I believe this is a very simple yet useful tool I developed a few years back while putting into practice some of the concepts found in "The One Minute Manager" by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson. I was trying to decide what I was going to do with my life post college.
I've shared it with several people in person. The first two phases should take between 15 and 30 minutes. Trust me it is well worth your time. After sharing the idea with one or two people it was suggested I create a generic "how to" and so here it is:
“Life Goals and Objectives”
The basic idea is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1) Write down your goals and objectives so you know what you are aiming for in life.
2) Read your goals and objectives (1-2 pages approximately 1-5 minutes to read the whole thing) on a weekly/monthly basis so you keep your vision.
3) Update/Modify your goals and objectives on a bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis as needed.
Note: There are three phases to this exercise.
Phase I: Key Assumptions: Your objectives - what you believe and want to do with your life.
Step 1. Ultimate Goal (Life Goal)
Start out by stating your life goal. I call this your ultimate goal. It is important to note that your life goal will directly or indirectly affect all other objectives/goals.
Step 2. Passion
Sate your passion. Similar to your life goal - except this is how you accomplish your life goal.
Please Note: The next steps may be in different orders depending on your stage in life. (i.e. if your married your spouse/children will likely come before your career, education, etc.)
Step 3. Education
State your education aspirations
Step 4. Career
State your career aspirations
Step 5. Family
State your family aspirations
Step 6. Monetary/Other
State monetary/other aspirations
Phase II: Goals - Plan on how to accomplish objectives/aspirations
Step 7: Long Term Goals
Long term Goals: 5-10 years down the road
Step 8: Intermediate Goals
Intermediate Goals: 1-5 years
Step 9: Short-Term Goals
Short-term Goals: less than 12 months
Phase III: Share this with one to three other people. The idea is to do this with another person you know and can meet with face to face.
Step 10: Share
Sit down with another person and share your life goals/objectives. There is nothing like allowing another person to see a real life example. For couples this might help alleviate some tensions in your relationship by getting to see what the other person prioritizes, what are their dreams, and what are their goals.
Step 11: Pass It On
Ask if they'd like for you to help them sit down and write some of their stuff down. I guess you never really know how good it feels to at least have a sense of direction for your life. For me, it was a relief to know that it was all on paper. I had it in my mind but now I can take a look at this list on my refrigerator door whenever I want in order to see what I need to do next.
Step 12: Accountability
Take responsibility for your life. You'll also want to stay accountable to someone: a spouse, relative, close friend, or significant other. The advantage here is you don't just write something down and never follow through. Whether it be your boss, your co-worker, a friend, a relative, or your spouse it is always best to have someone encouraging you along the way. Set-up a bi-weekly or monthly meetings to track your progress.