Setting and achieving goals is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued practices in the world. Most people confuse goals with wishes. Goals have passion and motivation as their impetus and force you to develop a strategy to achieve them. A wish is simply a desire to have or do something, but you put no real skin in the game.
Anyone can say “I want to lose 10 pounds” or “I want that promotion” or “I want to retire early” or “I want to get out of debt” or…But how many people actually develop a plan of attainment and put actions behind their words? The answer, sadly, is very few; and thus what most people claim as their goals remain indefinitely on their wish list.
Here’s how to tell the difference: If you sit down to review your “goals” and don’t have the realization that you have a hell of a lot of work to do, then either:
1) These aren’t goals. They’re wishes and you’ll never achieve them until you actually develop your plan too.
2) You’ve set the bar too low. Anyone can go without eating McDonalds for a day, but can you sustainably change your eating habits for the rest of your life?
3) You’re in delusion about what it will truly take to achieve them and thus, most likely never will.(see bullet #1)
Here’s an exercise that drove this point home to me. Every year on your birthday sit down and look back at what you’ve accomplished the previous year. Then compare it to what you wanted to accomplish and where you thought you would be at this time. What’s that picture look like? If you’ve achieved or moved yourself toward your goals then celebrate and replicate. If not, then you’re another year behind… Have the tough conversation with yourself and make sure next year the situation is different.
Lastly, sometimes you sit down to develop your plan and realize you have no idea what you need to do or even where to start. Well, that means you’re at the beginning of something truly amazing. Stick with it and enjoy the ride…