Q. I have always had such trouble with doing this goals thing. I don't know where to start or what to do. I can't seem to get going. I end up floundering, getting discouraged and giving up. Can you help me figure this thing out?
A. There are lots of things wrong with goals. One is growing up believing we set them only once a year - the dreaded New Year's resolutions. Another is believing goals are something you achieve and then walk away.
There are many things that get in the way of achieving our goals.
We have the false notion that goals are to be set only at the beginning of the year. Most New Year's resolutions are broken and forgotten before the end of January, so it's no wonder we get discouraged.
Goals can and should be set any time we choose to do so. Many people look at spring as a time of new beginnings, a time to make a fresh start. We can make a fresh start at any time. For me the fall has always been a time of fresh starts and new goals. It's when a break in the oppressive heat begins, and with it comes more energy for life. I often ask myself, “If I start now, what can be accomplished by the holidays?" This is sort of like giving yourself a special gift for the holidays.
Often, we try to accomplish too many goals at once. It's the old biting off more than we can chew syndrome. We get motivated and excited, set a whole bunch of goals, then get scattered, overwhelmed, distracted and discouraged. When you're just starting out trying to achieve goals, it's best to work on only one at a time. After you get a little experience under you belt, and have strengthened your goal-achieving muscles, you can work on multiple goals at the same time.
Often the most difficult part in achieving goals is simply getting started. The best quick-start advice I can give is once you have set a goal, make sure you do something toward achieving it before your head hits the pillow that night. Never let the day end without taking at least one small step toward your goal. In this way, you break out of the inactive place most people get stuck in, and you begin to build momentum right away. Then the next steps begin to appear more doable.
Once you get started, it's important to have a clear idea of how to get from here to there. Without a clear and specific direction, it's easy to get lost along the way. Most goals require a series of steps, or mini-goals. By writing them down, you are creating a map. It should look like this: I'm here, I want to be there, the steps are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.
If you don't get anything else from these ideas, get this: Goals are not something you work on and accomplish, only to quit doing all the things that got you where you want to be. Goals are what you pass through on your way to making your life better.
Many times we have an idea of what to do, or even know exactly what to do, we just don't do it. Here's a story that illustrates this point.
A wealthy man was nearing his retirement and looking forward to traveling, playing golf and spending time with his grandchildren. His only problem was that he did not have any grandchildren. He invited his four grown and married children to dinner and announced before eating, “As you know, I'll be retiring very soon. I've set some goals for myself: traveling, playing golf and spending lots of time with my grandchildren. The only problem, as you know, is that I have no grandchildren. So, I have established a $1million trust fund that I will give to the couple who gives me my first grandchild. Now, let's bow our heads and bless our food. "
When the man looked up from the blessing, the room was empty.
The point is, there is the gathering of information, and then there is using the information.
Go use this stuff.
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