By Lissa Cupp, vice president, e-Commerce & Consumer Marketing, ACCO Brands

Are you too busy “living” life that you don’t take—or have—the time to “plan” for life? Whether you’re a business professional, an aspiring student or the CEO of your household, this is oftentimes the case, and when it rings true for you, how can you be assured of having the life that you really want?

Setting goals and planning for their achievement are important elements to successfully living the life you want. More often than not, the two are thought of separately, but it’s not uncommon for the “planning” stage to be overlooked when setting your goals, despite it being one of the most important parts of the process. The two need to merge onto the same road that leads to your future success.

This is not always an easy road, of course. Just like any journey, there will be various things impeding your path—road hazards, if you will. There will be detours that need to be taken and, quite possibly, new passengers joining (or leaving) your trip along the way. To help avert these potentially goal-busting hazards and changes, there are many tools in place that can help you not only plan efficiently but also adapt to the ever-evolving environment around you.

The Destination

When you get in your car to take a trip and use GPS, what’s the first thing it asks you? “Where do you want to go?” If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

This question gets right to the core of goal development, as it points directly to your desired outcome and starts to define the steps you’ll need to take in order to get there. This, as you can imagine and have probably experienced, can be difficult to map out and organize in your head. It’s much easier if you take steps to visualize your destination and the journey to reach them.

By visualize, I mean actually putting your thoughts and items of importance to your goal development on paper. Better yet, get creative and put together a “vision board” using a journal, poster board or binder. This vision board will consist of images and/or short articles or headlines, all of which define a part of your goal.

For example, perhaps you’re trying to set a personal goal around the issue of working too much outside of the office and not allowing yourself personal and family time. The vision board for this may include vacation pictures, visuals of places you like or would like to visit, and other graphics illustrating the things you like most in life.

The vision board exercise is fun and enlightening, and in the end, a very powerful tool to help you truly visualize where you want to go.

There are many other ways that may be helpful to you as you develop and plan for achieving your goals. Again, making sure these are visual in nature, you can:

  • Think about what an ideal day or week would be like for you—what are you doing?
  • Make a “I want to do more of” list.
  • Run through the BE-DO-HAVE exercise: If you can see/feel/imagine yourself where you want to BE, then you’ll be inspired to DO the things and allow yourself to HAVE all that you want. For example, BE a parent, DO run a marathon, and HAVE a house on the lake.
  • Define your legacy and what you want it to look like.
  • Envision where you think you’ll be—and where you want to be—five years from now.

Next week, we’ll look at how to take the goals you defined here and map them out to ensure you reach your destination.

[photo by Jobriga]

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