It can be scary thinking about the future. Sometimes our big future goals can seem a mammoth task in which we don’t even know where to begin. We can’t see how we’re possibly going to achieve them. And so we feel discouraged before we’ve even started.
It’s not that our end goals are unachievable or unrealistic but without the right plan any big goal can prove to be unattainable, even for the most accomplished. Starting off too big can cause us to not achieve our goals and make us disheartened when we fail (depending on how you look at things – nothing is really failure if you learn something from it – even if it’s what not do do). And that’s probably not what we want. We’d rather achieve the goal we set out to achieve.
That is not to say we can’t dream big. We should. But we need to devise a strategy with intention and clarity that will get us from where we currently are to where we want to go, in the quickest and easiest – the most efficient way. So how do we do that exactly?
In order to achieve our big goals we must break them down into smaller, more manageable goals, SMART goals – a term you may be familiar with. The goal needs to be specific, so you know exactly what it is you want to achieve; measurable, so you can assess your progress and see if you’re going in the right direction; achievable, this means the goal is possible with your current skills and abilities (take it one step at a time, young grasshopper); relevant – your individual goals should help contribute to achieving your ultimate goal. And time, there must be a time element for roughly when you want to achieve our goal if you are ever to be able to see it through.
With each success and accomplishment of your smaller goals, you gain more confidence and your skills develop. So you are able to achieve increasingly difficult, loftier goals. As you grow, your goals grow.
If we want to achieve long term goals that stay, we have to make them into habits. And to make something habit we have to turn to our rituals, scheduled activities we do every day (for at least 67 days to establish a habit). Relying on willpower alone without consistency and commitment in a plan is very difficult. You must set aside time for your goals, your rituals each day, ideally at the same time for consistency and ease. And you must follow through if you are serious about achieving your goals. When you follow your daily rituals day in, day out for long enough, you will have formed a new habit and it becomes normal routine for you.
Seeing the big picture of your goals once in a while can be helpful and can motivate you, giving you a reason to carry on when you feel like giving up.
But focusing on the present, the immediate, relevant actions you can take towards your goals now is also important, perhaps more so. It is important to maintain faith and belief in your capability to reach your big goals, and achieving success in small goals will help reinforce that.
Don’t worry about the hows – how you will achieve your future goals, trust that you are up to the job and that you take responsibility to step up when the time comes.
Focus on what is immediately in front of you, what you can do right now within your sphere of control to move you forward. Focus too wide, too far ahead and you will get discouraged and side-tracked. your focus on the task at hand and you will make progress.
So to summarize:
- Set small SMART goals that build up to your ultimate end goal
- Create rituals that you stick to every day so they become habits
- Focus on your sphere of control, on the immediate steps you can take to move you forward towards your goals
- Don’t worry about the how, trust and know that you will have grown by then to know how when the challenge presents itself.
- Don’t focus too much on the big picture. But use it as a motivator when you lose sense of purpose.
So now you have some idea of how to; set achievable goals, have control and take action, turn rituals into habits, what will you do?
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