Do you like to set goals for yourself, whether short-term or long-term? By this, I truly mean actually setting the goals and trying to reach them. Sometimes it’s easy to say this, but not always done in practice.
For example, some of us are planners nature – as opposed to those who thrive on spontaneity. While of course we need a balance of both, it seems like many of us tilt one way or the other.
I’m in the former group, being a planner. Really, always have been this way to varying degrees. Also, I’ve been actually following plans to varying degrees over the years, sometimes well but many times not as well as I intended originally. It’s something that I’ve been working on getting better at in recent years, and have developed some habits that have helped me along the way.
Here is my current process to keep me focused:
Each year, around the New Year, I’ll take stock of where things are overall in different areas of life. Typically, this focuses on money and health for me, though it makes sense if people also think of relationships too. After all, health, wealth, and relationships are interconnected in many ways.
In terms of money, it means different areas: making (especially career-related goals), saving, and investing. Primarily the first two are part of goal-setting, with the latter a bit less controllable.
I’ll set goals that are at the following intervals: 1-year, 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year. This is intended to cover short, intermediate, and long-term. Does this sound very planned to you? Perhaps excessive? I could totally see this seems way to much so to many. It might not work at all for some people, but it does for me and keeps me pointed in the right direction.
At the beginning of each month, I’ll go through what I would like to accomplish. Some of these things might be specific tasks to be completed, or they might be progress markers for activities with a longer-term time horizon.
As each week commences, I’ll figure out what I’d like to (or need to) do for the week. As a part of this, specific deadline dates will be noted. Sometimes this neatly fits into that particular week, but some things that come to my attention might get planned out for later. It’s sort of fluid this way, as need to be flexible. Life doesn’t run off templates!
Each day, I’ll go through my list for that specific day. I’ll prioritize them based on importance/urgency, and go from there. Ideally, the ones at the top of the list will get done first, and subsequent priorities tackled in order.
This rarely gets done perfectly. However, it gives me some structure, and at the very least I’ll usually start with the most important things early on. Not sure about you, but it works for me to handle the important/urgent things when my energy level is highest, which is usually early in the day. If things don’t get done, they’re going to be low on the list – the way it should be. Plus, it feels great to get key things done early, and removes or alleviates some potential stress in the process.
I’d say this planning and prioritizing process takes 10 minutes. Sure, it’s a decent investment of time, but I find that it pays off and keeps me from being disorganized or scattering my attention wildly (which might otherwise be possible!).
The other thing that I do now, which has really been working, is doing a one minute review of my long-term goals every day. You remember, the 1-year to 10-year planning I mentioned earlier? Each day, I try to spend just a quick minute reminding myself of the bigger picture goals.
This latter step of reconnecting with bigger picture goals works to help me stay on track. If I ever waver, which can happen quite often, this helps keep me going in the right direction.
We each have our own approach to goals, so I’m curious how you do it.
My Questions for You
Do you consider yourself a planner, or a more spontaneous person?
What is the timeframe for your goals, both long-term and/or short-term?