Last week my friend asked me what my goals are in life. My answer was “Oh, I can actually just show them to you right now. I have them written down here.” He was very surprised that I actually had spent time thinking about my goals, and have them readily available. He said “These are really cool, I wish I also had goals like this.”
That wasn’t the first time I had a conversation like this. Whenever I show my goals to someone, a similar conversation happens. Everybody wants to have some goals but most don’t have any. Perhaps it is because nobody really knows what good are them or what to do with them.
So Really, Why Do I Have Goals?
I basically have goals because there are things I want to achieve in life. I turn these “things I want to achieve” to goals so I don’t just “want” them but I also “act” on them. When I have goals, I can make plans, act on them, track my progress and make adjustments. But if there are no goals, things I want are only ideas somewhere in my head that I remember occasionally.
Goals also make me be much more clear about what I want in life. As I think about my goals and rewrite them, I get forced to think very deeply about things I want in life. I catch myself asking “Do I really want this?” hundred times each time I rewrite my goals. Most people have only vague ideas about what they want in life. And these ideas usually change when they are questioned.
So, What Do My Goals Look Like?
I split my goals into three categories: lifetime goals, five year goals and one year goals. One of my lifetime goals is to be able to live anywhere I want to live. One of my five year goals is to own a business I am proud of that has the potential of being location independent. And one of my one year goals is to create a passive income for myself.
As you can see, goals in these three categories usually complement each other, and that is how it should be for most of them. Lifetime goals help me figure out my five year goals, and five year goals help me craft my one year goals. One year goals are more action oriented, and they are the ones that shape my weekly plans and the small tasks in them.
So, I Have Goals, But What Next?
Having goals is the starting point but obviously they are not enough to achieve anything by themselves. There needs to be a lot of planning and hard work, along with some tools and methods to help with it.
I have my goals written down in a Google Doc. And every week I set up an hour to go over them, to track my progress, and to create a weekly plan with small tasks in it. Reason for making the plan weekly is to have a broader perspective of my tasks. Some tasks spread across multiple days, and a daily plan doesn’t work for that. I also think making a new plan every day is too much effort.
For making weekly plans there are tons of tools available. I started with using Google Sheets. Then I wanted to switch to something fancier and used Trello for the same purpose. Trello’s calendar capabilities were not very satisfying for me, so right now I am trying Google Calendar. Use whatever works for you and experiment until you find the easiest solution. The important thing is to have weekly plans and sticking to them.
So, Is This Really Working?
I have been doing this goals stuff for the past four years. So far, I bootstrapped a profitable business, and I was able to achieve this while managing a full-time job. I don’t think I would be able to spend enough time and energy to make this happen without knowing what I really want in life, and without the willpower my goals provided.
One way to see whether all this is working is to look back and see what changed in life in the past six months. I am usually able to find a couple changes I am happy with. I encourage you too to look back and see if you have enough changes in your life in the past six months you are proud of.