I’ve found that I am much more productive if I set concrete goals for myself at different levels: weekly, monthly, and yearly. I also tend to have a few longer-term goals than that, such as earning my college degree, but they do tend to be fewer. I’ve found that if I start with long term goals, I can usually break them into smaller steps, then break them down again as much as I need to in order to get them to more manageable size.
For example, I am working toward my college degree. I started this years ago, but got sidetracked when I left the engineering program I was in; I got caught up in day to day life. So, about 4 years ago, I set the goal of finally completing my degree.
Then I broke it down into steps:
- Go to community college and take a few classes to see if I could really settle down and be serious about this.
- Determine what I want to study.
- Find out what is required to graduate with a 2-year degree in that and start classes.
- Talk to an advisor about my course of action and the required courses and ensure that my major will transfer to a four-year school.
- Break down semester which courses I need and take them.
- Find out what I need to do to transfer to the four-year school and then do it.
This sounds obvious, but it isn’t always: take a really big goal and break it down into steps. Think of it this way: “What can I do to work toward that this year? How about by month? How about each week?” It can make overwhelming goals easier to face and to achieve.
Something else to think about is setting goals for different parts of your life. I’ve got goals for education, my spiritual life, my family life, self-improvement, physical fitness, emotional well-being, and so on. Think of different areas of your life that you would like to improve and set goals for each. They certainly don’t have to be major life-changing goals like getting a college degree or changing careers; they could be as simple as “read a classic book once a month” or “learn to cook one new healthy recipe a week.”
Sites that I’ve found that may be useful:
- 43 Things (one of my favorites)
- My Goals (I haven’t actually used this site but it sounds interesting)