How many of us graduated school with all sorts of lofty goals (write a novel, travel the world, build your own house), only to have those dreams sidelined once we get a job, a significant other, family responsibilities? While most of us can manage our day-to-day responsibilities, when it comes to tackling those more long-term ambitions, we’re lost. So how do we balance accomplishing our daily tasks with working towards our life-long dream?

Well, Angelia Trinidad has gotten it down to a science, though it did take the 24-year-old entrepreneur a couple years of "drifting" to figure it out. "After school, I went abroad for a while, took a corporate job in Singapore, hated it, came back home, worked in a photographer's studio, opened a macaron shop with my cousins, closed that," she lists breathlessly. "Finally I asked myself ‘What do you want to do with your life?’ I sat down and sketched a ‘mind map’ and figured out that what I loved was entrepreneurship and helping people, and then I thought, ‘Wait, maybe I can show people how to do this!’” 

Now, with her Kickstarter-funded Passion Planner — a yearly planner that focuses on what you want to get out of life — Trinidad helps people identify and accomplish their dreams. We asked her to give us her expert tips on how to get our life goals back on track.

Break it down

Long-term goals are scary, because you never know what life will bring months or years down the road. So Trinidad recommends breaking these ambitions down to achievable short-term goals. “Say you want to be a chef,” she explains. “Instead of thinking ‘I want to be a better cook,’ think ‘I want to be able to cook this particular meal by the end of the month.’” Every day, tackle something that will give you the tools to cook the meal, like learning to chiffonade herbs. “Even if the task is really small, you’re still making progress and working towards your goal.”

Schedule, schedule, schedule

Yes, you need to block out time in your calendar to work on your life pursuits. Keeping a calendar or planner where you can account for every hour of the day is key — “then you can see where the gaps in your time are,” says Trinidad. “You can see, oh I have a three-hour opening here, I can practice cooking then.”

Make to-do lists

“The key to balancing your life is delegating your priorities: what are the most important things I need to get done for work, and then what do I need to do for myself?” says Trinidad. Once you figure those out, create a list. Trinidad recommends creating separate to-do lists, one for work or school and the other for tackling your dream.

Do monthly check-ins

Since you don’t have a boss, teacher or parent to evaluate your performance or give you feedback, you need to dole out the tough love yourself. Trinidad recommends scheduling a check-in at the end of each month for reflection. “Ask yourself, are you happy with how you prioritized your time?” says Trinidad. “Go back to your monthly goals, did you achieve them? Do you need to reevaluate? What can you do better or accomplish next month?”