By Katie Corbett
I am a goal-oriented person. I get satisfaction from crossing items off to-do lists and being able to tangibly see myself moving forward. I realize that not everyone feels this way, and I even recognize the appeal of being a bit more spontaneous. In one of my favorite business books, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” by Tim Ferriss, I think I’ve found a happy medium. It’s a technique that involves some planning so that you’ll continue moving toward those things you want to do in life, but is not so rigid that you’ll need to cross items off a list each day, or even each week. I’ve done this twice, and I’m excited to share the concept with you.
First, take a piece of paper and divide it into three sections. Label each section, “To Have,” “To Be,” and “To Do,” respectively. Write 3-5 things in each category. Some examples from my own list:
To Have: A work-at-home job, a product prototype, an updated Linked-In profile, Trim and Burn weight-loss supplements, and a braille display; To Be: A remote worker, thinner, an interviewer, a product designer, and a hand model; To Do: Learn Filipino, finish latch-hooking project, join a young adult book club, finish editing the novel I wrote, and work with new coaching clients.
After that, pick the four most important items you’d like to achieve in the next three or six months. (I have always chosen three months as my target, because the immediacy of the closer deadline spurs me into action.) Write these down. Be sure and write the date of the specific day you would like to attain these goals. When you do this with goals from the “To Be” category, phrase these items as specific goal statements. For example, I wrote the desire to be thinner as a goal to fit into a specific pair of dress pants. This will help you measure something that might seem intangible.
After that, determine the financial cost of accomplishing each of these goals. Add the costs up and multiply by 1.3. This extra 0.3 will help account for emergencies, or if something turns out to be a little more expensive than you had previously anticipated. Divide the total by the number of months you set for yourself—so either 3 or 6—and there you have the cost per month. This should hopefully make you feel like the goals are easier to save for and you can justify putting money toward them since you’re planning ahead. Finally, I like to write down the first step I need to take in order to accomplish each of the goals. Mark the projected completion date on your calendar or put it in your phone so you can track your progress once the day comes.
Tim definitely lays this process out more concretely in his book, so I highly recommend picking up a copy. And even if you don’t get his book for this success secret, he has a million other nuggets of wisdom in there which are definitely worth getting a copy for yourself. It’s one of the most thought-provoking career and lifestyle design books I’ve ever read. I was so inspired after reading it for the first time that I went skydiving—something I had always wanted to do. Sure, I was unemployed, probably considered broke, and didn’t have a clear direction for my life, but I found a friend, took advantage of a Groupon and made time during the day on a random Friday in April to jump out of an airplane at 1300 feet. I lost one of my shoes on the way down, which still makes for a funny story. So take a chance and read the book—or at least decide what things you want in life by the next 3-6 months. Who knows what could happen?
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