As much as it's important to stay in the moment, it's also appropriate to set aside time for goal setting. Let's say you've been looking at a situation you'd like to change. You're thinking of changing jobs, or learning a new skill, or moving to another location.
The first step is to look carefully at the pros and cons of making the change. When we give up one set of issues, the solution can come with a different set. What are you willing to sacrifice to make a change? For example, leaving one job to make more money at another might involve a longer commute. Learning a new skill to get a promotion might come with more responsibilities. Finding a bigger interior living space might also mean a smaller yard. It might sound simply like common sense, but making a detailed pro and con list is essential. Think long and hard about the benefits and drawbacks of making your change.
Once you've determined that you're ready and willing to set a new goal, use the S.M.A.R.T. system of goal setting to make sure you're on the right track.
S = Specific. Your goal should be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve. What specific position do you want to find and how much do you want to earn? What specific skill do you want to master? What size living space do you want and what neighborhood do you want to live in?
M = Measurable. A concrete way of measuring progress is necessary. How many resumes will you send and interviews do you want to have a week? How far along in a course do you want to be at a given point in time? How many properties do you want to see in a week?
A = Action oriented. We can't sit back and wait for things to come to us - we have to pursue what we want.
R = Reasonable. It's unreasonable to expect to go from mail clerk to CEO in a year, become fluent in a new language in a week, or find exactly the living space you want in a great neighborhood for $250 a month. Decide what trade-offs and compromises you're willing to make.
T = Time sensitive. If there's no time limit, there's no motivation to make your goal a reality - otherwise, it's just a dream and not a goal. Resolve to find that new job in 6 months. Resolve to be proficient in your new skill in 8 months. Resolve to find that new living space in 3 months. Break your goal down into smaller units and schedule them into your days. Send out a certain number of resumes or network with a certain number of contacts a week. Resolve to have basic competency in a new skill in a certain amount of time. Look at a certain number of properties every week.
Taking the time to plan for your future and set goals is essential for growth. It's only a problem when we obsess about it. By staying in the moment, but reserving time for brainstorming and planning we can avoid stress and enjoy the process as it unfolds.