Does anyone like plans as much as I do? I love plans! I think a solid plan is a foundation for success. “I’ll just wing it”, says no successful person, ever. It helps you stay organized, it gives you something to look forward to and it helps reduce uncertainties. Sure, things will always come up, but better spend time managing the unpredictable rather than spending your time trying to guess the things you could have planned for. At the same time, I do think there is such a thing as making too many plans. I mean, it’s no coincidence that people who say they want to be doctors become doctors, but those who say they want to be president/truck driving end up having to pick just one…
Anyhow… from my experience, I do better when I have a short list of plans. The longer my list of plans or things to do, the less likely I am to do anything on the list, let alone achieve them all. The failures I encountered trying to do too many things at once have taught me to tackle one thing at a time, and truth be told, I have never been this successful and happy in my entire life. I don’t want to solely attribute that to my great planning skills. Because some of it also has to do with age, as we learn to get more established in our careers and become more content with ourselves.
While my mental state and level of satisfaction with my life are a matter of opinion, my milestones are not. I want to say this as the holiday season approaches, because I know many people will be tempted to have an endless New Year’s resolution list. I want you to know that you’re more likely to do well when you set realistic goals and just a couple of them. You don’t want to be slowed down or discouraged by your own ambitions. Take a look below at how realistic, achievable and specific goal setting changed my life.
Here is my list of goals around the time I finished undergrad:
- Get a job
- Go out all summer (I live in a cold climate so summer is prime socializing season)
- Get promoted
- Get a boyfriend
- Get my own place
- Travel the world
- Get a new car
The only thing I managed to do was get a job, which I hated.
Here’s my list of goals a few years a later:
- Get a job I like. I will take my time to interview with different places. I have a job right now and I am not desperate. There’s no need to jump at the first offer. I will assess the organization, their values and the entire package, not just the pay. Because no matter how much money I make or how easy the work is, being miserable somewhere I spend 40 hours a week makes no sense.
- Go to grad school. I’ll study for the GMAT and apply to a couple of different schools. I will take it seriously and will do research to know what to expect in interviews and essays. Because my job will pay for it, so there’s no sense in leaving free education on the table when it makes me more marketable .
- Meet my future husband. I will invest no time into men or relationships that will lead nowhere. My time is precious and a finite resource. Once invested, I can’t get it back. I will not settle, because consequences can last a lifetime.
- Buy a house. I will save for a 20% down payment. That will ensure the best rate and it will ensure I get a place I can afford the monthly payments. Because if I get it in a good location, it could be a lifetime investment.
Can you tell the differences between the first 2 lists? I don’t know if you can pick up on them, but I’ll say that everything on list #2 has been accomplished. I like my job, I graduated with my MBA in May, I’m married and I bought a house (not in that order ;P).
What’s your trick for keeping your eye on the ball?