Envision the Possibilities
Many of us have ambitions in life that we are afraid to pursue because the end goal seems impossible. Maybe you’ve always admired people you know who have run a marathon, lost weight, or quit their job to start their own business. They were able to reach a seemingly impossible goal. Yet, when you consider doing one of these things yourself, you’re not quite sure you have it in you.
Well, we believe you do! As professional organizers, we’ve seen many clients tackle their most daunting organizing fears. Sometimes it’s about clearing a major amount of clutter from a garage or basement; sometimes it’s about overcoming a disorder that causes them to be chronically disorganized. We are inspired by their ability to identify a need and set a goal to address it.
There are certainly many different methods to reaching your goals, but we believe the most successful journey begins with a plan. This not only helps you see where you’re going, but it lets you find encouragement when you realize how far you’ve come. Here are a few steps to help you start the process of making the impossible possible.
#1: Start at the end.
To really see the possibilities in your life, start by looking at the big picture. Imagine yourself living after your goals have been fulfilled. To do this, write down answers to questions like: What do you want to accomplish? What are your dreams? What would bring you satisfaction and contentment? Where would you like to be in 5, 10, 20+ years?
#2: Translate dreams into goals.
Now, turn your answers into specific goals. For example, if you see yourself owning your own business in 5 years, one of your goals may be to create or improve your home office. As you write down your goals, also include a statement about why you want to accomplish this. This will help motivate you to work hard and not give up. Think again about the big picture. What possibilities will open up for you once you accomplish this goal?
#3: Break Your Goals Down into Projects and Actions
Once you’ve defined a specific goal, it’s time to figure out what steps you will have to take to reach that goal. These are your action steps or projects that you have to complete to be successful at the end. This is where the work happens. By breaking down your goal into straightforward, bite-sized projects, you can slowly by surely work your way closer to your ultimate goal. Each time you check off an action plan as completed, you’ll gain confidence and momentum to envision the possibilities.
#4: Change the way you think about time.
The idea of “time management” might seem rigid and business-like, but what we are really talking about is how you decide to use the time you have. Now that you have clearly-defined your goals, you can make better choices about how you spend your time. Make your goal a priority and schedule time in your day to complete your action steps. And stay committed…if you’ve blocked out 2 hours to clean a corner of your basement, don’t spend those two hours answering emails and surfing the Internet!
#5: Protect Your Priorities
It can be really easy to let distractions take over your day. That’s why we recommend keeping a calendar of all your appointments and activities, including your action plans. It’s a great visual reminder to place key actions and milestones on specific days, and it discourages you from over-scheduling yourself.
It also helps you protect your priorities, whether family, church, work, or personal goals. Your calendar is a record of your time. Once you block out time for an activity, you know you are unavailable for other things and can more assertively say “no” to others’ requests and demands for your attention. Only schedule activities that help you uphold your responsibilities and priorities.
#6: Change Your Habits
Aiming for a new goal will undoubtedly require you to change some of your current habits. Maybe you need to get up an hour earlier to get a jump-start on your day. Perhaps you need to learn how to plan your meals and grocery shopping so that you are more efficient.
To decide which habits you need to work on, try tracking your time for a few days. First, make a list of your typical activities: phone calls, emails, Internet surfing, playing games, billing hours, household chores, school work—whatever fits for your career and lifestyle.
Now divide the day into blocks of 15 minutes, half hours, or hours and write down how you are spending your time. After three or four days, review your time. Are you happy with how you are spending your time? Are you being efficient with the time you have? If not, make a point to develop new habits that will help you reach your goals.
#7: Celebrate and Reflect
When you finally reach success, celebrate! You don’t have to wait until you’ve fulfilled you ultimate goal—celebrate a little each time you complete an action goal or hit an important milestone.
This is also a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come. Look back at your calendar to see how hard you’ve worked. Talk about your success with your spouse, best friend, co-worker, or boss. Think about the lessons you’ve learned and how you can apply them to your future action plans and goals.
We really think you will be amazed at the possibilities that open up if you just spend some time planning and tracking your steps to reach your goals. It might seem like an extra step, but it’s a necessary step because it gives you focus and stimulates your brain to think creatively and be productive. You’ll be able to see that what seems impossible is actually within your reach if you really want it!