Time management Monday: How to manage different timescales for your goals

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What lies beyond?

It’s the time of year when everyone is making goals and resolutions!

The different timescales for goals (daily, weekly, monthly, year, 5-year, lifetime) require different approaches. Here are some tips on how to manage the varying timescales for your goals.

Daily = Lifetime: Daily goals are usually habits we want to cultivate, like eating a healthy diet, exercise, mindfulness, reading, etc. Incidentally, daily habits to a large degree determine your lifetime outcome. Want to be healthy and mobile in your later years? Eat a healthy diet and exercise now, and make it a habit. Want to have plenty of money in retirement? Make a life habit of not squandering your money and invest/ save regularly.

Trackers are a great way to make sure you are reaching your daily/ weekly/ frequent goals. You can see more information about trackers here.

Several years ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, where she did an experiment for a year to try different things that might make her happier. Her basis was Benjamin Franklin’s disciplined approach to tracking daily habits. Every month Rubin focused on a different aspect of her life (relationships, health, financial, etc.) and tracked her progress. This approach seems like a lot of work, but you can’t argue with the results!

3-5 year goals: I’m currently reading Charley Gilkey’s book Start Finishing: How To Go From Idea To Done. Something in his book that really resonated with me is that our lives change significantly every 3 to 5 years. If you are in school, in 3-5 years you will graduate. If you are working, in 3-5 years your job will change. If you are a parent, in 3-5 years your kids will grow into the next phase of their lives. 3-5 years is the somewhat-foreseeable future where we can plan what we need to do to reach our goals.

It’s hard to see beyond that 3-5 year mark. This is where the waters get muddier. None of us can see into the future; no one knows what our life will be like several years from now. But it’s important to have direction. To paraphrase one part of Charlie’s book, we create our own reality as we go along. As we work, meet people, and develop ourselves, we open up new opportunities that didn’t exist before. You never know where those opportunities will take you. Read more about how to create opportunities for yourself here.

What’s the takeaway here? Set yourself up to fulfill your long-term/ lifetime goals by creating good habits now, and sticking to them. Focus on your 3-5 year goals. Beyond that, work on creating opportunities that will allow you to be successful in the new reality you have created.

List the daily habits you want to cultivate. Map out your goals for the upcoming 3-5 years. And think about what actions you can take to create new opportunities for yourself as you go along.

To get started, read Setting Achievable Goals for lots of tips on how to decide what your goals should be, and how to work them into your schedule. For more details on how to set and achieve your goals, browse our Goal Setting category here.


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