How to Create Long Term Goals

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know that when my life slows down, my writing slows down, too. Summer break and winter break are the hardest times for me to write… because I’m not busy enough, if that makes any sense. Around the beginning of the new year, I decided to dedicate the first 6 weeks of 2015 focusing on my career (aka finding a new teaching job in a new city). And I planned on writing about cover letters and resumes and what to wear to interviews, etc. I did a ton of research. I pinned a bunch of articles (you can find them all here).

I read them all. I took notes. And then I realized “there’s no need for me to say any of this. I’d just be repeating everything that’s already been said in these articles”. So, I didn’t write a post about the perfect interview or resume or whatever. HOWEVER, I did spend quite a lot of time doing something that wasn’t in ANY of these posts! So, that’s what I’m going to write about today:

TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU WANT YOUR CAREER TO GO.

I recently started this new “track” on Happify called Find Your Calling and the very first exercise in it was one where you write about your perfect daily routine. NOT your perfect job. But your perfect routine. Like, what do you see your days looking like in the future? The craziest thing about this activity was that it was SO easy! Even though you may not be completely sure about what you WANT to do… you probably have a pretty good idea of what you want your days to look like. Doing this activity motivated me to keep going on my quest of finding my perfect career!

1. Spend 20 minutes writing your 20-year goals

This past weekend, I set a timer for 20 minutes and wrote down what I want my career to look like 20 years from now. I just typed it into a Word documents. I wrote it quickly and messy. I didn’t care about grammar or punctuation or even if I sounded like a normal person. So, if you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed about the future, just take 20 minutes and write down anything and everything that you can. Once I finished writing what I wanted to be doing 20 years from now, I reset the timer for 10 minutes and wrote about what I want to be doing in 10 years. Go big here, btw!

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” -Oprah Winfrey



2. Cut that time in half and do it again… and again… and again…

Because I am slightly more obsessive than most people, I continued this at every halfway mark (including 15 months and 7 1/2 months). You could just go with something traditional like “1 year” and “6 months”. Another thing I did that was helpful was to begin every new time period by writing “In ___ years, it will be the year ___ and I will be ___ years old”. Another thing I did that was super helpful was to find someone I admired who was already that age. Sometimes age seems pretty vague and it’s difficult to know what to expect, so seeing it in someone else’s life makes it easier.

3. Read through and pull out your concrete goals

Once I had all of my things written in a Word document, I went back and pulled out the phrases and keywords that I could actually turn into goals. For example, “involve parents in classroom activities through class website, newsletter, and volunteer opportunities”. Those are all pretty concrete things that I can really make happen in my classroom. Or “certified professional organizer”, well… that’s pretty clear. I pulled out the things that were super specific like that and actually wrote them down on a piece of paper. I continued to do this at every checkpoint until I eventually got down to “today”.

4. Do 4 things today that will move you towards your goals

At the “today” space, I just made a square space big enough for a Post-It. Each day, I write down 4 tasks that will help me reach the goals. NOT big tasks at all, either! Sending 1 e-mail to someone or printing off 1 document counts. Literally, 4 small and doable tasks every day. It doesn’t feel or sounds like much which is why below it I wrote this quote:

“Great things are done by a series of small things coming together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

The future is a scary and magnificent thing! It’s easy to let it come and go and dream about the things that we could have done OR we can decide today to attack it head on and spend each day purposefully making it the best we can! Which brings me to another quote I love:

“Put on lipstick and attack!” -Coco Chanel 

How to Actually Accomplish Your Goals

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! I am so super excited about this year. I don’t know what it is but for some reason, I just love odd-numbered years (weeeirdo). So, of course, I pretty much live for the beginning of January. It’s the time of year when everyone gets really into setting new goals and organizing everything! The stores are absolutely FILLED with organizational bins and containers (and I break out into my Happy Feet dance whenever I reach the “seasonal” section of Target)!
 

 

This is also the time when EVERYONE is interested in setting goals and doing things better in the new year! Last January, I wrote a 31-day series (yes, I actually finished that one) about goal setting. I found a ton of great resources (they’re listed at the bottom of each post). Today I’m just going to do an abridged, skimming-over version of that series. using some of America’s most common resolutions.

According to us.gov, these are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that we make year after year:

Common Resolution: Lose Weight
Turn it into something like this: I will lose 10 pounds by December 2014 by working out 30 minutes each day and doubling the amount of vegetables that I eat each day. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Tone It Up)



Common Resolution: Volunteer
Turn it into something like this: I will volunteer 72 hours by December by spending 6 hours a month working in the kitchen at the Mission

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Volunteer Match)



Common Resolution: Better Education/Grades
Turn it into something like this: I will submit my grad school application by January 15 by working on it for 4 hours next weekend. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out this list of resources for college students… aaand while you’re at it, you can just head over to the Organized Studying page!)



Common Resolution: Get a Better Job
Turn it into something like this: I will have a job (doing whatever you want to do) by August 1 by submitting a new resume packet to a different company every 2 weeks. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: The Daily Muse)



Common Resolution: Save Money/Manage Debt
Turn it into something like this: I will save $1800 by December by putting $150 into my savings account every month. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Mint)



Common Resolution: Manage Stress
Turn it into something like this: I will become more relaxed and mindful by December by writing down 10 things I’m thankful for every morning, taking a 30-minute walk outside every day after work, and staying off screens (phone, iPad, computer, TV) between 10PM-6AM. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Happify and Zen Habits)



Common Resolution: Take a Trip
Turn it into something like this: I will take a trip to the Dominican Republic in May by putting $500 into a “vacation fund” every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out this list of helpful travel-planning sites)



Common Resolution: Reduce Clutter/Get Organized
Turn it into something like this: I will reduce the amount of items in each closet by 30% by December by going through 1 closet each Saturday and removing 1 of every 3 items every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out: Project Organize Your Entire Life and Unclutterer)



See how goals just sound more achievable when we make them super specific? Like, it’s no longer this broad ambiguous thing that you hope happens to you this year. Instead, it’s something that you’re taking control of and working for! When resolutions are super vague, they might as well be wishes. Accomplishing new goals takes a lot of planning (YAY!), discipline, sacrifice, effort, and doing a lot of things that look really boring when they’re written on a daily to-do list (read chapter 5, for example).

Just keep your big goal in mind while you’re working through those tedious to-do lists. And be prepared to work hard and to sacrifice things that would be fun right now and probably to be broke (if you’re saving up for a vacation or paying grad school tuition). So, here is my last little bit of advice before you begin your fresh, new year! Choose to focus on 1 goal at a time and reeeally work to make it a habit before throwing another goal into the mix.

Once you’re working out daily, or you’re in the habit of cooking a healthy dinner every night, then you can start on the resume sending-out, you know? Don’t try to start all of your goals at once or you’ll just set yourself up for the F word (which is “Failure“, obviously).

So, good luck and remember that it’s 2015 and everything is awesome! 🙂

What are your goals for 2015? Did you accomplish the ones that you set for yourself last year? Also, can you think of any resources that I should add for the topics above? I know there have got to be a ton of great apps/websites that I don’t know about! 

Inspiration Board Cheat Sheet

Inspiration Boards are one of my favorite things to check out on Pinterest! They are just one of those things that you don’t really notice… until you do. I’m always like “ooh, I love this workspace!” and then when I go back through my “Office.” board, I notice that they all have this one thing in common: inspiration/motivation/vision boards. Does this sound like something that Chris from Parks & Rec would do? Yes. But also, they can be the perfect reflection of your personality and your future goals! 
Not only that… remember the Feng Shui post from a couple of days ago? The ideal position for your desk is somewhere where it faces the door but, if that just isn’t possible (like in a small apartment, bedroom, or dorm), the next best thing is to make the wall “disappear”. Inspiration Boards are the perfect way to do that! They can be a source of inspiration, motivation, encouragement, pride in past accomplishments, and just something that is nice to look at after hours of reading or writing or crying because math is hard
There are literally TONS (okay, fine… there are figuratively tons) of examples out there! But what makes the perfect “recipe” for an inspiration board? Here is my oh-so-humble opinion:
Here’s a perfect one from Lauren Conrad (of course)!

Choose a color scheme

Your space should reflect you! Some workspaces are really dreamy looking with whites and subdued colors. You’ll want that to carry over into your inspiration board. Others are full of bold colors, or maybe bright pinks and turquoises! Whatever your design-style is, make sure that your board goes along with it and isn’t distracting or out of place. Also, add a little depth with tickets, ribbons, cards, etc! 
Can we please talk about the absolute genius-ness of this clipboard inspiration board from Trendenser?! 

Gather things that make you happy

This is pretty simple. Think of things that make you smile when you see them! Do you love the color pink? Penguins? Pretty dresses? Traveling? When you find or take photos of things that you just absolutely love, stick these up here! They will provide a safe haven for your mind when you’re feeling all depleted from reading a textbook that is likely droning on about something that bores you. 
This one from Megan at Honey, We’re Home is super girly and stylish. LOVE!

Give yourself something to look forward to

There is also the “vision board” part of inspiration boards. The part that reminds you why you do whatever it is that you do! Where do you want to be 10 years from now? What field of work do you hope to be in? Where do you want to travel? Choose photos or quotes or headlines or pictures of people who inspire you! And don’t forget to include your long and short term goals! Create a “big picture”! 

I love how this one found on Flickr. just blends in with the rest of the space!

Include Your past accomplishments

Have you won a blue ribbon for something? Or maybe received a certificate for some type of special recognition? What about photos from graduation, or your acceptance letter or test scores? Put these up here! A big part of staying motivated is to remind yourself of your past achievements! When things get hard, just look back and think, “This was challenging, but I did it. If I could do it then, I can do it now.”
Here’s another clever alternative to a “board” from Warm Home Decors!

Throw in some personal photos

Did you know that you can print out Instagram photos? Of course you did because I am the last person on Earth to find this out. I like Instas better than regular photos! Why? Because they really force you to choose one thing to represent an entire event and to focus on finding the beauty in everyday life. Print out a few of your favorites! Remind yourself that, even though your life is crazy, it is also beautiful!  
Inspiration boards are a great idea for a study space because they can just keep you motivated and on the right track by reminding you of what you’ve already done, what you’re doing now, and what you will do in the future! 
They can help you turn your dreams into goals, your goals into plans, and your plans into real life! 🙂 
Do you have a bulletin board or “inspiration board” in your study space? What kinds of things are on it? Has it helped you stay motivated when your schoolwork gets frustrating?