There was a song back in the hippie days that went “La, la, la, la, la, la,
live for today . . . for tomorrow never comes.”
A popular saying back then was “Be here now.” I think it came from Eastern philosophy that was popular after the Beatles started following a spiritual guru from India. I’m all for being in the moment and smelling the roses, but tomorrow does come.
You say that isn’t your generation.
You don’t think like that.
Fantastic. But it’s easy to lose track of your goals when you are paying attention to all the details of life.
Keeping up with laundry, cooking, kids’ activities, and all the little things that need to be done to keep everyone ready for tomorrow can take up a lot of real estate in your brain. Then there is taking care of the car, the house, and paying the bills on time.
It’s a series of small but important victories. Some days it’s a small miracle getting it all done. It’s easy to become absorbed in to-do lists and keeping up with day-to-day needs.
Building vs. Coping
I am all for taking good care of our families and daily responsibilities. But take a moment to consider: what you are building?
- Have you set goals for yourself and/or your family?
- Are your goals clear and well defined?
- Have you broken down your goals into small steps?
- Can you measure your progress toward your goals?
- Can you visualize that progress?
Setting Goals Is Essential
I won’t tell you what your goals should be, financial or otherwise. If you don’t have any goals you might drift through life. Possibly happily or possibly not. But tomorrow will come.
Living for today alone will bring some major problems down the road. If you don’t plan for your retirements years, you may arrive at your golden years only to find them financially stressful.
It’s a well-known saying: If you fail you plan; you plan to fail. A bit strongly worded, but true in most cases. How can you plan to succeed? This is where more plans break down.
The Secret to Making Goals Achievable
I’m sharing a little bit of what I learned as a teacher. To make real gains in achievement, people need to see specific steps to take. Take these steps in order and you will succeed. Teachers often break down a new math skill for example, into the skill sets needed to accomplish the new skill. It’s the teacher’s job to make sure each student has mastered the required subset of skills needed. Review and reteaching is needed sometimes, but without those basic steps, the students will not learn the new more complicated math skill.
If You Don’t Make Your Goals Specific, They Are Only Dreams
You can say it’s your goal all you like, but just saying won’t make it happen. Parents tell their kids, “You can be anything you want to be.” That’s fine, but by the time the children reach high school, parents need to be laying out what is needed to pursue a particular career. If the child really wants to pursue a career then they have to show they can make the grades in certain subjects to continue in pursuit of that career. Break it down into what’s required and take it a step at a time.
An achievable goal can be broken down into steps. If not, the goal was not specific enough.
For example, if you say your goal is to be rich, you can’t break that down into steps. You might buy things that you think rich people buy so that you can feel rich. This works only so long until the credit cards catch up with you. This is the sad situation for so many people. They want to feel rich without earning the kind of money that can support that lifestyle. It’s living in a dream world and it always ends in a bad financial situation.
When you have a goal that is measurable, break it down into several intermediate steps that will allow you to achieve the main goal. Then take each one of those steps and break it down further into smaller steps that make the intermediate step possible.
Welcome to Your New Game Plan
Your game plan should be written in ways that make sense to you. It will be a work in progress sometimes as you learn new information. Keeping it as an online document makes it easier to make changes as needed. Or you might prefer to keep it in a loose leaf binder where you can put in new pages with new steps.
If you get stuck at a step, it’s time to research it further to find what you still need to know/do as requirements to accomplish that step.
Keep breaking down steps into do-able specific behaviors. You don’t have to break down every step if it’s obvious what to do. Also you don’t have to break down every intermediate step if it’s obvious what to do.
Be sure to celebrate when you reach an important step or when you’ve conquered a step that was difficult!
That’s it! You will still have busy days and nights, because that’s life. But you can be assured that all of your efforts are going towards your important goals.
Being a Boomer, I have to say that it’s still good to “Be here now.” I think it’s called “mindfullness” now. Being present in the moment with our kids and families is one of the riches of life. Yes, we are juggling many things trying to keep everyone on task. But take some moments every day to speak from your heart to your kids. Bedtime is perfect for this.