Do you consider yourself a planner? It seems that the more “grown up” we get, the more we need to plan. We plan our weekends, we plan our vacations, we plan our dinners and days off and when we are running errands.
We are constantly planning things: big things, little things, important things and not-so-important things.
Sometimes planning makes us feel better and sometimes it makes us overwhelmed. And yet, it’s just a regular part of our day to day lives. Much of it is done without even realizing we are doing it.
So what if we took this skill that we already have, and turned it into a super power?
I was thinking about this this week when I didn’t reach a goal I had set for myself. It’s tempting when this happens to give up making goals. After all, this would spare us the disappointment of “failure”.
It’s the difference between planning and hoping. Hoping for something takes away the risk, the responsibility, and ultimately any power that I have.
As I was trying to work through the disappointment of my not-achieved-goal, and approach the failure from a place of curiosity instead of self-judgment, I realized that goal setting is just the first step of planning for my future. And as we discussed already, we plan for things all the time. Here’s what I came up with.
Goal setting is just setting the destination on the GPS of your life. If we don’t set the GPS, we can end up going nowhere OR really far in a direction that isn’t where we want. If we set a destination, we can then try multiple routes to get there. The route I was trying this week to achieve my goal got me closer, I just haven’t arrived yet.
So I need to recalculate, not go back to where I was.
Setting a goal can not only give direction to our planning, it allows us to intentionally build the life we want. We get to create something great for our future selves, just because we want to.
Conversely, if we don’t set any goals, we can choose to stay where we are. This is totally fine too, IF that’s what you want. There are plenty of good things in my life that can stay just as they are. And there are plenty of good things that I want for my life that aren’t going to magically appear.
But they CAN appear. If I set my goal and try a plan,
if I decide, on purpose, what my destination is going to be.
Ultimately, I would like to have a vacation home. On a lake. With a big porch to drink coffee on.
Financially, I am nowhere near having a vacation home. I don't know the exact approach to getting there. But I have taken some steps: I met with a financial guy, I have paid off debt, I read a book on negotiation and negotiated my salary, I started a business.
But I have other goals too. More subtle goals that were previously in the “hope” bucket.
I hope to have a good day at work.
I hope the coworker drama is minimal today.
I hope I get everything done that I want to get done.
I don’t leave these things to chance anymore. I set them as a goal and get started on a plan. I don't even have to know if the plan is going to work, it just gets me moving, it puts me in control.
When I set these as goals this morning (instead of hopes), here is the plan that came with them.
I am planning to manage my emotions at work no matter what. I can always use my tools of reframing or deep breathing if something stressful comes up. It's ok if I am not great at it every time.
I am going to actively look for ways to support my coworkers today, especially if they are having a bad day.
I am going to look at my schedule and plan the things I want to get done. If I need to re-evaluate I will.
It seems silly, but intentionally planning my day (and how I am going to feel) has literally changed my life. I do it as soon as I get to work and I WRITE IT DOWN (part of my plan to anchor it in my brain).
Most of the time it works great.
Sometimes unexpected obstacles come up and I need to reroute (or stop at a rest stop).
But I am doing it on my terms, with MY destination in mind. I am actively creating the life I want.
What do you hope for? Can you change it into a plan instead? Have you set your GPS? What do you have to lose?
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