Without goals, our lives are like a ship without sails. The winds of potential blow strong against our mast but with no sail to capture the energy we are left stationary, floating quietly with no command over the direction the waves push us.
Having goals allows us to hoist our sails high into the air and in an instant we are skipping across the surface of the water. Our sails are filled with energy from the wind and our eyes are focused on the sliver of land that has just peaked out from the ocean blue. Our destination comes into focus and as we arrive upon the shore we have learned a powerful lesson; if we create goals and harness our ambition & passion, we will realize our dreams.
If we are ships upon the sea with no focus or direction, what can we do to raise our sails and capture the wind?
Something I don’t spend much time discussing is the power of long-term goals. My list of 100 Goals consists mostly of milestone accomplishments, things that once accomplished can be crossed off the list. Crossing a goal off the list is a moment of satisfaction; knowing that I’ve done something great and meaningful in my life but once that goal is crossed off, it is done. The moment has passed & I am looking forward to the next milestone that I can work towards accomplishing.
While I wouldn’t change any of the experiences I’ve had in using this method to accomplish my goals, the question that begs to be answered is this: “What happens when I have accomplished everything I want to do in my life? What will I be left with?”
The answer is to have a Master Plan; a series of successive goals that will ultimately lead to what we envision our Perfect Life to be. A Master Plan requires knowing where you want your life to be and figuring out a way to get there from where you are today. It requires you to be proactive and take intentional steps in order to make your plan a reality. It requires discipline, determination and flexibility.
Creating Your Master Plan
Too often we find ourselves ignoring our dreams of a Perfect Life because we tell ourselves that they are not grounded in reality. Before we allow our desires to blossom into anything more than a passing thought, we stifle ourselves. We are blocking our own success and happiness. There will always be a reason why we “can’t” do something and now it is time to ignore those excuses and begin to create your Master Plan.
Close your eyes and envision your Perfect Life. What do you see? Are you working with panda bears in a sanctuary? Are you backpacking the Appalachian Trail? Maybe you are relaxing in your backyard drinking lemonade watching your children playing on the swing set. No matter what you see, you have found your destination. Now it is time to figure out how you will get there.
Usually at this point you would push your dreams aside with thoughts of “reality”, all the reasons why you are unable to pursue your dreams. I want you to consider all of these excuses about why you can’t follow your dream but I need you to change your perspective. Instead of using them as reasons why you can’t follow your dream, think of them as challenges to beat. Don’t use them as an excuse any longer. Use them as motivation. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, find a way to overcome these challenges. Your plan should be ambitious yet realistic.
The next phase in accomplishing your Master Plan is to figure out what steps you must take in order to position yourself to make your dream possible. Will your Perfect Life require a career change? Do you need to further your education? If your Perfect Life requires you to get a degree or certificate, enroll in classes, even if that means taking one class a semester for the time being. If you need to change your career, start submitting resumes and begin networking with people who are in the field that you want to break into. Prepare to Quit Your Job.
Ultimately, your Master Plan is about having a long-term goal to pursue while using short-term goals as a means for making progress towards your Perfect Life. A Master Plan is not something that happens overnight. My own Master Plan has been in the works for nearly 5 years, and I am only now really beginning to fully understand what it is that I want in my own life. Progress is slow but steady and each day is a new opportunity. Today is your opportunity to make a change in your life, an opportunity to start working towards your Perfect Life. No more excuses, no more hesitation. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You decide what that means for you.