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!
Happy new year everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and enjoy a fresh start and vibrant health during the New Year!
You have set some goals or resolutions for the New Year by now. And if you haven’t, don’t worry. It is never too late to do so. I’ve read a lot about goal setting over the past few weeks and I’ve noticed that most of the articles contain most of the same information. That you should:
· Set SMART Goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound.
· Write your goals down so that you are more likely to achieve them. Numerous studies (and likely personal experiences of your own or someone you know will validate this) have shown that writing your goals down greatly increases your chances of achieving them.
· Plan both long term and short term goals. Short term goals help build momentum and are vital to achieving long term goals.
· Review all goals frequently to stay motivated, monitor progress, make adjustments and keep them in the forefront of your mind.
This is all good, solid information that is highly valuable. What I didn’t see much of was the daily grind. The nitty gritty. Here are two things that will also be highly valuable to you as you work on making 2017 your best year yet.
1. Setting goals can be hard work
Sure, anyone can sit down and write out “I want to lose weight” or “I want to make more money”. Chances of success for this kinds of goals is minimal because they are not specific. Focusing in and being as specific as possible takes a little extra work and planning. Even when specific goals are set, there is still the discipline of working toward them every day and evaluating your progress.
Here is an example of a goal that is unlikely to be achieved even if written down: “I want to lose weight in 2017”. It is bland and general.
Here is an example of a well thought short term goal that is likely to be achieved: “I want to start my own business in January 2017. I will use my artistic skills to create hand- made greeting cards, which I will sell on my site store. I will start designing the cards on January 5 and offer 3 different types of cards (list them). I will look to sell 1 per day minimally at a cost of $5.00. I will set up my site/store by January 31 and be ready to sell then. I’ll get the word out to family and friends and on social media to build excitement and a potential customer base. This business will allow me to use my love of art to do fulfilling work and make extra money.
You can see the difference in the level of thought and effort between the two (and sadly, far too many set goals similar to the first example, hence why the percentage of people who actually achieve their goals remains in the single digits). It’s not just the extra effort that goes into setting the goal, it’s the details required to achieve it—setting up the store, creating the different types of cards, spreading the word about the business and doing it all within the timeframe.
2. Failure is always an option
No matter how specific you are and how much you want to achieve your goal, there is a good chance you will fail at some point along the way. When that happens, you have two choices. You can become dejected, quit and beat yourself up for failing. Then wait another year, or years, to start again. Or you can view the failure and a learning opportunity and use it to be more efficient. Think about it, if you try option A and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean your goal is unattainable. It simply means there is a different, a better way to get to it. Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when inventing the light bulb! One thousand times! His mindset was what kept him going and made him a success. He didn’t see it as failure, he saw it as “finding ways that didn’t work”. By the way, Edison was a man who was once called “too stupid to learn anything” by his teachers. That’s not the way he perceived himself or his work and we’d all be very smart to learn from his example. Fail. Then find another way to get to your goal.
Whatever your goal in 2017, I wish you much success in achieving it! Put in the time and the work. Be disciplined. Set your sights high and give it all you have. It won’t be easy…but it will be worth it and it will change your life!
It's no secret that personal development and growth is a top priority for high performers. We're always looking for ways to do everything better. And that is a quest that will never end. If you're just starting out, or changing your perspective, here are a few tips to be better than yesterday.
1. Think small. Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is to try to see the end result before we've even started. I'm all for visualization but the truth is we cannot be completely clear on the vision until we've started putting the rough version of it into motion. We look at where we are now vs where we want to be and the change is so large, the mind starts to believe that such goals are impossible- like the singer who dreams of getting a multi-million dollar record deal and becoming the next Taylor Swift, but who has not yet even cut a demo. Start, gain some momentum and let it take it to the next level. It is small, incremental improvement that will lead to life changing gains.
2. Keep record. A few years back, I did a little experiment. At lunch, I'd run on the treadmill at the office gym. At 230 pounds and with a surgically repaired knee, I wasn't much of a runner. I decided to jot down on a sticky note the time it took me to run a mile. It was a little over 12 minutes. Like I said, I'm not much of a runner. The next day, I took that sticky note with me and put it on the treadmill. Immediately, I cut 45 seconds off my time. I was three quarters of a minute better than yesterday, which in terms of running, is like a lifetime. I knew I could push it even further, so I repeated the routine the next day and took more than a minute off. Within a few days, I was down to a 9 minute mile. Having the figure in front of me made me push myself harder. I wanted to beat it, wanted to prove I could improve. It was a challenge and I accepted. I never thought I'd run a mile in that time and I wouldn't have if I didn't keep a record of my progress.
3. Be flexible. Sometimes, we set goals that are rigid and inflexible. We want to get that record deal and become the next Taylor Swift, nothing else will do. In that form of narrow focus and thinking, it is easy to miss other opportunities that could appear. Maybe it is a good paying gig at a local club that means you can quit your job and afford to cut a demo. Or a job at a music store where you can work on your craft to get to an elite status. Maybe it's an opportunity that leads to networking with executives or people who can offer a record deal. Stay open minded. Sometimes, the road winds and bends but ends up right where you want to be.
Be open to thinking in smaller pieces so the enormity of a goal doesn't overwhelm. Keep record of where you're going and where you've been. It can ignite your progress in ways you've never known. Be flexible to an alternative route to achieve your goals. We don't always know where the road leads. The only certainty is that if we don't take the time to notice what is around us, we're going to miss some amazing opportunities. All destinations can be arrived at from multiple directions and via multiple methods. Always remember that. Do whatever you can to do something, one thing, better than you did it yesterday. When you do that, obstacles move out of your way. You’ll gain confidence, keep momentum rolling and you’ll accomplish more than you dreamed possible!
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?
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?
I’m amazed to realize that we are already nearly one quarter of the way through the year. Research reveals something even more amazing — 36 percent of Americans who made a New Year’s Resolution have already given up on it. That number jumps to 54 percent in the next sixty days. Simply put- most people have the best of intentions but never achieve what they set out to achieve. Most people quit very early on, never giving their dreams a fair chance to become reality. That is very sad.
Do you want to be a part of that group? Do you want to be a statistic of unfulfilled aspirations? Do you want to look back with regret filled thoughts of “What if?” If you have not quit yet, keep going and use the following to help you achieve the things you truly want in life! If you have given up, do not beat yourself up. That only makes it worse. Instead, take action. Try something different. You can treat today as January 1st and renew your resolution and commitment to follow through. Can you think of one good reason why today is not a good day to start bettering yourself and creating the life you want? If you are one of the soon to be 54 percent of poor souls who have abandoned their resolutions, realize that you can get right back to it. Today. Right now.
Here are three tips to help you keep you on track:
1) Start small
Make one change at a time and increase the chances of success exponentially. When I am coaching using cognitive behavioral techniques, this is key to achieving success. For example, if someone wants to overcome a fear of flying, the first step of the approach to help them accomplish this is to first drive by the airport. That’s it. Step two is to watch planes take off and land. Step three is to go into the airport and just observe. The fourth step might be to take a walk through an airplane (if possible) or to watch videos of planes in all stages of flight. Doing this visualization exercise helps one “feel” what it is like to be on a plane. The final step is to get on a plane and take a short flight (and utilize breathing and calming techniques). But as you can see, this is intentionally done in small increments so conditions are primed for success.
2) Do not be hard on yourself
This one is important because people who have difficulty setting and achieving goals have a tendency to be hard on themselves. If you have a setback, remember it happens to everyone at some point. And your past is not an indicator of what you are capable of doing right here and now. Rather than feeling guilty, admit to yourself that you got off track and then utilize positive self -talk. Tell yourself that you have the ability to get right back on track IF you choose.
3) Get it on paper
This applies two-fold. It is always smart to write down your goals. Psychologists found that people who work at and make consistent progress towards goals live happier and more fulfilling lives than people who don’t. The additional benefit of writing it down manifests when you find yourself struggling. Simply writing down your past successes can help you regain confidence. Surely you have accomplished something meaningful—a solid relationship, a college education, a promotion at work, a compliment someone gave you after you helped them. Write it down and use it as fuel. You’ve been there already. You can do this!
The choice really is yours. You can choose to carry around the weight of disappointment and the knowing that you gave up. If you do, chances are you’ll start yet another resolution next year and repeat the process of stopping before mission accomplished. And this can happen year after year after year. Or you can choose to start again right now, knowing that even though you faltered a step or two, you did not fail because you have the courage and resourcefulness to get back on track whenever the moment is right for you.
No date on a calendar can dictate such powerful self-awareness. Working at it, not just wishing for it will get you there. Do this and you will accomplish what only eight percent of Americans accomplish — seeing your resolution through to the end. Now that is a group that you should want to be a part of!