Goals and Habits, Personal Skills, Time Management

Imposing Time Limits on Goals

I was recently talking with someone about my goal of visiting 40 countries by the time I’m 40. When I tell people this, usually their eyes get big and they say something like good luck. Now, full disclosure I just turned 35, so I only have 5 years to go. And so far, I have only been to 5 countries.

The other consideration is what counts as an adequate amount of time somewhere for me to say that I visited that country. I am counting Portugal, which I was only in for 20 hours, but I did leave the airport, stay in a hotel, visit the downtown area, and eat some delicious food.

Although I currently live in Norway, I am from the United States where I spent all of my life. I visited both Mexico and Canada for a few days each. But other than that, I haven’t had the chance to see much of the world.

But here’s the thing that I believe to be true about goals and myself. If I don’t put a time limit on it, I am less likely to take action. I might put something off for years and years, wasting all of this time I could have used. I did this in my 20’s when I decided to run a half marathon.

I made this decision early in my 20’s and said that I would do it by the time I turned 30. Each year went by and I didn’t take action until I was 29. I did do it, but I could have done it so much sooner!

So maybe the real lesson is that I need to make the time constraint even closer to my current reality. Because the procrastinator brain in me will use all of the available time. I wish I had the diligence and self-discipline to just make things happen because I wanted them to. But, that’s also related to the power of manifestation and another area of my life I am definitely working on.

But Really – Time Limits Can Be a Good Thing

One of my favorite authors and writers of productivity, habits, and goal-setting, James Clear, has an excellent post on the realities of setting goals. He says that the true challenge is the competing goals we have for ourselves. If we have too many at one time, it can be difficult to narrow in on one at a time. Therefore, it can be helpful to focus on the most important goal of the time.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Time limits help us focus and prioritize our goals. Another helpful tip is to place a limit on the number of goals and tasks that you are working toward at any one time.

So, if I really sit down and try to think about the things that are important to my immediate future, I have 3 goals that come before traveling the world:

  1. Complete another half marathon in April 2022 (time limit imposed and training plan created).
  2. Continue to be the best teacher possible while traveling to schools in Norway. Meaning, work on improving lessons, resources, and engagement with activites.
  3. Have a remote job lined up by August 2022. My current job will end at the end of June.

I did book a 14-day travel trip through Europe for July. Knowing that is coming and already booked alleviates some of the pressure of trying to make it to as many places as possible over the next 6 months.

All 3 of my most important goals are time constricted to the next 6 months. So maybe I should let go of the 40 countries by 40 and continue to take it 6 months at a time. It is a much more manageable deadline that allows for specific action in the here and now.

Oh, and one more goal for this month is to write 8 more blog posts to make it to 100 posts in 2021 on my brand new blog!

What do you think about imposing time limits on your goals?

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