You’ve probably heard the phrase a goal without a plan is just a wish. This rings true for any goal whether it be to lose weight, save money for a vacation, or even tackle a big spring cleaning to-do list. How do we reach our big and almost impossible goals? Here is what I do.
1 - Dream
What do you want your future to look like? What is the goal you are after? Don’t be afraid to dream big. You can write down this dream, or not. But what you do need to write down is a tangible goal to work on that will get you closer to that dream.
2 - Believe you Can Get There
Many people never dream of where they want to go or what they want to do, achieve, or become because they don't really believe they can reach it so why bother?
Belief is a choice.
I think too often we don't believe in our dreams because we don't know HOW to get there. The truth is you don't have to know how. You just need to believe that it is possible for you to LEARN how to get there.
3 - Visualize the End Result
What does reaching your goal look like? What will that make possible? How will you feel when you get there? Can you imagine the day that you reach that goal?
The more you can visualize the end result of a goal, and choose to believe that you can get to that result, the more inevitable reaching your goal becomes.
4 - Understand WHY you Want it
Understanding why you want a goal, the deep down why, can really help you stick with it long enough to get there.
Once you have a vision of the end result you're after, ask yourself why you want that. In fact ask yourself this at least five times in a row.
Why do I want that? Why is that important to me? Why does that matter? Why do I want that? Why is that important to me? Why does that matter?
This will help you get to the core of why you really want it. And most often this has to do with your core values and will bring up some emotion.
It could be that you never felt loved by a parent and you believe reaching this goal will allow you to show your kids that love that you never felt.
It could be that you want to make a parent proud of you and want to show them that you can do it.
It could be that reaching that goal will prove to yourself that you're worthy of something. Even though we logically know and have probably heard a thousand times that we are worthy just the way we are, there is something about proving that worth that many of us strive for.
When you understand the depth of your why, reaching your goals becomes a lot more important, and you won't quit as easily.
This is what people mean when they say finding your why will motivate you to reach your goals.
The pain of not reaching that goal has to be stronger than the pain of staying where you are, or you won't move.
We simply won't move toward a goal if reaching it is more painful than staying where we are, or more accurately - the perceived pain of reaching it is more painful than where we are.
We have to believe that staying where we are is more painful than doing the work to get where we want to go.
When you understand the depth of your why, why it matters so much for you to get to the end goal, the perceived pain of reaching that pales in comparison to staying where you are.
We don't like to change. It takes work to change.
We usually think the work to change is harder than staying where we are, so we don't change. We don't do the work. It's easier to stay the same. But even though it's easier to stay the same, if it is more painful to stay the same than it is to change, that is when we begin the process of changing.
5 - Break it Down into Smaller Milestone Steps
Breaking a goal down into doable steps or increments is key. This is why my charts can help so much, you can see just how much it will take to go one more step, and when you do, that encourages you to take another, and another.
When your goal is big, and you don't have incremental steps, it's like you can't even SEE what to do next. But broken down into small bits makes it so much easier to focus and make progress.
My dad is the king of focusing. I've asked him before how he can get such big projects done, and he says that he just looks at what he can do today.
He doesn't get lost in thinking about all the steps to come or all the work involved. He just looks at what the next step is, decides what he will do today, and then puts his head down and does it.
This impressive focus has allowed him to build an entire brick patio with curved raised planters (even though he had never laid a brick before), remodel an apartment to "show home" quality, and even come out of retirement at 75 to design a school building, a coffee shop, and a chapel for our church.
Focus on the next step in front of you instead of the whole staircase. Break down your goal into manageable milestones and tackle those, one by one.
6 - Pick a Strategy to Try
You won’t discover what works until you start trying stuff.
My favorite strategy is to make a game out of the goal.
Like Mary Poppins said, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”, which means when you add a little fun to the process it’s a lot easier to do. She also said, “a job begun is half done”, that means that at least half the battle to finishing something is simply starting the process, making your first move.
Don't get bogged down in which way is the “right way” to do something or the “best” way to do something, just get out there and do something. It doesn't matter what, it only matters that you start.
7 - Learn from Every Result, Both Failures, and Wins
Failures and lessons have to happen in order to reach the desired result.
This is a hard one to accept. We don't want to fail, it doesn't feel good. But we can never reach a big goal without learning through experience how to get there.
We think and we plan and we agonize over the details before we ever try anything because we believe that if we just figure out the “right” plan we can reach the goal easier, and we won't fail and quit before we get there.
But failing is a necessary part of the process.
We only learn what not to do by getting things wrong at first.
There are simply some lessons you have to learn through failure in order to succeed. I know that sounds weird, but it's true when they say success is a terrible teacher.
If you succeed at everything you try you are living in the safe zone, and the safe zone will not get you to your dream life.
When something does work, when you do have success, repeat it. Do that thing again and again and again because you know it works.
I can't count the number of times I've had its success at something, and for some reason I wanted to try something else, so I did. Maybe I thought the new idea would be even better, but the new idea didn't work. So I tried another new idea or tweaked it, again and again, until I woke up, and remembered when I did have success, and I try that thing again, and voila!
It's funny that even when we get things right, we think “maybe it's beginner's luck”, and we feel like it was too easy, so we proceed to try to make it harder. Sometimes the simple things actually work the best. So don't discount your success just because it came easy. It won't always come easy, in fact it will rarely come easy, but when it does, repeat it over and over and over again.
8 - Tweak it and Try Again
This is especially important after you've had a failure. You've learned a lesson, the tactic didn't quite work out the way you hoped, and even though you may not know exactly why it didn't work, you can still make a tweak and try again. Every time you tweak your plan and try again you're one step closer to reaching your goal.
For some simple goals this entire process will be very fast and relatively easy. For bigger life goals, this can be a lifelong process to reach the vision that you have of your future.
Either way, this process works. Whether for big goals or for small ones. For simple goals or complex goals, use this process for all your goals.
When you have a setback and haven’t worked on your goals for months or even years, come back to this process.
We all have setbacks, even the people that are highly successful have setbacks or pauses in reaching their goals. The difference is they don't stop believing they can reach the goal. No matter what gets in their way they keep coming back to these principles and they keep trying until they get to their vision.
Don’t stop trying to reach your big, scary goals! Believe that they can be reached and work a plan to make them happen.
I want to know, have any of these keys helped you take that next step toward your goals? Let me know in the comment section below!