#43: Ready, Aim, Fire!

#43: Ready, Aim, Fire!

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar

I have never considered myself a particularly goal-oriented person. The phlegmatic side of me wants to take life as it comes, stopping along the way to smell the roses and have a Pajama Day every now and then. If truth be told, though, this often turns into a bad case of procrastination, and before I know it, no roses have actually been sniffed and little of value has been accomplished.

A few years ago, probably around the time I rounded an age-related milestone (ahem), I stopped and did an assessment of my life. I was shocked to realize I had been living back in the States, after my stint in Romania, for several years already. It really felt like I had just returned!

Where had the time gone? It was as if one month had turned into a year and a year had turned into five. I felt like I was on a train barreling down the tracks to a destination unknown, and I decided, somewhere in the midst of my stirring rendition of “Sunrise, Sunset”, that I wasn’t okay with that. Something had to change.

The sad truth is there’s nothing we can do about how “swiftly go the years”. We can, however, do something about using that speed-of-light time wisely.

Now, fortunately, my phlegmatic side is balanced by an equally persuasive, structured, planner side. And y’know, there’s room for both to reside happily inside my little head. The problem, though, was that I was allowing the MAÑANA side of me to govern parts of my life that needed to see some things happen TODAY.

This was when I discovered the joy of creating goals. I’m not talking about your typical New Year’s resolutions that are broken before you flip your calendar page for the first time that year. I’m talking about any-time-of-the-year, real live, attainable GOALS.

Now, I happen to be a huge Dave Ramsey fan, and one of the things on the Total Money Makeover website is a goal tracker page where you can list your goals in seven different areas: financial, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, career and family. You can then make smaller action steps and check them off as you go.

I don’t know about you, but I love checking things off. When I make a To Do list, as I also love to do, and then do something throughout the course of the day that’s NOT on the list, I add it just so I can check it off.

It makes my heart sing.

But back to the goals. You are advised to make SMART goals. This acronym comes from Paul J. Meyer’s book, Attitude is Everything. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

I also love acronyms. When I can remember them.

So instead of a vague goal of “losing weight this year”, a more committed goal would be “By June 1, 2013, I will lose 30 pounds by eating clean, watching my calorie intake and working out 4 days a week.”

It’s Specific: I’ve stated exactly how I’m planning to accomplish it.
It’s Measurable: Lord knows that scale ain’t gonna lie!
It’s Attainable: 30 pounds in 4-5 months is within the realm of safe and appropriate weight loss.
It’s Relevant: Um, unless I want to look like the Incredible Hulk bursting through my pants…
It’s Time-Bound: I’ve stated the finish date. If I don’t accomplish it by then, the date will turn RED on my goal page, and that’s just obnoxious.

As I’ve learned to set goals, I’ve found that reviewing them frequently has been beneficial for keeping me on track. Another thing helpful for someone like me who, admittedly, has a fantasy relationship with time, is keeping a calendar in plain sight. I now have this one on the back of my bedroom door. Writing goals and action steps on that keeps me more aware of where I am as time slips by.

And just as an added challenge, I like to create at least one Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to work on at any given time. For a while, this was to pay off my second mortgage, which I did last spring. This year, in addition to my regular financial goals, it is to save up for a kitchen upgrade by the end of the summer.

Will I make this one? Time will tell, but I’ll keep you posted!

 

~ Susan

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