What became of these goals? Did you truly pursue them, or did your pursuit stop once your mind left imagination and faced reality?
If you’re like most people, you probably stopped — faced the facts — and let go of your dreams. If you’re like most people, you probably believe that your choice to give up your dreams is necessary, and that being realistic is more practical than chasing dreams.
The truth is, if you have dreams to chase but no courage to chase them, you probably never learned how to break your dreams down into realistic goals. In this article, I’ll be discussing how to shape your dreams into goals so that you can actually reach them.
Step 1 – Have Goals
It feels foolish to have to mention it, but it’s true: In order for you to reach goals, you must first have goals. What I find fascinating is that people often have goals for the day — “things to do and people to see” — but when it comes to life goals, some people have only the most basic idea what they want to do.
What’s your situation? How many times have you created elaborate plans for the short term — when you’re hosting a party, going on a day trip, or preparing an upcoming vacation? What about long term? Have you ever created a plan for your life, or have you been coasting along with the belief that everything you want will eventually fall into place on its own?
When you fail to have goals, you’re sleepwalking through life by simply going through the motions. You have little to no motivation because you haven’t done the fundamental task of choosing your direction in life.
Furthermore, you need goals that are clearly defined. “I want to make millions” is not a descriptive goal. You want to make millions…by doing what? If you were making millions, what would you do then?
In other words, having goals that aren’t specific enough to determine what your next step is will do more harm than good. They cause you to believe you’re on the right track, when you aren’t on any track at all.
Step 2 – Start Where You Are
Once your goals are clearly defined, you can begin to work towards them. The thing is, you’re often so anxious to reach your goals that you want to start at the finish line.
When you focus on the finish line, it’s hard to imagine anything that comes before it. If you truly intend to reach your goals, you need to shift your focus to where you are.
Don’t think about the distance that remains between you and your goals — you’ll become overwhelmed. You’ll get intimidated by the number of obstacles you must overcome and end up doing nothing.
Instead, think about what the next step is. Focus solely on that single step that is preventing you from moving forward. Do what can be done to accomplish that step today, so that tomorrow you’ll be one step closer.
Remember, you can’t expect to achieve your goals overnight. What you can expect, though, is to move closer to your goals with every step you take. Start by taking steps from where you are, and you’re certain to advance.
Step 3 – Be Consistent
It’s easy to get discouraged when you pour your heart into something for hours and hours, but at the end of the day there’s little indication that you’re any closer to your goal. Remember that reaching your goals takes time — months or even years.
There will undoubtedly be times where it will seem easier to simply give up — so if you’re serious about reaching your goals, you need find a strategy to stay motivated. Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret is one such method, and I believe it’s the simplest, most effective way to stay true to your goals.
His suggestion is to hang a large yearly calendar in a place where you’ll see it every day. Then, for every day you do something that narrows the gap between you and your goals, mark a big red “X” on that day. Doing this for several days in a row creates a visual “chain.”
The objective is to keep yourself from breaking this chain by striving towards your goals every day. Take a look at the following two calendars:
Which calendar makes you feel more motivated?
Think about it. If you were to consistently work towards your goals every day for an entire month, wouldn’t you feel disappointed to break that chain?
That’s the objective. The chain acts as a visual reminder of your dedication, thus giving you more incentive not to skip any days. Skipping just one day makes it easier to skip another — so as Jerry suggests: Don’t break the chain!
In this article, I’ve described the process of reaching your goals as one that requires three steps. Though I believe these steps have worked well for me, they’re really just “tips.” The only “step” required to reach your goals involves choice: You either reach for your goals every day, or you don’t.
So if you truly want to reach your goals, then make the right choice.
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