If you planned to drive to Nome, Alaska, you probably wouldn’t leave the driveway unless you figured out where Nome was, got out a map or plugged Nome into your GPS to figure out what roads to travel, and estimated how long it would take to get there so you could make sure you had enough clothes, money, and snacks to make the trip.
Or, you could think,”Screw planning! I’m going to live my life on the edge!” then jump in your car and take off on the road trip of a lifetime. You will have a great time feeling bold and adventurous until you find yourself somewhere in Canada, or possibly Alaska, and realize there are no roads to Nome. You can only get there by airplane or boat. Or dog sled, if you’re desperate.
Sucks for you, hot shot.
You can’t get to Nome without a plan, and you are going to have to be lucky as hell to succeed in life without a plan. Success, by the way, isn’t defined as being CEO of some large company, living in some large house, and driving some large car. Success is having the money and time to do what you want to do to be happy and relatively worry free. That’s it. You just have to decide what that happiness looks like.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama
In 1992 (because I’m old af), I sat on a chartered boat in the British Virgin Islands with my partner and decided, Damn, this is the life! We went home and wrote down a goal to live on our own sailboat and take a year off in five years. I filed the piece of paper and forgot I had written it.
Five years and one month later, I found that piece of paper as we packed up our house to put our stuff in storage. We had bought a sailboat and had arranged to take time off, and we were about to leave on a year-long trip on our boat.
Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it. - David Lee Roth
My partner’s parents had always emphasized the importance of goals and how crucial it is to write them down to make them real. I kind of thought that was bullshit until I found that piece of paper. It was like the written goal was some magic spell, working in invisible ways through our lives for the previous five years until we — Abracadabra!! — had a sailboat and the cash to take a year off to sail to the Bahamas.
That’s some pretty impressive magic.
Step 1: Figure out what you want. Not what your parents want, not what you think you should want, not what your friends want. It’s hard to stick to a goal if you aren’t committed, and you are never going to be happy just trying to make other people happy.
Step 2: Figure out what needs to change to make your goal happen and make a plan. Do you need money? Then you are going to have to spend less and save more. That needs a budget, a.k.a. a “money plan.” Do you want a certain job? Go research the job and make a plan to make yourself and optimal job candidate. Want to take off for a year on a sailboat? Research sailboats. Live cheap. Learn how to not kill yourself. And Make. A. Plan.
Step 3: Track your progress and adjust your plan as needed. How are you going to know if your plan is good if you don’t make sure it’s working? Plans needs to be adjusted as time passes to keep them working. Your goal stays the same (probably) but your plan needs to adapt.
Step 4: Achieve your goal!