Get A Jumpstart on Reaching Your Goals

Get A Jumpstart on Reaching Your Goals

Got big dreams? Here’s no-nonsense advice on turning your life goals into reality.


Before you got hitched and had kids, you probably had some other big dreams too. Perhaps you wanted to publish a novel, run a marathon or become a therapist. Then maybe your priorities had to shift as the practicalities of real life came along.

Don’t get down on yourself if you haven’t yet reached the summit of your personal Mount Everest. What you might not appreciate is the fact that you have actually accomplished a lot, even if many of your triumphs aren’t on your bucket list. Still, if the things you’ve always wanted to do or places you’ve wanted to see sit atop your wish-I-could chart, there’s no need to give up and not follow your dreams. Instead, get down to the business of making that goal a reality.

First, think of your goal as a destination. To get there, you need to map out how to go from where you are today — point A — to reaching your goal — point B. Suppose your lifelong dream is to open a bakery but you’ve got no professional experience. Here’s where your road map kicks in: Start by taking a course in cake decorating or working at a bakery to gain hands-on experience. If there’s no job available, volunteer your services. Another stop along your route: Learn some business basics. There are numerous nonprofit organizations that help with all facets of starting a business. Think you’ll need investors down the road? There are also several websites that help fund small businesses.

Once you know where you want to go and have a rough idea about how to get there, how do you keep the process moving forward? One great tactic to use is the SMART technique, which ensures you’re on target to reaching your goals. It’s actually pretty simple:

Specific
Be detailed with your goals. What exactly do you want to achieve, and how are you going to do it? For instance, if becoming an artist is your desired outcome, create a blueprint for reaching it: “Enrol in a painting class, create studio space in my basement, research local art shows where I can submit my work.”

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Measurable
Your goal should be quantifiable. For instance, if you’re saving up for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica or a trip to Africa, decide that you’ll save $100 per month until you have enough money. Keep in mind that “master Moroccan cuisine” isn’t a measurable goal, but “learn one Moroccan recipe per week” definitely is.

Attainable
If you set goals that are unreachable, chances are slim that they’ll come to fruition. For example, if you set out to become a published novelist in the next six months, that’s probably not within reach. But getting an essay or article published in a journal may be. If your dream is to travel the world but your resources are limited, adjust your goal to visiting one foreign country in the next year or two.

Realistic
Do a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to reaching your goals. Ask yourself: What skills do I have? What are my natural talents? Am I artistic, athletic, musical or good with languages? If your abilities are at odds with your goal, it’ll be harder to achieve your goals. For instance, your dream may be to run a marathon but if you’ve got bad knees, you’re setting yourself up for failure (and pain).

Timely
Stay motivated by setting deadlines for yourself. Have a friend check in on your progress or, better yet, find a mentor to meet with monthly to discuss what you’ve achieved and the challenges to come. Want to learn to speak Italian? Take a class with homework assignments to keep you on track, and set up a weekly coffee date with an Italian-speaking friend or tutor so you must practice what you’ve learned. When you’re trying to follow your dreams, a little pressure to perform is good!

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