It’s not always easy to know what you’re going to be doing for the foreseeable future. Most people don’t even know what they’ll be doing the next day, or even in the next hour. That’s okay. You don’t have to have absolutely everything figured out right now in order to keep moving towards your future goals.
To be honest, I’m writing this article now because I’ve been at this point many times before. I often have to go through the steps I’ll mention here to get back on track. I admit, I’m a ‘doer’ who loves going crazy with ideas and ambitions. Thankfully that gives me the drive and energy to take on new tasks and work that I otherwise might not have considered. Unfortunately, this can also sometimes lead to overloading myself with projects that I can’t imagine ever finishing.
If you’re someone who hasn’t got a clue what they want to do with their time at this moment, but still has tangible goals that they want to accomplish, then try out these steps below and see if they can help set you on the right path. If you’ve got enough time on your hands to find this article, then you’ve likely got enough time to try.
This article can work for more than just writing, though I’ll be using my own writing career as an example. The advice given isn’t guaranteed to fix all your problems, but may help you visualize your goals and take the necessary actions to achieve them.
Take A Deep Breath
First thing’s first – calm yourself down. I know how it feels to have the crushing realization that you might not be living up to your potential or pulling your weight, but you can always fix or improve your situation. The best part about hitting rock bottom is that you’ve got nowhere else to go but up.
I’ve had to calm myself down between series before. It’s a lot of work writing a whole series in a single month, having a full-time job, and also doing freelance writing and editing on the side. Too often do I look ahead and see how much work I still have ahead of me instead of looking back and seeing what I’ve already accomplished.
So far, I’ve managed to publish 5 series on Amazon in less than half a year, though I still have 8 more that I want to publish within the next year. If I only thought about the 8 left to write, I’d be too overwhelmed to continue. Instead, I remind myself that I’ve already accomplished almost half my goal, and that I can indeed make it through the rest.
Sometimes you just need to stop, take a deep breath, and calm yourself down before you try and move forward with your plans. Take it from me – the more you try to run into the next big project or task without fully assessing your situation, the more often you are to lose steam quickly and fail.
Take A Step Back
After you’ve calmed yourself down, it’s important to take a step back from your work to assess what it was in your planning or goals that upset you so. Were your goals unobtainable? Did your timeline stretch so far that you couldn’t see any end in sight? Did you overload yourself with work in hopes of realizing your goal faster?
No matter what your answers to the above questions are, it’s always important to look over your plans and goals from time to time to make sure that they’re still relevant to your needs. No one is perfect, and even if you think you have the most foolproof plan ever thought up, there still might be room for improvement. We’re not all the same, and you don’t have to do everything that everyone else is doing to be happy.
Visualize What You Want
Everyone wants something. Friends, a career, love, happiness, wealth; the list goes on. Just like there’s always a motive for every character in a book, everybody has wants and needs. Right now I want to produce as much quality content as my brain and fingers will allow. I need an outlet. Others might have similar goals, or vastly different ones. It’s important to know why you do what you do.
I’ve found that a good way to visualize and hone in on what it is you really want is to imagine three things: where you think you’ll be in five years (ideally), what you love doing right now (or in the past) more than anything else, and what you would be doing with your life if you had unlimited funds.
For the first part, try to think of where you would be if you kept doing exactly what you’re doing now in the next five years. Is it a better situation? A worse one? Depending on what your imaginary future holds, you can very easily see where you’ll want to make changes or continue doing what you’re doing.
What are you doing right now that you absolutely love doing? What have you done in the past that filled you with joy? These questions should help you to figure out what it is that you can do in the long-term, both for work and for happiness. I find (a bit obvious here) that I had the most fun writing throughout high school. Remembering how happy I felt writing about things that I had such interest in fuel me towards a career in writing.
For the last part, imagine if money was no issue. No, really. You’ve won the lottery or come into a massive amount of funds somehow. You’re set for life; you never have to work another day so long as you don’t spend it all away in a game of chance. What do you do? My answer is actually quite simple: I’d buy a lovely house in a location that I liked, set up an office in it, and write. I wouldn’t write for profit or publicity – I’d just write for the fun of it.
Some people, given the option to never work another day in their lives, would do other things, such as travel, open a store or company, surrounds themselves with collectibles, or anything else money could buy. Those people might be happier being travel agents, entrepreneurs, or collectors in reality. By thinking of what you’d want to do with your life if money wasn’t an issue, you have the opportunity to find out just what kind of work you’d do for the sake of enjoyment and happiness.
You’re lost, you’re afraid, and you think you have no direction in life. That’s fine, really. Think of it as starting with a clean slate if you’re in that situation – the possibilities are endless! Think about where you want to be in the future. What will it take to get there? How long do you think it’ll take? What steps are needed to do so? These are the goals you’ll work towards.
For instance, I want to have over 100 works published on Amazon as well as have enough clients from my freelance writing work to support my creative writing (since I write on Amazon more for fun than profit). What do I need to do to reach my goals? Well, the easiest answer to that is obviously write more stories and gain more clients.
With my above goals of writing more stories and gaining more clients, I can now start making plans. How am I going to write more? How am I going to get more clients? Well, the first one is simple enough: I just have to keep producing quality work. For the second one, I’ll have to dig a little deeper and really investigate what I can do. There’s research, planning, networking, contacting, and lots of other steps involved with finding and keeping clients.
When making plans, I find using the SMART strategy to be effective. In order to reach your goals, you need to make sure that you have specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Let’s take my goal of writing 100 works on Amazon. S: Write over 100 works (quite specific in it’s own right). M: Every work I write adds 1 to the total, which shows how close I am to my goal. A: I’ve got the will and mind of achieve this goal. R: It is relevant to my chosen profession of being a writer to create content. T: I’ve given myself 2 years to do so, starting from January of 2018, meaning that my deadline is January 2020.
It can help greatly to put your goals into this format, as it will make you realize just how difficult or easy said goals might be. I’m currently about halfway through my goal, but since my rate of production is steadily slowing down as I work on more projects, I can always adjust my goals to fit my needs. There is no right or wrong way to chase your dreams, and everyone can work at their own speed.
My only other helpful advice for this is to make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew as I’ve done in the past. If you burn yourself out too quickly, you’re less likely to succeed.
Put Your Plans Into Action To Achieve Your Goals
So you’ve done all the planning, assessed your situation, and have a nice road to achieving your goals all laid out in front of you. The next step is to actually go forth and do the thing! It’s easy to dream big and come up with ideas for what you can do in the future, but actually putting those ideas into practice is a whole different beast entirely. It’s easy for me to say that I want to have 100 works published on Amazon in two years time, but the writing won’t do itself.
Even if you’re steadily on your way to achieving your goals and find yourself slipping or derailing, don’t stress it more than you have to. It’s important to have a bit of a fire under you about your goals so you don’t give up within the first week, but at the same time you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your own expectations. After all, we are usually our own harshest critics.
Even though I wrote this with writing in mind, the thought process can apply to almost anything anyone can do. It’s easy to realize that you’re not where you want to be in life, but the hard work starts when you decide to turn things around and work towards what you want.
Never give up on your dreams, and always keep working towards a better future for yourself and others!