A man in Needles, Arizona decides to drive to Ocean City, Maryland. Should he just point the car northeast and keep driving? He might get there, but it will take longer than if he uses a roadmap to plot his course.

 

 Setting goals is like plotting a long trip. Just as a reliable roadmap is needed to travel, planning steps are needed to achieve goals. There are many ways to map goals and many different types of goals that each person should establish. Some areas where goals are essential are family, finances, mental, physical, social and spiritual. One way to map those steps is to write an action plan that sets long-term goals, short-term goals needed to reach the long-term goals, the benefits and rewards you will receive.

 

 Don’t just think about the goals; write them down to make them important to you. Be specific. Write the goals in terms that can be measured, being realistic by setting goals that will be challenging, but still attainable. Once they are written, prioritize them and see if there are any conflicts. Where do you want to be in one, three and twenty years?

 

Break them down. What steps need to be taken to make them a reality? These are the short-term goals. What can be done in the next two to three months to bring the long-range goals closer?

 

 What benefits will be obtained by reaching the goals? No matter what the goal is, there has to be a personal reason for wanting it. More time? Less stress? A promotion? What is your reward for doing this? It is easier to work hard when there is a reward such as more money, a vacation or more responsibility. Sometimes the benefits and rewards are the same, but sometimes the reward is something achieved through the benefit, such as using your extra time (benefit) to take a vacation (reward).

 

 The action plan should be in writing, have completion dates and should be re-evaluated often, making changes as necessary, to reach the desired goals. This can work for small changes and long-range life changing goals. The first step is, of course, to sit down and write down what it is you want, and then all you have to do is follow your personalized roadmap.

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