Aim high, but be accurate. If your goals don’t make you want to work hard every day to achieve them, then you’re not taking aim in the right direction.
Goal-setting is not all about the larger-than-life six figure salaries, million dollar mansions and an industry breaking business you built up from the ground. What we often confuse goals, and goal-setting with, is the end-goal. The end-goal is what we hope to achieve at the end of our journeys, the clichéd analogy of the destination that we all strive to arrive at with trophies and a grin full of glory.
Goal-setting can be daunting and extremely off-putting, because who we are now and what we have now is nowhere close to the destination we want to arrive at. Those who are full of ambition, driven with their high achieving nature naturally set goals that are vastly different to where they are now. The bigger the gap and the bigger the change or transformation required is usually dictated by how far-reaching your goal is. Think of an amputee who has dreams of placing first in the world Olympics for marathon running, compared to a league NBA player who wants to take the record in shooting the highest number of three-pointers in one game. It would require a lot less effort for the NBA player to conquer his goal, because the person he is already versus the person he needs to become is a relatively small transformation as he already has the skill and technique required to shoot a high number of three-pointers, given his NBA status. This is a perfect comparison of how end goals can send you in a frenzy of absolute paralysis because most of us don’t focus on the person they want to become, but instead become transfixed on the large gap in transformation between who they are today and who they dream of one day becoming.
Take the amputee as a perfect example. It’s definitely possible and can be made into a reality – undeniable proof that many people have risen above these challenges and conquered their physical obstacles as seen in the Paralympics. The average person will be overwhelmed by all the little steps needed to achieve that – first with rehab, then gaining strength, stability and balance. Next will see him overcome correct form and posture, then practicing speed and confidence. Rinse and repeat. Then they will need to perform and impress, connect and network with the world’s best coaches, get recognised and be at the top 5%, and up until now he would still only be preparing himself to conquer his goal.
When you break it down like that, it turns an extremely far-reaching end goal into one that is seemingly achievable for those who have enough mental willpower, grit, determination and hunger to succeed. The end goal is something that we should be aware of but it shouldn’t be the main focus of our actions, because the transformation needed in today’s journey to what we want to achieve is far too big of a change in order for us to be able to see ourselves succeeding in realistically. We need to break down all our end goals by setting smaller goals that enables us to see a path or a direction with little checkpoints along the way that eventually lead us to our dream destination. When you break down the majority of our end-goals, we begin to realise that these checkpoints are very achievable, thus the likelihood of success is much more realistic to obtain.
We are born to be inclined to disfavour change, which is why the smaller the checkpoint, the easier it is for our bodies and minds to conquer, adapt and overcome these small steps towards success. Take any goal you have at the moment, completely shred it apart by picking out small checkpoints that ultimately lead you on the path to its success, and follow that towards your end vision. You will soon realise that once you break down these goals, most of what is needed to overcome the smaller checkpoints are all to do with the mental determination and willpower inside your head.
If you are trying to save for a house deposit, set checkpoints of saving a certain amount a week by reducing several meals bought at the stores. If you are trying to lose weight, set checkpoints of choosing water over soft drinks to accompany your meals. If you are trying to improve a certain skill, make sure you practice for a certain amount of time every day or every week. If you are trying for a promotion or recognition at work, start by perfectly executing the daily BAU tasks before going above and beyond in the more complex tasks. Having a vision of the end goal is not enough to get you there – setting small and realistic checkpoints that align with that destination will.