I write about achieving goals quite a bit because it is something I am extremely passionate about and I believe that the majority of people make achieving goals way too difficult. Setting goals and reaching them is a very natural process that anyone can do if they really focus on it. The problem is most people don‘t know what they really want and try to define their goals in ways that others will accept.
Let‘s say you want to set a goal to become super fit with six pack abs and 18" arms. Most people would just state this goal casually or jokingly with friends and then do nothing about it. A few people would spend some time searching the internet for a free workout program that promised to deliver six pack abs and great guns. Even fewer people would layout an action plan to achieve the goals. Then the top 1% of people would layout the plan, develop the action steps, and actually execute to try and reach their goals.
So what separates those who dream of big things and those who actually succeed at achieving goals?
Well the clichÃ©, but true, answer is ACTION!
Those people who actually go about achieving goals are those who take the action to do so. That being said, I believe there is more to it than that. If all it took was a desire and daily action then more people would achieve their goals and we wouldn‘t have a country full of obese people buying electric ab belts and gastric bypass surgery.
So let‘s dig a little deeper and see what is really going on with achieving goals.
As I said in the opening, I think it is more than just goal setting tactics that people lack but a misunderstanding of what it is that they really want and are capable of getting. Sure everyone wants six pack abs, great looking muscles, and a perfect tan but that is reserved for movie stars and the genetically gifted right? WRONG! And this is where the true problem lies.
You are not failing at achieving goals because you didn‘t use the latest greatest goal setting method. You did not fail at achieving goals because you didn‘t recite affirmations every day of the week. You did not fail because you didn‘t set your goal in a positive manner.
The reason you failed at achieving goals was you failed to believe it was possible for you. You couldn‘t visualize yourself having a perfect body, you couldn‘t imagine having all the money you needed, and you had a laundry list of reasons stirring in your head about why you couldn‘t get whatever it was you wanted.
Picture this for a moment. Some wizard pops out of the middle ages and waves his wand at you. The next morning you wake up and you are 10 years in the past knowing everything you know now. After you liquidate everything you own and buy a bunch of stocks you start thinking about what you can do to make your life better in 10 years. You might decide to start eating healthier, go to school for something you really enjoy, start a strength training program, or many other things that you "wish you would have done 10 years ago". This is a fun thought experiment but what has really changed?
You were in this boat 10 years ago and made different decisions that you thought were good at the time. Why is it different this time? It‘s different because you have had a glimpse into the future and know what is important to you in the future. Now that you have a second chance you are trying to do everything in your power to make your future self better and happier by setting and achieving goals. The wonderful wizard magically transported you to the past but your mindset is still that of your current self. So in this scenario you have taken on a different perspective of what is possible and what is truly important.
Now I don‘t have a magic wand but here is what I can do.
You are now 10 years in the future. How are you living? How do you look? What is your life like? What kinds of problems are you having? Now what do you wish you would have done 10 years ago?
This may seem corny but humor me.
You see it is not the tactics of how you set your goals that is important, it is where your mind is at. If you can visualize yourself in a different setting or having already achieved your goals then it is really just a matter of getting it done. If you want it bad enough you will succeed, the only question is how long it will take you.
Achieving goals is just a matter of building that burning desire in your mind and heart. Once you have that then everything else is just minor details.
Take some time and think about what it is that you really want. Visualize (dream, imagine, day dream, think about) yourself as already having it. Then run through the questions. How does it feel? What is different? How do you interact with others? Take the time to really embrace the experience and compare it to your current life.
Let‘s play with the example some more. You want six pack abs. How would your life be different if you had the flat stomach you always wanted? Would you wear different clothes? Spend more time not wearing a shirt? Hang around places that it was okay to be shirtless like the pool or beach?
How would your behavior change? What kinds of foods would you eat? How often would you exercise?
The purpose of all this is to change your perspective and help you at achieving goals. You can‘t be the guy with six pack abs and 18" inch arms if you don‘t know what that looks like, how he feels, how he behaves, the activities he enjoys, and what it is like to be that guy. Once you understand that point of view all you have to do is adjust your life to be more like that guy. Picture a character and be like that character. Make them your role model and do what they would do. It‘s just like the what would Jesus do (WWJD) bracelets people wear to remind them about living their values. Put your future self up on a pedestal and start trying to be more like them.
I personally like to try and model Superman. Yes, I know I will never fly or lift a train but I can be honest, have the best interest of others at heart, and look really good in spandex.