If you are a living breathing human you have dreams or goals. Maybe you announce them to the world, put in the work, get things done. Maybe you’re the quiet type who keeps them to yourself and crushes them. Maybe you talk about them but never take action on them. Maybe you just keep them tucked so far inside you that you feel you don’t have them anymore. Regardless of where you fall in or around these descriptions, you can picture yourself in a year, in five years, in ten years… a mental image forms – and you either like it or you don’t.
It is in our humanity to try to predict our future, to imagine what things will be like “later on”, and we all fall somewhere in the spectrum from dreaming without action and dreaming with action. And while uncertainty is the reality of life, and we can’t actually predict our future, we can take steps to create it, to do today what can lead us to reach our goals, even though we don’t control the outcome. Today I will give you 3 tips on how to make your dreams and goals come true, and we’ll get to that, but first I want to give you the overarching thought:
Seems obvious, right? You read that and you think: well, of course!
If you want to get to Chicago don’t take a plane that’s going to London. Obvious, right? While that’s completely obvious for our literal directions, we somehow get lost in the minutia of the day to day. Have you ever taken the time to think about what directions your seemingly small actions are taking you towards?
We are all going somewhere, the next few years will go by whether you plan for them or not… so isn’t it the smart thing to do to go in a direction that will lead you somewhere you can be happy about?
If you want to be healthy, you probably shouldn’t eat highly processed foods every day of the week. If you want to have more focus you might want to avoid the 5h of sleep a night street. If you want to have more money the spending without a plan highway might need some road blocks. If you want to have more time, the path of yes to every invitation might not be your best option. If you want to increase your brain power, the avenue of screens might be better avoided.
Your intention alone does not get you anywhere, your intention should serve to inform which road you should take to reach the destination you want, but intention is not the actual road.
So with that in mind, let’s get to 3 things you can do to get what you want, in other words, to arrive where you want to be. As the title suggests, these are essentials, this is not a comprehensive guide of step by step to reach your goals – the steps and time it will take are as different as we all are as people. But these 3 things… well, you can’t reach goals without them.
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT
Again, this may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t really know what they want. And saying things like “I just want to be happy”, “I just want financial freedom”, “I just want more time”, “I want to retire comfortably”, “I want a job I love”, etc etc etc. These may seem like goals, but they really aren’t.
To figure out the actual goal for the examples above, questions would need to be asked, and questions need to be asked of your general wants in order to determine your goals.
What does happy mean to you – is in internal to you, does it relate to people or places, does it include a specific job?
What does financial freedom mean to you – single income, double income, mortgage free, a certain amount a year?
What do you want time for? What do you wish you could do that you feel you can’t?
What is comfortable to you? Specifically in terms of home, finances, activities…
What do you like to do? What is important to you in a job?
These are some examples of questions that will hone in on what you want.
What to do
To figure out what you want
1. Take a moment to think about what you would like said at your funeral. I know, it may be weird, but I’m not making this up, this is a practice I first heard of from Stephen Covey and it is practiced by scores of people to discover what is behind what you really want. Because here’s the thing, while you may say you want a car, or money, or to lose x pounds… I highly doubt those are the things you want to be remembered by. So write down what you would like to have people say about you, and that will point you in to the direction of what you really crave.
2. Based on the exercise above and answering questions about your overarching goals, write down your goals. You can make this list as long or as short as you want. Write it down. Now this is important: pick one. Don’t go trying to work on all your goals at once. Pick one.
2. MOVE THE NEEDLE EVERY DAY
Ok, so now you have a list of goals and you’ve chosen one you want to work on. I’ll give you the punchline right off the gate: you’ll get through your list, one goal at a time. When you get into consistency with your direction towards one goal, you will start working on the next one, and keep doing that pattern until you are working on several goals. Eventually you reach some goals and they may either be left behind or maintained.
For example, if you have a goal of buying a house, once you reach that goal it is “dropped”, you don’t need to work to buy that house anymore – you got there. If you have a health goal, once you reach it, you go into maintenance mode, because that is a kind of goal that is never completely reached, because if you drop the habits, you lose what you worked for.
What to do
Every day – and I mean every day, figure out the small steps that will keep you on the path to reaching your goals. We tend to think that it’s the big things that will get us to our goals, but it’s really not. It’s the daily practices that will determine where we go.
If you find yourself going in a direction that you know is not leading you to your goals, change direction. A change in direction will eventually change things. It might not be as instant as you would prefer, but it will happen, just keep moving the needle every day, make a good choice every day. It may be excruciatingly difficult in the beginning, but it will become easier and easier as you keep doing it over and over again.
The question to always ask yourself is this: does this lead me in the direction of my goal? If yes, go for it. If not – you’re faced with a choice, you can either say no and stay the course, or you can say yes and deviate from the goal. It’s your routines, your habits, your consistency that will lead to your goals, not a one time big investment.
even when it’s hard. I left this one for last because this is where so many people balk. Stay with me… if YOU don’t believe in yourself… will it matter if anyone else does? At the end of the day you’re the one who has to roll up your sleeves and get it done. Conversely, if you DO believe in yourself, does it matter that there are people who don’t. You’re the one putting in the work and you are the one who will harvest the results.
The point is that if you don’t believe in your dreams, your goals, in yourself… you will never get there. If you don’t believe you can finish a workout… you won’t finish. If you don’t believe you can eat better… you’ll always reach for the junk. If you don’t believe you can increase your wealth… you will always spend what you don’t need to spend. If you don’t believe your time is valuable… you will always give it away to whoever and whatever asks for it. The list goes on…
What to do
Look at your goals. Have a vision board, make a list and tape it somewhere, journal it every day… here the how is much less important than the what. Have the goals you are working towards accessible to you, look at them, say them out loud, talk about them, and for Pete’s sake WORK for them. Move that needle every day, but always back it up with belief. Motivation will fail you, inspiration might not always strike, detours and failures and mistakes are just a part of life. So believe… have an unsinkable mindset of belief in what you can achieve, and take one step every single day.
Oprah said: “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”
You may have read all this and you’re thinking… but you don’t know my story! You don’t understand where I come from. You have it easy, you don’t know what my life is like.
True, I don’t. I can tell you what I do know. I know that present and past circumstances are not predictions of the future. I know that there are scores of stories of people who have overcome impossible odds, much greater than those I have faced and probably greater than any I will face. I know that in the end… it comes down to choice.
Let me know how you’re crushing your goals!
Keeping it simple,