Setting goals is overrated and most of the time we fail to keep them.
I have a different approach to this.
Since childhood, we are taught that if we want something we can achieve it.
Is it really that simple?
Most likely not. But why you ask?
Because it’s vague. Because the middle part of the story is missing. Because we are raised with lies. Our dear ones just wanted the best for us but didn’t necessarily know how to guide us there, they just hoped for the best, that we will figure it out on the way.
And most of us then struggle.
- Why haven’t I achieved anything substantial yet?
- Why can’t I accomplish my goals?
- Why am I not there yet?
- Why haven’t I found a mentor yet?
Say hi to Anxiety! That one dude that always crashes on your couch uninvited and you honestly don’t know how to kick him out so you just cope with him hoping he will eventually leave. Anxiety is theaffecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. Most of us are ashamed to do anything about it. So we wait, hoping eventually it will become better.
Once in a while by some Herculean superpower we gather the will and force to set up some goals (usually around New Years, birthdays, our best friend’s wedding) where we promise that everything will be different this time.
It’s time to DO or DIE.
What happens one month later? We die.
Well… at least a part of us does inside.
Let’s take a look at why goals don’t work.
Deadlines don’t help us structure our time.
When the deadline creeps in some think that rushing in to finish everything is the key. We procrastinate until it’s too late and we loose the bet. We hope our superpower will save us again. But that superpower is long gone. Planning is easy. Implementation is what makes the difference. We suck at predicting how long it will take us to achieve something. We sabotage our future self with more pressure and more work to do later. How many times haven’t you wished you could go back in time and uppercut your past-self in the face for the mess he laid out on you.
I know I had. Many times.
Goals always make you feel less than you are.
They are a binary way of looking at things. We are either a 1 or a 0. What if my goal is to run 10K next month? Should I feel incomplete and less than I am until then? New theories ondictate that time doesn’t actually exist. At least not as we know it. There is no past or future. So what matters the most is how you take advantage of the present moment.
Human beings for the last 200.000 years have been “NOW” creatures.
I want food now. I hunt and eat now.
I sense danger now. I run away and move to a safer place. Now I’m OK again.
I need a shelter now. I go out. Gather materials. Build. I have shelter now.
Anxiety is caused because most of us today live in a “FUTURE” condition.
Stay late at work now. Get a paycheck in a couple of weeks. Maybe a raise one day
Don’t go on that trip you always wanted. Save some more and go another time.
Don’t apply for that job you really like now. You are not good enough yet.
Don’t talk to that guy/girl in the bus station now. They are talking on the phone. Next thing you know, they took a different bus than yours and they are gone.
Goals cripple us.
We go in this crippling self-analysis where we find everything that is wrong with us and what we are missing in order to succeed. We start inventing excuses that didn’t even exist in the first place.
Goals threaten our ego
Last but not least the main challenger is our self-image. We just want the bling-bling, the fame, the achievement without risking making a fool of ourselves, crawling on our elbows and knees. We give so much importance to what others think about us that we don’t risk in disappointing them and that ultimately leads in disappointing ourselves.
So what is the solution for all of this?
The key to achieving anything is in compounding routines.
For each of the above-mentioned let’s do this.
Bring yourself in the NOW
Set out to do actions that make you present every day. Unshackle yourself from the burden of not seeing the results you want on the horizon. This takes you out of the mindset of whether or not you are achieving your results and just enjoy tackling the task that’s right in front of you.
It’s a liberating feeling that allows you to be focused on the task in front of you
Instead of worrying about running that 10k in the future focus on just making sure you go out for a short run today.
Instead of focusing on losing 20 lbs until summer focus on having a healthy meal today.
Instead of focusing on building the next BIG business one year from now focus on creating value for 5 people today.
All of these perception shifts will add up day by day bringing exponential growth in the future. (see how I didn’t use the word “goal” anywhere?)
Build a system.
There is this myth that says you need to always be excited and jump out of bed to start working on your goals. This is not always the case.
Sometimes you feel tired. Sometimes the weather is bad. Sometimes you didn’t get enough sleep. Sometimes you just want to binge watch all the seasons of House of Cards. Sometimes you are just uninspired and in a rut.
Getting up despite all of these excuses will help you create a system that is independent of external factors. On top of that, it will take the pressure of doing that one thing today just because the stars are in perfect alignment. It becomes a habit. Some days you will create great stuff and some days not.
And that’s OK.
Showing up every day will get you in places you didn’t believe possible.
If you think about it, achieving something in life really implies routine and the uncertainty that it will all pay off. Our ego protects us from these feelings. Doing any of the above actions scares us senseless.We are scared of other people’s judgment. We are scared of delaying a gratification that might never come. We are scared of making fools of ourselves. All great achievers at some moment were called crazy or stupid by the masses. Later the same people wanted to be like them.
The good thing about ego is that it’s elastic. It grows and expands if you let it, but it can also shrink to a smaller size if you jump and stomp on it all the time until it becomes microscopic. Let yourself be judged, rejected and hurt.
A hundred years from now when we will be fertilizer dust, it won’t matter that we were too embarrassed and scared of doing that one thing that one time.
Imagine two mountains
One peak represents your current state. The other one represents your goal. That gap is all the possible excuses you can come up with that stop you from achieving greatness. But there is a twist here. Figuring out what that “X” is by being creative and working your way through is what will actually improve your life. What is on the other side of the gap is not really important anymore.
You know what’s more exciting than getting on top of the other mountain?
It’s the process of getting there. Because once you mastered that you can climb another mountain, and then another…
Wake up every day and find out a new way to tackle that gap.
Until it becomes a routine.
At one moment you will realize you are getting a return on investment not based on the work you put in but on the value you are creating to get there.
That’s what I call exciting.