Tomorrow; 12/13/11, I turn 40. Five years ago; prior to my diagnosis of MS, I made lofty plans for this milestone. I intended to do something exciting, exhilarating, dangerous, and fun. One thought was sky diving. I thought I would mark the day with a death defying act of acknowledgement. I researched all of the local schools. I wanted to prove to myself and the rest of the world that growing old didn’t start at 40 and as far as I was concerned, wouldn’t until I hit the grand respectable age of at least 85. Then and only then would I consider slowing down. Fate had other plans for me. No; as birthdays go, this event will pass fairly quietly. I will pour myself a glass of wine, settle in by a nice warm fire, and update my list of short and long term goals; a simple method for keeping my dreams on track.
Planning is the foundation of success. Goal setting helps achieve the things you want to accomplish; you are, in affect, signing a contract with yourself to get something done by a certain amount of time.
- Short term goals are something you wish to achieve in the next couple of months. These can also be measured out as individual steps towards achieving a long term goal. (I; in fact, use my short term goals to establish a well defined plan of action) When setting short term goals, keep the objective and the time frame realistic. I keep my short term goals very specific.
- Long term goals are objectives you wish to complete in year sequences. For instance you may plan to take a trip somewhere in the next 1-3 years. That is your long term goal. Your short term goal for this might be to save a minimum of $100.00 a month towards that long range goal. I keep my long term goals more general.
My personal plan for approaching this list? Each year I sit down on my birthday and I pull out my list. I mark all of my achievements and reflect on the memories of them. I then begin my new list. Some things are carried over to the new list, some things are discarded, and some new items are added. I also have a second section on my list; I outline personal qualities or traits that are important to me to keep or work on. This reminds me of the person I strive to be on a daily basis; because, I keep a copy of my goals/qualities as the first page in my daily planner that I see every day first thing in the morning.
To begin a list you need to ask yourself some questions. What is important to me? What do I need? What do I want? Narrow this list down to your top 5 most achievable goals. This is important because you need to be able to actually see results for this to be a meaningful exercise. Next determine the time frame it will take to accomplish these things. Then break your list out to into action steps; things you will need to do in order to accomplish this goal. Apply time frames to each of these steps and place them on your planner calendar. Place this list somewhere you will see it every single day. When your list is constantly reminding you of what is important to you, you are more likely to work towards achieving your goals. Keep it a living document. If you set your birthday as the day you will modify the list and mark achievements it becomes more meaningful.
Here’s to the last 40 years; and here’s to the next 40, may they be even better yet.