“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis
Do you ever wish that you could accomplish something great in your life, but feel that time has passed you by? Perhaps you are bogged down with work. Maybe the demands of family have you feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you think you are too old, or that time has passed you by. Here is what you need to know: It’s never too late! You have talents, gifts, and skills that the world needs. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish — improved health, finances, education, or anything that enriches your life — achieving your goal is possible.
If you consider the whole of your life, it may appear full of ordinary, everyday things. Work. Household chores. Errands. Eating. Sleeping. These are the small details that fill much of our days. Now widen your perspective. You will begin to see possibilities weaving through those activities. What calls to you? Fulfills you? What brings you joy and happiness? What do you want to accomplish but is not yet done? Many elderly people have reported that their deepest regret is the chances they did not take and the dreams they did not seek. Your life is an incredible gift, and it’s never too late to go after what calls to you.
Ready to get started? Here are 7 ways to start setting goals that will help you achieve your dreams.
1. Decide on a goal that will enrich your life in some way.
Every January, millions of people decide to “eat healthy.” Great goal, right? Yes — but only if you are motivated to improve your diet and you can visualize how that will make your life better. If you set a goal only because “everyone does it” or “research says so” but it has no real value to you, you will not have the motivation to stick with it.
You are the owner of your life; set a goal that has meaning for you.
2. Think big AND think small.
Start with the dream you have for your life, the big picture. Then set a goal based on your dream. For example, if your dream is to retire early and travel, what goal must you achieve to live your dream? In this case, the goal might be to create a financial plan with the money needed and the monthly investments needed to reach the goal. Without a specific goal, the dream remains something vague that you are less likely to go after. Ask yourself: What goal must I set to realize my dream?
The goal is what makes your dream achievable.
3. Write it down.
This is powerful! Something happens to our brains when we put something in writing. First, the physical act of writing helps cement it in memory. Second, writing also becomes a kind of “contract” that we are more likely to honor. Third, we have a visual reminder of the goal we want to accomplish. When you have your goal in mind, experiment with the type of writing you want for it. Do you want to type it and frame it for an official statement? Do you want colors and a creative approach?
Make your goal meaningful and make it mean something.
4. Create a step-by-step for your goal.
This means getting specific. Your goal is your end destination. Now you need to know the steps to get there. Think about sequence and the time needed for each step. Consider money, resources, and other variables. Also, remember that there are many online resources available to you! One easy way to start is to search “how to _______” in your search engine. Use these resources to help you create your plan. For more on specifics, create a SMART goal. (there is lots of information on SMART goals online as well) SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Time-bound.
A detailed plan is your GPS for goal achievement.
5. Give yourself wiggle room.
For many people, the issue is abandoning their goal before reaching it. The opposite is also true: being so rigid in working on a goal that they feel like a failure if one step is not met or something comes up that sets them back. Remember: this is life! Things happen. Kids get sick, cars break down, and relatives visit. Unexpected things happen that may affect your current timeline. Know when to keep pushing, when to modify, and when to rest for a bit. Be realistic and resilient.
The key is to adjust as needed and keep at it.
6. Celebrate your milestones.
The process is just as important as the outcome. Every time you take a step towards your goal, you have accomplished something significant. Celebrate that! Choose a significant way to mark the occasion. Did you pass the test? Woo Hoo! Did you lose 3 pounds last week? Way to go! (this one will blow your mind) Did you fall behind in your plan last week but picked it up again today? Congratulations!
Honor the work you are doing to enrich your life.
7. Get a support system.
Research shows that when we have people to encourage us, to push us, and to help us, we are more likely to reach our goals. When the going gets tough, a support person can listen and provide encouragement. When we just don’t feel like doing the goal work, a support person can help keep you accountable by reminding you of your goal and giving you that push you need to get over the hump. Think about a person or two who you can trust to both help you and push you.
Encouragement + Accountability = Support to help you get there.
That’s it! What part of your life is calling you? What goal can you set to help you achieve your dream?