When it comes to setting goals and trying to figure out how to reach them, I’ve done my fair share of experimenting (you can see some of the strategies here: The ‘I HAVE To’ List).
But of all of the methods I’ve tried, and all of the ones I’ve failed at, there are a couple of things that have stood out as being helpful, across the board.
Dream Big Long-Term
In “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr (which I recommend buying and reading, it’s like a $10 book with about 20 pages in it), he discusses setting objectives, or goals, at a level that requires more than the average amount of effort to achieve. He follows this up by stating that even if a person, or team, only achieves a percentage of their goal, say 85%, that this is still a success.
The thought process behind this is that we too often limit our potential by trying to set reasonable goals… yet it is the unreasonable goals that actually drive innovation and progress. If you’ve ever heard anyone say, “shoot for the moon and you might land on a star”, this is what they are referring to, and it’s more than just a simple saying.
Setting big goals with an aggressive deadline will quickly put you into a different level of drive and this is exactly where you want to be, to achieve your goals.
The thing that trips most people up though, is that they become very impatient to reach their bigger goals. Many people expect to hit the gym for a week or a month and then decide to give up, because they aren’t where they thought they should be. Peoples expectations on how quickly they should find success is terribly misguided and is often the cause of people who give up too soon.
This is what makes Dream Big Long-Term valuable. It tells us to continue to aim extremely high, so that we can continue to innovate and grow, but it also reminds us that we need to be running the race with the tortoise mindset and not expect to reach the finish line so quickly.
You can’t fast-forward to an achievement you haven’t earned.
Work Small Short-Term
While we need Big Dreams to set us on the right path, being a dreamer alone won’t get you where you want to go. And while our expectations should concern the Long-Term, if we’re not making enough happen consistently in the Short-Term, we’ll never get there.
That’s why Working Small Short-Term matters and it’s all about staying consistent, quickly. We can have a goal to win a race, but the only way to reach the finish line is to start taking steps. And the person or team that can show up every day, no matter the obstacles, and take another step, is the one who is going to reach the finish line.
Working Small Short-Term means looking for the Little Victories and trying to obtain as many of them as possible, as quickly as possible. The thing that tends to slow down a lot of people, when trying to reach their goal, is getting too caught up in trying to make the right decision.
Maybe they over think what their workout routine should be, or they spend too much time trying to consider every option out there, and so they burn a bunch of time and energy on just thinking… but the thing is, no one can make the right decision always (unless of course you can predict the future).
Something that might look like a sure-fire, right decision now, might turn out to be a terrible choice 6 months later. You might think it’s a good idea to go to the grocery store, and then get hit by a car on the way. Suddenly that sure-fire choice just took a wrong turn. Life has a funny way of working like this, isn’t it ironic?
The point is, don’t get too caught up in trying to make the right, or even the best decision. Start taking actions and steps that you think might move you forward toward your goals ,and along the way you’ll figure out which choices work most of the time.