3 Tips for Reaching Goals

Use Your BrainWell here it is, a new year.  Kind of exciting, don’t you think?  It’s like a clean slate, just waiting to be written all over and packed full of great ideas.  What?  You don’t see that?  I never saw that before, either, but I’m seeing it this year.  Vividly.

Having finished the shitty first draft of a book, I’m now energized to get a second draft and editing done.  I had four readers along on my crazy thirty-day journey writing the book, and all of them said the same thing at the end, “Didn’t see that ending coming!” and “There’ll be a sequel, right?”  Sequel…huh, hadn’t thought about that.  But now I am.  In fact, two of them.  Except, how will I get that done on top of working, freelance writing gigs, and family obligations?  By having very detailed goals.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that it drives me crazy when people say they don’t have time to do things that they really want to do.  Well, if they really want to do it, they’ll find a way to do it.  If it’s not that important, they’ll find an excuse not to.  Yes, most of the time it is that simple.  Which brings me to my first tip on achieving goals:  find the time.

Everyone has the same 168 hours in the week.  On a 24-hour calendar, start by blocking out the time you spend sleeping, commuting, and working.  Next block out the time you spend on family obligations that are necessary.  And when I say necessary, that is your interpretation.  If that is sports events/practices, family meals, whatever, it’s up to you to decide and block them out.  Now block out time for yourself—exercise, meals, even personal quiet time, whatever you need to keep you balanced and focused.  Then, take a highlighter and block out all the remaining time on your calendar.  What have you been doing– television?  Internet?  On the phone?  These are the hours you have to accomplish your goals.

The next tip is to write out specific goals you have for the next year.  Don’t just say you want to lose weight or make more money.  How much weight?  How much more money?  Write down these goals as headers of a column and assign a date to each one.  Next write out the smaller steps necessary underneath each big goal, giving you a series of smaller (and more palatable!) goals to accomplish.  Give each of them a date as well.  For example, if you want to sew a quilt in the next year, your list might look like this:

Research patterns and make selection  1/15/15

Select/purchase fabrics                            1/17/15

Cut out pieces                                             1/31/15

Sew two blocks/month                             7/31/15

Assemble the quilt top                             8/31/15

Sew all pieces together and tie               9/30/15

Now, we know all things don’t work as we planned.  So make sure to leave yourself time to assess your progress along the way and make adjustments as needed.  Better to extend a date and reach your end goal than to scrap it all together.  (Scrap it, sorry, couldn’t resist a quilting pun!)  By having your calendar, you’ll be able to see where you can block out that time to work on your goals.

And my final tip is to keep the list where you’ll see them and share them with others.  Whether you’re looking for encouragement or need someone to hold your feet to the fire, people can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re doing.  Keep the list visible so you see it multiple times a day.  And if you fall off that horse for a day, week, month, whatever, just climb back on.  Better late than never!

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