If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable. – Seneca
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the New Year’s Eve is approaching rapidly and you are thinking to yourself that from January 1. of the new year you are going to become a completely different person? You are going to get healthy and fit, be more productive, be a better friend, student, family member? Perhaps you wanted to drop some weight, you were determined, motivated and in the first two weeks everything seemed to be going great however in the third week an unexpected circumstance occurred and suddenly you found yourself in a predicament. I have so much studying to do for this test, I can’t possibly go running today or I have to go to my cousins birthday, everybody is going to think I am so weird if I tell them I can’t eat carbs. Sound familiar?
Been there done that my friends, however in learning from my own mistakes I found that this is nothing more than poor planing. Anybody can set a goal, but why do so many people fail to achieve their goals while only a few succeed?
How to set goals?
In order to be successful in achieving your goal you must first set one. If you are not a “goal setting” type of person that’s OK, but you still have things you want in life right? Those things are your goals. Perhaps you want to own a Ferrari, or have a big family, or move to Japan, but whatever it is you must stop viewing the things you want merely as “the things you want” or “wishes” and start viewing them as goals. Once you start doing that, your mind moves those things from the Unlikely to Ever Happen drawer where, chances are, they have been sitting for quite a while and into the Possible drawer.
You must use your brain though. If your goal is to live to be 300 years old, jump from an airplane with no parachute and hope to survive the landing and have a dinosaur as a pet, hate to break it to you but it ain’t gonna happen. I truly believe that anything is possible, and I would be the first person to tell you as much but some things are simply not possible and therefore you must try to remain realistic. And when I say realistic I don’t mean lower your expectations, oh no. You want to own a Ferrari? Realistic. Have a big family? Realistic. Move to Japan? Realistic. Become a billionaire? Realistic. Have everything you want? Realistic. Ask yourself what you want and determine what is going to make you happy. Define what success means to you. For some people success means owning a company for others it is having the freedom to travel whenever they want. Anything you can possibly imagine is realistic and there are so many ways that can take you there. Finding those ways, committing to them and planning to succeed are a whole other story.
How to achieve goals?
So, you filled your Possible drawer with all the realistic things you want. Now what?
Once you have decided on the things you want (and remember the Possible drawer is infinite, you can always put more stuff in it), now it’s time to start your journey towards those things. That journey starts with planning.
Let’s go back to the example with weight loss. The goal is to lose 20 kg. That goal, however, is only a thought floating around in your mind easily overshadowed by other thoughts that are perhaps more urgent at the moment (such as that big test that’s coming up). So naturally, your mind focuses more on the test than on the weight loss why? Because the test is EVERYWHERE! You have your calendar and you circled the date of the test, you have your books, notebooks, notes, you are chatting with your friend about what’s going to be on the test, you spend most of your time learning and in all that chaos the last thing on your mind are the 20 kg you want to lose. But in order to study, you must eat! And because you “don’t have time” to make yourself a nice, healthy meal you turn to snacks and fast food and the number on the scale shows that you are no closer to your goal, in fact you might even be further away from it than ever.
This situation would have been 100 percent avoidable had you taken one afternoon, hell even one hour to sit down with your pen and paper and write down not only your goal, but the actions you PLAN to take in order to achieve it.
This is from my bullet journal. Which ever goal I decide to set for myself, I write it down and next to it I write the actions I am going to take in order to achieve it. (I took a picture of these pages before filling them out because I don’t like to share my personal goals with anyone but hopefully you get the idea.)
So, if I were to write down “lose 20 kg” as a goal, in the actions section I would write all the things I would do to make sure I achieved that goal. For example I would write: meal prep, running every day 20 minutes, start a notebook with useful weight loss tips, research etc. I would plan my time so that everyday I would have at least 20 minutes for running even if it meant waking up 20 minutes earlier, and every week I would have a free afternoon for meal prep. I would research every weight loss method until I found the one that works for me and learn about nutritional values of different foods. I would set aside a budget so I would never have to worry whether I have enough money for healthy food. I would make a plan of all those actions and incorporate it into my daily schedule.
It is not enough to only write down “lose 20 kg” because your brain will be like OK, but how do I do that? And by doing this you instantly give your brain an answer and therefore you avoid failure.
You see, once you dissect a big goal into the smallest of actions, it suddenly isn’t so big anymore. It is only a combination of all those small actions that comprise a big goal, and if you do those small actions consistently, success is guaranteed. This process moves your wanted things from the Possible drawer to Likely to Happen drawer and that’s where you want all of your things to be.
You can go about your goal setting and achieving however you want but the method I like to use the most is this one. Also I would like to add that I have goals and actions sections on three different scales. First is goals and actions in life (the biggest), second is goals and actions in a year (smaller), and the third is goals and actions in a month (the smallest). So if the life goal is “lose 20 kg”, the smaller one (goal for one year) would be “lose 10 kg” and the goal for one month would be “lose a little less than 1 kg” and to all of that I would add the actions that are going to get me there.
The weight loss example is pretty small in scale but this really works for any goal you have set for yourself. If your goal is owning a business then in the actions section for that month you could write down “read a book about entrepreneurship” or something similar.
Also, it is important to mention that visualization goes hand in hand with goal setting. I will be doing posts on visualization alone so make sure to check that out, but for now I just want to say that visualization is almost as important as planning. Surrounding yourself with pictures, inspirational quotes and imagery can really make achieving your goals much faster and easier.
This post is really long and thanks for sticking with me until the end. I hope this was helpful!