We often find ourselves falling into a routine that isn’t conducive to achieving our goals in life. Time to break free.
So, you have big dreams do you? What are you doing to get there?
Nothing? You think you’re doubling-down on your life and going to get what you want? Let me ask you this: How much television are you watching? How many hours of sleep do you get? How much time do you spend on YouTube or CollegeHumor?
Not that having a little entertainment, sleeping in or enjoying the latest viral videos aren’t important, but are they helping you get what you want?
I’ve recently decided to double-down on my own dream, so this article is especially relevant to me right now. I’ve written a lot on the subject of life management, like how Google Voice can make your life easier and how to work your email like a CEO. But this is going to be all about building the structure in your life to make it happen.
Write it Down
Goals. Goals. Goals. We all have them. For instance, sure it would be great to see $1,000,000 in my portfolio, but if I don’t have a plan, some tactics and guideposts, it is probably never, ever going to happen.
Here is what I mean:
Goal: Write and Publish a Novel
- Determine the story
- Find themes
- Develop characters in relation to the story and themes
- All other plot building … (lots of work here!)
- Write. Write. Write.
- Write some more.
There are obviously a lot of steps to this process, but in the end, the goal is to write a novel. You can’t if you don’t do the other things first. When you are setting up goals for your dreams, you need to think of the way you’re going to work to get there. The goal itself is a great starting point, but it is only that, the start. The journey is the important factor.
From here, you should schedule time to work on these goals. Week 1: Determine the story. Week 2: Find and develop themes. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time, and stick to it. Most people had to write a long essay, or produce a video project, or develop a project in college and got it done. Why? The professor imposed a timeline that wasn’t negotiable. Now you have the benefit of flexibility, use a structure of goals and timelines to your advantage just as you did in school.
In order to give yourself a fair shot at achieving your goals, you need to effectively manage your time.
Manage Your Time
It is your time and you need to act like it. This sometimes means you have to say no to your friends’ request to meet up for drinks. I have had to do it and it sucks because friends are a huge part of my passion and inspiration, but if I have deadlines and tasks that need to get done, I must stick to them.
But more importantly, look at your time outside of your day job. How much time do you spend on e-mail? On reading? On playing? I try to take care of email three times a day. For playing; I try to “play” and do something fun once a day. I’ve even gone so far as to actually schedule in this time. If you don’t, chances are you’ll either do too much of it, or too little.
One of the best leaders I have found is Michael Hyatt. He writes on a lot of topics, but one of them is personal management. He has a blog post, “Calendar Triage” where he explains his three principles:
- Protect the basics (top priorities)
- Eliminate the non-essentials (always review what you have on your plate)
- Re-schedule some of what remains (what can you push to a later date?).
You don’t want to get so rigid that you can’t break your own personal calendar to have fun with your friends or co-workers. But you must know how you want to be spending your time. Perhaps that game of Call of Duty is worth it and you’ve earned it. But it shouldn’t become a way of life, a daily time-suck for you. Just like e-mail and why you shouldn’t be on it all day because you will never actually get anything done.
One of my most favorite people (whom I haven’t even met in real life) is Sam Davidson. He’s a great blogger and thinker and an even better person. He’s going after his big, crazy goal this year and as a part of that he is doing more writing. In fact, most Sundays he posted a religion-focused article. The first sentence reads, “On Sunday, when I write, I do so at length on some topic of religion, Christianity, Jesus stuff, or faith.” I love this because it shows a dedication not only to a specific topic, but also to a time of writing. Sundays are for faith-driven writings.
One final note however is to remind you not to live and die by the calendar, that structure. The structure of managing your time, however you decide to do it, is meant to serve as a guidepost. A reminder of, “Hey, this is important. Pay attention to me, dude!” I set up time in my calendar to workout, to catch up on reading, to have morning and after-work coffee and drinks with friends. I find if I don’t, it won’t happen.
Double-Down on Your Dream
I put this section last because it is the most balls-to-the-wall part of this whole “chasing your dream” thing. Plus, once you know what your goals are and have your time managed in an effective way, it is much easier to make it happen. I have been lucky for the past year to be living in New York City chasing my dream. I have met with people in the technology startup field who are doing this, on a daily basis. Everyone here in the city obviously has a dream of becoming the next Meryl Streep, Twitter founder and Stephen King. Of course few will get there, but it is about going after the dream.
If your dream is going to be hard where you live, perhaps it is time to think about moving to where you can make it happen.
How do you know you’re doing this? When you can only think about your dream, and only your dream, day-in and day-out.
Keep in mind, these are just starting points. This is in no way meant to tell you to build a complete structure in your life to the point where you are scheduling dinner and sleep-time. It’s okay to break your own rules. But without the structure, without the goals and knowing what you want and how you intend to get there, it is going to be extremely difficult and damn near impossible to make a true, wholehearted effort at getting there.
Because 2012 is the year of double-ing down for me, figure to see more of these topics coming from me. What things would you like to see written?