By now I’m sure you’ve learned in life that having a goal isn’t enough. You set a goal, you get all excited, you feel like you’ve already accomplished something, and a week, a month or a year later, you are no closer to the goal than you were before.
First, the setting of the goal gave you immediate satisfaction, so that you didn’t feel you needed to do any more at that point. Sure, you’d have to work on your goal later, but for the moment, you felt good. And that inertia of the false feeling of already having accomplished something kept you from moving forward.
Second, if and when you did come back to work on the goal, you realized it wasn’t just a goal. It was a fat, hairy GOAL with teeth! It was big and scary and overwhelming and hey, couldn’t you get started on it tomorrow? But of course!
And so, you very likely didn’t even begin.
If you did get started (good for you, because 2 out of 3 people never even get that far) then you soon felt so overwhelmed, you set it aside for later. And that ‘later’ never came.
But… if you have MILESTONES to achieving your goal, then you can – wait for it – ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL.
Think of crossing a wide stream of rapidly moving water.
If you try to leap across the stream in one bold move, you’re going to land in the water and get swept downstream.
But if you place several large boulders across the stream, and if you move from one boulder to the next, then you can get across.
Milestones work the same way. You set several milestones between where you are now and the result you seek. As you achieve each milestone, you get a sense of accomplishment.
Yes, your goal might seem too big and too grand to achieve. But you can get to the first milestone, right?
And each milestone has a series of action steps that need to be taken to reach that milestone.
You perform the actions to achieve the milestone. You achieve several milestones to get to the goal.
And then you’ve done it! There is nothing new or novel about this approach. Yet, 9 times out of 10 goals never get achieved because the person setting the goal never broke it down into smaller, manageable steps.
Because most people never map out the specific actions essential to their goals and never schedule these actions, they just turn in circles.
A sense of overwhelm overtakes them because they’re seeing a huge mound of things to do in their mind, but they’ve never gotten specific and organized about how to do those things.
Unless you can see the goal, the milestones and the actions right in front of you, you’re going to waste a great deal of time and mental energy trying to figure out what to do next. You’ll do things out of order, you’ll lose your sense of accomplishment, and you’ll get discouraged and quit.
One of the great secrets to getting where you want to go is seeing everything visually in front of you, much like seeing the map on how to get to your destination.
Once you’ve got your goal, you pick out the milestones to be achieved on the way to that goal, and then you write out the actions for each.
As long as you’ve got a specific list of actions to take, you’ve got it made. Now you can move into action quickly.
If you don’t have a specific list of actions to take, then things are ambiguous – something with which you’re no doubt highly familiar. We think we’re comfortable with ambiguity, because it allows us to stay in our comfort zone and not stretch ourselves.
But the funny thing is that there is nothing comfortable about the comfort zone. It keeps you turning in circles instead of moving ahead. And it keeps you in a constant state of overwhelm, instead of feeling good about yourself and what you’re accomplishing.
Let’s talk about motivation:
“But what if I have a goal, and I have my milestones, and I have my list of actions for each milestone, but I’m still not motivated?”
Then you are experiencing some inner resistance that is stopping you from moving forward. This inner resistance, whatever it might be, is not going to budge if you try to strong arm it. You can’t just fight your way through it using willpower.
Instead, you’ve got to examine your payoff – what the goal is going to do for you or give you when you achieve it – and ask yourself the following questions:
Is the payoff big enough to excite you?
If not, then you don’t have the right goal. You need a bigger goal. Your goal should be large, not ‘reasonable.’ It should be exciting. It should be
BIG with a BIG payoff that makes you excited and happy just thinking about it.
If the payoff is big enough to excite you, then ask yourself…
Have you kept the payoff front and center in your mind? if not, then you know what you need to do – night and day, you need to visualize achieving that goal.
The payoff is the vision embedded in your subconscious that effortlessly sets you on fire with your goal. Your goal should be something you can’t get out of your mind, something that pulls you along – not something you have to push yourself to accomplish.
Get serious about keeping the vision of the payoff in your mind at all times, because this is the ONE thing that will get you going and KEEP you going.
No one – not the best motivational speaker in the world sitting on your shoulder – can keep the vision of the payoff alive for you. You must continually stoke that fire and keep that vision front and center in your mind.
How do you do that?
It’s going to depend on your goal and the payoff.
For many people, visualizing that payoff you receive when the goal is achieved is enough. Sit quietly morning and evening, and LIVE the achievement of the goal as though it is happening right before your eyes.
Say affirmations that support the achievement of the goal and receiving the payoff.
Listen to motivational recordings while thinking about your goal and the payoff.
Write down your goals – by hand – at least once per day.
If you’re doing all of these things and you’re still not motivated, then the payoff is not big enough. You need a bigger goal. Make the goal bigger and start the process over.
What about doubts?
If you have an exciting goal with a great payoff, but all these doubts are creeping in, then you’re not on the right track.
If your payoff is large enough to really capture your imagination, so that you can’t keep your mind off of your goal, then doubts won’t matter. They won’t make an impact and they won’t slow you down.
Maybe I better say that again: When your goal is BIG enough and the PAYOUT is EXCITING enough, the doubts won’t matter. You’ll push right through them like a bulldozer through cotton candy.