Goal Setting: The Importance of Having A Roadmap

Getting to your final destination requires proper planning. If you haven’t mapped out how you’re going to accomplish your goals, there’s no telling how long it will take you to get there.

You will always get to the destination, the question is when.

Inevitably, along the way, you’ll face some detours, pit stops, roadblocks, and attractions. Having a roadmap to get there will guide smooth navigation. Getting to the final destination starts with planning, and planning begins with setting goals. Think about what you want to accomplish next week, the trip you want to take next month, or maybe buying your family and friends gifts for the holidays.

Your goals are broad and may incite some doubt, or fearfulness that their attainment is far off in the distance. Breaking them down into small tasks and developing habits to complete them, will substantially decrease the overwhelming feeling you get when thinking about your goal as one action. Write down a few goals and take time breaking them up into small tasks or habits that will get you there.

How you break your goals down is entirely up to you.

Here are some suggestions for setting them and mapping the route to your final destination:

  • Get a pen and paper…

    • Or tablet, or some task management/project management application (Trello, MeisterTask, Slack, Hive, etc.). You need to see what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. Short term or long term, start with three goals and build from there
  • Once you have a few goals down, pick one to work with and determine what things you need to cross the finish line

    • If your goal is to buy gifts for family, you may list:
      • How much can I afford to spend on each gift?
      • Who is/are receiving the said gifts?
      • How would this gift benefit them?
    • If your goal is to retire in 20 years you may list:
      • The total amount you expect to live of off during retirement and determine the vehicles you’ll use to get there
      • Evaluate how much money you need to save monthly to afford retirement in that time?
      • Set auto-withdrawal amounts to your 401k and/or IRA accounts
      • Explore other income streams
    • If your goal is to take a weekend trip to Washington D.C. next month, you might list:
      • Time off, travel and accommodations, and spending money
  • Complete this process for each of your defined goals.

  • In one last iteration of breaking down your goals. Create a timeline, budget, or task based system that gives you physical activity to complete.

    • Family gifts: Determine how much I can afford to spend, who is receiving a gift, call family to see what they want or need, how much do these gifts costs, make changes if out of the budget.
    • Retirement: Calculate how much money I need to save monthly to afford retirement in that time, set up auto-withdrawal, meet with a financial coach or advisor, and explore other income streams or retirement tools
    • Vacation: Pick travel dates, request time off, look at travel and accommodation costs, create a budget for trip, secure travel and accommodations, and pack
  • Make sure that you have actionable items that you can check off day to day, week to week, or whatever your timeline.

Pit Stop

Time away from the proactive pursuit of your goals is okay! Take a break, reflect, recharge and get back on the road.

Roadblocks and Hitchhikers, beware!

There are people and distractions out there, that could potentially take you off your carefully mapped path. If this happens, remove and move around them.

Front-seat Passenger and DJ

People there for accountability and support along the journey are just as important as those there to congratulate you at the finish line. Have a team or partner that will take this trip with you, or at least facetime you along the way to give you some encouragement and make sure you’re not falling asleep.

Getting to your final destination requires proper planning. If you haven’t mapped out how you’re going to accomplish your goals, there’s no telling how long it will take you to get there. Breaking your goals down into smaller actionable items is crucial. It will not only lessen the psychological stress caused by looking at your goal as one action, but it will also decrease the total time you spend working toward them, having not broken them down. You are consequently left with time to plan your next trip and set a new goal.

So where will you go next? Set your destination. Create a roadmap. Navigate the roadblocks and detours that come your way. And don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. You will reach your destination in no time.

All Images by TONL

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Imani Johnson is a writer based in Los Angeles, California.

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