A Simple Blueprint for Achieving Long-Term Goals
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Focus tastes sweet, and goals glow golden as they lovingly beckon. But more often than not, practice proves to be a challenge. I have a mantra that an ex-boss taught me, among others: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
It is funny how, when we start setting goals and begin with a plan in mind, Universe seems to conspire to keep loading an already full plate. This has happened with me so consistently that I’ve actually begun to enjoy it. Of course, part of the planning process is having those contingency plans in place to enable prioritizing on an ongoing basis. In my case, as I make my plan Bs, I also ensure that they conform to my non-negotiables.
Obviously, nobody is stopping me from saying no to some of the mindless requests that come in, but I would be crazy to turn away freelancing work — since there’s no guarantee of regular work. There are times when I have to decline a project. If it has to be done before a deadline, the client simply outsources it to someone else. Not all clients are loyal, no matter how long you’ve known them.
So how do I find a way to reach those goals?
This question brings me to the correct techniques for hitting those goals I’ve set. This month, in particular, is quite loaded with short-term as well as long-term work. I’ve set myself a nice and tight schedule where I must juggle regular clients as well as extra blogging activity in April. I am participating in the A to Z Challenge that involves posting daily — which means 26 posts. That’s a lot. Of course, most participants plan well in advance around a theme and even schedule them so they have the time to visit other blogs and engage. Me, not so much. The intention is always there but life gets in the way. Some stress sneaks in and I just about manage to everything I have on the day’s list.
How am I doing so far?
Not bad, I’d say. I am right on track with my schedule. I have planned my posts. I will write them in my head when I go on my walk every day and then it is a matter of just writing and publishing.
I have penciled in time for the usual client work since that’s the first priority. I am managing my time better by simply minimizing time online.
In the meantime, I’ve also been reading snippets of a book titled “The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life”. The author, Michael Masterson outlines certain techniques that are similar to the ones I followed during my career in Sales and Training.
Among other things, The Pledge is essentially a guide that teaches how to start and finish projects you have been dreaming about for years, besides giving that much-needed confidence boost, with tips to strengthen skills, build wealth, and enjoy life. Ideal, I’d imagine.
According to the author, successful people do not sit around waiting for the perfect moment or reassurance that they will succeed. They know life offers no guarantees. When they set their sights on something, they simply set goals and make a step-by-step action plan to help them accomplish those goals. Successful people realize the cost of failure, compared to the cost of inaction. Failure is a stepping stone, another chance, while inaction is pure regret.
Reminds me of the quote:
It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.— Theodore Roosevelt
In this book, Michael Masterson teaches how to be successful in all areas of life. There are tips for making immediate changes and setting long-term goals. Then he offers strategies to become more productive and discusses why simplifying goals makes them easier to achieve.
These strategies have become a sort of blueprint for me today, for every goal I set. This time is no different.
It all starts with WRITING those goals down. They point you in the right direction. The next step is to simplify these goals.
I break down my goals into monthly, weekly, and daily goals ensuring that I steadily move towards success. Also, breaking my goals down is less intimidating, more achievable.
After all, setting goals is easy and prioritizing them is, too. The tough part? Taking action.
A tiered approach
So the trick is this: a tiered goal-setting strategy that will keep me focused on the daily activities that steadily lead me to my finish line. It is important that I prioritize and shut out distractions that keep me from doing what I have to do.
As I mentioned earlier, it involves breaking those goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Let me give you a simplistic example.
Decades ago, my Mom and I were living on a very tight budget. That didn’t mean we did not have wants and needs. I often confused my wants with needs, naturally. Rather than chide me for my lofty fantasizing, she encouraged me to write a realistic wish-list and keep it in sight and made me believe I can do it.
I wrote down the list.
The list gave me focus. I made an estimate for the wants on my list and put a price on them. I knew what I earned. And I became creative, trying to save whatever I could — on a daily basis. The daily savings — walking instead of taking a cab, taking up every opportunity for extra work, working smarter so I could earn more commissions — all added up.
At the end of the week, I’d gloat on what I’d saved so far and that would motivate me to keep it up.
At the end of the month, I’d be so excited. I had a goal and wouldn’t rest until I reached it.
And then, when I had saved enough — bringing those things home was the sweetest thing.
That three-tiered blueprint has now become a template regardless of the situation.
It works, mainly because it keeps me focused, clear-headed about where I am headed, and inspires me to get there within the deadlines I’ve set myself.
What is your strategy for setting goals and achieving them?
Originally published on Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles. Did you smile today?