible ways to manifest your goal. What can you do? Who can you get in touch with? What resources do you have? What resources could you acquire? What books could you read? What professors could you talk to?
Here are some examples below:
Go from “Learn to play an instrument” to…
Goal: Learn to play the piano. By January 1, 2013. Why? I’ve always loved piano music, it’s been a dream of mine, some friends play the piano, I want to develop a new skill, my hands could use some exercise. How? Buy a beginner music book, ask my friends to teach me, take a piano class, pay for lessons, watch tutorial videos online.
Go from “Improve my math grade” to…
Goal: Get an A in Calculus. By May 5, 2012 (end of semester). Why? I want to have a high GPA (which will look better on my resume, helping with job applications), I need it for my major, my parents will be proud of me, it’s necessary for my future job. How? Review my notes right after class, start studying a week before the test, organize a study group, find a tutor, watch step-by-step tutorials online, meet with the professor at office hours.
And lastly, once you have all your goals written or typed, organized (either chronologically or in order of importance), and have answered those three magic questions for each one…
3. Put this list in a place you constantly see! Writing down our goals, in a place that we will constantly see, keeps them in the forefront of our minds. Our brains are super-computers. If day-in and day-out our brains see the same goal (for example, “become a lawyer”), our brains will subconsciously work on that idea even when we’re not thinking about it. We’ll end up finding ways to bring our goals to fruition because our brain will provide resource after resource and idea after idea to make it happen.
This will, in turn, help us to actively think about what we want in life and who or what we want to become. Earl Nightingale said, in The Strangest Secret in the World, “We become what we think about.” Accordingly, have a list of your future goals readily available in writing so your mind can actively think about them and help them become reality.
Here are some suggestions of places to put your list of future goals:
How about the background image on your computer? You could even overlay the text on top of an image (my background is my goals list above a Lamborghini – which is also one of the goals) using Photoshop. If not, think about where you look the most. How about a list next to the mirror? On your closet door? What about the dresser? At my real house (not at college), I have my goals on the ceiling directly above my bed. When I lay down and look up, there they are! How about your cell-phone wallpaper? If you just have the default template, spice it up a bit! The refrigerator could work well, too. Across from the toilet seat? In a frame on your desk? There are probably 100 places that you look on a daily basis that would be a great place for a goals list; pick at least one of those places to put it. Yes, this might require some effort, but if you knew it would help, aren’t your future goals worth it?
Remember, your life is important and has tremendous value. Make the most of it by attaining your heart’s desires and achieving your wildest dreams. Set your future goals, make them clear and visible, and you are halfway there. Then all you have to do is work systematically toward their accomplishment, which can only be done on a daily basis. Each day do something (add it to your goals list from the last post), that will move you closer to one of your goals, and before long, the road behind you will be much longer than the road ahead.
“You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.” ~Zig Ziglar
Photo by ColinBroug