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Blog Post

A Destination and a Map – Setting Goals

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A Destination and a Map - Setting Goals

Chance are, if you've been trying to achieve success without setting goals, you've asked yourself this:

“What have I gotten myself into!?”

 This question is one I’ve gotten all too used to hearing from that little voice inside my head. It always seems to come when I get a “brilliant” idea, act on it and then come face-to-face with the overwhelming reality of that decision.

A spout of procrastination.
A cooking venture gone wrong.
An overloaded schedule.
Chaperoning a large group of toddlers.

Until recently, I’d look at all of this craziness I signed myself up for and get frustrated. I’d convince myself there wasn’t enough time in the day for everything and, subsequently, choose to do nothing.

I’d think “Maybe tomorrow…” or “I’m just too tired…”. Then I’d tell myself that I had too much on my plate and “just needed to relax”. I’d settle in for something mostly counterproductive – watch TV, check Facebook or maybe take a nap for an hour (or two or three) – and pick it back up later, not feeling any less overwhelmed since nothing had actually been accomplished.

That was then.

As I mentioned in my last post, my experience at the Millennial Mastermind showed me the need to prepare for a journey, a quest to go from surviving to thriving. I got the tools I needed to put an end to this vicious cycle of getting overwhelmed and then freezing up – but it’s my responsibility to take action.

A Destination

No matter the nature of the journey, you can always be sure it will include two things – a destination and a map. Be it a physical place, emotional state or spiritual connection, all journeys begin because there’s a desire to go from one point to another.

East to west.
Negative to positive.
Chaos to peace.

Most destinations we think of include some sort of zip code or big flashy sign that let you know you’ve arrived. However, my destination is one that I will reach while not physically moving or flying anywhere. I'll go as far as I've ever been – without ever leaving home. How so? Put simply, my destination is this: go from living day-to-day in survival mode to thriving in all areas of my life.

(Not sure what your destination is? Check out Mark's THRIVE assessment for a great starting point.)

Take the free THRIVE Assessment!

I know it sounds like one of those impossible, ambiguous “destinations” people use on fortune cookies and self-help books, but one of the great things about the Millennial Mastermind is that they showed me how to take this destination I couldn’t fathom and break it up into achievable milestones by setting goals. It's not that each goal isn’t intimidating in its own way on a personal level, but they’re tangible and therefore within my grasp.

Become more physically fit.
Invest and grow in my connection with God.
Let those around me know how much I appreciate them.
Grow professionally in my career.
Become debt-free.
Begin honing and developing my passion.
Volunteer my time and talents.

At least one goal for every area of my life.

This list is my treasure map. Each goal represents a landmark along the way, but instead of gold and jewels, I’m on a mission to uncover the best version of me.

Do any of these sound familiar? Perhaps you have a goal list of your own tucked away somewhere. If that’s the case, I would say it’s time to break them out and take a look! And, if you don’t already have a list, I highly suggest making one. It’s hard to make a map when you’re unsure of where you want to go.

A Map

Have you ever taken a road trip with a poorly drawn map and terrible directions? Chances are, you probably took an unintended detour or two on your way to your destination. Similarly, I mentioned above that my goals reminded me of landmarks on a treasure map. However, without clear directions in between each landmark, you’d probably end up wandering around aimlessly – depending on chance and luck to help you find them.

What does my map look like? Well, I took my goal list (aka landmarks) and added details of what/how/when/where to accomplish them.

Creating a map for your personal goal list is no different. Depending on how it’s written, a map clearly guides you from Point A to Point B…or it' so messy and vague that you unintentionally end up at Point X.

That being said, I invested in making my map a good one. That includes:

  • Outlining each goal clearly – what would success look/feel/smell/taste like?
  • Identifying specific time tables to accomplish each goal – do I want to achieve this in the next week, month or year?
  • Setting realistic expectations that push – but don’t crush – me

Using these as guidelines, here’s an overview of my map – with clear directions:

  1. Become more physically fit-
    • What does this look/ feel like? For me, I will be able to run a 5k in 28 minutes and do 100 pushups.
    • When will I do this? Over the course of the next 90 days (July 1st-October 1st)
    • How will I do this? Run in the morning before work + two strengthening days for my arms
  2. Invest and grow in my connection with God.
    • What does this look/feel like? Reading the Bible every day and taking more time to be with God.
    • When will I do this? Read the Bible first thing every morning and last thing every evening. Meditate for 8-10 minutes after work.
    • How will I do this? Wake up fifteen minutes earlier on work days. Slow down after work and sit myself down to relax and unwind in a way that will rejuvenate me.
  3. Let those around me know how much I appreciate them.
    • What does this look/ feel like? Communicating with my family and friends through phone calls, text messages and letters to let them know I’m thinking of them.
    • When will I do this? Throughout the day, I’ll send an encouraging text message or write a letter depending on what my schedule allows for.
    • How will I do this? I’ll set aside time to talk on the phone while packing my lunch or another easy task that allows me to concentrate. I’ll also have one evening set aside each week for writing letters.
  4. Grow professionally in my career.
    • What does this look/ feel like? Knowing my limitations while, at the same time, honoring my ability to grow. Recognizing my self-worth and having confidence in myself to lead and participate in conversations with new ideas.
    • When will I do this? Immediately begin addressing concerns at work and continuously as situations arise.
    • How will I do this? By speaking to my peers and upper management. Overcoming my fear of failure and take a risk (or two).
  5. Volunteer my time and talents.
    • What does this look/ feel like? Begin volunteering at my church. Using my ability to crochet to create blankets and shawls for local nursing homes. Putting in my application to volunteer at a local hospital.
    • When will I do this? I'm immediately getting in touch with my church to see what areas need filled and begin crocheting shawls. I will put my application in to volunteer in August, when they are being accepted.
    • How will I do this? I will dedicate at least one evening a week to volunteering, preferably a Monday or Tuesday. I will crochet during quiet times, such as watching TV.

A few of these may seem overly specific, but for me – someone who was convinced all of her time and energy was already used up – I need these specific times of day or days of the week to help stay on course and reach the goal. While I don’t want to give you the impression it makes it easier to get up or stay up, in a way in does. I changed my thought patterns. Instead of all of this “free time,” I now have structure and deadlines.

And, the ironic thing is, I’ve never felt more relaxed than when I started following this map. Perhaps it comes from the realization that I’m working toward something bigger than myself. That all of those goals, plans and dreams I stored up for so long are no longer sitting at the bottom of a pile weighing me down, but rather they’re slowly and surely on their way to coming to fruition. It’s as if I’ve finally started in God’s Will and have peace. They shall run and not grow weary. I thought I could barely handle surviving the work day, let alone anything outside of work and yet – here I am, doing more physically, emotionally and spiritually. And I have never felt better.

Your dreams are not going away. And while failure can be scary, untried dreams haunt you, both day and night. The solution? Compile your destinations and create your map. Then begin the journey from surviving to thriving.

Brittany Shears headshotBrittany Shears is a millennial on a mission to find “the best version of me”. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a dual degree in Animal Science and Agribusiness. By trade, she is in training to manage a sow unit in rural Ohio. Outside of work, she is active in her church and plans to be a minister, owns two horses and is an avid reader. It is her combined passion for agriculture and her faith, coupled with her supportive family and friends, which have inspired her from a young age. Brittany’s primary goal is to find an occupation that will allow her to showcase these two passions and incorporate them in her professional life. On her journey from dream to reality, she continues to gain invaluable experience and learn life lessons that propel her forward.

Follow along on the MJST blog as Brittany shares more about her journey from surviving to thriving over the next few months. You can find her first post here.

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