I failed my driving test for the second time.
The first time I took the test was over a year ago, before the pandemic, and I was 39 weeks pregnant with my second child. I knew then that I wouldn’t pass the test unless there was a miracle because I had only started to learn driving a few months prior and hadn’t spent much time practicing. I was there for a warmup.
Later, the baby was born. Then, the pandemic hit.
Like many others, we were coping with the “new normal” of 2020 while trying to find our best step forward. My husband registered his consulting business, and we’ve been living on a tight budget. I kept writing on my blog, honing my craft, and pursuing to be an author. And of course, we’ve got two little ones without childcare since all our families live in China.
If it hadn’t been my two years’ Leaner’s license expiring by the end of 2020, I wouldn’t have thought about taking the driving test amid the craziness. I wouldn’t have set it as a goal in the first place, which brings me to the point of writing this blog post for you, my friend, on how to set and achieve the right goals.
- Know the season you are in
To set your next right goal, you need to know where you are now. Each one of us is in a specific season of life. If you are single, the activities that fill your days and the struggles you face will differ from those married and have kids.
When I was single in my late 20s, I decided to go abroad to study, and I did. I didn’t have a husband or kid, and my world was mostly just God and me. It was not complicated to find a school to receive me or apply for a student visa. Though I didn’t have much money and was scrappy, by the grace of God, all worked out well. My goal to study abroad was successfully achieved.
However, in my current stage of life, I wouldn’t go to another city to study. It’s a different season now with my husband and two kids. I have other priorities and needs.
Regarding my goal of getting my driving license in 2020, I had failed to understand the season I was in because I could not foresee how different and crazy this year would be; therefore, I was unclear about my priorities. I give myself some grace for it because no one knew what was coming this year.
However, I could have written down what I knew this season would include: recovering from giving birth, caring for a newborn and a toddler, a tight budget and limited time, etc.
If I had done it carefully, I would have seen more evidently the lack of margin or headspace to perfect my driving skill this year.
2. Identify your priorities
If you try to do everything at once, you will end up achieving nothing. It’s crucial to identify your priorities once you are clear on your season of life.
You can write down your priorities under the following categories.
If you are single, your personal and vocational priority might be getting the degree and starting that internship.
In my case, family-wise, my priorities include taking care of the kids, cooking, and doing the housework to support my husband’s work to grow his business and increase income.
Personal and vocational wise, one of my priorities is to grow as a writer through producing consistent content.
I failed to realize that getting my driving license was not on my priority list because there was no urgent need for me to drive since my husband can drive. And we are not taking any long road trips anytime soon.
3. Set goals among your priorities
Once you have navigated through your current season and defined your priorities, it’s time to set your goals—— only among your priorities!
The first two steps help you to narrow down your focus. Now, you’ve gained so much clarity for goal-setting!
Getting my driving license was not the right goal for me this year because it wasn’t on my priority list. No wonder it felt very much like a mismatch in our life and added a lot of stress to our very full daily routines.
Even though I had taken driving lessons a year ago, I knew it would be a great help to hire a coach for more classes. However, because we have a small budget, I only got to practice once with a coach a week before my test. And after the practice, the coach told me that I need more hours of lessons for the test. It turned out he was right.
If I had been more intentional about our current season and priorities, I could have avoided setting the wrong goal to eliminate unnecessary troubles. Don’t make the same mistake!
4. Make action plans to reach your goals
Imagine you’ve identified your priorities in your current season, and you’ve set your goal among your priorities. Let’s say one of your personal goals is to get a driving license.
In this season, your family income is stable, and kids are going to school. Now, it’s 1st January of 2021. Your goal is to pass the test in June 2021. You have six months to practice. The average learner needs 20 hours of practice to pass the driving test, in addition to 45 hours of driving lessons. You book a coach for driving lessons and schedule practicing time with your husband. You mark the dates on the calendar and take actions. You will most likely achieve your goal of getting the license in June 2021 without much stress.
It’s the same with other goals you are setting. Set a deadline for your goal, and work backward to make doable, daily, and weekly action plans towards it.
Here you have it, the four steps of achieving your next right goal that I learned from failing the driving test. I hope it will shine some light for you as you define your goals for the coming year!