We create our lives each day by choosing what we focus on. But too often what we focus on doesn’t advance our lives or accomplish our goals. We are too caught up in our daily living to even figure out our goals, never mind taking steps to accomplish them.
Let us illustrate this with a story from our book, It’s More Than Money-It’s Your Life! The New Money Club for Women.
On an outing to the beach, a grandmother decided to teach her granddaughter about the important things in life. She asked the girl to fill a pail with large rocks. Once the girl was finished, the grandmother asked her if the pail was full. “Oh, yes,” said the girl, “I can’t fit another rock in.” Granny then told the girl to gather some small pebbles and put them into the pail. As she shook the pail lightly, her granddaughter saw how the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks.
She asked again if the pail was full. “Yes, of course, now it really is full,” said her granddaughter. Finally the grandmother reached down for several handfuls of sand, which sifted through her fingers into the already-filled pail. “I guess the pail wasn’t that full after all,” said her granddaughter.
And so the grandmother taught her granddaughter a valuable lesson she carried with her the rest of her life. When setting goals, take care of the rocks first, the important things in your life. If you fill your pail with sand, the small stuff, there is no room for anything else.
What are the large rocks in your life? They are probably the things that are most important-your family, your health, your spiritual life, your security. The pebbles are the other things that matter such as your job, your house, or your car. The sand is everything else-the small stuff. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that matter most. Take care of the rocks. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
Celebrate New Beginnings
This is the perfect time to set the course for the rest of your life. Here’s how to do it. Take a pencil and paper and spend 15 minutes writing down what is important to you and where you are going. What do you want your life to become? What can you do to get there? Open yourself to the possibilities, and create a vision of a future filled with abundance. It’s time to go forward without dwelling on the past. Whatever has happened in your life, wherever you are today, it’s time to celebrate new beginnings.
You can have anything in your life that you want. What do you want? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Let your imagination run wild, and write down everything that comes to mind. Pretend you have met a genie with a magic wand who will grant you anything you want. Once you’ve listed all the possibilities, review them and discard the ones that don’t seem that important. Make a list of your important goals. As you write your list, don’t hold back-there is no need to determine how you are going to get everything on the list just yet.
Fill your life with ROCKS
Use the ROCKS method to turn your dreams into goals. Your goals need to be real and focused, so you can commit your energy to reaching them. The word “ROCKS” can help you remember the key elements that you need to make your vision of a new life come true.
- Realistic. Do you have the time and skills to achieve your goals? If they seem too lofty, don’t abandon them. Just break them down into small steps, and do the steps one at a time.
- Obtainable. You must believe in your goal. Remember, if you believe it, you can achieve it.
- Controllable. Your goal must be something that is within your power to do, not something that is dependent on outside forces.
- Keep trying. If things don’t go as you planned, revise your plans so that you can achieve what you set out to do.
- Specific. Write down your goals. Use as many concrete and specific terms as you can to describe your goals, and when you intend to reach them.
Goals vs. Dreams
Congratulations! You have now completed an important step that most people fail to do. Less than 1 percent of Americans write down specific goals each year. Writing down your goals is powerful. More than fifty years ago Harvard University polled a class of graduates. Fewer than 3 percent of them had written goals. When Harvard polled them again twenty years later, that small 3 percent had become wealthier than the rest of the class combined! Not only that, but they were also healthier and more content. That’s the power of writing down your goals.
You may have heard about this study, and wondered how it could be true. We can’t tell you the exact process, but we have seen the power of this in our own lives. Seventeen years ago, when Ginita wrote down that she wanted to be an author, she hadn’t even written one book. Our new book, It’s More Than Money — It’s Your Life is now her eighth book. Candace and her husband John create a collage each year to help them visualize what they would like to accomplish in seven areas of their lives. As they review the previous years’ collage each January, it’s amazing how closely their life accomplishments track the collage. Even their teenage daughter Carrie puts together a collage each year with things that are significant in her life.
Small steps lead to big success
As you have seen, the first step in achieving your goals is to visualize the goal and believe that you can do it. The next step is to write it down, as specifically as possible. And of course you have to follow up with action that will make those goals a reality.
Sometimes we think that we have to make major changes in our lives to get ourselves on track. But in reality, major changes are the result of a series of small steps. Step by step, day by day, you can change your life. Decide how you will take action toward your financial dreams. What small steps are you going to take to move your life forward? What will you do today?
We so strongly believe in the concept of Small Steps that we’ve made it the focal point of ourMoney Club web site. At the web site, each day you’ll find three examples of Small Steps you can do in 15 minutes or less to accomplish your financial goals. Just take one small step every day, and you can change your financial life forever. Remember: It’s more than money — it’s your life!