How to Actually Achieve Your Goals

Goals are a funny thing. We start with the best of intentions when setting a goal. We create a future we want for ourselves, and we can so strongly imagine that we're already there. We think about how good we're going to feel waking up on that day in exactly the spot we want to be-- whether it's a fitness related goal of running a marathon, or a business one of being able to pay yourself a decent salary off your own work, or something personal like finding a relationship that fulfills you. 

The goal setting is the easiest part of the whole process. It's everything that comes after that separates those that stay at the starting line forever versus those that finish the race. I say that as someone who does this with so. many. things. I set goals for myself and get all excited about the possibilities and all the wonderfulness that's going to come my way. Then I wake up the next day and I look at the giant list of things I need to do to get started, and it's like...maybe I'll start tomorrow!

The next day rolls around and guess what-- more reasons why I need to wait just one more day. But it's fine though, right? What's one more day? I still have plenty of time to make this happen, so it's no rush.

You can imagine where this is going-- day after day goes by and nothing changes. Everything stays the same. I'm still exactly where I was when I started, and the only thing I've collected is a bunch of excuses on why I'm not further along.

It's shockingly easy to do this. It's kind of our natural state as human beings. We enjoy comfort. Comfort is good. Our brains don't really like change because change means something new to learn, and learning new things is hard work. (Seriously, your brain burns a lot of calories when it's learning new things and building neurons).

The problem with comfort is that it's a really good place to in stay forever...but it's where goals go to die. Goals don't get accomplished by staying in your comfort zone. If they did, they wouldn't really be goals would they? They'd just be something you do every day. It's not like I would set a goal of eating pizza take-out every day. That's a relatively easy thing for me to accomplish, minus all the health (and money) issues I'd quickly develop if I did it. The point is that our goals are often things that are hard to go for, but it's that journey and that work that makes them so rewarding.

What is there to do about this problem? I think the answer is actually pretty simple-- you start small. When I first started running, I kid you not, I could not complete a quarter mile without my lungs catching fire and me almost dying. It was like you were asking me to run fifteen marathons back to back. My body was like: NOPE NOPE NOPE. THIS IS THE WORST. STOP.

I could have easily walked away (or maybe not so easily walked away... ha ha), and never learned to run. But I had a goal that really mattered: I needed to learn to run because I had to get my gym credit so I could graduate high school... so I picked cross country running. And if you aren't familiar with cross country running, it's what it sounds like: you run long distances.

The trick wasn't in any quick fixes, or "hacks", or spending tons of money, or doing anything that would suddenly make me an expert runner. The 'trick' was waking up every day and trying to run a little bit further than the day before. Or run the same distance and have it hurt less. Or run the same distance but faster. It didn't matter what I was trying to accomplish in that day, but the point was I was showing up every day, and I was always trying to do something better than the day before.

I had no room for excuses-- I had to graduate after all. I had no time to wait or put it off. While that sometimes felt like a curse, it was the magic to getting it DONE. When we give ourselves wiggle room, our brain wiggles its way into that little space and makes a comfy home for itself. It says: this is great! I love this place! This place means I don't have to run 7 miles today!

My advice to you, no matter where you're at with your goals, whether you just set them or you're somewhere in the middle of it, is to keep showing up. Cut out the wiggle room that keeps you comfortable, and just push forward. You'll run into obstacles, you'll hear your brain try to make excuses, but you have to just shut them down and keep on pushing. What little thing can you do today that you gets you even 1 step closer? Is there five minutes you can spend that will help out? Just five minutes! Even one minute! Maybe there's a quick 1 minute task that you can start.

You'll be amazed that once you're done with that one minute, you find that maybe you can do another. And another. And before you know it, you finish a major task instead of a minor one!

In summary, here's what goal setting and goal achieving is all about:

1. Set your goal. Make sure it's meaningful to you and you REALLY want it or need it.
2. Immediately after setting your goal, do ONE thing that kicks it off. If it's running a marathon, walk outside for 5 minutes. If it's increasing your business' revenue, tweet something or write something or buy an ad or do whatever it is you need that might help even 1 person buy your product that day. Just get the thing going right now-- don't wait for tomorrow.
3. Repeat.

Good luck! Seriously. It can be really hard to achieve your goals, but it's so damn rewarding and it's always worth the hard work and the discomfort. Even as I write this, I'm writing it for myself just as much as I'm writing it for you. Goals are scary. That's good-- that means they're important. So go do it.