Think back to when you were in kindergarten — what did you want to be when you grew up? Maybe you became the teacher, firefighter or marine biologist your 5-year-old-self dreamt of becoming, but maybe you didn’t. The point is that even as a young child you were beginning the important task of setting goals for your future.
Along the way from kindergarten to adulthood, many people get derailed from fulfilling their dreams — you realize there’s not much call for a 5-foot 8-inch NBA point guard or that science isn’t your strong suit — and life just takes you along.
That’s OK for some, but for those who want the most out of life, having dreams and setting goals to accomplish them will help you get there. In a study of Harvard MBA graduates, less than 3 percent of participants had written goals; 13 percent had goals in mind and 84 percent had no goals at all. Ten years later, the 13 percent earned twice the amount of the 84 percent and the 3 percent earned 10 times as much as the other 97 percent!
However, as anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution can attest, sticking to your goals is easier said than done. The biggest obstacle? Fear of failure. If you don’t promise yourself you will start your own business or become a partner at your firm, you can’t fail. On the flip side, if you do set those things as goals, you can achieve them — if you are motivated, detailed and methodical.
Motivation comes from you — without the inner drive to achieve, it simply won’t happen. Be detailed, but not obsessive — breaking out the details into actionable steps will help you stay on track. Being methodical will help you stay the course when things (aka life) get in the way. It will also help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and giving up.
One way to determine what you want to achieve in life — personally and professionally — is to create a vision board. A vision board is a tool that helps you visualize success, charts the course and serves as positive reinforcement on the journey.
The thinking is that by looking at the inspiration of your best life every day, the words and images you’ve chosen for your vision board will be implanted in your subconscious and your mind will start working out ways for you to achieve them. On the way to picking out the visuals that represent what’s important to you and the future you want to have, work from a mindset of gratitude. Reminding yourself of all the positive aspects of your current life puts you in a good place mentally to think about the future.
Whether you are newly minted in the workforce or wondering what your next career steps are, it’s never too early or too late to dream big and make things happen.