Goal Setting and Time Management

You need more time - but do you know what for?

That's why goal setting and time management are intrinsically linked! There's no point organizing yourself and using my time management gems to free up your time unless you know that you are spending your time on the right things.

Do you know what's important to you? What about what your purpose in life is? What do you really enjoy doing? Are you doing it? If not, why not?

This is why goal setting and time management go together. You can't have one without the other - if you know what your goals are, then you know where to focus your time.

Goals or Purpose

Goals or Purpose - what's the difference?

So what are goals? Well, goals are the things you strive for. They are the dreams you have inside your head and they can be as big or as small as you want them. You are the creator, you are the only one who has control of your destiny so you decide what they are. Goals can be set for a day, a week, a month, a year and the most important ones - a lifetime!

Lifetime goals are just as they sound - those things that you want to achieve in your life. Goals should always work with each other so for those lifetime goals you have set yourself, the daily and weekly goals should contribute to these.

Purpose on the other hand is your reason for being. If you think of your goals as your end destination - purpose is the reason for choosing the destination.

When we are starting fresh with time management, we start large and then narrow down to the small stuff. So, it's best if you find your purpose first and then set your lifetime goals, then yearly, monthly, weekly and finally daily goals or to-do lists will fit within these larger goals.

Why Is Purpose Important for Goal Setting?

Imagine you are out sailing. It's a great day, the sea is smooth, the sun is on your face, you can feel the wind in your hair and you might even be holding the hand of your loved one. At those times, with clear days and clear nights, the shore, your destination goal is easily identifiable - you can see it by looking to the horizon or if it's a bit further than that, you can usually see the stars or the sun to navigate with.

Now imagine that the weather turns. There's a huge storm and the sailing is rough. Now it's harder to see the shore, it's harder to see your goal. When the seas are swollen and tossing you and your boat adrift you can't even see which way is up let alone keep sight of your goal. In these times, how do we know where our goals are? How can we navigate?

The answer is that even if you can't see your goals, you will know that you are heading in the right direction as long as you know your purpose.

That's why it is important to know your purpose! Your purpose is like a a bunch of beacons dropped in the ocean showing you the way. So it doesn't matter whether the seas are smooth or rough, as long as you have the beacons to guide you, you will eventually get to your destination. You carry your purpose within yourself and as long as every action you take fits within this purpose, it won't matter if some of your goals are a bit fuzzy - you will still be on the right path.

The first step in goal setting and time management is therefore to work out your purpose. What is your purpose in life? Don't know? Try this exercise from Steve Pavlina - it opens in a new window Jump from "Goal Setting and Time Management" to "How to discover your life purpose in about 20 mins" and then return here to continue on.

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Importance Of Your Lifetime Goals

What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? What do you want them to put on your headstone? What do you want your children, your spouse, your friends to say about you when they are reminiscing afterwards? Stephen Covey in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" calls this "Beginning with the end in mind".

He says that to "begin with the end in mind" is to begin today with the image or picture of the end of your life as the criteria by which everything else is referenced. By doing this, each person can examine today, tomorrow, next week and next month in the context of the end game. By keeping the end clearly in mind you can make certain that what you are doing today, tomorrow, next week and next month does not violate the criteria you have set as extremely important and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.

For me, one of my life goals (as I've shared with you in earlier articles) is to be a "fun mother". In my mind, I can see my kids (and grandkids!) telling stories about our joyful moments. By keeping this in my mind, it helps me to manage my time - I can plan my days or my weeks knowing what's important.

I remember talking to a friend at work about the fleeting moments of children (his children were all grown) and he told me about his wife who regrets spending so much time cleaning the house when their children were small. She had said to him that time went so quickly when the kids were small and now she wishes that she had just put the vaccuum away and played with their sons and enjoyed them (mess and all!)

That was another "Aha" moment - I didn't really need any encouraging to move the cleaning lower down my list of things to do but it reinforced my gut feeling - that there's stuff that's important and stuff that isn't important and you need to figure it out so you know which tasks to do and which can wait until later.

It's About Knowing What's Important

That's what goal setting and time management is about - it's about working out what's important to you. And that's why linking goal setting with time management is a necessity - your lifetime goals are your destination, your purpose is your reason for choosing the destination and time management helps you to get organized so you can get there.

This is all the stuff of life. If you can manage your time you can do anything you want to - you just need to make sure that it's really what you want to be doing!

So I urge you to continue on with reading this section on Goal Setting and Time Management. If you haven't worked out your purpose, do it now and then come back to continue on with the Goal Setting and Time Management Articles. I'm going to discuss writing a personal mission statement, a personal vision statement and also look into what SMART goals are.

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