How to Make Time for Your Most Important Goals
When it comes to life editing, we’re all looking for the same thing.
It’s not that we want wildly successful businesses, or to earn millions of dollars, or to have bangin’ bodies, or to run away to Paris with our sexy French lovers, or to become rich and famous on a trashy reality TV show.
Does anyone really want those things?
No, the thing we’re searching for as we edit our lives is to be congruent.
We want to be living in such a way that we’re actually DOING all the things that support our beliefs, dreams, and ways of being.
Basically, we want our outsides to match our insides.
So when you delete, add, or rearrange the parts of your life, you’re inching closer to that ideal version of yourself, the one who is perfectly aligned in mind, body, and spirit.
But (and you knew there was going to be a but, right?) walking our talk doesn’t always come easy.
Sometimes we set goals that match up with our core desired feelings…but then for whatever reason, our concentrated actions disappear. Poof!
For example, how many times have you set career or business goals, but then don’t stick to your editorial calendar or marketing plan?
Or how about when you decided to reach your healthy goal weight, but then stopped going to the gym and started sneaking donuts again?
Or what about when you promised to spend more time with your spouse and kids, but ended up sprawled out on the couch instead?
Not reaching your goals is rarely about setting the wrong goal. Nuh uh. I fully support your need to achieve rock star status or run a marathon every month.
Your goals aren’t the problem. You’re just not prioritizing your time.
Thank goodness this is fixable! With a few quick edits, you’ll be fighting off the paparazzi…or whatever.
Here’s how to make time for your most important goals.
Figure Out What Your Goals Are
This is kind of a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people skip this step. I’m sure you know folks (or yourself) who just “wing it” all the time. They’re too busy putting out fires to figure out if they should maybe drop the hose and let that project burn instead.
When you take a moment to choose exactly what’s important—and not just urgent—then you can shift your focus and make some progress.
Do a brain dump of everything that’s on your to-do list or that’s taking up space in your mind. Next circle 3-5 projects or goals that truly have meaning to you. As the Spice Girls said, “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!”
Break Down Your Tasks
Once you’ve chosen a handful of goals that fit into your ideal version of your life, break down all the little tasks that lead to that goal.
If you want to write a novel, your next action step isn’t “Write my novel.” That may sound silly, but one of my clients actually had that on her daily to-do list. No wonder she felt defeated at the end of every day.
What things do you need to do to make that goal a reality?
If you can, try breaking down your next steps into teeny tiny tasks that will take only 5-10 minutes to complete. The smaller, the better! When your tasks are broken down as much as possible, it’s 100 times easier to take that next step forward.
Click here to download my free printable worksheet the Ultimate To-Do List for help breaking down your tasks. Part of the Editor’s Toolkit.
Determine How Much Time You Need
So now that you’ve got your mini tasks, consider how much time it will take to complete them. Don’t get discouraged if it will take much longer than you originally thought! I’d rather you make slow and steady progress without getting overwhelmed than bite off more than you can chew and give up.
I like to add an extra 10%-20% to my time estimates. You know how it goes; you figure something will take an hour to complete but then you get sidetracked by an urgent email or you move slower because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Give yourself wiggle room!
Plug Your Tasks Into Your Schedule
Next, open up your Google calendar, planner, or whatever you use to track your time and appointments. You do have a schedule of some kind, yes?
Look at your tasks that directly lead to your most important goals. Plug then into your schedule at times when you can realistically work on them.
I know this might sound incredibly basic and obvious, but I’ve seen tons of smart, driven women fail to do this step and then wonder where all their time has gone at the end of the week.
Stick to It and Don’t Make Excuses
Once you have your schedule neatly organized with your tasks that lead to your goals, all you need to do is stick to it. If it’s in a notebook or physical planner, then carry it around with you all the time. If it’s an electronic calendar, then have it open in a tab in your browser all day while you work.
It’s important to see when you next block of pre-determined “task time” is coming up so you can be super focused when it’s time to do it. You’ll also become aware of when you’re not meeting your deadlines, and you can make adjustments.
Finally, remember that you’re an adult. Do you want to reach your goals or not? If you’ve failed repeatedly in the past, then it’s time to try a new technique and get serious.
Don’t make excuses or attempt to justify why you’re not doing your work. You’re not just hurting yourself, but you’re hurting all the people who depend on you or who could benefit from you reaching your goals and taking your personal success to the next level.
If your goals are truly important, then they’re worth making time for.
This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.
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Great post Sage (as always)!
You always have a way of motivating me. With a 6-month old baby, and 3 other kids, life can get pretty busy.
I find that if I set 3 daily priorities each morning, it helps me to stay on track and feel like I accomplished something by the end of the day. Having a general routine helps as well.
And when I begin to feel overwhelmed, a good brain dump helps set me back on track.
That’s good advice, Marie-France! I choose only 3 priorities per day too. It keeps me focused and not overwhelmed. Thanks for commenting! 🙂
The timing of this is perfect! I was just mentioning to someone who was feeling overwhelmed about her project to figure out what she needed to do, figure out how much time it would take to do each task and THEN set a deadline to match her available time and the estimates she put down for her tasks. I was channeling Sage! Haha! (Seriously, I probably was.)
Haha! I’m in your head!!! 🙂
I have fallen off my own life edited wagon so many times… yet again i need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. When I stick to my plan my life runs smoothly, but then I get tired of the constant go, go, go and let go… usually with detrimental effects. I am picking up the pieces and starting again! I know what I have to do, but those donuts are calling… some days I just can’t adult! This is why I love you and the simple call back to reality that you offer. Thanks for posting this just when I needed a nudge! (or rather a shove)
Thank you so much for the kind words, Belinda. I fall off the wagon all the time. But life editing never ends–you just get back up and try again.