So you’ve got some big dreams and goals you would like to accomplish? Maybe you want to be a millionaire, an Olympic athlete or world traveler. Perhaps you just want to get in shape, get out of debt or be able to take a vacation this year. Whatever the case is, you need to do a reality check.
A reality check is simply a process of figuring out where your current trajectory is taking you. Whether you have clearly defined goals with deadlines or just a strong feeling about where you want to be, you need to do reality checks frequently to stay on track.
Avoid the, “It Will Just Work Itself Out,” Mindset
Believing you will reach your destination is a good start. Actually having some evidence to back that up is even better. When you aren’t regularly checking to see whether your trajectory matches up with your goals you can easily fall into the, “it will just work itself out,” mindset. It won’t just work itself out, you need to do something and you need to be sure the things you are doing stay on target.
I recently did a reality check for my blog a few months ago. Although my blog had initially surged to about 4000 page views a day, it had stalled there, only growing to around 5000 over the course of seven months. Instead of just hoping I would reach my traffic and income goals for this site I did a reality check.
Reality Checks Gives Your Arrival Time
The purpose of a reality check is to answer the following question:
Based on my current rate of growth, how long will it take to reach my destination?
There isn’t a good or bad amount of time to reach your goal. Aiming to achieve health, wealth or any goal over a period of decades is perfectly fine. The point is that you should be aware of how long it is going to take based on your current rate of growth. Don’t quit your day job to become a full-time blogger if your reality check tells you it will take five years to make a stable income.
How to Conduct a Reality Check
Doing a reality check is a concrete process, not a vague meditation. I used Google Spreadsheets when doing my reality check, but even a calculator will do. When you do a reality check there are four key steps:
- Figure out the metrics - For my blog this meant page views, visitors and revenue. For your health this could be weight or distance you can run. You need to actually get some numbers that accurately portray your current position.
- Figure out the growth – How are you improving? Calculate how your growth measures up over the past few months or years. Is your rate of growth gradual? Erratic? Stagnant or declining?
- Figure out your end – What is your goal? If you have a clearly defined goal, use that. Otherwise pick a figure that you believe represents a meaningful achievement.
- Calculate the time to arrival – What is the time it will take until you reach your goal based on your current measurements?
Your calculation is going to be a ballpark, nothing more. If your measurements are highly accurate (as in finances) you can automatically account for compounding interest. In less precise areas (health, relationships, etc.) your calculation is simply a rough estimate. It won’t tell you exactly when you will be successful, but it can tell you what to expect.
When I did this process with my own blog I realized that my slow rate of growth was, with compounding, going to create an income I could live off of in… about seven years. Being able to see the reality in front of me, allowed me to plan to change my trajectory. Instead of just passively waiting, hoping it would simply solve itself I made changes to my strategy. As a result my blog traffic has doubled over the past two months towards a relatively stable 10k page views per day.
Do you ever sit and wonder if you are going to reach your goal? If it’s measurable, find out! Pull out a spreadsheet and calculate what it would take to reach your goal. You can go beyond the simple process I illustrated and ask hypothetical questions to see how it would affect the time to reach your goal. Don’t sit in the dark, be in check with your reality.