I have several friends who all have goals that they've shared with me. I know these goals really well, and it's because they've had them for a while. A long while. Unfortunately, the years have gone by and no progress has been made on them. I can be the exact same way, and honestly I think it's perfectly normal to have goals that just sit on a shelf collecting dust. Why is that? Why is it seemingly so important to have these goals, but not important enough to actually make progress on them and achieve them?
I think two things are at play here: The first is that these goals might not be that important at all. They may not matter in the way that we think they do-- they may just be these ideals we think we should have, but they aren't personally meaningful to us. Without having a really strong sense of why we want to achieve those goals, we'll never be willing to put in the work. Who wants to wake up at 5:45am and run for an hour every day if you don't really care about finishing a marathon? After that first day of the alarm going off, you'll never set it again. It's so much more enjoyable to sleep in, especially at first. (Seriously, mornings and sleep for me are sacred.)
The second is that putting in work toward a goal is not easy. It's work. It's often really hard work, especially if it's something you want to get really good at. I've started a new project this year with this blog, which is to write at least once per week-- with the goal of having 52 posts by the end of the year, each one part of a bigger theme of achieving goals and adding a sense of purpose to work. Now that I'm on week 3, I can tell you it's already not easy. Setting aside the time to write is difficult. Knowing what to write is equally not easy. Writing something that I want to publish at all is probably the hardest part. No part of doing this is easy--and I'm only on my third post of the year!
But this goal really matters to me: I've wanted to write a book for ages, and I realized this is one way to get to that goal. It's to write and write and write. Alongside that writing, it's reading other people's writings and practicing the craft. There's no secret to becoming a good writer--there's just practice. Most skills in life are like muscles. The more you use them, the easier it gets, and the better you do it. I've learned that lesson this past year with my spinning/exercise habit I got into, and I'm applying it all over my life with things like my coding, writing, and my startup life in general.
Whatever goals you have, especially the ones you've had for a while, sit down and ask yourself this question first: Does it really matter? Why does it matter, or can you retire this goal? If you just drop it as a goal, how do you feel? OK with that decision, or like you're filled with regret about it?
Next, if you really want to have this goal still, ask yourself the next question: what can you do to make progress on it? Seriously, what's one small thing you can do right now to make progress on it, even if it's as small as opening up a document editor, or moving the guitar out of the closet and into your living room? How much time can you set aside each week? Can you commit to one hour per week to kick things off, and see how that feels?
You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish after just a few weeks of working an hour a week-- and how good you'll feel with that progress. It will snowball and before you know it, you'll have a new habit and a new level of skill and you'll feel your goals are truly achievable. It's an amazing place to be.
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