“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
― Charles E. Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent
The “everyday” always seems to be the enemy of achieving big things.
There are things I’d like to achieve but never get around to working on because of cooking, cleaning, basic work tasks, and all of the other daily busyness that has to happen. The important items of my to do list get crowded out by the things that must happen immediately.
Sometimes, I see other people around me achieving big things and feel frustrated that I can barely keep up with today.
This is something that I have really been working on and have seen some great progress in. So let’s look at how it can be possible to achieve big goals when you feel stuck in the busyness of everyday life.
How to Achieve Big Goals When You’re Too Busy
My first step to achieving big goals has been to dare to dream bigger.
I feel a bit embarrassed that this is so hard for me, but it is. Along the road to becoming a responsible adult, I’ve lost my ability to dream big. I try to focus on what’s practical.
I don’t want to set goals too big because I think I’ll be frustrated when I don’t achieve them. I don’t try for things because they will take too much time and effort when I already feel too busy and am lacking energy.
This year, I’ve seen how these thoughts have cause me to be my own worst enemy. I’ve been holding myself back and not living up to my potential. I’ve become afraid to dream big.
I started a list of big dreams for my life, broken down into categories for me personally, financially, professionally, and for my family. I’m not saying that I’ll be able to make each one happen but by intentionally recognizing what I want and writing it down, I’m a lot more likely to work towards it.
If you want to achieve big things, take some time to dream big and write down those dreams.
Don’t be embarrassed of what you want and don’t let yourself be too practical. Think of a few dreams/goals for each of these four categories:
- Personal: This could include travel, fitness, education, or anything that you would love to happen for you.
- Financial: This could be a desire to pay off debt or to be able to pay cash for a large purchase, making a big donation, earning a certain income, being able to purchase a special item…
- Professional: Write down any career dreams you have, like changing careers, finishing training to help you get a promotion, or reaching a certain milestone at your job.
- Family: Family dreams might be that you want to have more kids or be able to take more vacations.
Here are a few of my big dreams:
- Personal: Visit Italy
- Financial: Pay off our car. Buy a house on a lake. Be able to give a huge donation to something important. Have a paid for house.
- Professional: Earn over $50,000 in a year. Have an email list with over 10,000 people on it.
- Family: Move somewhere with nicer weather. Take a yearly vacation.
I’d love for you to share some of your big dreams in the comments!
So many of the dreams on my list I was hesitant to write down. They feel too big to me. However, unless we’re willing to recognize our dreams, we’ll never be able to turn them into reality.
Break Down Goals
Now that you’ve dreamed big, it’s time to turn those big dreams into achievable goals. Fabulous things happen to people who work hard in the direction of their dreams. I want that to be us!
This is where it all starts to make more sense to my practical brain. Pick one of your goals and break it down into more bite-sized pieces.
I noticed that a great deal of my goals can be achieved by earning more money. I’d be able to save chunks of money for a trip to Italy, pay off our car loan, give generously…
So how do I break down that idea of making more money? I’m focusing on my blogging business more this year because the potential for growth is essentially unlimited. More specifically, I’m working through some courses to help me improve my business and make it more profitable.
Some of my practical goals are to finish the EBA course I’m working through by the end of the year, reread an ebook that I found helpful (and apply all of the tips), and spend more time creating better content for my blog.
What if your dream is to change careers? A way to break that down would be to (1) research what education or training you need to get your dream job, (2) save money to be able to afford the training, (3) take all necessary courses to be able to change careers.
Sidenote: If you’re interested in changing careers or learning a new skill, check out courses on Udemy.com before you spend thousands on college courses. You can learn all kinds of skills, like photography, graphic design, web development, dog training, and tons more. We’ve loved the courses we’ve taken on Udemy. A lot of Austin’s programming experience during college actually came from Udemy, not his college courses.
This all sounds super simple, but really, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.
This is why so many people don’t achieve big things (myself included). Even if you dream big and break those dreams down into smaller goals, it still takes time and effort to make it happen.
The time to energy you need to make it happen gets sucked up by those annoying daily urgent things, like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, responding to emails…
3 Ways to Really Make it Happen
At the end of the day, the only way to turn dreams into reality is to find/make the time to make it happen.
1. Be OK with Good Enough
The first thing I’ve noticed about working towards a big goal is that I need to be OK with “good enough” in other areas of my life. I just can’t do it all and if I want to make important steps in my life, some the daily busyness won’t be perfect.
To create time to work towards my goals, I’ve:
- vacuumed the house less often
- bought more convenience foods
- been ok with simpler meals or repeated meals
- done the bare minimum on certain blogging tasks
My standards have dropped in many areas of my life because my priorities are elsewhere. I’m totally OK with “good enough” if it means I have more time to work on my goals.
2. Be Mindful of Your Time
For the most part, we have more time than we think we do.
The average adult spends five hours watching TV per day (source) and 2 hours on social media (source)! Now, even if you’re pretty far below average, I’m sure that there are still hours per week that could be put to better use.
I’d like to think that I’m below average but I don’t think I am!
It is so easy to watch Netflix and scroll through social media without being mindful of how I’m spending my time.
In fact, for one week, I tried to limit my time on Facebook because I felt like it was getting out of hand. I would just scroll and scroll without thinking about it and for no good reason. I noticed that I had so much more time on my hands when I put away my phone or tablet for the night. I had tons of time to exercise and read a book!
If you think that there’s no possible way that you spend hours per day watching TV or on social media, I’d highly encourage you to track your time with an app like Quality Time or Moment. You could also just track how you spend your time in a simple notebook.
This is a constant battle for me. To achieve bigger things in my life, I need to use my time more efficiently.
Don’t forget to make the most of your mornings too! Mornings can be a great time to get ahead on important projects.
I was really inspired by What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Plus, you know I have to mention Make Over Your Mornings, because it talks a lot about finding the time to do important things before you get sucked into the urgent needs of each day.
3. Take Advantage of Small Chunks of Time
Another way to get more done is to take advantage of small chunks of time.
A lot of times, I think that 10-20 minutes isn’t enough time to do anything worthwhile, but that’s not true at all. I only exercise for about 20 minutes each day and I’ve seen huge results! I can read a chapter of a book, finish a small business task, clean the kitchen, schedule an appointment…
It can be hard to find hours of focused time to work on something but if you can take advantage of smaller bits of time, you can get the same amount done.
Or, you can use small chunks of time to get done all of the little random tasks done so that when you do have a nice big block of time, you can use it to really focus on a task that requires deeper concentration.
When we allow ourselves to truly dream big and work towards the important instead of the urgent, we can achieve big things. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction!
Eventually, by making our goals a priority, we look back and realize how far we’ve come.