When You Have Trouble Setting Goals, Try This InsteadRead More
It’s actually quite simple- two little words. Just start. That is how you build momentum. Thinking, analyzing and planning are part of the equation but those things also can lead to long periods of inaction. Analysis paralysis is one of the most popular forms of procrastination, though we don’t see it. We rationalize that we’re planning and working out the kinks. That is all good stuff. Except it doesn’t matter one bit if you do not start.
Want to meet your friends out for a drink? Do you sit around and plan it for weeks on end, only to delay at the last moment? No, you get in the car and drive to your destination. The same applies to chasing your dreams and work that is fulfilling and lucrative. Start and you’ll move in a direction. And if you need to change directions, you’ll have momentum on your side to help. Just like when you’re driving a car. Don’t start, and much like an idle car, you’ll never build momentum. It’s much harder to turn when you don’t have momentum on your side.
I recently worked with a woman who sat idle for a few years. Her work was stale and she didn’t enjoy what she was doing anymore. She was concerned and discouraged by the many changes at her company. It was recently purchased by another and there were layoffs, changing shifts, working on the weekend was required and many of her friends left for new opportunities. She feared her job was in danger and at the very least, she would be relocated to another office with a longer, more expensive commute and may have had to end up working nights in addition to weekends. It took her a while but she started. She knew she had the power to improve her situation and that change required focused effort.
The momentum she built was swift and the change she experienced was superb. In just five weeks, she went from being stressed, worried and overwhelmed to landing a job that paid her $17k more per year and comes complete with a state pension, day time hours, weekends and holidays off and more paid time off. A tremendous added bonus is that she gets back 3-4 hours a week. That’s time she can spend doing things she loves with the people she loves and not being stuck at the office or log jammed in traffic. More money in her pocket, more time on her hands. It doesn’t get any better.
She said that my eBook and coaching helped her see things differently and made her ask herself questions that lead to life changing realizations. I am happy to hear that and sincerely appreciative of the kind words. But the fact of the matter is this- none of this would have been accomplished…had she decided to stay stuck. She started. And this is what can happen when you do!
These results may not be typical. But they may be the results you experience. You’ll never know, unless you start. If you’re reading this, then you are interested in getting to a better place in life. Now it’s time to start. What is one thing you can do right now to get closer to your goal? Now, go and do it. Good luck!
We’re nearing the end of the first month of 2017. Some people are well into their resolutions now, seeing results, learning and extending their personal and psychological boundaries. Some are growing discouraged and dissatisfied with where they are. I’ve written previously about how an overwhelming percentage of people quit on their goals early on. I’ve been there too. Much like I was able to make changes in my life, you can do the same. Make this the year that you don’t give up. The year that you take it all the way and achieve goals that you’ve been fantasizing about for years! Here are 5 things to help you get there.
1- Listen to your inner dialogue. This one is key because with a limiting inner dialogue, chances are high you won’t get very far. It’s akin to driving a car on four flat tires. While chained to a train. When you put limiting beliefs in your brain without challenging them, limiting behavior is what comes out. Like Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”.
Very recently, I smashed through a limiting belief I had that I did not even realize. My wife and I started a nutrition and exercise plan a few weeks ago (I feel better than ever, by the way!). As I was running on the treadmill and approached the 1-mile mark, a voice inside me said “You’ve only been able to run a mile without stopping once in your life. Time to stop now. You’re just not a runner”. A few years ago, I’d have stopped then and there. Not now. I challenged that thought immediately and said “The only person who has ever said I am not a runner is me. I’m running now and I feel great. No way I’m stopping now”. I went on to go two and a half miles and could have gone even farther because I had so much energy. I stopped only to be cautious of my surgically repaired knee which is not used to the pounding. Last week I ran three times and all three times I beat my personal bests in distance and time. I changed my inner dialogue to something positive and that is what I got in return.
2- Change your routine. It’s very easy to stay in routines of comfort. Doing a certain thing at a certain time of day, like sitting on the couch at night watching TV, becomes second nature and we seldom give it any thought. But when you’re stuck and not where you want to be in life, changing routines can jump start us down a path of momentum. Take a look at what you are doing each day and ask yourself if you are spending too much time on it and if it is helping you live the life you want to live. An easy way to do this is to keep a note pad and jot down each task you do and how long it takes. Keep a record for 3-4 days or even a week and then add it up at the end. You may find you are spending hours each day checking email, watching TV or on Social Media, while your goal of writing a book has yet to be started. Once you know exactly where your time is going, you can take some of it back.
3- Eat organic. I mentioned above that I started a nutrition plan this year. Included in it was a three day detox. I’ve read about clean eating and detoxing quite a bit and frankly, I always thought that it was hype. How much better could clean eating possibly make me feel? That often asked question was answered quickly and definitively. Absolutely amazing! At 43, I have more energy than I’ve ever had before. The heartburn that I’ve suffered from since I was 19 has almost vanished completely. I feel clearer, sharper and lighter and that positively affects every aspect of my life. I am honestly blown away by the difference. Much like I said above about the thoughts in your brain, when you put starchy, sugary, processed foods in your body, that is the result that comes out. If you don’t think eating a wholesome organic diet matters much (as I used to), try it for a week and see the difference for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
4- Celebrate your successes. It can seem premature to celebrate when you have not reached your end goal and your journey is still in progress. But it’s not. Besides, why does the journey have to be long or boring? The fact is that you cannot reach the big goals without accomplishing the small ones first. Taking steps and seeing progress is worthy of being acknowledged and it makes the ride a lot more fun. If you are someone who has done much thinking and dreaming but not taken much action, celebrating accomplishments daily is key. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just a few minutes to express pride at your progress will suffice. You’ll build the important habits of reflection and expressing gratitude and those are key attributes of success.
5- Be kind to yourself. One technique I use on clients involves working with their inner child. I listen closely to the harsh words they use to describe themselves in their adult form. Somewhere along the line, they lost contact with their inner child and found the unhealthy habit of beating themselves up. When I ask them to envision themselves as a child and listen to the words used to describe that period of life, the vocabulary changes dramatically. The connection is made that they speak to themselves in a way that they would never dare speak to another and the habit is effectively changed. Always treat yourself like you would treat any other child; with love, patience, kindness and compassion. You cannot be your best yourself if you do not treat yourself with love.
Start doing these five things differently this year and you’ll think clearer, use time more effectively, feel better, have more fun and get better results. It’s time to unleash your greatness and make 2017 your best year yet!
Chasing dreams is scary work. Really scary. There are a number of reasons why we engage in the self- defeating behavior of analysis paralysis. We make excuses that we cannot move forward because we’re not educated enough or we have more research to do or the time just isn’t right. We like to use our circumstances as an excuse and declare that our situation is unique and no one else, ever, has had to overcome similar obstacles. The thing is, we are all unique people so therefore every circumstance for every person on this planet must be unique. Now you see why analysis paralysis is nothing but an imaginary boundary that we lock ourselves into. It keeps us from moving forward but gives the safety net of protecting from falling. Failure. And that feels good. No one wants to fail.
To break free from that cycle and propel your dream chasing journey forward, there are three steps you can take.
1. Set a firm end date
If you truly must do more research or take another class or get that certification in order to do the work of your dreams, then set a firm end date for it. Determine how much time you’ll need and then mark it on your calendar so that when the day comes, you’re ready to go. The mistake I made was that I spent years, literally, doing research, reading books and blogs, taking courses, obtaining impressive credentials, before I actually sat down and wrote. It’s kind of hard to be a writer when you don’t write. It was the fear of failure that kept me stuck. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s a waste of time.
2. Take one step every day
One of the best questions I ask myself and my clients is “what is one step that you can take today get closer to your goals?” The reason is to keep your focus on your goal, keep it fresh in your mind and to keep momentum going. It’s easy to stop taking action on the small tasks as you do your research but it doesn’t change the fact that those things still need to get done. While taking a writing course, for example, you can do any related side work that can be done to get ahead of the game. If you want to be a writer, start a writing routine. Get a domain name to start a blog. Look for hosting services. Search for someone who can set it up if you are not technically savvy. Find freelance opportunities- there are a ton of things that can be accomplished that will give you momentum.
3. Redefine the word “failure”
Because in all likelihood, it is the fear of failure that is keeping you stalled. But failure isn’t really the bad word that we’ve been conditioned to believe. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you’ve gained knowledge as to what you did and why it didn’t work. You can tweak your approach from there. Or you may have realized that you were pursuing something that you came to realize is not what you truly want. Or maybe you learned that doing things a certain way will not yield the result you are looking for. There is an opportunity to learn in every one of these situations. The fact is- you cannot learn it unless you take action and go for it.
4. Know that the stars will not align. Ever
Waiting for the perfect time to start is, quite honestly, the biggest waste of time you can engage in. Today is the best time to start. Right now. You are smart enough, talented enough, brave enough, courageous enough and you have enough life experience and insight to help/move/affect at least one person in this extremely large world. Right here, right now. There will always be obstacles and challenges, no matter what. That is why this very moment is the best time to start.
I once read something a former Navy Seal wrote. He said that in the military, it doesn’t matter which direction you move when under mortar attack, just as long as you move. I’d say the same applies in dream chasing. You cannot find clarity or achieve goals if you remain stagnant and stuck. So take action, any action, to put yourself in motion. Get disciplined in setting timelines so that you are ready to hit the ground running. Don’t worry much about failures- they will come. Count on it. Learn from them and use them for your betterment because inside each one is a gem of knowledge and opportunity waiting to be plucked. The mortar attack has started- which way will you move?
I’ve written about my two toddler aged children before and the lessons I have learned from them. The education continued last night as I was sitting at the table with my 4-year old son. He has become quite the artist and loves to draw pictures then tell a detailed story about it. On this particular creation, he wanted to write his name on it. Ben. However, he wrote the B and then N and did not leave enough space for the E in between. I asked “Where is the E”? He said, “Right here. I’ll just make the N into an E”. And with that, he made a few dark lines and accomplished what he set out to.
I watched him in wonder, as I always do. Because he just sees the world in a different way. He sees fun and play and innocence and magic. He sees it through the eyes of a child and that is the most precious gift, if you ask me. I thought of how different a child handles mistakes as compared to an adult. An adult might bemoan their mistake and let it kill their confidence. They would ruminate on it and re-live it time and again, stressing out about it, strengthening the neural pathways of negativity and dysfunction. This kind of thought becomes easier because of the existing pathway. That is why such thought processes are often habit and why many people stay stuck in the past and engage in behaviors that continue the cycle of defeat.
Kids don’t do that. They make adjustments, create with a mind as open as the universe and they simply accomplish their goal without much struggle. They don’t have the fear and resistance and confidence challenges that adults have been conditioned to have. They don’t have that fear of failure that adults have been conditioned to have. I am learning this every day as I spend daddy time with my children. And I have to say that it is inspiring on a jaw-dropping level and one of the most amazing experiences in my life.
Society may say it’s not good for an adult to be childish. I say otherwise. When it comes to certain key components like having fun, letting go, being creative and fearing failure, I say- go right ahead and act like a kid. Create. Accomplish with little or no resistance. When something goes wrong, when a mistake is made, don’t ruminate on it. Don’t let it conquer your confidence. Instead, choose to effortlessly draw a line through it and then make the outcome one that you want. This method is not going to work for every mistake and I am not suggesting it will. But for many of them, correcting it, moving out of the past and not dwelling endlessly on what went wrong, will make getting to your destination much quicker and far more enjoyable. Why sweat the small stuff when there is a fun fix for it? Give it a try- go act like a kid again. See where the magic and wonder takes you!
Congratulations- you’ve decided that you’re going to start chasing your dreams and live the life you really want to live! It’s a seminal time in your life and you’ll want to do it right. There will be obstacles along the away, some of which will be self-imposed. Take it from someone who has been there, done that--here are six must-do’s that can help you get out of your own way.
1) Get your head on right. Let’s face it, we all have our baggage. Waiting for the perfect time is nothing but a self-defeating behavior. If you’re going to start this journey on the right foot, then your head must be in the right place. You must believe, at least a little, that your goals can be accomplished. You must have hope that if you dedicate yourself and put in the work every day, that helpful things and supportive people will cross your path. That requires an open mind. You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car if your brain was impacted and thoughts blurred. The same applies here. Get your head on right before you start and you’ll obliterate a major obstacle from the start.
2) Break it down. A great way to quickly quell your pursuit is to think “big picture” all the time. There is a time and a place for that. There is a time and place to take bites. If you want to be an author and sell a million books but have not penned a word of your manuscript, that goal is going to seem impossibly overwhelming. You’ve now put Mt Everest in your way. Who wants to begin a life changing journey facing such an exhaustive and monumental climb? You’ll talk yourself out of it and your dreams will be ripped away by the icy winds. Make it easier on yourself. Breaking it into smaller pieces makes it completely manageable and will keep your excitement and enthusiasm up! How can you do that? Make a set of short term goals, give yourself an end date within a week or two and then do the work. Small, actionable steps will help you get started and construct a foundation of confidence and momentum. These have to be done before you can sell your book anyway. The point here is—don’t do yourself in by thinking thoughts that are so far from your current reality that they seem insurmountable. A slight tweak in your thought process can lead to gigantic gains.
3) Take time to reflect and celebrate. When undertaking such essential endeavors, it is much easier and enjoyable to walk with little resistance. If you’re like me, you’ve been beating yourself up for holding yourself back for so long that all you want to do now is race to get to your end goal. I admire the tenacity and sense of urgency. Be sure you take time to celebrate your successes every week. When you reflect on the steps you’ve taken, you’ll see the progress made. Be proud of that and remember nothing is too small to acknowledge. If you’ve been consistent and worked toward your goal every day, celebrate it, regardless of how far you think you’ve moved the needle.
4) Ask yourself this one question every day. “What is one step I can take today to get closer to my goals?” Sometimes, even when we’re structured and diligent in our dream chasing, we can let things stray off course. Asking yourself this question brings clarity and inspires action. It makes you take another look at your plans for the day. It has helped me on a few occasions to identify a bigger priority, change direction and slay a dragon. I also like to ask myself this question after I am satisfied with the progress I’ve made at the end of the day. Getting a nudge to get something else done gets you to your goal faster. Bottom line--it’s a good habit to get into.
5) Don’t just accept change. Befriend it. When you make the sincere decision to chase your dreams with all you have, things will change. You’ll manage your time more wisely. You’ll cut out the time and energy zapping activities that don’t serve your purpose. Most importantly, you’ll spend more time doing things you love. Ultimately when you get to that place of freedom, it will also be a big change from the life you are living now. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Making more money, having more freedom, increased personal and professional fulfillment, achieving goals that once seemed way out of reach—all of these are change. Change is good.
6) Hope to Fail- Please, please, please--fail. Then make mistakes and fail again. In failing we learn better ways to do things. Sometimes, we learn that we’re doing things that aren’t congruent with our calling. But we don’t know that, or we don’t muster up the courage to shift direction until we have no other choice. Making mistakes and failing speeds up both processes. If you are failing then you are doing something outside of your comfort zone (if it was comfortable, you wouldn’t fail, right?). Change the perception and meaning of that word internally and look forward to increasing your knowledge, wisdom and efficiency through failure.
Taking these six actions when I started pursuing my dreams has made a profound difference in my life. I had started and stopped so many times prior that it became evident I desperately needed to add structure and discipline. You’ll find as you reach more goals and milestones that you’ll add other helpful actions to your routine. In the meantime, this will get you off to a flying start and deter you from engaging in self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. The next step, starting, is entirely up to you. What is one step you can take today to get closer to your goals?