“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
How much would your life change if you knew that achieving your wildest dreams could take as little as 12 minutes a day?
Think of the unlimited possibilities that concept provides! Most of us believe that we simply don’t have the time to accomplish the goals we secretly hope to achieve. Instead of setting out to tackle our dreams, we whittle away our time complaining that there’s just not enough time in the day.
In actuality, you don’t need a lot of time to achieve your dreams. And you don’t have to take a sabbatical from your busy life to achieve a long-term goal. Anything you wish to achieve – large or small -can be completed in tandem with numerous other important life tasks, such as spending time with family and friends, working a full-time job (or looking for a job), maintaining your household, and engaging in hobbies or activities that fulfill you.
All you need is persistence, effective time management … and at least 12 minutes a day. Here’s how.
1. Getting Started: Define Your Goal
One of the most difficult aspects of achieving any goal is simply getting started. Whether it’s learning a new language or instrument, losing weight or writing a book, some goals seem so daunting that we simply don’t know where to begin.
The best place to start is by clearly defining the goal you wish to accomplish. (The “how” can come later!) In July of 2004, I received a flyer in the mail promoting a marathon that was to take place on my birthday in January. I had never dreamed that I could run a marathon; I thought marathoners were all top athletes who trained for years. But because I often spend my birthday depressed about getting older, I decided to make this year different. So I set a clear goal for myself: for my 40th birthday I am going to complete a marathon.
Whether your goal is as minimal as keeping the kitchen clean or as large as finishing a Master’s thesis, there’s no great magic to taking the first step. You just need to clearly define your goal.
Action step: Write down your goal
2. Visualize Your Goal
Setting a goal is not enough to make it happen. You must also embrace a sincere commitment to achieving the goal. You must feel the desire, have faith in the process, and be able to truly visualize yourself accomplishing it.
Even if you can’t push yourself to hope for the very highest manifestation of your goal, at least set a milestone that you do feel is manageable. For example, I didn’t attach many specifics to my goal (such as how long it would take me to complete the marathon). To begin with, I simply set a goal of finishing the race. A week prior to the marathon I ran the last mile of the race to know what I would be looking at when I was tired and dragging myself to the finish line. I didn’t care if I was the very last person to pass the finish line; I just wanted to complete the task. And I could truly visualize myself doing so, sore and exhausted but elated by my accomplishment.
Action step: Visualize your success
3. Set a deadline
Deadlines are an invaluable motivator for achieving long-term goals. Without deadlines, you might never accomplish any task! Deadlines are what drive us to continue making forward progress, and help us to keep the end goal in sight.
It’s important that you pinpoint a specific date by which you want to complete your goal (e.g., I will run the marathon on January 11, 2004). Be realistic! Don’t overlook or underestimate the time that current and future relationships and responsibilities will require. Plan on and around these important activities and events.
Action step: Set the month, day, and year you want to accomplish your goal
4. Focus on the Small Things
The next step is to break down that huge goal of yours into a “to do” list of smaller, more manageable tasks. Each item you complete on this “checklist” should take you closer to your goal.
I always advise graduate students who are working on their thesis or dissertation to break down their huge, unstructured project into several 12-15 minute tasks. Something as simple as typing a title page or reading just one research article will definitely take them closer to achieving their overall goal. These are small tasks that aren’t too overwhelming to tackle.
The list of small tasks you will need to complete is likely to be lengthy. Try not to overwhelm yourself by dealing with the total list. Instead, focus on a schedule of hourly, daily or weekly tasks that you would like to complete.
While training for my marathon, I kept a weekly schedule posted on my refrigerator so that I could easily refer to what I was supposed to accomplish on each particular day: for example, running for a specific length of time on some days, and running a particular number of miles on another. I focused only on the accomplishment outlined for the current day; I didn’t look any further down the road. When the week was over, I posted another schedule for the upcoming week. I knew that if I did exactly what was posted on the refrigerator for each day that I would be ready for the marathon come “game day.” That removed any fear I might have had about not being able to complete my goal.
Action step: Create comprehensive daily, weekly, monthly checklists
5. Make a Commitment to Work Every Day
Now the real work begins: putting your goal into action. Clearly, accomplishing large life goals like writing a thesis, losing weight or running a marathon takes a significant amount of time and effort. These are not tasks that can be accomplished easily or quickly. As such, it’s critical to keep the momentum going by making a commitment to work toward your goal every day. On some days, your commitment can be as little as 12 minutes; on other days, you may log hours working toward your goal. The point is that every day you need to take some time and some action.
Each morning, start your day by asking, “What action will I take today to move toward my goal?” Refer often to the checklist you made of all the small items that must be completed in order to make forward progress. Resolve yourself to work on one of those items each and every day, for a minimum of 12 minutes. No task is too small, and no item – such as creating a bibliography, drinking an extra bottle of water each day or doing 10 sit-ups – is too insignificant. Keep in mind that every action will move you closer to your goal. End every day by reinforcing your “to do” items for the following day.
Making this type of commitment means that there’s no need to procrastinate on pursuing your goals any longer. Come on, you can work for just 12 minutes a day! So set your watch, cell phone, microwave or timer and see what you can accomplish in that time-frame. Those minutes will eventually add up to the realization of your dreams!
Action step: Make your wildest dream a reality by posting your lists and goal
Source by Wendy Carter