How to find direction...

If, like me, you don’t really know what to do with your life, you are probably lacking a sense of direction. To have a good sense of direction however, you need a good goal. Luckily I have gotten this far in my journey over months of navel gazing and self discovery, so I can start my journey with this post. 

 

We are going to look at goals to find your direction, and more importantly, keep you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goal Types

Firstly, we need the right amount of goals at any given time. The system that resonates with me the most is The Core, Primary and Active goals. This is the version I am running with for this ‘cycle’ based on armchair research of compiling other peoples experiences and books I have read, and so far I am already feeling results. Take what works for you and leave the rest of course!

The Core Goal

The Core Goal is the smallest unit of your Primary goal that allows you to realign yourself at any point. It is the most important element, and should resonate with you on a fundamental level. This is your drive. This is the thing that keeps you moving forward, regardless of what happens with the Primary and Active goals.

The Primary Goal

The Primary Goal gives you the details around the Core goal to help shape the active goals you choose to do. The Primary goal is what I will be focusing on for most of this article.

The Active Goal(s)

The immediate and practical goal(s) you are acting on at any given time such as writing a blog post, doing 20 squats, studying Japanese grammar, or learning how to code. 

Goal Scope

The size of the goals Primary and Active goals mostly depend on your state of mind. If you are comfortable with your current situation the more challenge you will probably want, you can always cut your active goals into smaller chunks. If you are having a hard time just getting out of bed, then we need to aim a tad smaller. That said, the result is the same. 

 

You need to create a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goal for your current mental, physical, and spiritual ability.

 

If you aim too high for your current state, you will get frustrated and give up. If you aim too low for your current state, you will get bored and give up. There are so many reasons that we fail, what we want to do is reduce the reasons to do so from the very beginning.

Figuring out the Goal

As much as I have a distaste for all things corporate, which is where the following tool is usually found, a S.M.A.R.T goal helps in creating solid goals as a starting point. I'll be putting a personal spin on it though. No reports or budgets here. First we need to understand what it is (in case you haven't heard of it before) and we'll add some examples soon after. 

 

S.M.A.R.T. stands for the following, hinted at previously :

Specific

Is your goal clear enough that at any point in the process you know what direction you should be taking?

 

I want to be happy again' doesn't really work because there isn't actually anything to work with or move towards. How are you going to do this when 'happy' is so general? I mean what is happiness? Get more specific, or perhaps tangible, with your goal setting. The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to find your Core Goal. Having a clear Core Goal will allow for less doubt about the steps you take moving forward. With less doubt, you will feel more confident in your choices, have more drive to continue on your journey, and be less likely to get side tracked and potentially lose your way. 

Measurable

Does your goal have milestone(s) to reach in order to feel progress.

 

It's a hard balance between sticking to the Primary and Active goal, changing them, or giving them up before it's time, use your milestones as points to reevaluate your goal(s) as needed. By having a Core Goal be so precise, and hopefully accurate, you have the ability to tweak your primary and Active goals as you go, but still always have a clear direction. Having the freedom to shift your goals at any time makes it very easy to give up too easily. Stick to the Primary and Active goals until the next milestone so that you learn how to push through difficult parts of the journey. This is possibly one of the most important skills to learn in the whole process. After you reach the milestone, you can reevaluate and adjust for the next phase with any new information you have acquired.

Achievable

Does your goal feel achievable so that you don't get disenchanted?

 

Set the level of your goal to the belief in yourself at the time. If you are on the low end of believing in yourself (depression, low self esteem, etc.) aim significantly lower than you think you need, especially on the Active goals. Get those first hits of dopamine to get back to a healthy baseline. Otherwise, the only limit is your imagination and physics.

Realistic

Do you have the time and resources to complete the goal?

 

If you have a full time job, partner, three kids, two pets, etc it is not realistic to expect big things on top of that. That said, you’d be surprised what can be done with one hour a week. Be over realistic with your goals to improve your chances of getting somewhere with it. Adjust as you get a better understanding of your situation.

Timely

Is there a deadline so you have an incentive to finish things in a timely manner? 

 

Add an incentive of some sort, or disciplinary action if you are into that :) Without these you will probably end up underutilizing your time at best, and saying you'll do it tomorrow forever at worst. One of my biggest issues was finishing...anything. So from personal experience, take your deadlines to heart and make sure to finish.

Examples

One approach to getting a solid primary goal is to go through all the key questions. Let's look at some examples. The ones that I feel apply to me in bold.

 

What are you trying to do smartly?

 

  • I want to share all I have learned (Great! But not so specific)

  • I want to share the things I have learned about <insert topics here>

  • I want to feel more confident about my appearance (not tangible enough)

  • I want to lose 10kg

  • I want to find more people I relate to (not specific enough)

  • I want to find creative/polyamorous/futurist people

  • I want to improve my apartment (a little too vague still)

  • I want to make my apartment look better (better, but could be improved)

  • I want to make my apartment look more modern/feel cool

  • I want to have more potato salad (I'd say this is specific enough :)

  • I want to make my bed (sometimes this can be a lot, and is a worthy goal)

  • I want to geek out about things I'm interested in (I'll give you one guess)

  • I want to geek out about <insert topics here>

  • I want to make more money (as valid an answer as this may be, we can go deeper)

  • I want to buy a nice apartment (this is a why)

  • I want to make $1500 a month extra income

  • I want to offer an alternative to the dystopian future we seem to be facing

Where are you going to do it smartly?

  • at home

  • at the gym

  • on YouTube

When do you want to do these things smartly?

  • Saturday afternoons

  • Every night before bed

  • The first free hour I find each week (in a busy schedule having some flexibility is important, but something like this allows you to keep to your goal)

  • Before and after work, and Sundays if I feel like it (luckily my schedule allows this)

Who is involved in this goal smartly?

  • Partner(s)

  • Friend(s)

  • Colleague(s)

  • Gamers like me

  • Creatives like me

  • Futurists

  • People who struggle to be creative

  • Anyone who cares

  • People who have money

  • People who want to learn game development and animation

Why do you want to do this really?

  • To share all I have learned for others to learn from

  • To feel more confident

  • To feel less detached from reality

  • To document my journey for myself/others

  • To pass on my knowledge

  • To feel like my life has purpose

  • To quit my job

  • To get back to my authentic self

  • To have passive income or increase my income

  • To show there is still a ray of hope for our future

  • To buy a nice highrise apartment

How do you want to do this smartly?

  • Work out / swim / run

  • Cast Caleb Widogast's Web of Fire

  • Start meditation

  • Actually make my bed

  • Write a blog

  • Make YouTube videos

How long/often do you want to do this for smartly?

  • Every day for 5 minutes

  • Once a week for 2 hours

  • 2+ hours

  • Three times a week for 1 hour

Drum roll please...

 

I want to share the things I have learned over my life about mental health and digital development, geek out about D&D, digital development (game, VR, AR etc.), Animation, and offer an alternative to the dystopian future we seem to be facing by creating an online platform (website, YouTube, Twitch channel) from home for 2+ hours before and after work (and on Sunday if I feel like it) in order to document my journey and pass on my knowledge from now (starting from scratch) to my Authentic self (hopefully sometime in the future!).

 

Which I realise is a lot but I can break this down over a two year period for example. But it's very clear what I want to be doing. I have been thinking about this for a few months now off and on, I’m very good at thinking too much. What I'm not so good at is doing, and this blog is the first part of fixing that.

 

If I wanted to be serious about the money side of things I probably would break it down to separating the goals like so :

 

I want to offer an alternative to the dystopian future we seem to be facing by creating animated shorts about potential future lifestyles, from home for 2+ hours before work.

-------- and / or ---------

I want to share the things I have learned about mental health and digital development by creating an online platform (website, YouTube, Twitch channel) from home for 2+ hours after work.

-------- and / or ---------

I want to create D&D assets and help others develop their own by creating an online presence (YouTube & Twitch channel) from home for 2+ hours on Sunday.

 

The Core of the Goal

The core of the goal is the key part in all of this process of finding direction. I will come back to this time and time again if I am losing my direction by asking if the Active Quests work towards that goal. If I am in alignment with the core goal, then all is well. I feel motivated, I will always have a clear direction. But if I am not, I may feel listless, frustrated, or lost. It is easier to adjust my more immediate goals because the core goal is extremely clear.

 

Create a core goal that removes any potential conflicts. Personally, I have a lot of trouble with constantly feeling like I have to monetize my projects (parenting, society, dreading retirement), but I fight with this because I want to enjoy my projects at the same time, and the stress of monetizing takes the enjoyment away...so I am always torn between doing what I want and what would make money, so I don’t do anything. Or when I do, I bounce between something I like to do, then shift to trying to monetize it in some way. I end up hating it or not feeling confident in it’s ‘value’ (looking at you impostor syndrome / fear of success) and scrapping the whole thing.

 

By refining your goal to a core purpose, with no conflicts behind it, you will always be moving forward. If you feel there is a misalignment of any sort with your core goal, you may need to reevaluate it, and that’s fine. Spend some time and make your Core Goal as ‘pure’ as possible. Make sure it resonates with you. The Primary and Active Goals are more malleable, but the Core Goal is where it’s at.

 

The core of the goal, in my case, is to document my journey and pass on my knowledge. It is very precise, and very simple, it is one part of my much larger goal. It is a feeling as much as a direction. 

 

I am having to fight my desire/conditioning to monetize the idea, but I have the luxury of having a job that gets me by comfortably (luckily I am very low maintenance) and I have seen so many videos saying that doing what you love genuinely has a reasonable chance of creating an income stream. So I’ll add monetization is a plus but not part of my core goal. I can at least try to disengage from that aspect. If anything monetization would allow me to possibly quit my job and fulfil my Core Goal further, so it checks out.

 

You can always recalibrate your goals. The point is to always have one, especially a core goal. Reaching the goal is not the important thing here. Having the right goals limits the potential for being lost or stuck, as you will always have a direction to go. If you have a direction, you have a journey. And if you have a journey, you have life.

A Compass pointing north