If you haven’t, you should go back and read our blog on how to set effective goals. If you’ve already figured out your goals, we’re going to give you the road map to accomplishing them.
Remember the Motivation
It is always important to remember your motivation to accomplish a goal. If you don’t remember what desire motivates you toward the finish line, why would you give up anything to get there?
What is the real desire behind your goal? If your goal is to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months, the desire isn’t for the scale to tell you a number that’s 10 less than before. You may think you care about the number, but you don’t. Your desire might be to feel more confident about how you look, to work towards a healthy weight, or to smile when you look at yourself in the mirror.
And beyond that there is the “why”. Why do you really want to feel more confident or get to a healthy weight? Do you want to feel more confident, so you can be more successful in your dating life? Do you want to get to a healthy weight, so you can watch your kids grow up?
Knowing your true motivations is important to keeping up with your goals. In 3 weeks, when the triple stack burger with garlic cheesy waffle fries looks far more delightful than the kale salad with avocado, your calorie limit probably isn’t going to outweigh your taste buds.
But if you look over at your 5-year-old girl and remember that the salad is an important step on the way to making sure you can walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, you might be able to conquer those pesky taste buds. You might even ask them to hold the dressing.
Enjoy the Journey
If you don’t enjoy the journey to your end goal, one has to ask if the end goal is really for you. If you don’t enjoy writing chapter 1 and 2 of your book, are you really going to enjoy editing chapter 17 for the 20th time because you just can’t get the dialog right? Are you going to enjoy the work of promoting your book?
If you don’t enjoy the journey, it’s worth asking if you actually like what you’re doing or if you like the idea of it. Most people like the idea of being a rock star. But do you like sitting in your bedroom crafting a song all by yourself for hours? Do you enjoy recording that new song and releasing it even if only 5 people listen? Do you enjoy standing in front of a microphone even if only 3 of the 13 people in the coffee shop pay attention? If not, you probably like the idea of being a musician and not actually being a musician. You like the idea of being, but not becoming. The problem is, of course, one has to become to be.
Most people like the idea of being an author, entrepreneur, rock star, movie star, professional athlete and artist. Very few like becoming one. If the end is all you want, and the journey has no appeal, get a new goal. Because you have just about no chance of accomplishing this one.
“But I came here for encouragement!” you might be saying. I am encouraging you. Encouraging you to not be delusional but to go after goals you can achieve. If you think your desire to be interviewed by Oprah about your new novel is enough to overcome thousands of hours of the actual slog of writing you don’t like, you’re delusional. Let it go. Writing a book isn’t for you.
If you are the kind of person to prefer the long-shot shortcut option over the “make your own destiny” slow slog, you are probably in trouble. There is no magic diet pill, it’s about forming habits. Habits like not ordering fries with your meal and eating a salad once in a while. It would also help if you worked out after January 2nd.
If you want to become a rock star and your solution is to try out for American Idol season 326, because you couldn’t be bothered playing in front of an audience of 12 at your local bar, just forfeit now.
If you want to build an online business, but you can’t bring yourself to give up even a measly 5 hours of video gaming a week to work on that new product or blog, quit now. You’re already done.
If you want to write a book, but there’s too many good Netflix shows today to bother with writing for a half hour, give up. You’ll fail.
Here are your options:
1. Find some dreams and goals that are worth the daily slog to you
2. Start working on an attitude change
3. Admit you’re lazy and resign yourself to the idea of never reaching your goals
If you picked option 1 or 2, awesome! Keep reading.
If you already enjoyed the journey, awesome! Enjoying the journey might be the biggest factor in determining success and failure, as it will give you the work ethic to continue through the good and bad times.
Baby steps are the idea of not really worrying about the big picture every day, but just taking that next step. It’s important to have some long term goals to work towards, but thinking about “finishing a novel by the end of 2019” to get you through today is kind of worthless.
The idea of baby steps is to be happy with taking one small step every day. The idea is that if you spend a measly 30 minutes writing every day, you will eventually get to your goal. You could get yourself overwhelmed by thinking about the 50 pages you want to finish in the next 2 weeks or you can just tell yourself to write for an hour today and make some progress.
The problem with relying on longer-term goals is that it can encourage the age-old enemy known as procrastination. For example, if you set a goal to write 4 blog posts this month, it’s pretty easy to wait until the 27th- when you get your calendar reminder of your goal due date- before actually making any progress. Then you have to put in the work to get 4 blogs done in the next 4 days, resulting in a burnout. Then the burnout lasts long enough that you get into the same trap next month. And maybe next month you only end up getting 2 done.
Forming the habit of baby steps will fix this issue. The habit of baby steps doesn’t just set the goal of 4 blog posts a month and call it a day, it also says to get into the habit of sitting down to write for half an hour a day or even 15 minutes. Who can’t give up 15 minutes a day?
This does a couple of great things. The first thing is that it gets you into the habit of being productive. Fifteen minutes of day feels like and is practically nothing, but you’re forming the habit of constant progress.
Eventually it will become natural to you to come home and write for 15 minutes. Sometimes you’ll get in the zone and write for an hour or even more and sometimes you’ll do your 15 minutes and then watch some Monday Night Football.
The second great thing baby steps will do is great progress “for free”. While 15 minutes isn’t much, over the period of 28 days, that’s 7 hours of writing. And just imagine you get into the zone and write for an hour once a week. And you accidentally write for 30 minutes 2 other days a week. Now you’re looking at 12 hours in a month!
So now you’ve made 12 hours of progress towards your 4 blog post goal by the 28th. Maybe you already did all 4 posts and you can chill the last few days. Maybe you have a bit more to do, but nothing compared to 4 posts in 4 days. Or maybe you’re so firmly in the habit that you just keep doing your 15 minutes a day and find yourself ahead of schedule for next month’s goal.
Without giving up much, baby steps help you to work constant progress into your daily life. It forms a habit and requires such a small amount of daily work that it almost feels like no work at all.
Another great thing baby steps get you is the removal of the dichotomy of “met my goal” and “didn’t meet my goal”. Now you won’t get to the last week of the month and realize you still have all 4 blogs to go. That dread of “4 blogs in 7 days??” that inspires you to just call the month a failure and do no work at all will disappear. Instead, you may have already completed your goal or made substantial progress. You might have completed 2 so far and end up getting only 3 done, but 3 is better than 0.
Baby steps can also help alter your perspective from a non-healthy “anything less than 4 blogs a month is failure” perspective to a productive “any progress is good progress” perspective.
I would even go so far as to say that the baby step habit without goals may be better than goals without baby steps. For more skills to master to accomplish your goals, check out this great read by Bruce Eckfeldt.
The world is full of dreamers. Everyone wants to be something greater. But dreams aren’t worth a cent. No one cares about the book you are going to write. No one cares about your dream to be a rockstar. No one cares how rich you are going to be. They do care about the book your writing, the gig you’re doing next Friday, and the business plan you are utilizing now. In a world full of worthless dreams, be a doer, not a dreamer.
What habits have you gotten into to reach your goals? What goals have you already accomplished this past year? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @EscapeTheBoxLab. If you’d like to follow me on twitter, you can follow me @josephNVadala and if you haven’t followed us, follow us @EscapeTheBoxLab. If you have something you want us to talk about, let us know! You can always tweet at us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t you also should sign up for our email list! Thank you so much for reading, and we hope to hear from you!