Are you willing to do the work it will take to make your dreams a reality? No, really do the work? Are you willing to work early mornings, late nights, and weekends to make it happen?
I constantly hear people talk about what they wish they had or how some people just get lucky and get what they want. These are the same people that refuse to go the extra mile for anything. They want raises at work but are quick to say “that’s not my job” when asked to help out when extra help is needed. They want to have enough money to retire but refuse to put anything into their 401k or IRA.
No matter what it is that you want in your life, you have to do the work to make it happen. Your dreams are your responsibility, no one else is responsible for making your dreams come true.
To make your dreams a reality, you have to know where you want to end up. Let’s take a look at your goals. Are they SMART? This is the basic framework on which to build your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound. You can check out my blog post, Setting and Achieving Your Goals, for more details on how to define your goals. How many goals do you have? While I believe you should really only focus on one goal at a time, it is important to understand how many goals you are trying to achieve and in what time frame. And to me, this is one of the most important questions to answer in relation to your goals: Are they your goals, or are they someone else’s goals for you? I’m specifically talking about your personal goals here. Make sure that you are focusing on what you want for your life, not what you think you are supposed to want and not what others tell you to want. This is your life, your time, and your energy, spend each one wisely.
Now that we’ve identified what your goals are, let’s talk about your action plan. Actually, before we can get to creating an action plan, we need to put your goals in order of priority. Grab a pen and paper, write down your goals, then number them according to their priority in your life. Now pick your top priority and answer the next set of questions.
What is your plan to achieve your goals? What systems do you have in place to support your goal? For example, if you want to run a 5k, how often are you going to run, for how long, and where? This is your system, planning a habit that will help you steadily improve will better enable you to achieve your goal. How effective are your planned actions? In the previous example, if you run 1 mile one day each week, that’s not going to prepare your body to run a full 5k. In fact, you will probably hurt yourself and your pride. What if you run 1 mile for the first week then gradually increase the distance until you are running the full 5k at least once during your weekly runs? How do you think that prepares your body compared to running 1 mile once a week?
Ok now that you have clarified your goals by making them SMART and created your action plan, make a list of everything you need to make the action plan a reality for you.
Do you need money to purchase training, coaching, supplies, etc? How much do you need? If you don’t have it, what is your plan to get it? If you can’t get the money, what alternatives can you consider that will still allow you to complete your action plan?
Do you need support from others? In what ways? Do you need a babysitter so you can focus for a few hours? Do you need someone to do the grocery shopping for you? What about cooking dinner? Or getting the kids ready for school in the mornings? Where do you have time that can be freed up for you to focus on your goals?
What do you need to learn to achieve your goal? Who can teach you those skills? Where can you find free training? What do you already know how to do? How will what you already know support your goal?
What sacrifices will you need to make and are you willing to make them? Will you need to cut back on how often you go out with your friends so that you can use that time to focus on your goals? Will you need to stop eating out for a while if you are trying to eat healthier or save money? If you don’t want to completely give up something, what options are available in a way that still supports your goals? For example, instead of telling your friends that you can’t hang out, can you plan to hang out once a month or every 2 weeks? Decide what works for you and make it happen.
What are some obstacles that will impact your ability to complete your actions? Write them down. After you write them down, write one way that you can avoid the obstacle from happening and one way that you can course-correct if you encounter the obstacle. Here’s an example:
Goal: Eat Healthy
Obstacle: Sam brings donuts into the office every Friday and leaves them in the break room to share with the office
Avoid the obstacle: Get your coffee and place your lunch in the refrigerator before Sam gets into the office, bring your own healthy snack to eat
Course Correct: If you end up eating a donut, make sure you eat your healthy lunch (the one that you brought in to work) and don’t worry about the donut anymore. Remember, it’s ok to fall off the horse BUT YOU MUST GET BACK ON!
I will ask again, are you willing to do the work to achieve your goals? I never said it would be an easy journey but it will be worth it in the end.