Twenty Something Advice: Make your goals measurable

A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

climbing a path

Most twenty somethings I know would consider their twenties to be a stepping stone in their life on the path to bigger and better things. Gen Yers in particular are known for being big dreamers.

For me, having a goal and having a dream produce different results. A goal without a deadline is just a dream. A dream of mine is to be a professor. I would not yet say that this is a goal because I don’t have a specific time frame and I have not necessarily begun the specific steps to get there. Granted my current job is on the path to my dream, but it’s not a direct step by step process. Once I make the decision to change that dream into a goal I will set a plan of action on achieving that goal.

When setting goals it is important to set a deadline and make your goal measurable. Once there is a time frame in place for your goal it is much easier to break that goal down into manageable pieces. For example, my most resent goal is to be debt free by my birthday in February. Once I set that deadline I was then able to make measurable steps that I could take. I added up the amount of outstanding debt I had, then I divided that debt by the number of weeks I had left until my deadline. (I chose weekly because that’s how often I get paid) I was then able to know exactly how much money to pay each week towards my credit card. When you have a big goal and you break it down into smaller chunks you lose some of the “where do I begin” stress. For me when I first added up my total debt I was overwhelmed and felt helpless. As soon as I divided it into smaller payments I could actually begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Changing your big goals into small milestones can work with any goal.

Saying you want to lose 20 pounds can be perceived as a dream or a goal depending on what you are doing about it. If you mention this is casual conversation at dinner with your girlfriends (while eating a bowl of pasta) then I would consider this statement to be just a dream. Once you set in your mind that no matter what you are determined to lose 20 pounds that’s when you begin to measure your progress.

Some goals are easier to measure than others. The way to determine if your goal is measurable is to ask yourself – how will you know you’ve achieved this. The questions you should ask are “how much” and “by when”. Twenty pounds by a wedding date is very measurable. A better relationship with your husband is not. There is a way to make that measurable though – think of specifics. If a better relationship for you means making time for each other than that’s what you measure. For example – I will build a better relationship with my husband by having at least 3 date nights a month. Do you see how having something to measure lets you know how you are doing with your goal. Keep in mind that your measurements and deadlines can always be changed, the most important part is getting the ball rolling.

So, what are your goals and how will you know you’ve achieved them?

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14 thoughts on “Twenty Something Advice: Make your goals measurable

  1. a goal of mine is to cancel my debt as well. but it’s going to take a lot longer than until february ;)

    but i went from the lowest balance credit card to the highest. i’ve paid off 1.5 so far! woo!

  2. I want to get rid of my debt too. It’ll be harder with a mortgage and car payments, but I can definitely take charge of my credit card bill just like you did.

  3. A goal of mine is to move out of my parent’s house by March. I’ve been saving up and LA is just too expensive to up and do it. So March it is, I am determined to do it :)

  4. wow elysa! this is fantastic…and totally an important distinction i am slowly learning to make: goal vs. dream. great great post! i’ll have to check out all the others too!

  5. I love this post.

    I’ve been thinking a LOT about how to set good goals. I agree that they need to be clear and measurable. I also think that the best goals also have regularly practiced disciplines. For example, if I want to lose 20 pounds, I should plan on a good routines for my day (eat three small meals, with no snacking) and week (go to gym 3 times a week for 45 minutes per session). This has been great for me.

  6. Great read. I’m a dreamer, and it’s so hard turning dreams into goals because I have issues with deadlines and, well, discipline. Hah. First I need to sort through that. Then I can sort through my goals.

  7. Coming out of absolutely craptastic relationship a year and a half ago forced me to sit down, reprioritize my life, and set new goals. In a way, it was a great experience because it taught me that my life can fit into my life plan/set goals instead of my just trying to muck through everything.

    Examples of some of my goals for the latter half of 2006 and for 2007 were the following:

    1. Finish my PADI divermaster certification. I surpassed this and I am now a PADI Assistant Instructor
    2. Run a 10k – Completed in Sept 2006
    3. Run a distance event – Completed Nov 2007 by running the Seattle Half Marathon
    4. Get a new job- Completed in March 2007
    5. Wreck Dive in Nanaimo- Completed in Feb 2007 and August 2007
    6. Get promoted/raise – In progress hopeful completion Dec 2007

    What has helped me is knowing that goals are both short and long term. Not everything has to be a major event or something five or ten years down the road. I set up my goal lists like this:

    1 Month-
    -Purchase Christmas presents by 12/20
    -Pay off credit card
    – Attend at least two scuba open water sessions

    6 Months-

    *Redefine my job at work/promotion
    -Re-write my job description
    -Research appropriate job salaries
    -Meet with management

    *Travel Internationally
    -Figure out budget
    -Figure out budget

    1 Year-

    *Purchase a New Car
    – Steps to reach this goal:

    5 Years-

    *Travel to China and Thailand
    -Steps to reach this goal:
    *Start my own business
    -Steps. . .

    The reality is our priorities and goals can always change. There is nothing wrong with tweaking a goal or even dropping one for another. We just have to set attainable goals and have realistic expectations for ourselves.

  8. Hmm.. a great read! Thanks :)

    My dream is to become a fairly successful blogger as I’ve always been into the pro-women stuff :) and to apply what I’ve learned in this posting

    It’s … becoming a goal that I am working on achieving. I say working because I haven’t a clue what the time frame for such a thing would be.

    But I enjoy reading great blogs like this one and connecting with people and so, I would say its very doable

    Keep it coming! :)


  9. I really like the comment on dreams vs. Goals. I have always said that a dream is something you wish you could ‘accomplish’ where a goal is something you know you accomplish (eg. My one dream is to marry an amazing woman). I think this explains the why of that much better.

    Turns out at 12am I dont have much work to do ;)

  10. so i used to have dreams, and then goals, and then expectations.

    i worked hard for these goals, i did the best i could at the time, under the circumstances. then, by my ‘deadline’ i realised i hadn;t quite made it. so i revaluated. and realised that somewhere along the path of trying to succeed my goal, my values had changed, and so did my priorities and aspirations.

    i still feel like a failure sometimes, for not fully succeeding that goal, but i remind myself on why i failed. (essentially, my heart was not in it after a certain point).

    now i don’t have dreams. and i even hessitate making goals, bc i fear dissapointent and bitterness.

    if i have to state one goal, it would be to live life TODAY. live it to the full, having an open mind to all the opportunities life throws at me, and do things i feel good doing.

    I spent most of my life so far working towards goals and dreams. now i realise that no one can gurantee us that we will have tomorrow and that living for it can ruin today.

    so all i can really hope for, is do the best, and be pleased, with what i have today.

    that is all folks! ; )

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