Whether you want more emotional intelligence, a job you actually love, or defined abs, there’s a process to getting what you want in life. All goals require action. Here are 7 steps to accomplishing any goal.
1. Be clear and specific on what the goal is.
"I want to be happy" is not a goal. What will make you happy? Be specific. Then break it down even further. Say you want to get into shape. OK. Describe what "in shape" looks like to you. I want to lose ten pounds. I want to increase my strength. I want to be faster at body weight movements. I want to look good in this dress. I want to run a marathon. You get my point.
Hopefully, you have more goals than you have time to accomplish. So you have to stay focused or you'll get nothing done. Start off with one goal at a time and be as specific as you can. I want a stronger connection with my wife. I want to write a children’s book. I want to learn how to communicate better. I want to be a better lover. I want to learn how to cook. I want more followers. I want to build a practice online.
2. Break down the steps to get there.
We’re lucky. The internet allows us to learn how to do anything without leaving our house. Research people who've accomplished what you want to accomplish and study them. Look for common patterns. Then put it through your own filter and make a list of small, manageable steps that work for you. Write them down on a giant piece of butcher paper. It’s always more effective when you can actually see the steps. If the goals are just floating in your head, they may feel unobtainable and you might feel overwhelmed. Put the ideas down on paper. See the path.
3. Get obsessed.
This is key, but most of us drop the ball. We lack motivation. We doubt ourselves. We fear failure, rejection, or not finishing. The shortcut to getting past your doubts and distorted thinking is to immerse yourself. Force yourself to dive in. Get obsessed.
Using my story as an example, I started with one blog and one post that was just four sentences long. I never set off to build an online therapeutic community or an online practice. My goal was simply to create a dialogue and hopefully help some people along the way. But I got obsessive about it. I wrote and answered questions for hours on end. I sat in coffee shops and blogged until the sun went down. I documented my life and shared my story, showing people that therapists are, in fact, flawed and have their own struggles. I did this for nearly four years. Every. Single. Day.
Today my blog today has over 6,000 posts. But I don’t really remember writing any of them. It feels like I started it last week. That’s because I immersed myself. I lost track of time. I got obsessed. Sometimes taking the plunge is the only way you’ll learn to swim.
4. Use your story as leverage.
Ask yourself what’s at stake if you don’t accomplish this goal. For me, it wasn’t about accumulating a following. It was about building something of value to me, something that I did all by myself with no one’s help and was proud of. It was about expressing myself in a truthful way. No longer hiding.
Accomplishing this goal would mean that I had grown. What kept me going was the idea of a new me. There was nothing else I wanted more, which meant it was extremely valuable. This fueled me—writing my ass off, expressing my truth, and not caring what others thought.
What’s at stake for you if you don’t accomplish your goal? Make sure what’s at stake has internal meaning and it’s tied to your story. If there’s nothing at stake, you’ll just spin your wheels. Using your story as leverage will give you traction.
5. Notice your gains.
There’s nothing more powerful than results. Period. You need to see that there’s progress. Building on that will create momentum, which is the sweet spot. It’s when stars align.
For many, results won’t expectations. That's because we all have a vision of how things are "supposed" to turn out. We use these expectations as a measuring stick for what's happening in real life. This is like throwing tire spikes in your path.
Instead, focus only on your gains and lean into them. Let go of everything else. You never know how things will pan out. All you can do is what you have control over. If you are seeing results, you have control over that because whatever you’re doing, you’re doing something right.
6. Be tenacious.
Grip what you want as if someone’s trying to take what’s yours. Because it is yours. You own your goals. All you have to do is go get them. It may not be easy. But what of value in this world comes easy? Being tenacious may mean getting support. For example, if your goal is to get sober, chances are you will not be able to do it alone. Tenacious may mean budgeting, getting less sleep, swallowing pride, practicing forgiveness, making some phone calls, taking cold showers, and fighting self.
7. Take complete responsibility for the learning.
This is the nectar. Know that what you learn is the gold. Not the goal. There will always be more goals. But your new understanding of yourself will give you tools and new lenses to accomplish more. It’s also what will give you a sense of worth.
Accomplishing goals is really about rebuilding yourself. A new you, better you. This means no blaming. No complaining. No pouting. No excuses. Growth is a gift and the gift is always in the process.
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