We are all guilty of it at some time or another – setting aside our own personal goals because we are just too busy. We say “I will get to that tomorrow” but the reality is that tomorrow never comes. That means if you really want to accomplish something, there is no waiting for tomorrow … you must start TODAY!
We all live busy, full, complex lives and when we do find ourselves with a sliver of time all we want to do is vegitate, melt into the couch, avoid anything that even hints at requiring thought or energy. So where on earth are you going to find the time to make your own goals a priority? The answer is simple, not easy, but simple: YOU MAKE TIME.
Did the lightbulb just go on? Did you just press your 2 index fingers together and discover the ability to stop time like Evie in Out of This World? Did you figure out how to squeeze 25 hours into your day? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But here are some simple steps to help you find the time for your goals.
- Cut Commitments: Simplifying your life is the way to go. Make a short list of the things that are most important to you. These are things that you will absolutely make time for no matter what, things that you are passionate about, that you love, and that bring you happiness. Everything beyond this list is extraneous. (Just for the record, my list includes: spending time with my family, maintaining my friendships, working out, working, and reading – everything I get done beyond this is extra!) Once you have your short list, start cutting out some of the commitment you have made beyond this list. Book club not stimulating anymore? Tell them you enjoyed your experience, but need to commit your time to other things now. Once you reduce your commitments by just a few things you will be surprised at how much time you have to work on your personal goals.
- Trim Time-Wasters: Every person wastes time on things that could be cut out without making much of an impact on their life. Things like watching TV, playing video games, surfing the internet etc. all can be reduced or eliminated to free up time for working on your goals. Remember, if it is not on your short list, it is not a must-do activity.
- Only One: Having a list of goals is good, but it can also be overwhelming. Just pick one to start with and tuck the list away for a later date. Once you have made some headway on your first goal, you can pick out another one, but don’t get carried away or you will end up overextending yourself.
- Want and Why: Everyone has things they would like to do (“I would love to do yoga once a week,” or “I would kill to be fluent in Spanish,” or “It would be great if I knew how to knit”) but if you are going to achieve your goal, it has to be something that you really want. Figuring out why you want something will provide you with motivation to achieve it.
- Stay Simple: Don’t pick a goal with a footlong checklist to accomplish. Instead make one of the items on the checklist the goal in and of itself. If you set each item as a goal, you will see progress faster and be more motivated to keep plugging away. For example, if you want to go to law school to earn your JD, your first goal might be research schools and your second goal might be apply to schools etc etc.
- Arrange Appointments: Schedule time to work on your goal. This means write it in your calendar, put it in your schedule book, program it in your phone with a reminder and treat it like an appointment with yourself that you cannot afford to postpone. Try to block off at least an hour during the part of the day you are least likely to be interrupted but are not yet too tired. You don’t blow off appointments with other people so don’t blow off appointments with yourself either.
- Plan and Pledge: Write down your goal and devise a plan with action items and deadlines. Tell everyone about your plan so they can hold you accountable.
- Find Focus: Staying focused is probably one of the hardest things, especially as tiem progresses – at first you are excited to tackle your goal, but fatigue and distraction shortly set in and focus become difficult. Set reminders for yourself of things you need to accomplish. Hang a visual image of your goal (words or pictures) somewhere you see it often (bathroom mirror, computer screen saver, on the ceiling above your bed etc.). Encourage others to ask you about your progress routinely.
- Regular Routine: If your goal is a longterm goal or one that will take a lot of time to accomplish, it is best to make working on it part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine. If it needs daily work (ex: exercise routine) then schedule it between 2 already engrained activities (eat breakfast, exercise, shower). For some things a weekly schedule works better (ex: household chores) so you should pick a day and a time to do each chore and set yourself reminders. For other things monthly is best (ex: paying bills); block off time in your calendar for these items.