Set Better Goals

© ErikSvoboda -
© ErikSvoboda –

Many people suffer from, what I call, a case of the Rational Dreamer – it’s wanting to achieve a big dream but holding yourself back by being risk averse. It’s not wanting to disrupt the status quo. We broke down three ways for the RD to start moving towards the dream.

Part of achieving your dreams is setting goals for yourself. Goals serve many purposes. I consider goals to be checkpoints on the way to a dream. Goals are our “dream thermometers.” They’re an indicator of the viability of the plans we set and they measure the progress we make.

Goals serve as our roadmap. Think about taking a really long road trip with your friends. You start off knowing the destination, but since it’s going to be a really long trip, you’re going to need to make stops along the way.

Before you journey out, you decide you’ll stop a quarter of the way through for food. A half of the way through for gas. 5/6 of the way to sight see. 8/12th of the way for more gas… Do you see where I’m going with this? You establish check points – things to strive for on your way to your destination.

There are two things happening here. You’re accomplishing smaller, more immediate goals that affect and give way to reaching your destination.**

(**I want to make a quick note – I don’t think we ever reach a final “destination.” I think life is a continuous journey. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s call your stretch goal your destination.)

Making sense? So – we’ve got a roadmap with immediate, intermediate, and stretch goals. If we break these down and understand what purpose each one serves, we’ll better understand how to set them so we can move along our map.

This might seem inverted, but we’re starting with stretch goals. These are your long-term goals that will take years to accomplish. This is “destination” I mentioned (destination, for this purpose). It’s important to understand your stretch goals first because it will influence the intermediate and immediate goals. The stretch goal should be big. Some people’s stretch goals might be more specific than others. Some peoples’ might be extremely specific. A specific goal might be “I want to be the CEO of Google,” while a more vague goal would be “I want to produce a national television show,” while an extremely vague goal might be “I want to work in the fashion industry.” I think it’s okay to leave room for interpretation. I would encourage you to try to be as specific as possible and allow for adjustments along the way. Once you establish your stretch goal, it’s time to create the checkpoints on your roadmap.

We’ve established the stretch goal. Now let’s talk first steps. I like to keep immediate goals small and…immediate. I suggest making these weekly goals. The question to ask yourself is “What do I need to get done this week that will contribute to and move me along my desired trajectory?” Okay… you don’t have to say the word “trajectory” to yourself, but no judgments if you do. You get my point, though. What small thing can I do this week that will move me an inch closer to my goal. For writers, it might be writing six pages of that script, or enrolling in a weekly writing class, or posting two new blog posts. Maybe it’s starting a book about the field in which you’d like to work, and getting through half of it. Be realistic – these are small steps that contribute to overall development and growth.

Intermediate goals are broader than immediate goals, but not as far fetching as stretch goals. These are monthly and yearly goals. Is there an apprenticeship or program you could apply for down the line? Does your dream require relocating? Or maybe going back to school? Or quitting your job? Set a timeline for yourself. The immediate goals are your baby steps and they influence the intermediate goals, but the intermediate goals will truly help move you along your trajectory (love that word). Intermediate goals will probably push you outside of your comfort zone more than the immediate goals do, and that’s great. It’s through discomfort that we’re able to grow and become who we want to be.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown

Read more on – a blog dedicated to helping young people go from talking about their careers to having them.

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