How many times have you received the advice, “Just ask yourself what you want in life and go get it”? Sounds easy enough, right? It’s fairly generic but inspiring advice from a good-hearted friend who truly just wants to see you happy. Next thing you know, the ideas start flooding in about places to see, people to meet, organizations you want to join, plans to spend time with your family and before you know it you’re on the verge of a life crisis and give up all together.
I can’t blame you. Listing your goals is a much more daunting task than it may appear at first glance. But it is a starting point for a new direction in life. Stay calm and organize your thoughts, you can find a target to shoot for.
I have realized how important it is to remember that life goals are just a bunch of short term goals. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the targets a little more clear.
Categorize and Prioritize
Break your goals down by your values (Family, Health, Religion, Career, Education, etc) and put those categories in order. It’s hard to prioritize a goal such as, “I want to lose 15 lbs” against “I want to spend more time with my children”. It’s not fair to you to compare the two.
Make S.M.A.R.T. goals
1. Specific: “I want to be more healthy” vs “I will lose 5 inches around my waist”
2. Measureable: “I want to spend more time with family” vs “I will be available for a family dinner during the week”
3. Aggressive- “I want to get to work on-time” vs “I will leave to work at least 15 minutes earlier than normal”
4. Realistic: “I want to travel everywhere” vs “I will plan 3 budget-friendly trips this summer”
5. Time-Based: “I want to lose weight” vs “I will lose 5 inches from my waist over 90 days”
Each goal you set for yourself should fall within all 5 of these criteria.
Keep it simple
There is value in a lengthy bucket list. But more often than not, I find myself exhausted from overthinking what I want. It’s tough to develop an action plan with so much on your plate. My recommendation for starters is to set no more than 3 goals per category that you are working towards at a given time. Multi-tasking is an aspect of life, but your values deserve your attention.
Have a method
Now you have your categories and what you want in each. Have an action plan for each of your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Even if it is a rough method, you have a starting point. You want to lose weight? Find a workout program online, join a gym, make a schedule to run further each day. Whatever it is, have some action that you can physically do to move you towards that goal. I want ___________ by doing __________ during ___________ time. Your methods can change. Mine often do. If you’re not good at something, ask someone who is or simply follow their example.
Do it your own way. Make a manifestation board, a traditional bucket list, blog, or put reminders on your phone each day.What you want can change and that’s okay. The value is in the process and when you look back at progress it hits a lot harder when you can see how much you’ve changed.