The Ultimate Goals Planner: 10 Practical Tips to Make Your Dreams a Reality
Does the idea of failing at your life goals make you break out in a cold sweat? Have no fear, this goals planner will help you achieve anything you put your mind to.
When I was in college, I had a friend named Claudia I really looked up to. She was 2 years ahead of me in the pre-med program, so she was always my go-to for help with classes. A lot of freshman are pre-med. But most of them (myself included) don’t actually make it to medical school. This girl was different.
Claudia’s dream was to be like Patch Adams. She wanted to train at his institute in West Virginia. This girl was just amazing. Claudia had excellent grades, but never seemed flustered. She had a close group of friends. She painted and played guitar. This girl even started a clothing drive for a group of homeless people she met near her neighborhood.
If I had to describe Claudia with one story, it would be this. One year, she organized a charity dinner to raise the money to fund a medical mission trip to Haiti. While she was in Haiti, she assisted in performing surgeries and even had the opportunity to perform a few herself. As an UNDERGRAD. Who does things like that?! Can you imagine putting THAT on your resume?!
Like I said, Claudia was amazing. It seemed like she had this crazy ability to make magic happen. But what was really behind Claudia’s magical abilities was a recipe for success that I didn’t learn until much later in my life. Want to learn her secret? Plan your goals with these 10 tips, and get ready to leave the muggle life behind.
1. Have a dream
What do you want to accomplish with your life? Think about where you want to live, what you want to do, and who you want to do it with. Claudia knew exactly where she wanted to go to school and who she wanted to work with. There was no Plan B. If you aren’t really sure about yours, vision boards are a great way to get some clarity when planning your goals.
2. Balance your goals
When I was school, my life was very one-sided. I would either be in total study mode, with no social life, no fun, and be fully focused on my GPA. Then I would lose my mind and do the total opposite, skipping mid-terms to go surfing (yes, really!) or racking up my credit card to redecorate my apartment. Both of those extremes are bananas!
Healthy people like Claudia have goals in many areas of their life. Some ideas for well-balanced goals could be to get 6 A’s this quarter, shave 30 seconds off your mile time, read 2 non-school books, try that crazy aerial yoga class with your sister, and learn 3 basic chords on the ukulele.
Planning for a variety of goals like this enables you be a whole person. A person who is smart, healthy, connected, fun, AND interesting. Doesn’t that sound so much better?
3. Plan your goals by writing them down
There is something powerful about making a record of your goals. Goals that exist only in our heads are called wishes or dreams. Writing goals down and creating a plan to achieve them are the first steps toward taking action. That’s what makes a dream a goal. That’s what turns a dream into reality.
4. Create a purpose
Think about WHY you want to accomplish the goals you’re planning for. Studying Pre-Calc for 4 hours is hard enough, but it’s even harder if there’s no purpose behind it. WHY do you care about Pre-Calc?
You care because you’re gonna need a good foundation for all those Calc classes in college to become an engineer, become an astronaut, and join a crew on a mission to Mars. That’s why. It might be hard to get excited about differentials, but it’s pretty easy to get excited about being one of the first people to set foot on the Red Planet. Game. On.
5. Set mini goals
Life goals are a little intimidating, no? (PS: If your life goals DON’T scare you, you need to think bigger, Darling!) The best trick I’ve learned to deal with an overwhelming goal is to break it down. Finding the cure to cancer a little intimidating? Take a step back. How about medical school? Is that overwhelming? Then step back again. Is getting into college still too scary?
How about just completing your homework for tonight? Or even just the one assignment you’re working on right now? Break your goals down as small as you need to until you feel like you can breathe. Small actions add up to big accomplishments. Just focus on one step at a time.
Related: 8 Smart Ways to Be More Productive
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6. Think about the consequences and rewards
When you’re tempted to procrastinate or chicken out, it helps to think of the rewards and consequences. If I apply to my dream school, I might get in and everyone will be crazy proud of me. If I don’t apply, I’ll never know if I would have gotten in and might regret backing out for the rest of my life. Thinking about the consequences of each choice can really help your motivation on tough days.
7. Wake up early
Let me go on record right now to say that I am NOT a morning person. So I feel you if you hate getting up early as much as I do. But getting up early gives you a head start. If you start your day productively, you’ll feel accomplished and motivated, which will fuel you for the rest of your day.
Starting your day early actually helps you feel more relaxed too. When you hit snooze and get up 15 minutes before you need to be out the door, you feel rushed and frantic, which just makes you feel more anxious. You’re more likely to forget things and it sets you up for a mess of a day that can be hard to bounce back from. Give a shot. You might find that getting up early is worth it!
Related: How to Start Each Day Happy
8. Plan your goals by talking about them
It’s really important to tell people about your goals, even if you think it sounds ridiculous. When we’re embarrassed to talk about our dreams, it comes down to lack of faith in ourselves. What if I don’t make it? But telling people about your goals and plans makes them real. It makes you feel obligated to follow through with them. And it creates you opportunities to learn and get help from others.
9. Find a buddy
Speaking of accountability, it’s important to have people in your life to keep you on point. Ask for help when you need it. Surround yourself with other people like Claudia, who dream big and do cool things. I’ve heard that we are basically the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Think of who those 5 people are for you. Do they represent who you want to be? If not, you might want to try branching out a bit.
10. Gauge your progress
Check in with yourself once in awhile to see how you’re doing with your goals. Are you making progress on them or just keeping yourself busy? What’s holding you back from your goals and what can you do to get past it? Are you becoming a person you want to be? If not, think about what do you need to do to get back on track. It’s very easy for the big goals to slip from our minds if we don’t hold ourselves accountable.
If I learned one thing from Claudia, it’s that it is definitely possible to work toward a big goal while enjoying your life now. Make plans for your goals and take them seriously, and you can absolutely get where you want to be in life!