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Let’s dive into the world of to-do lists and ensure they work for you instead of being a stress-inducing, nagging reminder of what you haven’t accomplished during your day.

Many of your fellow perfectly imperfect human beings are fans of to-do lists, and there’s something deeply satisfying about checking off those completed tasks. However, let’s make sure that your to-do lists are not just about “staying busy” but are aligned with your long-term goals for your personal and professional life.

To-do lists can function as a roadmap for your day, but they should also be guiding you toward your bigger life goals.

So, let’s talk about a top-down approach. Start by envisioning where you see yourself in the coming years. It might seem daunting, but it’s worth some time and authentic soul-searching. What are your high-level, long-term goals? These are the North Star of your journey.

Now, break these lofty dreams into smaller, more manageable tasks. Think of them as mid-level goals. These building blocks will eventually lead you to your big dreams. And guess what? Your daily to-do lists should include and reflect these mid-level tasks.

One common reason why people avoid setting long-term goals is because they feel distant and unpredictable. It’s hard to foresee what life will be like in five or ten years, right? That’s why shorter-term goals might seem more tangible. You can measure progress in a few weeks, which feels more doable.

But here’s the thing about long-term goals: they aren’t set in stone. Life is fluid, and circumstances change. So, don’t be afraid to adjust your goals along the way. Flexibility is your friend. You can have a few long-term goals in your back pocket and, as you work on them, assess which one makes the most sense given the ever-changing landscape of life.

And let’s not forget about feasibility and costs. It’s essential to be practical about your goals while you’re chasing that just-out-of-reach accomplishment. Some of your goals might require more resources or time than others. So, when you’re breaking them down into tasks, consider what’s doable and what’s sustainable.

Taking on a lofty goal that you recognize will require more time and resources than you have access to right now is a recipe for frustration. You deserve to have and achieve big goals, but at the same time, recognize that your current situation may not support taking a giant step forward in pursuit of that goal.

Figure out the next right “baby step,” and then take action. Baby Steps forward are still steps forward, and every bit of progress you achieve gets you closer to your final goal and the success you so richly deserve for all your hard work.

Finally, when you anticipate certain tasks becoming unattainable for various reasons, be prepared to pivot. In fact, you can include these potential detours on your list of goals. It’s all part of the journey from where you are to where you want to be.

Creating your to-do lists becomes a breeze once you’ve set your goals and broken them into sub-tasks. The list transforms from a source of stress and upset into your daily roadmap, guiding you toward your dreams. So, remember, to-do lists aren’t just about staying busy; they’re about making progress toward your most incredible future.

Keep dreaming, keep doing, and you’ll get there. You’ve got this!

Journaling Prompts to Help You Create Your Goal Achievement Roadmap

  1. What are my top three long-term goals?
  2. How can I break down my long-term goals into smaller, actionable tasks?
  3. Am I open to adjusting my goals if circumstances change? Why or why not?
  4. How can I create more openness and fluidity in my goal-setting for the future?
  5. How can I ensure my daily to-do lists align with my mid-level goals?
  6. What steps can I take to stay flexible and adapt to unexpected challenges on my journey?
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    About the Author Dianne Daniels

    Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

    You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

    Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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