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Goals are the driving force of accomplishments. They’re the kindling that starts the fire and the breath of air that keeps it alive when you’re running low on fuel.
Think about the last big achievement of your life. Did it happen by accident? Maybe you fell into a promotion or your masters degree. Maybe, but probably not.
In truth, you probably pursued that goal with intentional purpose. Somewhere along the road you decided that’s what you wanted and you started working to make it happen.
So, the big questions are, what are your goals and what are you doing to make turn them into a reality?
Every Great Adventure Starts with a Destination
When was the last time you went on a trip?
The last big trip I went on was to Alaska to visit family for a week. My brother and sister in law have lived there for a few years and it was always a dream of ours to visit them.
We talked about it a lot, but it wasn’t until we sat down and talked about HOW we were going to make it happen that we started making progress.
One day we sat down and talked about how much money we wanted for the trip and narrowed down dates we could go. Then we set to work saving money. We waited until we saved the agreed upon amount, then found a great price for flights!
The key ingredient though was sitting down to talk about the details and make a goal. We didn’t want to be those people who said we wanted to do something but never did it because we didn’t plan ahead.
What Are Your Goals for this Year? In 5 Years? In 10 Years?
I’m a firm believer that if you don’t make goals, you won’t accomplish much of anything. Even this blog needs clearly defined goals. Otherwise I’ll muddle around without making much of a difference.
I can’t make goals for you, only you can do that. It might feel daunting and overwhelming to think about goals 5 or 10 years down the road, but it’s so important. If you’re not careful, 5 years will go by and you’ll wonder where the time went and wish you would’ve done more.
I’ve heard this quote a bunch lately and it’s worth restating.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates
You are capable of accomplishing all of your goals, whether it takes one year, five years, or twenty years. The most important thing is to set goals for yourself and start working toward them. It’s okay if it takes years to accomplish! It’s still worth it.
One of our biggest accomplishments was becoming debt free. We made a crazy goal to pay off $73,000 of student loan debt in 5 years, on two teacher salaries. We made sacrifices along the way but always remained focused and driven to achieve our goal. Having a giant thermometer on our fridge helped. 🙂
Want to hear the truly crazy part though? We actually paid it off in less than FOUR YEARS!!!
The goals you create will set the tone and direction for your life. If you want to earn a certain income or save 50% of your income in 5-10 years, start making goals today that move you closer to that goal. Discover what’s important to you and figure out how to make it happen.
The Psychology of Setting Goals
As a teacher, I’m required to set goals every year to help me grow professionally and become a better teacher. I’m not sure if every profession does this, or even if every school, but I know the act of creating goals every year has made me a better teacher, and motivated to improve my craft.
Psychology plays a big role in reaching goals. One reason that Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball works so well is because of the psychology of reaching small goals. When you pay off your smallest debt it gets you excited and motivates you to keep going. It builds a belief that you can do it.
What Happens to Your Brain When You Achieve Your Goals
According to Psychology Today, people who set goals are happier and achieve more than people who don’t set goals.
When you achieve a goal, your brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of pleasure. It basically makes you feel good. And when you feel good and happy, you’re likely to keep pursuing what made you feel that way, more goals.
It’s a win – win situation and creates a cycle of productivity, achievement, and setting new goals.
The most important step in setting a goal is writing it down. When you write a goal it becomes real and more actionable. It gives you a specific sense of direction. And when it’s written down, you can always look back on it for motivation.
What Direction Do You Want Your Life to Go?
Setting goals gives your life a sense of purpose and direction. It doesn’t matter if your goals are related to your career, family, fitness, finances, or in your church. The important thing is you sit down, make a plan for your life, and write down your goals.
Four years ago, we decided we wanted to have a family and buy a house, and of course dogs. Before we could do that we needed to pay off our student loan debt. Without the vision and goal of family, we’d likely still be in massive debt.
Instead, we paid off all of our debt, bought a house, adopted two dogs, and just had a beautiful daughter. Our dreams are coming true and it’s amazing.
When you figure out where you want to be in the next 5-10 years, you find ways to make it happen. Your dreams can be achieved in the form of a series of measurable, actionable goals.
What’s stopping you from getting started?
Let Me Know in the Comments
What are your goals for this year and what are you doing to reach them? What’s stopping you from reaching your goals?