What Are Your Goals?
Where are you going? Which direction are you going? How will you get there?
These are common questions we ask when planning a cross-country trip. Questions that most of us will answer before hitting the road. Unless you are on one of those "wander the country wherever your heart takes you" kind of road trips. Life is a lot more complicated than a road trip, but many of us have never sat down and planned out the road we want to take.
What are your goals? Where are you going? Which direction do you want to go? How will you get there?
Goals don't have to anticipate every single turn and pothole on the road of life, but unless you have some kine of plan, you can get stranded, miss your destination, and miss the scenic views along the way.
Write It Down
Regardless of the goal, writing it down and being specific are two of the best first steps in achieving it. Heidi Grant (@heidigrantphd), author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, puts "Being Specific" at the top of her list.
Writing a goal down, especially something that seems out of reach, can be downright scary. Be brave. It is the first step to finding out how much work the goal will take. Once you know the first step, you can begin your moving in the right direction.
Where do you see yourself in six months? One year? Five years? What dreams did you give up on because they seemed too hard or out or reach? Dream big! Really big! According to Tim Ferriss (@tferriss), author of the 4-Hour Workweek, setting huge goals may be the edge you need to get motivated. Dreams without a plan are just that . . . dreams. Make a plan, even a loose outline of a plan, and get going. Just start.
Break It Down
So, you have your big dream, your big goal. Break it down, and keep breaking it down until you have something that you can do daily to move yourself in the right direction. Driving from Los Angeles to New York is a lot more realistic if you break the trip into pieces. The same is true for goals. In fact, how close we feel to achieving something is a VERY powerful motivator. Vaughan Bell (@vaughanbell) explains how the illusory goal progress effect works. When it comes to short term or small goals, make them very achievable to keep your motivation going.
Put simply, do something every day to move toward achieving your goal. Every day. Just in case you missed it . . . every day. Remember, new habits take time to establish, so do the best you can. Write down how your doing, and don't hesitate to make adjustments. When you track how closely you are able to stay with your habit, you are simply more likely to stay with it.
Be Your Most Enthusiastic Cheerleader
Reaching your goal, big or small, is a GOOD thing. It seems counter-intuitive, but often somewhere in the middle of the process, it's easy for motivation to sag. It might require effort and tenacity, but focusing on what it will FEEL like to achieve your goal can help carry you through the less-than-exciting times.
Do whatever you have to do to remember the good stuff. Human biology gives us the tendency to focus on what is going wrong. Add an extra dose of what's going well. Here are some ideas to keep it positive.
I recently revisited my business goals for the next month, three months, and six months. I keep them open on my desk and am creating a habit of reviewing them every few days. It gives me a chance to revise if needed, but mostly I get a chance to get fired up about where I'm moving in my business life. It feels good to be focused!
Once you know where you're going and how to get there, you can enjoy the road. Happy goal setting and safe travels.