So now you have the goal, you need the plan. To do this, look at where you are now and then look at all the things you would need to build the life you are picturing. For instance, you might find that you need a certain amount of money to make your dream of travelling happen.
In that case, you need to look at the options available to you to make that money. Or maybe you want to achieve a certain thing in your career and you realize that in order to get there, there is a certain amount of experience you need to acquire first. How can you acquire said experience?
There are many similar examples of how you might go after a particular goal but the thing to remember in every case is that you need to focus on small steps that are just ahead of you. That might mean the next small promotion. It might mean a small upgrade to your home. It might mean developing any form of small income.
With that in mind, you’re then going to break these smaller goals down even further. Now the objective is to look at the smallest possible steps that you need to take on a daily or weekly basis to get there. So if your goal is to have a body like Brad Pitt, then that smallest daily step is simple: diet and exercise.
Look around, find a training plan and a diet that works for you, and then commit to sticking to that every single day without one flaw. Likewise, if your goal is to be a top novelist, then your daily goal is going to be to write X number of words per day. Make the goals easy to accomplish but ensure that they take positive – if small – steps in the right direction.
This is the key target. This is the primary directive. You’re going to imagine that vision and let it motivate you when the times get rough. But you are going to forget anything other than the daily target. Right now, that is all that matters.
To help you visualize this, here is what it basically boils down to:
Dream/Vision (Overarching Goal) > Plan (Stepping Stone Goals) > Daily Target (Daily/Weekly Goal)
Changing Your Thinking
So why is this change in thinking so important? The answer is that focusing too much on a distant goal will make you too detached from what it is you’re trying to accomplish. For instance, if your only ‘goal’ is to become a novelist, then you lack any real structure or any plan.
This is going to make it very hard for you to stick too. It’s all too easy for you to get lazy, to take shortcuts or even forget all about it. Even if your goal is more specific and time-sensitive – such as losing 15kg in 6 months – you are still too detached from it. Why? Because a) you might still think it’s okay to skip a workout or to cheat on your diet one day and then ‘put off’ the goal.
By the time you have 1 month left and you’re still no lighter, you might give up. Or what if you stick to the plan as much as possible but you still don’t see the results you want? How disheartening is that? So instead, the goal is the target. You focus just on the one day.
You either succeed or fail. It is entirely down to you. It’s entirely your responsibility and no excuses cut it. But if you keep focusing on the daily targets, you will find that the overarching vision takes care of itself. It’s like building a house brick by brick, or taking a journey step-by-step.
Some Final Tips
Just to help you stick to your path, consider a few pointers.
One: keep your daily targets easy to accomplish. Introduce them slowly. Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere. It is better that you just start to enjoy exercise than letting yourself get burned out or put off.
Two: keep track of the days you succeed and lose. Jerry Seinfeld uses this technique and calls it ‘the chain’.
Every day he does what he sets out to do, he puts a big cross on his calendar. This is rewarding and addictive in and of itself and his desire to ‘not break the chain’ is reportedly enough to keep him from giving up.
Three: use the most practical and proven methods to get where you want to be. You must believe in your plan.
Why are we willing to go into work every day but not work on a plan we enjoy and that could make us richer? Simple: because when we go to work we definitely get paid. You need a similar plan. Something that will help you to definitely get where you need to be at least in your mind.
And finally: don’t get disheartened if you miss one day. The aim is not to of course. But if you slip up, go easy on yourself and just jump straight back on that horse!