This is the second in a series about taking control of you life and making your own path. If you haven’t began yet, check out the first post about making goals for your life. After you have goals for where you want your life to end up, come back to this to make steps for the goals you have.
When I was in middle school I wanted to be an Olympic athlete, a marathon runner to be exact. I was the fastest girl on JV and just knew my 25 minute 5K could win records (reality: nope). When I went to high school I wasn’t the fastest anymore and I knew I would never be an Olympian. That goal was a little to unreasonable and I didn’t have any idea on how to get there. Lucky for me, my new coach showed me how I could reach something a little more attainable, college running.
When I changed my goal from Olympian to College Athlete, I knew I needed steps. I had two years to become the fastest runner in the school as well as get picked up by a college. I vowed to run every day, cross train, and embrace the hills and tempo work. At the end of two years, I signed on to a college for a decent scholarship. I had made my goal. In the end my time was down to 22 minutes, the fastest girl in the school. (but no where near the fastest in college, that’s a whole new story).
This posting, like that story, will focus on the need for steps ALONG SIDE a realistic goal. (see last post in this series.)
The first thing to note when looking to create goals for your life is how realistic they are. I’ve talked about this before. What’s more important to know, is that the steps to get to those goals need to be the most realistic of all. After all, if the steps getting you to the goal are unrealistic, it doesn’t matter how “realistic” the goal is anymore. That may seem confusing, but it will come into play later. For now, grab your journal re-read over your goals. Make sure that you can reasonably achieve each goal by the date you set for it. Make sure each goal is a smart goal.
How to Create Steps from Goals:
Sometimes creating steps is easy and other times it can be really hard. Two things that come to mind are paying off loans and running a 5K. To run a race your steps are fairly obvious (run more, run better) while paying off loans can get complicated (find alt sources of money, take extra house, pay more each month, ect) The important thing to remember, is that this list is editable and will be used for the next ten years.
To begin, go to your journal and read the very first goal. On the next empty page, write this goal on the first line. Mad man and I have a first goal of Paying off all loans by 2020. When we created the steps to accomplish this, the first step came easily, know how much we owe. We wrote this (skipping a line) down on the page. Remember: each step and goal should be SMART! (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) Create all the reasonable steps you would need to finish this goal by the date given. After you have made your steps, it’s time to add some smaller goals.
Skip a line or two down from the steps and write Mini Goals. These are goals that mark significant steps to reaching the full goal. These should be motivating and always written in a positive manner. An example would be to have less than 20k in debt if you goal was to pay off all debt. This goal would remind you that not only are you making real progress in achieving your goal, you are also getting pretty close. Once you have completed the first page, do a new page for each goal you have. In MadMan and my case, we would have 15 pages as we have a combined total of 15 goals (5 for me, 5 for him, and 5 for us.)
After you complete pages for each goal, it’s time to get to work. You need to look over each goal and pick out the steps that are closest to being due. Then you need to think on how you are going to get them done. Some steps might be easier, others might be hard. Aim to do at least one step per week. It can be something as simple as call the bank or something more complicated like wake up and run every morning at 6 am.
Think over all you’ve worked on, check back often for the next stage in planning your life! For now, keep reading for an example page…
For an example on how your page should look, take a look at how our page looks from the goal of paying off all loans by 2020.
Pay off student loans and car by 2020.
Student Loans: 20,000 (updated July 2017)
- Obtain all loan information (total amount due) on loans at the beginning of each semester quarter.
- Pay $300 a month to Student loans from May 2017 until December 2018.
- Send 70% of all bonuses from MadMan’s work to student loans until December 2018.
- Re-finance MadMan’s student loans after graduation in December of 2018.
- Pay 2x amount due on student loans on time each month after graduation beginning January of 2019.
- Pay 90% of all bonuses to student loans after graduation beginning January of 2019.
Car Loan: 16000 (updated July 2017)
- Pay for amount due on car loan + $20 each month on time every month. Increase by $10 any time a raise of at least $1 is received.
- Use 70% of any bonus money from MadLady’s job to pay down car loan.
- Pay for amount due on car loan + $100 each month on time after graduation. Increase by $20 with each pay raise.
- Pay 90% of all bonuses to car loan after graduation.
- Total debt is under $40k (Done!) (As MadMan is still in college, it might go up again)
- Total debt is under $30k
- Total debt is under $20k
- Total debt is under $10k
- Payed of $5k in one month
- Car is paid off
- Un-subsidized loans are paid off
- Subsidized loans are paid off
- Student Loans are paid off
What comes next?
You have goals, their written out, you have a plan. Everything is on track or getting ready to be. Yet, don’t forget to enjoy life. The next post will explain why it’s important to do things that are fun even though they don’t help you get to your goals.