Slightly off-topic, but restoring my Model T is a long-term goal of mine, so it sorta fits.
I recently graduated from college (hurrah) and started working. Up until now, it has been easy to make progress toward long-term goals, as my daily activities were directly related to making these things happen.
I see lots of people who do the same thing daily, not really making concrete progress toward their goals. These could be personal, professional, hobby project, financial, or other goals. It seems like lots of people simply put them off, content to stay stagnant.
Since most of you have more "life experience" than me, I figured I'd ask here- how do you manage long-term goals, and make progress toward them? Is there a method that you've found to be effective? Or are you winging it?
Michael, You will (over time) find that life has a way of getting in the road.I have many projects and I try to do a little on many, everyday. At my age,medical problems form a large part of my "social" calendar. You do the best you can. I have found if you want something bad enough,you will find the time to work on t.Good luck.
Financial: If you take care of the pennies the dollars will watch out for themselves.
Love: Always take the time to tell everyone you care about that you do, and make the time to show them. (Actions always speak volumes... words whisper)
Life: Curve balls will always be headed your way, Just don't step into their path.
General: If you see the glass as half full you are ahead of the game. If you see it as half empty then find a way to fill it up!
Words from my Grand Mother 1902- 1988.
I like the concept of deliverables when managing big, long term projects. If you let a project seem too large, too involved, too complex, very often you will feel overwhelmed by the goal or feel that little steps don't really do anything. I like to divide a project into much smaller, concrete deliverables and then make progress towards those deliverables one at a time. This is known in the process improvement / project management world as a Gantt chart.
For example, restoring a car could be divided into mechanical and cosmetic. Mechanical can be further broken down into front axle, rear axle, engine, transmission, electrical, steering, etc. Cosmetic can be body work, paint, interior, top, wheels, etc.
I make a big spreadsheet with the big deliverables on it, numbered and lettered accordingly. Put down a timeline that you want to make at the end then divide the time between now and that time up between the tasks. That will tell you if your goal is even close to reasonable. Once you make a decision as to timeline, plot out smaller pieces. For example, the "engine" could be divided into block, rotating gear, carburation, ignition, etc.
When you make time to work on a project work on them so that each section is ready for the next, i.e. get your crankshaft and pistons ready to go before you go to assemble the engine, etc.
Check off things as you finish them. Even when you can't finish something you can still look at the list and take pleasure from what you've already accomplished.
Michael, You and I have a lot of things to talk about! See you this week?
Here is an example of a Gantt chart. This one is from a metric development project I led a couple years back.
A lot of my life prioritization gets set up around factors I cannot control, like weather.
A car friend from Sweden came to visit and I asked him why old American cars were so
popular there. He explained that they have long, hard winters, and what better way to
pass the times of one's life away than locking yourself up in a cozy shop all winter, only
to emerge in the spring with a car that you can go cruising about in when the weather
is good ?
I had been a gravel-n-dirt mechanic up to this point in my life, rarely having much more
than a basic garage to work in, and his words really spoke to me. I finished my first real
SHOP a couple years later, just as my wife decided she wanted to be my ex, so the process
was started all over again !
So, here's how I do it. I work all winter and save up my green rectangles so that when
the snow melts and the rains stop, I have the funds to buy lumber, concrete, etc. to push
forward on the shop. I have 4-5 good months, before the process repeats itself. However,
the long term goal is a shop that is finished, a day when I won't be working as much, and
my fun stuff like old cars have a barn where they can safely rest when not in use, and a
great place to work on them, and most of all, the free time to enjoy all of this in concert
because I worked my long range planning to fruition.
Prior to my Swedish friend's visit, my winters were highly UNproductive and I just waited
out the cold and wet to get back to my personal fun stuff or working my LTP's. Now, I can
squeeze a full 12 months out of a year, in terms of working on my stuff. Things move along
pretty good when there is a plan and you get the basics in order first.
This shop project began in 2008, after 3 years of wrangling with the City over what I could
and could not build. In 2010 I began a 3-year run in AFG with my friends in the USMC that
put all plans on hold. Work picked up in earnest in 2014 with a slab poured to the unbuilt
front half of the building and the standing of the first floor walls and 2nd floor deck. In the
spring of 2015 a sewer line broke under the house, pulling all focus off the shop (funny how
poop in one's house can do that) and a total replacement of all water and sewer lines in the
house was initiated. This led to the replacement and refinishing of about 20% of the sheetrock
in the house that was torn out to do the pipe work. A bathroom was rebuilt in the process,
as it was destroyed by the work, and a 2nd bathroom was roughed in for later, as the weather
was turning nice again, and focus shifted back to the shop. This got a late start this last summer,
as the rains lingered well into July. I had hoped to take the shop all the way to a roof this year,
but the weather and progress did not cooperate, and so the place was wrapped up again for
the winter at the attic level deck. And now focus is back on finishing the 2nd bath in the house.
With two rough-finished floors in the shop now completed, my tools and equipment are organized
and easy to access. Doing the 2nd bathroom will be a breeze because I can do all my work
IN a heated shop on MY schedule and at MY convenience. I plan to finish the bathroom before
the weather turns nice again, so I am free to peel open the shop one last time and put the
permanent roof on it next summer ! Yippee ! 12 years in the making. I can then turn all my
attention to making it how I want it inside or just going for a weekend drive !
Life is what gets in the way of your well thought out plans.
I am glad that folks can plan things out and take things seriously.
I find that just working on whatever project seems fun at the time works best for me. Careful planning would be wasted time in my case. I was headed out to the garage 2 hours ago and looked at the forum first.
No matter. I still have managed to get several T's up and running over the years. There are many choices I have made that others would not have.
Michael, don't know if your married, have kids or not but trying to live a regimented life just wont work out like you think it would.
Having a general idea of which way your going and what you want to do is fine. But as others have said and I will also, things will happen and will occasionally from this day forward. They just do.
Respect, gentlemen, but my experience is the opposite. When I have just a general idea of what I'm trying to do, two things tend to happen. One, I just putter around and accomplish very little (sometimes that is fine but not when I have a goal in mind) or, two, the goal gets put off and put off due to those things that inevitably come up. If I have a specific task in mind that contributes to the overall goal, I'm more likely to do it. I am a very lazy person and will never get anything done if I don't make a plan and work the plan.
One thing that I have learned in life is that goals and priorities change, constantly and at times drastically. You only have so much control of your surroundings. I set many long and short term goals in life, the important ones I've done pretty good at. I've also learned what is really important and what I would consider "gravy" ie nice if possible, but not too important if it doesn't happen. Here's what I've learned-
1) Trust in God, took me a while to do this, it makes a huge difference.
2) Take care of your body, you only get one, make it last.
3) Realize what is actually important in life, you will learn this as you go.
4) Be patient!
5) Read "The Art of Money Getting" by PT Barnum (seriously!)
Be flexible like Gumby, setting too much of a goal oriented, scheduled life can drive a person mad when things don't go according to schedule.
Do Not let life ever get you down- Like my late good friend once told me- The most beautiful flowers grow in the deepest s--t and I've got quite the garden...
G.R.: good advice. I'd like to expand on that and Dennis R's item #1 by saying that I live by the philosophy that "If He leads you TO it, He'll see you THROUGH it"! This really works for me. With my limited resources I could never had jumped into this hobby as I have without trust in God.
As with any huge project, work or T. Write down the end result. Start breaking down the project in to smaller pieces. Then break down the the smaller pieces to even smaller pieces. Keep going until you have a list of little projects that can be worked. Then start working the little projects. Before you know it, progress will be made. At some point you will look at the restoration with a WOW I have come a long way.
You never work on a whole CAR, you work on little pieces, one at a time, first you have to figure what you want, what you can do yourself. do a little everyday. Do not plan way ahead, the unexpected will happen!
Hell at my age a long term goal is making it from breakfast to dinner and trying to decide what to have for dinner!
And then at breakfast the next day...if I make it... trying to remember what I ate at dinner!
With my failing memory I meet new friends every day and I get to hide my own Easter eggs.
Awww, Dennis, you aint THAT old!!
Thomas Elliott hit it on the nail. I don't restore a car. I restore each sub assembly. I don't focus on the end result. I take apart one thing, fix it to my satisfaction, and then put it back on the car. The last thing you do is disassemble for paint and appearance items. By the time you do that it will be the only remaining task.
The goal setting gurus that I have studied under have always said the same thing. Write down your goals first. Separate them into short term goals i.e. daily , weekly and up to 4 - 6 months. And long term goals 1-5 years or longer for certain goals.
Then read your goals on a regular basis. Now multitask and do a little or a lot of what you need to do to accomplish your short and long term goal.
Just writing them down puts the energy into motion. And it is ok to change goals as you go.
Thomas Elliott nailed it with regards to restorations. My personal goal is one part completed or installed per day as a minimum. Restoring a whole car is hard to the point of being intimidating, but sand blasting and painting a carburetor bowl is easy and every other little task is just as approachable. Like a good friend says, "It's like eating an elephant: you do it one bite at a time until it's gone."
Life outside the garage is a little harder and I'll leave that advice up to the other guys.
There was a time when I would set goals and even make gant (gent ghant whatever) charts and it did work. But now, I am quite content to take it one day at a time. I realize some things will never happen and that's OK. I just enjoy whatever it is that I choose to do and don't worry about the rest.
I have to many projects myself but just basic maintenance is a huge expense if you have 5-6 completed cars to buy tires,batteries, etc. I have my finished cars and a short term project T and a long term T needing a lot of work to make me happy with it. Most projects are never finished because we always find fault or find things you need or want to do to the car. I have little things I want to do to my profile car. If I am on the right road when your talking about manage just keep reading and learning about your car even when work, kids,wives etc get in the way. As the others said above break down everything into a small project and you don't get burned out. If your like the rest of us works starts using up a lot of time in your life. My job of 26 years takes up 12- 16hrs a day but it allows me to buy the next old car and build the next garage. If it's your dream you will complete sooner or later depending on the cards life deals you. Just stay focused and dedicate what time you have and you will always be happy with your car or cars forward progress. Tim
Zachary and Thomas are correct but I add a couple of things and simplified my Gantt chart. My progress chart is not as formal as Zachary"s Gantt chart is. I simply list all major tasks on a a sheet of paper. I draw two boxes in the left column and number each item as I go. If I remember something later on it goes on the bottom as item 27 B or some such title. When I begin a task I draw an angular line in its little box and when I finish a task I make it an (X) in the box.
I have a second sheet of paper and write the details of each task on that paper so it becomes my notated progress chart Each item has the corresponding number as my progress chart. Not all steps require a detailed explanation. I can at times add times and dates and even sketches. I put peoples names and telephone numbers on that sheet. If I send something out for a professional to accomplish because of my lack of experience I note all facts on that progress sheet. I leave a lot of room between the items so I can detail all information so I won't forget where I am on this second more detailed reference sheet.
So as each little baby step is accomplished the end result gets closer and one day all the boxes are checked off and the job is done. If I am taking something apart I am sure to number the steps in a logical order as I go and I just work backwards so I don't get in my own way. It's just awful to have to remove some steps because I left out something in the basement.
On the first sheet that lists all of the tasks, I write notes such as "See step 17 and 23 to get this right". or some such notification. In other words, "Leave an audit trail". At times if it is very important I put a red mark there as a danger signal. When that problem is solved I detail the solution and then perhaps cover the red with a black marker to show that it has been resolved.
I had to change a clutch in the two speed planetary transmission of our 1906 Moline. I had sketches and receipts on a separate set of papers. The body had to come off, and I did some repainting and detailing as I went. All in all I had about 200 steps and detailed them as I disassembled the car. Putting it back together was a snap because I had my progress chart and the detailed information on my second sheets. I was working full time in those days and sometimes work got in the way of my progress for a week at a time. Jumping back into the correct spot was easy because of my detailed instructions to myself. I even marked bolt lengths, wrench sizes, and torque settings so I wrote down how much torque it took to break something down.
I was a Tech writer and Illustrator in industry and even taught the subjects in college. When I did military Manuals I had to tell them which tools to use and drew step by step directions. When parts had to be painted I had to tell them the spec numbers of the paint, how long to bake the part, and at what temperature to maintain. Sometimes a military job is worked on in shifts by a team and and documentation is the key to a successful outcome. Remember that at times friends will assist you and you have to document who did what and when.
Excellent feedback, everyone. Really valuable stuff. Thank you!
I understand that I need to strike a balance between organized planning and going with the flow. The Gantt chart is nice- I don't know why I didn't think to use one, since I learned how to set them up and use them in college.
Dennis, I will definitely read "The Art of Money Getting", thanks for the recommendation.
Frank, I like your methodology, I definitely strive to be more detail-oriented when it comes to disassembly. I often curse my younger self when I go to reassemble something months later.
Prior to my retirement, my daily short term goal was to get home by 4:30. My daily long term goal was to get home by 5:00.
It would be easy to characterize the attitude of "things happen" as a rationalization of outcomes that occurred due to a lack of planning. On the other hand, I believe most of us recognize the fact that things beyond our control do happen.
About 15 or so years ago HBO aired a special titled, "A Century of Living". In it older Americans were interviewed about their lives. Topics included historical, political, and personal events. In order to be select for interview the person needed to be fairly quick of mind and born during or prior to 1900. A couple of the participants were over 105 years old at that time.
It's probably one of the most interesting things I've ever seen on TV. The events discussed by folks who lived them provided a window into the history and thinking that shapes us today. Each person interviewed had a unique set of experiences, perspectives, and insights. There was, in my opinion after watching it a couple of times, one common thread. In their own way, each one of them displayed a very strong will and determination to shape their own lives. At the same time, each one also expressed an acceptance of the things they knew they could not change.
Lots of wisdom was shown. I wish HBO would air it again.
I don't think Mark Strange's goals are a joke.
Putting together a "plan" is the biggest crock I have ever encountered.
A lot of people have used the scam to sell software and books that don't work for normal people - just overbearing managers and politicians.
I have worked in research groups that "required" invention according to a schedule when in fact it inhibited real real invention.
Most life plans are just bull crap. Being flexible and talking advantage of opportunities is what really works.
Life goes by a lot quicker than you realize
Long term goals mean different things to different folks
Be kind - generous - thoughtful - caring
Everything else will follow
A goal without a deadline is only a dream....
In my working life I was a public school facilities director. Your comment reminds me of the mantra I lived by all the years I worked. Specifically, to be a project (a plan in this conversation) three ingredients must be present; scope, schedule and budget. Put another way, you must define what you want to build (do), determine when you're going to do it, and have the means to pay for it. Absent any of these ingredients it's just a dream.