Set goals and paint a bright picture of your life

Set goals and paint a bright picture of your life

I see many people in life being pulled or pushed along by other people with no clear direction for themselves – and no goals. This article is about how to set goals.

Watch the video, or read on below.

With no direction people soon end up somewhere where they didn’t want to be. That may be the wrong company, the wrong role or working with the wrong people – or all. But more importantly, they often become the kind of person they didn’t want to become.

One way to tackle this is to Paint a Picture of the future and set goals.

I don’t mean using paint and paper – although if you’re skilled enough, why not?

I mean grabbing a sheet of paper and writing down what your future, 10 years from now, looks like.

  1. What do you want to have achieved?
  2. Who do you want to help?
  3. Who do you want to become?

This is a hard exercise, but once we have a rich description and list of the items above, we have a True North. We have something to head towards. We have something to set goals against.

Just by writing this down is no guarantee it will come true, but by not having one we’ll likely make ill informed decisions.

In fact, the painted picture is just that – a decision making tool. By knowing what we want, no matter how big or small, we can use it to make decisions about opportunities, problems, obstacles and anything else that comes our way.

World Domination

Our painted picture doesn’t have to be so grand and amazing that it makes us cry, wet ourselves and run in to the woods. It doesn’t have to be so outlandish that we laugh at ourselves for our own delusions of grandeur.

It can be as big or small as we want it to be.

  • Want to set up a business?
  • Want a steady job with a decent income?
  • Want to be calmer around our kids?
  • Want to stand up on stage and present?

It’s about writing down what’s important to you.

Don’t add materialistic stuff to the list – that stuff isn’t important, and it will come on it’s own if you need it.

Write it in the present tense – as though you’ve already achieved it.

Here’s a sample one:

I am strong and fit and have a routine that keeps me healthy so that I can play with my kids. I have written (Name of book here) and self-published it. I work as a manager in a high tech company and have plenty of time to see my kids out of work hours. I meditate daily and journal so I can be relaxed and confident around my kids. I have learned how to do good presentations and am a regular attendee to my local Toast Masters group. I read widely and am learning how to manage my finances. I save 15% of my income to settle my mortgage early.

Set goals for 5 Years

After painting a rich picture of the future it is time to set goals – try writing down some 5 year goals or milestones.

5 years is half way between now and the painted picture. It’s a good measure of progress and it gives us something to aim at.

The 5 year milestones should lead in to the Painted Picture, so it’s time to deconstruct the painted picture and write some goals.

Using the example above:

  1. Goal 1 – Be a regular presenter at Toast Masters measured by my attendance to monthly meetings
  2. Goal 2 – Have the skills and abilities to be a good manager measures against the company definitions and career frame.
  3. Goal 3 – Be meditating daily measured by a habit tracking tool.
  4. Goal 4 – Be saving 10% of income measured by setting up an automated Direct Debit to my savings accounts by the end of this month.
  5. Goal 5 – Have the first draft of the book ready by December.
  6. Goal 6 – Have a weekly work-out routine tracking in a habit tracking tool.

As you can see they all lead in to the 10 year painted picture.

A lot of the world is outside of our control, so it’s important that we can shift, flex and adapt and concentrate on what we can do.

Don’t be too wedded to the painted picture and goals that you don’t notice it may not be what you want anymore – that’s why the 5 year goals gives us a chance to reflect.

We may want to add more to our painted picture, we may want to change some things. But we’ll never know if we don’t start moving towards it – hence the 5 year goals.

Each goal above is measurable. And each one is time-bound by the 5 year marker. Really important when setting goals to make them both measurable (so we know we are done) and time-bound (to give us something to head towards and some self imposed pressure).

One thing you may have noticed in the goals is that they are more focused on routine and habits, than they are on outcomes.

We often cannot control the outcomes, so we must fall in love with the routine. The routine is the work – the outcome is the goodness that should come if we follow the routine. But it is often outside of our control.

For example, when losing weight most people put a weight goal that they want to achieve. I’ve been there – setting some arbitrary goal to weigh 180lbs. This is stressful.

  • What if we don’t meet it (I didn’t)?
  • What if we cannot meet it physically (I’m not sure I’ve ever weighed that except from when I was a teenager)?
  • Was the goal evidence based or a finger in the air? (mine was based on what someone else weighed).

Instead, we need to fall in love with the process and routine of staying fit and healthy – that way we build a habit, rather than stress ourselves out with goals.

Set goals for 1 Year

Now we have some 5 year goals we could take time to set goals for 11 year.

The actions we take today, tomorrow and next week will all compound in to what we can achieve in 1 year. It flies by, so it makes sense to have some 1 year goals that lead in to the 5 year goals – which in turn lead in to the painted picture.

  1. Goal 1 – Find my nearest Toast Masters group and join it measured by attending my first few sessions.
  2. Goal 2 – Speak to my manager about how to become a manager – and put in place a plan for learning, growth and taking on more responsibility measured by having an action plan I can follow at work.
  3. Goal 3 – Start meditating just 1 minute a day measured by tracking in a habit tracking tool.
  4. Goal 4 – Start saving 5% of my income by setting up a Direct Debit measured by the money moving out each month and a growing savings account.
  5. Goal 5 – Outline the book I want to write so I have a basic shell and know the thread of the story measured by printing the outline out and sticking it on my wall.
  6. Goal 6 – Start getting up 15 minutes earlier to start writing the book measured by tracking in a habit tracking tool.
  7. Goal 7 – Start a simple and small workout routine that is achievable and manageable right now measured by tracking in a habit tracking tool.

As you can see they all lead in to the 5 year goals. They are all small in size. They are action orientated. They are all measurable and time bound.

The first step to cultivating our lives is to write down what you want your future to look like. To give yourself a painted picture of it – a True North.

Then break it down in to 5 and 1 year goals.

Then fall in love with the routine.

Then start actioning – every day. These tiny steps compound. This is how I set goals – I hope this helps