I am a big believer in constantly setting goals and challenges for yourself that encompass both far out lofty goals as well as more immediate achievements. If you’re only goal is, “Visit Rome in the next 10 years,” that’s a very long term goal and 10 years is quite an amount of time to slog through. Sure you could devote yourself to saving a dollar or two a day, for 10 years, but pretty soon you’d start to burn out. Better, would be to set that as a 10 year goal, then set a few five year goals, then some one year goals, and some even to achieve in 3-6 months.
In doing this you’d have a long term plan to shoot for as well as immediate success that you’re able to see. When setting goals it’s very important to keep your head in the game. That’s why I’ve always liked Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Snowball” method for paying off bills. While numbers wise it makes more sense to pay off the bill or debt with the largest interest rate, Ramsey advocates paying off the smallest debt first. Then the next smallest, and so on. Little by little you’ll reduce your bills and debts from 10 to 9 to 8. A large part of it is psychological, but that’s important; to see your debts being eliminated and feel like you’re achieving a goal.
Almost two years ago today, I received a job offer and arrived in Iowa. The job was politically based, however because it wasn’t a campaign job, (notoriously fast paced and short,) I figured I would be in Iowa for at least a decent amount of time. My previous work over the past five years had allowed me to do quite a bit of traveling, and I’d added some personal travel to that as well, both domestic and international. With the new job I would not have to travel much, if at all, so I knew if I wanted to keep my traveling muscles strong, I’d have to make a concerted effort to do so on my own.
Knowing I wouldn’t be able to travel as much with the job change and move to Iowa, it was right when I arrived that I set my sights on a specific goal I’d work towards, “To have visited all of the lower 48 states before I turned 30.” This was something I’d thought about before, seemed like a tremendously fun goal, and something I thought was quite feasible. In June of 2012, I was 28 and 1/2 and had visited 36 of the 48 continental states. So with about a year and a half and 12 states to go, I made a point to focus my efforts on achieving this goal.
And I did it! In December, 2013, one month before my 30th birthday, I visited Maine, checking off state #48.
A while back I stumbled across a blog post by Nomadic Matt, in which he outlines his travel checklist before turning 35. Matt’s site is one of the best on the internet for travel tips and travel advice and it’s one I consumed virtually every post from once I found it recently. In fact after I started my own blog and posted the header of me facing the Grand Canyon, I came across his blog and noticed his header featured him facing out towards the ocean. (I didn’t copy. Promise.) I just had a great picture and I wanted to use it. Though if there was ever a blog to copy, it would be Matt’s. Definitely check it out if you’re not familiar with it.
By setting a goal to visit the lower 48 states, I gave myself a year and a half to achieve it. With that I then crafted mini goals to visit a certain number of states every month or two. In doing this I laid out my “long term” plan of what I wanted to achieve and then joined it with shorter term plans in which I could see actual results with every state I visited.
If you’ve got a goal in mind, write it down and then break it up into shorter term goals to achieve it. Whether its to save a certain amount of money, travel somewhere or learn a skill, giving yourself the ability to realize short term victories will help your mindset when you start achieving them.