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At some point in the past, likely around New Year’s Day, you may have sat down and written your goals –  a picture of what you really want out of life in terms of business or career, finances, relationships, health. The question is, do you have any idea where you put it?

Our days are often filled with meetings, deadlines, bills that need to be paid, and perusing or updating social media, not to mention cleaning clothes and making sure there’s something besides jelly in the fridge. It can be really hard to turn away from those immediate demands and invest time and attention on distant future goals. After all, they’re not quick-hit tasks. Frequently, long-term goals require multiple steps that don’t have immediate payoffs – tasks like building relationships, personal development or sticking to a schedule over a long period of time.

A long-term goal may require you to push yourself out of the house, and away from all the fires you’re putting out, to attend networking events where you may or may not meet your next dream client or boss. They may require going back to school, paying for a class and spending hours taking notes and doing homework that won’t help pay the bills any time soon. They may include getting to the gym every day and investing an hour or two in your long term health and fitness.

They’re not activities you can just check off a list, so it’s easy to put them off until later, and later, and later, until they’re collecting dust.

But as inspirational leaders like Steven Covey and Tony Robbins agree, you wind up where you’re headed. You must keep your goals in front of you if you ever hope to achieve them. You must make a plan for your days that includes taking steps toward your goals. As Antoine St. Exupery wrote: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

So go dig that list of goals out of whatever file or pile you stuck it in and start applying your attention to it. First, turn it into a project. For example, “Get fit” might be a goal but it’s not a project because you won’t know when it’s completed. So the project may be, “achieve a resting heartrate under 70,” or “run the Austin Marathon in 2012.”

Once you’ve done that, identify the specific steps the project might require. Then, determine how can you work one or more of them into your schedule every day. How can you motivate yourself to focus on that long-term goal, even when all the daily tasks are pulling at you?

The bottom line is that you need a process so that you are in control, and not always reacting, because in reaction mode, you’ll never have time for your own dreams.

You owe it to yourself to move toward the destination you’ve chosen for yourself.

Thanks for reading!