A really good carpenter doesn’t just eyeball their project and start sawing. They use a measuring tape to get the length and width down to the millimeter. “Measure twice, cut once” is a common phrase associated with woodworking projects. The extra time it takes to carefully measure your materials and double-check your plans will ensure you get a great finished project.

The same can be said for setting goals. Instead of getting carried away with a new fad diet or the latest organization craze on Pinterest, take a close look at your goals and what they really mean to you. Thoughtfully examine your current situation and design goals you can actually achieve. Let’s take a carpenter’s approach to goal-setting and grab that  trusty measuring  tape.


Building the Tool Box

Female worker wearing a toolbelt work apron for tools

Through this series of blog posts I am going to help you to continue to assemble your “Life Tool Box.” The toolbox will be filled with lots of simple living skills. When you are having a rough time in your life, just look in the Life Tool Box and find the best skill to help you that day.

Each week I’ll continue to choose one common home improvement tool to represent one of these life skills. By the end of each blog post, you’ll understand exactly why you need that tool and how you can use it to improve your daily life.


measuring tape

Define Your Situation Right Now

Every accurate measurement has a clear beginning point. You must put your tape in just the right spot or your reading will be off. Take a look at the situation you want to change. What’s going on right now? What part of this situation hurts the most? What part would you like to remain the same?

Know Where You Are Going

Next, it’s time to stretch the measuring tape. Reach out as far as you can imagine for the change you want to see. If you really want to get from one place to another, you can’t just start going in one direction and hope for the best. That’s a pretty good way to get lost. Instead, take care to clearly see the distance between your current situation and the one you want in the future.

What does this change look like, sound like, feel like? Do you have good examples to follow? Do you need some help defining your destination more clearly? How will you know that you’ve reached your goal?

Plan Out the Steps to Reach Your Goal

Unless your goal is pretty tiny, you’re not likely to get from the beginning point to the end in just one leap. You’ll need to map out steps along the way. Sometimes you need to make a few smaller changes to help a larger change come into place.

For example, “eating healthy” may seem like a really big change from what you are doing right now. But it’s not so hard to see yourself eating one piece of fruit each day. Build on your small steps, map them out, and create a reasonable and clear path to your goal.

Take Action Consistently to Inch Forward

Now you have a plan, but that’s not enough. You need to inch your way forward from one step to the next. Small steps might seem, well, pretty small. But inches and centimeters are pretty small, too. When they all line up one after the other, they can stretch a long distance.

Each step of action toward your goal is important. Once you’ve taken a few, you can look back and see how far you’ve come. You have to do more than just think about your goals. You must take action regularly to see results.

Measure how far you have gone along the way

Take a look around you. Are some things still the same? What has changed the most? Seeing the evidence of positive change can give you the encouragement you need to keep going.

Change can be hard, even when you have really good goals in mind. When you take the time to measure up your current situation and prepare to stretch yourself, your goals can be achievable. Use a little advice from professional carpenters – remember your measuring tape. Take the time to examine everything carefully when setting your goals.

Let me and the readers know – do you take time to measure up your current situation before setting goals? How have you kept yourself encouraged as you work your way towards achieving your goals?

Dr. Ines K. Roe, Midlife Transition CoachDr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’re  been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, consider her ecourses.