Goal setting and planning is a very popular topic of discussion. The saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. In plain simple English, you will never arrive at a destination you don’t have. With modern day technology, it is normal for people to use navigation systems whenever they need to get to a new destination. But the fact is that as soon as you want to start your journey, you have to enter the destination which you are heading for into your navigation system. You cannot get into your vehicle and start driving, waiting for the GPS to start navigating you, without you entering any data. And you have to be specific with the address.
Know Where You Are.
Before you can determine your end destination and the time you’ll need to get there, you also need to determine where you are now. It is impossible for your navigation system to calculate your best route and how long it will take you to get there, if you don’t enter a starting point first.
It is exactly the same when setting your goals. In order to set achievable goals, you need a well thought-out action plan. It is good to know what you want to achieve in life and to set your goals accordingly. But to make those goals realistic and achievable, you also need to take into consideration where you are now. This is where proper goal setting and planning comes in.
What resources do you have available (if any)? Do you have any capital available? Can you work fulltime on achieving your goals? Do you need to keep your day job first, and if so, how much time do you have available to work on your goals. How much support will get from your spouse or your family, especially when you need to put in some extra time to work towards achieving your goals? Do you have the necessary skills or do you need some extra training?
Once you have asked yourself these questions and more, you can determine where you are now, and calculate more accurately how long it will take you to achieve your ultimate goal.
Plan Your Journey
After you have analyzed your strengths and you have determined where you are now, you can start working on an action plan.
It is good to think big, and that is where you need to start. Don’t limit yourself. Dare to dream. But once you have that big dream in your mind, and you have a burning desire to achieve it, it is necessary to stay in touch with reality. Once you have a clear vision of that ultimate goal and you can see it clearly in your mind, start breaking it up in smaller, more achievable goals.
This is where I have a problem with many of the goal setting advice that we get bombarded with everyday. Everybody tells you to THINK BIG. They would even talk about the smaller goals as steps in your action plan, but the emphasis is so much on the “think big” part, that you lose focus on reality and don’t pay enough attention to the smaller attainable goals to achieve them.
This often ends up in people not even achieving the smaller goals. They become negative and just give up all together. It is because their focus is in the wrong place.
Does this mean your main goal was un-realistic, and not achievable? No, you can – and should – think big and your goal is achievable. But once you have determined your ultimate goal – this is where you THINK BIG – you know what your end destination is. This allows you to create a proper action plan.
Start Your Action Plan
This is where you stay in contact with reality. If your dream is to own your own home and be debt free, that is your end destination. Or maybe you want to have $100 000.00 in savings or in an investment portfolio.
It is only when you have determined that you currently have $500.00 in a savings account, and you need to attend some courses to learn about investing, that you know where you are now. But how long will it take you to achieve that $100 000.00 balance in your investment portfolio? If you don’t know this, you will start working on goals which are unrealistic, because your focus is on the $100 000.00 and it is easy to become de-motivated.
But do you think it is realistic and achievable for you to find a way in which you can make another $500.00? That means you will increase your balance to a total of $1000.00. Yes, that’s realistic and you can see yourself doing that in six months, or a year, or however long you feel comfortable with. Now determine exactly what you are going to do to make that extra $500.00, and create an action plan with specific steps that you will take to get you to the goal of making $500.00 (leaving you with a balance of $1000.00).
Then determine follow-up goals, each taking you closer to your main goal, with an approximate time to achieve each goal. Now you can determine approximately how long it will take you to achieve your main goal, and you can set more milestone goals. Just be sure that every goal that you set will bring you closer to your main goal.
Now start working on the first step in your action plan, which is to make $500.00. Keep your focus on achieving this goal. Because it is achievable from your current situation it will be easy to stay motivated. As soon as you have achieved that first goal, celebrate and find a way to reward yourself.
Then start working towards the second milestone goal. Working in this way, achieving each goal will bring you a step closer to your ultimate goal. It becomes easier to stay motivated working in this manner, because you feel successful in achieving all your goals. At the same time you are developing a healthy habit of setting goals and achieving them.
In his book “Making Money Made Simple“, Noel Whittaker gives a great example of how to break a main goal into steps to make it achievable.
While he goes into detail in his book, I’ll give you an example of what he’s talking about. With a goal of making $1 000 000.00, he breaks it up into ten steps:
- $15 000.00
- $30 000.00
- $60 000.00
- $125 000.00
- $250 000.00
- $500 000.00
- $1 000 000.00
It’s Time for Goal Setting and Planning. But Remember; It’s Your Goal.
Remember, it’s your goal. You are not working to please anybody else. As you start working through your goals and you see your estimation of time to achieve your goals were not accurate, you can move your deadlines. There is no sense in beating yourself up about it. Be realistic and enjoy the journey.
The secret of goal setting lies in believability. To become a millionaire is not an unrealistic goal. Many people have done it and many more will. But is it realistic for you within the next 5 years or even ten or fifteen years? Do you know what you are going to do to achieve that goal? Why do you want to achieve it? What is your purpose for achieving such a goal and how are you going to do it? Not knowing the answers to these questions, and only focusing on such a big goal, you are at risk to become de-motivated and give up on your goals because it doesn’t feel real and realistic to you. This is when you start chasing the “pie in the sky”.
When you break your main goal into smaller steps, it becomes easier to remain focused and motivated, because these steps are realistic and achievable.
Now it is over to you. How do you stay motivated long enough to achieve your goals? Tell me about it in the comment section.