In my twenties, I lived a fast and furious life. Not only was I smoking cigarettes all the time, but I was partying and spending recklessly.

Before I knew it, I was about $40,000 in debt, failing out of community college, and showing up late and hungover to my job. My self-esteem suffered, and physically I felt like I could die.

When my car got repossessed, I finally took a hard look at myself in the mirror. I was on the verge of falling into utter freefall, and I had to make serious life changes if I wanted to succeed.

The truth was that it wasn’t some family intervention or dramatic pep talk that woke me up. Rather, it was the constant flow of people’s comments that I was acting unprofessionally or immaturely that did it. Quite simply, I’d simply had enough.

I chose to set a goal, make a plan, and take action.

I found a new place to live. I started doing my laundry and working out consistently. I picked up another class at community college, this time intending to take it seriously. With careful planning, I began to live within my means.

As part of my weekly ritual, I’d take every Sunday evening to lay out my clothes for Monday morning, handle any other errands, and get myself in the right headspace. This time window was an anchor that kept me in check.

All of these little changes added up, and, at 25 years old, I turned my life around for the better. No more reckless partying. From then on out, I was focused, anchored, and ready to tackle my goals.

When you’re ready to tackle your goals, it can help to deliberate carefully. Write them down, and figure out which short-term objectives you can reach that will take you toward your ultimate goals. Objectives should be measurable and associated with a timeline—these hardline numbers help keep you in check.

For instance, if your ultimate goal is to become a master coder, an intermediate objective might be to participate in a hackathon over the next year and place first or second.

And don’t forget to celebrate your intermediate wins. After all, if you don’t take the time to enjoy the journey, you might never reach your destination.

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