A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

Many people start a new year off with great intentions to make changes in their lives so they set about making all kind of resolutions. Specifically lots of people make resolutions to “travel more” in the year ahead. But is saying we’re going to “travel more” enough to actually get it done? By saying “travel more” is that enough to be able to measure it and tell that, yes indeed, we did travel more? And how do we intend to actually keep this resolution?

A few years ago I realized simply resolving to “travel more” just wasn’t enough. I had to change my mindset and make goals instead of resolutions if I actually wanted to do it. If you’re one of the folks that has made the resolution to “travel more” this year I challenge you to make the change too and focus on setting Travel Goals this year instead and see if it doesn’t help you get out there more than ever before. But, of course, simply stating a goal isn’t enough either and that’s what I’d like to help with today as I share some of the things I’ve been doing to help me reach my travel goals.

Be Realistic

One of the first places to start when setting any goal, travel or otherwise, is that we need to be realistic. Goals should make us stretch ourselves, get out of our comfort zone, and we should even make a few sacrifices to reach them. They shouldn’t, however, be so unattainable that we feel defeated before we even get started. I also think it goes without saying that our goals should be specific and measurable (bet you’ve heard of SMART goals too) otherwise how will we know if we’ve reached them? Instead of that “travel more” resolution (Travel more than what? More than our friend? More than last year? ) turn it into a specific and measurable goal. For example one of my travel goals for 2015 is to travel to three new countries. Specific? Check. Measurable? Check. Realistic? Check? Require some sacrifices to make it happen? Check. That goal is a keeper then.

Make a Plan

As the opening quote states, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” We don’t want wishes this year. We want goals that we’ll focus on achieving so after we’ve set our goals we then need to make a plan outlining how we intend to achieve them. Whether you write this down or keep it all in your head is up to you but personally I need to write my goals down so I can review them frequently to help stay on track. The best plans we can make will  break up all the work needed to achieve our goals into bite size pieces that can be chipped away little bits at a time. Before we know it we’re boarding that plane on a trip of a lifetime. How did that happen? We made a plan and stuck to it. Easy peasy.

Another fun part of planning (at least for me) is tracking little milestones along the way. I love seeing a little progress bar as it slowly makes its way towards hitting a goal like when saving for a particular trip. Or having a countdown (or three!) on my phone to see how long until a big trip. We just need be careful that we don’t spend more time tracking our progress than actually moving forward to the goal!

Stay Positive

As we focus on achieving our goals there will be times when things don’t go as we thought they would and they threaten to throw the whole plan off course. Perhaps we’re right on track with our savings but then our dog eats a dishcloth and needs emergency surgery that takes a hefty bite out of those savings (true story- my friend’s dog really ate a dishcloth…among other non-edible things actually). Things happen. We can’t let set backs like these derail our momentum and take away from what we’ve already achieved. We just have to deal with these things if and when they happen, because they will happen. Then we just move on past them. Maybe in a case like this we could get our savings goal back on track by putting an extra push on to save money in a way we weren’t previously to make up the deficit, or maybe we have to postpone the trip a few weeks. We just can’t give up on it all together. We’ll get there.

Now that we’ve got the basics covered we can start really putting that plan together and coming up with the specific action steps we need to take to make our goals a reality. Coming soon I’ll be back to share with you the steps I’m going to take to reach my 2015 travel goals, share some resources, along with some tools to track our progress.

Focus on what you can do

What are your travel goals for 2015?

Do you have any other ways you use to help motivate yourself to reaching your goals?