Goal achievement is a task ingrained into us from the moment we come out of the womb.
Our parents start cheering us on to accomplish the smallest of tasks like sucking milk from a bottle, and burping after we’re done!
Then comes crawling, walking, riding a bike — learning to read — mustering the courage to attend our first school dance, etc.
We’re happy to shoot for these goals too.
I can clearly remember how determined I was to ride my bike without training wheels on. Nothing was going to stop me until that dream was a reality.
Can you relate?
Funny, a five year old has the perfect mindset to achieve limitless goals. Yet teenagers and adults all have such a tough time of it.
The most rewarding experiences in life are those that we fight the hardest to get.
Goal achievement is easy once you stop making it hard on yourself!
Here’s 3 big actions you need to stop taking…
1. Always assuming the worst.
This is the biggest reason people never achieve anything, so I’m going to share a lot on this point.
I have a casual friend that I’ve known since my college days. This friend is not someone I choose to spend a lot of time with.
In fact, he’s a glass-half-full type, who actually sees a half glass of water and convinces himself that it’s only a quarter full!
This guy takes something good and cuts it in half to protect himself from disappointment.
Worse: anything gets in the way of something he wants and he starts having a tantrum.
Rather than figuring out how bash through the brick wall in front of him, he starts yelling at the bricks and asking questions like “WHY are you in my way — I knew something was going to stop me!”
I was actually raised this way, so I understand a thing or two about such a negative mindset.
But, I was never (until recently) the type to assume the worse — more the surfer-dude-type who takes it as it comes and doesn’t sweat a bead.
Mine is just as bad a mentality because if nothing bothers you, it’s pretty hard to go after your passions. We all require that burning need deep inside us in order to get off our duff and go after things.
Tony Robbins calls this “finding your WHY” and while I’m not big into woo-woo motivational crap, the “why” helps us conjure up the emotion we’re striving for by achieving a given goal.
Emotions complete the experience and experiences is what we’re all striving for, whether we know it or not.
- Money creates freedom — freedom makes us feel happy.
- Love makes us feel all gooey inside — feeling all gooey inside makes us happy.
- Becoming a big CEO (etc) makes us feel power — the feeling of power over ourselves or others makes us happy.
Those telling and positive emotions we all feel when a goal is achieved stay with us for a lifetime. Goal achievement is about aspiring to that feeling we just KNOW we’re going to get, even though it might just leave us wanting more.
Wanting more is a good thing, by the way. It keeps momentum working in our favor, allowing bigger and better goals to be realised.
Those who prefer to assume the worst have figured out how to reverse this reality and make the negative experiences stick, actually clouding anything positive that ever happens.
They also don’t feel inspired to look for the light at the end of the tunnel — they’re stuck always expecting the worst.
Such a mindset will always leave you revelling in negative emotions, and you’ll always attract people just like YOU into your life.
- If this sounds like you, you’ll have to retrain yourself to WANT the positive over the negative — to push negative thinking out of your head the minute it comes into your consciousness.
- Listen to Tony Robbins and develop your WHY — what’s the emotion you need to feel after the goal is achieved?
- Recognise belief in yourself isn’t enough — you need to have a clear reason for whatever it is you’re hoping to accomplish.
- If you’re a glass-half-full type who surrounds themselves with people living in the opposite (negative) realm, you need to limit your time with them.
- Obviously, you’ll need to take all naysayers with a grain of salt — but listen to them still — as there’s valuable information to be found in all points of view.
2. Talking about your goals with others.
After checking out this Ted Talk with Derek Sivers multiple times, I’m wondering if this mistake we make isn’t partly society’s fault. I mean, we’re all brought up to dream and achieve, and to share those dreams with others.
Painting that picture of our goal for another human being using words makes that dream into a more clearly defined picture in our heads, right?
Sitting under the stars with a friend or significant other, sharing our dreams, big and small, with others is a past-time enjoyed by everyone.
If you don’t have time to watch Siver’s Ted Talk, he delves into research dating back nearly 100 years that shows people who frequently talk about their dreams rarely realise them.
It appears we get such a rush sharing our ambitions, that seemingly innocent action releases the same amount of happiness-inducing oxytocin as eventually achieving those goals would.
The father of social psychology, Kurt Lewin, coined this phenomenon “substitution” for obvious reasons.
Ever met someone who talks a big game, but never seems to find themselves at the finish line?
Been there, done that. Right?
- Take one dream that’s burning a hole in your soul right now.
- This has to be something you’ve never shared before in order to work, according to Lewin.
- Something that if not achieved in this life, will most certainly be one of your biggest deathbed confessions.
- Work your ass off and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
- You can’t tell a soul what you’re thinking or feeling about this particular goal until it’s real.
Later today, tomorrow, next week, next month — next year.
It doesn’t matter how long you plan to delay, or the excuses you make as to why.
The mistake of waiting includes over-planning, paralysis analysis, and downright fear or laziness.
Waiting only works when you’re stuck in between coats of paint, when you’re stranded way back in line at the DMV, or waiting for the bus to come.
You get the idea, right?
Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, and Tony Robbins talk about the idea of waiting as the “law of diminishing intent.”
Rohn gets the nod for coming up with this law, but the latter two have talked about it extensively, too.
The longer you wait to do something you should DO RIGHT NOW, the less likely you are to ever actually do it with each hour that passes.
I love this LinkedIN post breaking down the law of diminishing intent. It’s written by business coach and consultant Todd Gaster.
Though Gaster is relating the law to people running a coaching business, the message rings true to anyone whose ever made the decision to put “it” off until later:
- Any promise to take an action has a half life of 24 hours.
- A person is 50 percent less likely to take an action 24 hours after making the decision to delay.
- After 48 hours, there’s only a 25 percent chance of a desired/promised action being taken.
- After 72 hours, the future of any imagined goal, where an initial action should have been taken right away, drops to a rather hopeless 12.5 percent.
If this sounds like a path you’ve traveled down before, don’t fret — everyone has done it.
- Do as Tony Robbins smartly suggests and never leave the scene of a decision without taking an action.
- That action doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming — do research on one thing that will help you get the ball rolling.
- After doing that one thing, make a FIRM plan on what the next step will be — do that next step as soon as you have time.
- Use momentum to keep the gears on a given goal moving — never let it collect dust in your drawer of things to do.
- Delay ANY gratification you desire now, so that momentum keeps going on the goal at hand (Ie., ANYTHING that makes you feel good for only a short time, that really could have been put off to free up time toward the achievement of the goal).
Come on back later and tell me if this helped you out.
You’re the best,
Main Image Credit: Tamaki Sono