In my last post I defined what personal freedom is to me and how it is sought after by many of us, but how can it be realized? Certainly the path may be different for each of us as we have different skills, desires, and risk appetites. The one thing we can all benefit from is having some kind of goals that we can achieve which will lead us down the path towards personal freedom and financial independence.
I’ve always been a big fan of setting goals, and I have lots of experience doing it, which has led to continued growth both personally and professionally. I also realize there are limitations to goal setting and if not accompanied by action they are not very useful. So you must first decide that if I set a goal, than I intend to follow-up and do something about it. You will also need to think about your goals very carefully to ensure you have the right goals, because pursuing the wrong ones is a waste of time and precious effort. If personal freedom is one of your goals you will need to have smaller short-term goals that support it. One way to do this is to have goals that fit into at least two-time frames:
- Less than 1 year
- Greater than 1 year
In the past I had goals that were in three categories (< 1 year, 1 – 3 years, > 3 years), but it seemed that I was trying to plan out everything so far into the future that I really wasn’t sure what I really wanted and it did nothing but remove my focus on my short and mid term goals. My advice is keep your goal setting in the 1 – 3 year range, anything beyond that is really speculating and doesn’t help you achieve results in the near term.
I would also recommend being specific on how you phrase your goals, and give them target dates so you have a set amount of time to achieve the goal. It is also important that you not have too many goals and goals that are due during the same time frame. While you want goals that motivate you, they must also be achievable, so be a little conservative at first when setting goals. An example of this would be say that I’m making $100,000 a year and I want to make $150,000 in within a years time. Maybe it would be more realistic to set the goal as $125,000 and if you exceed it, then great, but even if you get a promotion or a new job and you do hit the target you did great and you won’t feel disappointed with that pretty awesome 25% increase in salary. Here are 10 tips for setting goals:
- Make them a stretch but achievable with effort.
- Be specific in the way they are worded, making sure they indicate an outcome.
- Categorize them into time frames of < 1 year and > 1 year.
- Shorter term goals may support longer term goals.
- Make sure you have a target date to achieve the goal.
- Be sure and include personal goals as well as professional goals.
- Use some kind of task management system to break a goal down into tasks. I use something called My Life Organizer (MLO).
- Don’t create too many goals. When you have other ideas for a goal put it in a parking lot and think about it before committing.
- Make sure the goals you create are visible, so that you are seeing them everyday.
- Realize that your goals will change, some will be removed, and replaced by other goals as you learn more and come to various conclusions regarding what you really want to achieve.
One or more of your long-term goals will be related to obtaining personal freedom and it might be transitioning to being self-employed. Maybe personal freedom to you means being completely retired, but whatever it is you need to take some time to think about your goals. First determine what you really want and then work backwards to determine the goals that support your long term objectives. Here is an example of how this might look:
Short Term (less than 1 year)
|Start playing guitar again
|Get a Brittany Spaniel dog
|Create Living Will and Trust
|Obtain XYZ certification
|Positive cash flow in my home based business
|Remodel Kitchen and replace flooring
Long Term (greater than 1 year)
|Start teaching project management online
|$3,000 income per month in my home based business
|Have 5,000 followers on my blogs
|Have 10,000 Twitter followers
|Have 10,000 YouTube followers
|Transition to self-employed
|Finish my first book
Let’s say you wanted to manage your own business, do some writing, and teach project management in effect transitioning to being self-employed and having a lot more personal freedom than you currently have. Besides some of your personal goals you have some business oriented ones like having a positive cash flow in your home based business, increasing your social media presence on Twitter, YouTube, and your blog; all of these lead you to your ultimate goal of transitioning to self employment. This is merely an example, your own plan will be different and unique to your own situation and time-table.
You now have a starting point to begin taking action. You have considered what personal freedom means to you and have constructed a plan to get there, now you must start achieving your goals. Each goal will have potentially many tasks that go into achieving that goal, so your next step should be breaking down the goal into tasks and performing those tasks in a time frame that supports the target date for each goal.
I am personally committed to a business called MyDailyChoice that I will be working on to help me obtain personal freedom. Check it out if you have a few minutes.
In my next post we will go into more detail on goal setting and more importantly how to achieve them.