Are you on a direct path or are you a hopeless wanderer? Ready, aim (part 2)

I find that when I am not moving steadily toward a goal, but simply following the next new shiny thing, I just end up wandering in circles. Have you experienced this as well?

In part 1 of this 2-part series called “Ready, Aim,” we looked at some of the reasons you may be floundering, and in part 2 we’re going to explore ways to advance on your way to success.

Most of us have too much going on in our lives to be able to wholeheartedly pursue a big goal, but there are ways we can break that goal into smaller parts, and work toward it a little bit at a time. In fact, I have found it more useful to target smaller goals in various areas of my life so that I’m more rounded and stable.

In his book and training called EntreLeadership, author and radio personality Dave Ramsey details the idea of setting goals in different areas of your life or the “wheel of life” as outlined by Zig Ziglar. Ramsey says, “for our lives to be successful as a whole we must address each area. The spokes of goal setting are: career, financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family, social.”

He goes on to say that if you only focus on some of these areas, you will have, in essence, “a flat tire.”

One of the things I struggle with the most is balancing the areas of my life, so I end up spending more time on career, physical and intellectual pursuits and neglect other areas, especially family and social. Because my “big 3” areas come easier for me, that’s what I focus on and end up procrastinating on planning for the other areas. I’m learning to set more practical goals in each of the areas, with steps that are reasonable and measurable so I can see my progress.

Once you have SET your goals, the next step is to start making progress toward accomplishing them. I have found a secret though – break those goals down into manageable bites. The following steps can help make the process less overwhelming:

  • Focus on one or two areas each week: don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish all of your goals at once. Take it slow and focus on one or two “spokes” at a time. Maybe this week you aim to work on physical (maybe walking for 30 minutes two days) and social (meet a friend for coffee). Ease into it.
  • Determine specific next actions: if you are like me, seeing something like “Sally’s birthday” on my to-do list makes my eyes glaze over and I skip it altogether. But if I decide what the next action is to move it forward, I am more likely to make time to work on it. For instance, the first step might be to “talk to Sally to pick a date for the celebration.” That’s probably a phone call, so that’s something concrete I can work into my week. Be sure to determine next actions for each of your goals.
  • Use your calendar: I don’t know about you, but I am much more likely to pay attention to items on my calendar than things on a lengthy to-do list. So make it simple and add the action step to your calendar. Sculpt time to accomplish that next step. One of my goals is to read and study one business book each month. I have limited time to read, often at night before bed, when I tend to fall asleep in the book and then have to reread the next night. Not very conducive to great study.  So I have started blocking out a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to read with a reminder on my computer, so that my time does not slip away. That chime of the reminder helps me stay on track.
  • Start some good habits: Try setting your alarm 15 or 30 minutes earlier in the morning, and use that extra time to exercise, or pray and study the Bible, if those are some of your goals. If you are consistent, then before long, you won’t even be tempted to hit snooze because you will find yourself feeling better because you see progress.
  • Celebrate progress: When you do make significant progress on your goals, take a few minutes to rejoice in that. Share your success with your accountability partner or family. Don’t get lazy though – be happy that you are moving in the right direction and get back to work on that next step!

By taking small steps in the right direction, you will start making visible progress on a particular goal, which will spur progress on other goals. Just think what you can accomplish as you stop wandering and head on a straight path!

What small steps can you take now to get you back on track for your larger goals?