Got Dreams? Get Goals.

What are you hoping to accomplish in the 100 years or less that will be known as your life?  Do you know?  Are you living with a purpose in mind?  (Personally, I want to obtain a quality of life that allows me to leave the world better off because I lived, to live this one life abundantly, and to inspire others to do the same.)

Maybe you have a seemingly impossible dream?  (One of mine is a well-known and loved photography business.)

Can you imagine a world where everyone lives with a clear purpose? Where individuals are accomplishing their goals and living out their dreams?  I can.

Gandhi said one of my favorite quotes, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  So how did I start change in my own life?  The first step to change is arguably the most important, but usually the least often accomplished.  Not because it’s so difficult—it only takes a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a few hours of your time.  Most people just. never. do it.  The first time I was introduced to goal setting was as a freshman in college.

When I first came to Martin, Tennessee, I was a small fish in a big sea with so many distractions I nearly forgot how to swim.  I am very grateful to my rodeo coach, John Luthi, for his confidence in me and his undying dedication to goal setting.  At our weekly team meetings, he taught us to look inside ourselves to find what we want most in life and then make it possible by setting goals, writing them down, and reading them often.  (He tells us we are 400% more likely to reach our goals if read them everyday!)

The reason I am writing this post and trying to persuade you that goal setting is worth a few hours of your time is because I know the difference it has made in my life.  I know the difference it can make in yours too. 

It’s hard to hit a target you don’t have.
— Coach John Luthi, UTM Rodeo Coach

Every human being is born with his or her own talents, dreams, and 24 hours in the day.  We all want to succeed at putting those things together to achieve our dream lifestyle.  So why do so many people settle for ordinary, average, and less-than-fulfilling lives?  I believe the problem is that the overwhelming majority of people do not have specific, measurable goals or any type of plan to achieve them.  

No doubt, writing goals down can be intimidating.  After all, if you have no goals you'll never fail right?  Right... if your definition of success is living out your days with no purpose or direction and very few accomplishments. If that's the case, don't bother reading further.  But in case you do believe in yourself and your God-given purpose, let me address some excuses that may being spreading doubt in your mind right now: 

  • Hey broke people: First of all, I'm one of you and I have good news, writing your goals down is free! (assuming you already have a pencil and McDonald's bag to write on)
  • For those who don’t like to think: We all day dream—goal setting is just taking that jealousy... I mean desire and putting it down on paper.
  • For those who are too busy: We all have 24 hours in the day and spending a few hours right now and a few minutes everyday with your goals will help you prioritize and make the most out of your time.  Since I began writing my goals down, I get more done with more time left over!
  • For those who say they don’t need goals: I'm going to say this as nicely as I possibly can... we are all human and subject to distractions and poor decisions, but having goals and reading them often will make you much less likely to experience setbacks and much more likely to become an even awesomer you.

Folks, this is eeeasy.  Most of us could write outstanding goals in one day just by using the time we normally spend on Facebook and instead focusing that time on giving ourselves a better chance for success.  The process is simple.  I can explain it in four steps:

  1. Write down your priorities, in order—this helps streamline the rest of the process.
  2. Write down your long-term goals—these are the overarching things you want to accomplish (like graduating college, getting a job, traveling the world, etc).
  3. Break those long-term goals into short-term goals—these are the steps you can take now to start working your way toward your long-term goals (turn in every homework assignment, spend five minutes every night looking for new job postings, start saving 5% of your paycheck in an account set apart just for travel). 
  4. Complete your goals by adding a timeline and specific measurements—this is definitely the hardest part because it makes you accountable. However, it's also the most important part because it encourages real action. Challenge yourself! I promise you are more capable than you even know. 

BONUS ROUND: Write down one God Thing.  This is something that is bigger than yourself.  Something only God can help you do.  (My God Thing is my goal of owning a modern day dancehall! :) Why? So I can dance anytime I want to!)

Here's an example of one of my goals. (I like to type them so I can easily update them!)  ps. please don't judge my nerdiness...

Here's an example of one of my goals. (I like to type them so I can easily update them!)

ps. please don't judge my nerdiness...

TROUBLE SHOOTING: 

  • Don’t know where to start?  Try a wild ideas sheet.  List everything you’ve ever wanted to do, from the random, insignificant things (like learn to play the fiddle) to the huge, unimaginable things (say, be financially independent at 40).  Then narrow it down by writing down a reason why you want to do this thing.  If you don’t have a good reason, throw it out.  This process will help you quickly narrow down your list and you will probably start seeing patterns that reflect your priorities.  And the good news is, once you get started it’s usually hard to stop.
  • Having trouble actually putting words on paper?  Spend a day or two thinking about what you would do if money wasn't part of the equation.  Wake up your hearts, people.  If you do nothing else, at least wake up your hearts. 
  • Do your goals sound negative?  Avoid negatives, instead find a way to make them positive.  For example, instead of “Don’t procrastinate” say “Stay ahead”.  This can help you visualize what you actually want to happen and boost your confidence! (Booyah, win win.)

I truly believe that I can do anything.  Not everything, but anything.  I believe you can too.  It requires prioritizing your life and focusing on what is most important to you.  It requires asking yourself daily if what you are doing is helping or hurting your chances of reaching your goals.  It requires first taking a little time to put your goals on paper, and then a little more time to read them often.  (And just so you know, it may take a little more time to check off the goals you have accomplished {because you're awesome and you will reach your goals} and set new, higher goals!)

To sum it all up, this very easy and simple commitment has the potential to dramatically affect your life for the better.  I know I wouldn't even be writing this now if I hadn't been writing my goals down and reading them often.  And seriously, what do you have to lose?  One of my favorite Coach Luthi Truths is that “It’s hard to hit a target you don’t have.”  Coach, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Wishing you big goals and even bigger successes!

M