Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

How to Create a Goal Template

Darts on a dartboard

While I have something of a like/dislike relationship with goals, I realize they can be useful. It’s just a matter of tweaking those goals.

In the past, I’ve seen far too many people proclaim some very nebulous goals. Goals like I want to learn x or I want to do y. Most of them never achieve their goals because those goals are so vague.

A vague goal is where you start. When you have the goal, you need to break it down into smaller pieces. Something that can help you do that is a goal template.

Goal Template?

The idea behind a goal template is similar to that of a task list. You break your goal down into small steps or tasks. Then, you plug one of those steps or tasks into your goal template.

The goal template should ask three questions:

  1. What do I want to do?
  2. When do I want to do it by?
  3. How am I going to do it?

Then, answer each question. Simple, no?

Keep Your Goals, and Your Goal Template, Focused

I’ve found that setting up either a daily or weekly template works best. Doing that allows you to focus on the step or task at hand. And it should be one step or task. For a weekly template, two at the most.

Why focus? If you don’t, you’ll try to bite off more than you can chew and you won’t finish. Life also has a habit of getting in the way.

Here’s an example: let’s say you want to read more this year. The book you decide to tackle is Gravity’s Rainbow, which weighs in at almost 800 pages. Setting a daily goal of reading 100 pages probably isn’t going to work. The book is quite dense, and there’s a lot to take in. Plus, you might only have an hour to read each night. Instead, you can set a weekly goal of 100 or 200 pages which you can probably accomplish by setting aside 30 to 60 minutes each evening.

No matter how complex or challenging your goal is, breaking it down into smaller steps or tasks will make that goal more manageable. Putting those smaller chunks into a template will make achieving that goal smoother and easier. You’ll know what you need to do, and when you’d like to do it by.

Just to give you a head start, here’s a sample goal template. It’s a Google Doc, but you can download it as a word processor file. I hope you find it useful.

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