When life hands you a disaster turn it into a plan to achieve big goals

I mentioned in my last article that I’m dealing with water damage at my house and that life is sort of turned upside down at the moment. Yes there’s stress. Yes there’s a sense of being overwhelmed. Yes there’s frustration and anger and weariness. But there’s also hard work and hustle and a sense of accomplishment.

Let me explain.

One of my BIG Dreams is to live somewhere other than Michigan, preferably in a smaller house and preferably somewhere close to the ocean. That dream might be five years (alright four and a half years now) down the road, but I can’t wait until the end to prepare for that dream to come true. So leading up to a big move to another part of the country, I will need follow these basic steps:

Long term dream

  • Find a place to live and buy or rent a new house.
  • Pack everything and move.
  • Live happily ever after in a tropical paradise with a minimal lifestyle.

Mid-term dream

  • Figure out where to move to – my vacation this year will likely have a strategic plan to scout out places I might want to live.

Short term goal

  • Prepare my current house for sale — which would require:
    • Decluttering and cleaning and minimizing the amount of “stuff” in my house, so potential buyers could see all the benefits of the house. If I’m going to live in a smaller house, then I need to clear out some of the stuff that’s filling up a three bedroom, two bathroom house and prepare to downsize to something more like a two bedroom cottage or condo.
    • Upgrading fixtures, paint, flooring and deal with any maintenance issues of the house like replacing aging appliances (like a water heater) gradually over the next few years

Immediate task list

  • Replace broken water heater – DONE!
  • Deal with maintenance issues as they arise – IN PROGRESS!
  • Declutter the house of stuff I don’t need – IN PROGRESS!
  • Upgrade flooring throughout the house – IN PROGRESS!
  • Fresh paint everywhere
  • Figure out if I’m going to upgrade the bathroom now or leave it

Do you see what I did there? I know what the end of the dream looks like and I know the general steps that lead to the end goal.  But those big goals at the end are less defined and more of a “dream” of what life will be like when I get there. But the tasks that are on the immediate part of the list need to be done now. These are action items that will eventually, step-by-step lead to the dream at the end.

Something else you’ll notice is the change in terminology for the stages of achieving the BIG Dream.

DREAM – I use “Dream” when I’m talking about where I want to end up with my living situation. That part of the dream isn’t clearly defined enough yet to be a goal – it’s still in my imagination and something I need to work toward.  The closer I get to the dream, the more clearly it will be defined and turn into a goal.

GOAL – As I move through mid-term and short-term goals, those things are more clearly defined and I know exactly what needs to be done to achieve them. But those are still pretty big goals and can’t be done right away. They need to be broken down further into tasks before the goal can be realized.

TASK – the Immediate Task List is what I can do today and in the next few weeks to move myself closer to those short term goals.

Sometimes life hands you disasters that you need to deal with even when you don’t have the time or mental bandwidth to do so. That’s what the water damage in my house is right now. I had not planned to work on my house dreams right now. I’ve been working on the Financial Dreams and writing the book I want to finish by the end of the year.  But plans have changed.  So rather than get discouraged by the change, I’m shifting the focus on which dream I’m working on right now.

Sounds easy, huh?  Nope. It’s not. I’ve been fighting the shift in focus for a couple weeks now. I’ve tried to stay the course on the financial goals and keep up a writing routine in the midst of all the chaos.  Duh, Pam! Wake up and smell the construction dust!

So I’m officially pivoting and setting the book writing aside for a season while I deal with the house. And yes, I have to say this out loud so that I’m not dealing with the guilt that would normally creep in when I pivot. I’m not quitting the book. I’m just setting it aside while I work on another part of my BIG Dream list. And when my house is back to normal (with beautiful new improvements!) I’ll pivot my focus back to the Financial Dream and continue working on the book.

Often we let the challenges of life distract us and get us down. But if we take a close look at everything that comes your way and figure out how to make it work for you (instead of against you), you’ll find ways to turn life’s disasters into your big dreams.