We are creatures of routine and habit, but we also creatures of adaptation and change. Our actions are purposeful because they are always aimed to achieve some goal.
Even something as simple as getting up to get a glass of water can be described in terms of our intentions to fulfill a desire, such as quenching our thirst.
Often the most successful people in our society are the ones who have the strongest intent behind their actions. They are the best planners. They are visionaries. They have the ability to direct their intentions in ways that others are unfamiliar with. They can see a path from point A to point B and, although it may not be correct from step-to-step, they have the motivation and inspiration to start walking it.
But the future is filled with uncertainty. So as we walk our path in achieving our goals, we must occasionally adjust our game plan in the face of new experiences and new information.
Because of these uncertainties, it can sometimes be difficult to plan for the future. However, it is still useful to write down our plans so that we have a starting point to build from.
Writing down your goals is a real and tangible way to start making your dreams a part of reality. By thinking and writing about your future, you are building these goals into your neurology through brainstorming and building associations.
To give you an example of what I want you to do, I will create a timeline of my own. I call these timelines “progressive” because they begin by focusing in on a single day and then they zoom out to a scope of ten years or more. This is a really interesting way to expand your awareness from what you can accomplish in a single day to what you can accomplish over the course of many years.
I recommend a minimum of five items for each point on your timeline. This should give you enough flexibility to touch on various aspects of your life. Later in this post, I will expand on what you can do to improve these timelines and make them more effective.
Within A Day
- Finish this blog post.
- Call Mom and Dad to check up on how they are doing.
- Finish reading my textbook for History & Systems of Psychology.
- Start studying for my Psychophysiological Awareness Class.
- Go out tonight so I can enjoy my last party weekend in Binghamton, NY
Within A Week
- Study and complete two of my Final exams.
- Return my books to the Science Library.
- Write another blog post or two.
- Begin wrapping up work in other classes.
- Start packing up my stuff for home.
Within A Month
- Graduate from college.
- Find a decent-paying job back at home.
- Reach under 300,000 traffic rank in the U.S. on Alexa.com
- Start volunteering at a church back home.
- Start dating again.
Within A Year
- Start writing a book.
- Layout the major framework for starting my own business.
- Get certified in hypnosis.
- Find a girlfriend.
- Expand my network and social circle.
- Join a gym and work on building muscle strength and endurance.
Within Five Years
- Become self-employed.
- Move to a place I have always wanted to live.
- Get my book edited and published.
- Record a music album for the sole intention of artistic expression.
- Pursue a graduate degree in a field of Psychology (Clinical, Industrial, Transpersonal or Positive Psychology)
Within Ten Years
- Travel Europe.
- Get married and start a family.
- Invest some time, energy, and capital to help other small businesses succeed.
- Become more involved in political activism and campaigning.
- Dedicate time to an activist group who supports a cause I strongly believe in.
Improving Your Timeline
Once you create your timeline you can always go back and update it. As I said in the introduction, true visionaries rarely see the whole path in its entirety; rather, they need to constantly draw up their mental map and upgrade it.
In a week, you may realize that you had forgotten a key goal of yours. In a month, you may change your mind about pursuing a past goal. Remember, nothing has to be set in stone.
Being dedicated is one thing, but being too stubborn to change your ways in the face of new thoughts or feelings is a different story. Use your best judgment when making these decisions; always remember to weigh out the costs and benefits before pursuing any course of action.
As I also said earlier, this kind of exercise is great for re-wiring your brain in preparation of these goals. I already notice more clarity in my thinking after only spending 15-20 minutes writing up this list.
You can improve upon this by revisiting your list on a periodic basis. I try to reflect on the “bigger picture” at least once every few months.
You can also use your imagination to see, feel and experience what it would be like to do these goals. What type of steps will you need to take? How will it feel once you have achieved what you set out to do? Ask yourself these types of questions in order to get your mind more focused and productive toward these goals.
Discover more tools to daily growth in the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement