Oprah put hers on a vision board. Basketball legend Michael Jordan never bothered to write his down (but this didn’t preclude his achievements). Some people travel to far-off locations like India (we see you Eat, Pray, Love) or even outer space to make theirs happen. Yes, we’re talking about your dreams and goals. Namely, how you can make your audacious plans a reality
First, pick up a pen
You’re more likely to achieve your goals if your write them down. Research by Dominican University of California psychology professor Dr Gail Matthews found that people who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a friend had a much higher success rate than those who kept their goals to themselves.1
Start by writing down your goals. Think about the professional, personal and financial. Performance coach Matt Mayberry suggests setting the timer on your phone for three minutes and simply writing down your dreams.
“There will be roadblocks to consider, a lack of money and a million and one other obstacles,” Mayberry says. “But don't worry about those things; if you set a stopwatch for three minutes, that short time span will force you to focus and write down what’s really in your heart instead of to waste time on the challenges down the road.”2
From this list, think about the eight to 10 goals, across your whole life, that you really want to achieve. Then, break these into bite-sized pieces. These pieces represent the smallest steps you can start taking today to build up to the big marbles.
Think about your financial goals
Money is a foundation for achieving your goals. With healthy savings and a safety net (such as paid-up insurance), you can take calculated risks and generally back yourself as you work towards what you want to achieve.
But to build healthy savings, you need a plan. How much do you need to save? And to get to this level, how much do you need to put away on a regular basis? ASIC’s MoneySmart savings goal calculator can help you crunch the numbers and come up with a fortnightly or weekly target amount.
Then, make sure your money regularly gets put away. Put technology to work and use automated payments to transfer the funds somewhere that’s harder to get to. This could be in a separate savings account that sits aside from your day-to-day banking account.
Staying the uneven course
Achieving goals is a non-linear process. It can be challenging and involve steps forwards, backwards and sideways. The important point is to keep moving in the direction of your dreams.
The timeline between setting and achieving a goal can seem infinite. It may be useful to set some milestones along the way to mark your progress and ensure you’re heading in the right direction. Maybe include some nice rewards for yourself for meeting the milestones you hit along the way.
Be forgiving if things go awry and suppress your inner perfectionist. Blew the budget this month? Okay, reset, have a think about what went wrong and get back on the horse. Think of the words of early movie star Mary Pickford, on staying the course: “Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”3
Good luck on the journey.
1 Dominican University of California, ‘Study demonstrates that writing goals enhances goal achievement’, 5 January 2017, www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-demonstrates-that-writing-goals-enhances-goal-achievement, www.dominican.edu/academics/ahss/undergraduate-programs/psych/faculty/assets-gail-matthews/researchsummary2.pdf.
2 Mayberry, M., ‘The Power of Writing Down Your Goals’, Entrepreneur, 9 December 2016, www.entrepreneur.com/article/286083.