I’m about to share with you a tip I recently learned which has the potential to change how you approach goals from now on. If you’ve struggled with reaching your goals in the past, you’ll want to read this because it’s very likely that you’ve been going about it wrong. What I’m about to share with you will not only explain why you’ve had difficulty in reaching your goals, it will also tell you what you can do about it.
Let’s start with this: Why do we set goals in the first place? Generally, people set goals because they see their current situation as bad or wrong or as something that needs to be fixed. They label their starting point, whatever it is, as bad, and they set goals so that they can turn their bad situation into a good situation.
But if we really think about it from an objective point of view, we’ll realize that our situation, whatever it is, is already good. The only way a situation can be labeled as bad is if there is nothing good about it. Imagine that you place your situation on a scale. A bad situation would register anything below zero. So take any situation, no matter how bad you think it is, and place it on this imaginary scale. Would it ever register below zero? I doubt it. If we’ve accomplished something, anything, whatever it is and no matter how small we think it is, it is already above zero and by definition, it is already good.
Now consider the emotional effect of saying “My situation is bad and I want to make it good,” versus saying “My situation is already good, and I just want to make it better.” Which one has a better emotional effect? Which one feels worse when you say it? Which one has a more optimistic feel? Which one produces better energy? So let us begin here and agree that whatever our starting point, whatever our situation, it is already a good one, and we just want to move towards making it even better. This shift in attitude towards viewing our situation as already good can make us feel more motivated and make us want to be more proactive in achieving our goals whereas before we might have felt ashamed, guilty, frustrated, angry, etc. and therefore unmotivated and inactive because we saw our situation as bad.
Now that that’s settled let us discuss what may prevent us from reaching our goals. Let us say that I have a goal and set an actionable plan to double my income this year, and I make this a SMART goal, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. It meets all the qualifications of a SMART goal, right? But let’s think about this for a moment. Doubling my income in and of itself is just that, an increased income, but in the grand scheme of things, it means absolutely nothing. If I just imagine twice the amount of cash available to me sitting right there on my table, it has no effect on me. The thought of more money alone does not even excite me. More income in and of itself means nothing to most people.
Now if I imagine what I can do with that income, that would be a different story, wouldn’t it? Now I can begin to feel a little more excited about the increased income because I now envision being able to afford better things, helping others in need, going on vacations, taking better care of my family, etc. This excites me. There is a strong emotional connection to the goal, and so it seems more attractive to me and I feel more motivated to achieve it.
And herein lies the reason we may not have been achieving our goals in the past. If our goals are not creating a strong emotional response in us, it is very possible, in fact probable, that we will give up on them midway. A goal that does not create a strong emotional response in us when we think about it is not even worth starting. Our efforts will be half-efforts, and there will be no sense of urgency to complete it. Is it possible to achieve a goal without having a strong emotional attachment to it? Sure it is. But its achievement will probably not bring us much satisfaction, and we may realize that having accomplished that goal did not improve our situation at all, which was the very reason we set that goal to begin with.
Now I’m not saying that a worthy goal should not be pursued simply because it does not produce that strong emotional response in us; what I’m saying is that if we really want to pursue it, we must first ensure that it creates a strong emotional response in us. That means that we may need to dig deeper or reframe our goal in such a way that it produces that response we’re looking for. If we really want to set any goal and see it through to fruition in a way that will feel rewarding to us, we must do whatever it takes to create that strong emotional response when we think about it.
One final thought: we must make sure that we acknowledge any progress made in our working towards the achievement of any goal. This is very important. Sometimes we become disheartened or disappointed in ourselves because we did not reach the results we set off to achieve. For instance, if we set a goal to lose 50 lbs. and we end up losing 20 by our deadline, does that mean it did not work? Does it mean we should give up? Does it mean that we’ve failed? Of course not! We made progress, and any progress towards the achievement of any goal is worth acknowledging and celebrating! As Earl Nightingale states in his book “The Strangest Secret”:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
Therefore let us celebrate our success! Any progress we’ve made towards a goal that we set for ourselves automatically places us in the category of those who are successful. So let us acknowledge our success, rewards ourselves for it, and keep pushing forward!
To your success!