I’ve been face-to-face with 365 new days in the most adverse conditions: excited, overwhelmed, peaceful, scared or a mix of all these sensations.
I dreamt eyes wide open, I thought about great changes and made plans, or at least I thought I did. I chose in my mind what I’d improve, change, get, and I thought of what to do in order to achieve it, then I got started.
Last year, boosted by my will to become a freelancer, without having any idea of how to start, I read some books regarding this topic, I bought some workbooks and sat with papers, post-it, pens, markers ready to begin.
And you know what I found out?
That I had not the least idea what ’defining a goal’ and ’planning’ really meant.
I’m not talking about tools because I’ve worked in a company for many years so project management is a faithful companion, but it’s one thing to manage, programme and develop a project assigned to you or entrust it to your team and it’s another to really understand WHERE YOU WANT TO GO!
You can be a manager, an employee, a freelancer or you can be at home for few years without knowing how to escape from a life you don’t recognize anymore, but if you want to do something different and try to achieve your dreams you have to plan it.
And this applies to all aspects of your life, not only to the business ones.
What does this mean?
DEDICATE SOME TIME TO FIND AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
Vague thoughts, momentary sensations and sudden ideas are not goals, you end putting them aside as soon as some unforeseen event or simply life gets in the way. It will not be easy, maybe you have to bang your head against it a little, dig further, make priorities and take decisions.
And if you are thinking ’It’s late now, it’s already end of January’, it doesn’t matter. It’s never too late to decide what you want and plan how to get it. We use January as a matter of convention but in the end what’s important is to DO IT.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
Defining that you want a certain job in a certain field within a year, or deciding that you want to become a yoga teacher is not enough.
You have a goal, a desire, a dream because realizing it will make you FEEL in a certain way.
We want economic freedom to feel peaceful, free and satisfied. We want a certain job because we pursue the feeling that we are making a contribution in the creation of something.
Defining our deepest motivation is fundamental for many reasons:
- It will be the engine leading and supporting us during difficult times;
- It will help us to select things to do, and not do;
- It will be the cue to find alternative paths and activities for your plan B in case of need
Danielle Laporte and her Desire Map can open up a whole word regarding this topic.
YOU HAVE TO WRITE IT DOWN
10 years in a company and 20 of private life (let me consider the first 10 years as a bonus, even if I would have paid someone to let me know about planning when I had to choose my College) and I’ve never written, black and white, where I wanted to be in 5 years, 1 years or even the next 6 months.
Let me be clear, I had dreams, projects and I did many things, but the general plan and the path to reach them remained in my mind. So the first time I heard about “Write it down” I went into total shock, it seemed to me simple and intuitive so why I had never done it?
If you don’t write it down you’ll weave around many things, you won’t be clear about what leads you towards the desired direction and most probably you’ll repeat what you did the previous year.
Same behaviours = same results.
This is merciless but true, and leads to a single effect: it gives you even more the sensation that what you dream is not reachable.
YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL? PERFECT!
When you set a goal that really inspire you, you don’t have to know each necessary step nor to have the necessary skills yet. Otherwise it would be just a list of actions to be done in your to do list.
Planning means to figure out and understand what you have to do, what you need to learn, what people you need around you in order to reach your goal. It’s unnecessary to know all the steps from the beginning to the end: define the first ones, check your direction while walking and, if you did something wrong, just re-calculate the route.
TAILOR GOALS AND METHODS TO YOURSELF
If you feel stuck, unfulfilled with your life and if you’ve tried everything but each time you go back to the beginning, then setting 10 goals in different areas of your life will be useless and counter-productive. You’ll feel overwhelmed and this will be another year where you fail all your good intentions in a month.
At the beginning choose just ONE single goal. It will require time, changing habits, difficulties but you will be focused and you will have the necessary energies to achieve it. If you have already familiar to planning, then you can take it a little further.
Personally, it works for me to chose 2 or 3 macro goals maximum and I have the peace of mind to know that if I achieve them it’s easy to add another one.
BE FLEXIBLE AND RESCHEDULE PERIODICALLY
Planning is not a fixed list of tasks already in your agenda for the next 12 months, that give you a reason to punish yourself if you don’t comply with it. You have to periodically check how you’re moving, what works and what does not, be ready to adapt again your plan and sometimes your final goal.
If you’re sick of ending your years feeling unfulfilled with what you did,
if you feel you’ve always done many things and spent lots of energy without getting where you want to be,
try to take the first step towards change, give it a try and set your first goal!