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Goals are your friend! A friend mentioned in a discussion before a meeting that setting goals at the beginning of the year was like a mental Garmin, or her mental Onstar system. I can see her point. By setting goals you’re setting your guidance system, then snapping the path to adjust for other obligations, just as you would plan a course to drive to say The Grand Canyon. Google maps can create a personal plan in a matter of seconds, and you have the option of adjusting your course, say for that side trip to visit The World’s Best Cone ice creamery outside of Denver.
I’d like to present another way of looking at it – it’s like your own personal treasure map. THAT’S RIGHT! There’s gold at the end of my map! It’s usually not a direct path or even the most efficient path to get from point A to point B. In my world life sometimes takes me on a detour around mountain G, back through D,E,F, then jump over on the back road almost backtracking part of the distance to reach B.
Ever notice those treasure maps in movies or books? I’ve never seen one with a single line from the left top corner to the bottom right hand corner. There you go – hop a plane, fly over all obstacles and sky dive from said plane to land safely ten feet from where a large neon flashing arrow marks where the treasure is buried. Doesn’t happen that way, regardless of how Lara Croft makes it look.
Typically treasure maps follow a sequence of short intervals to each landmark spot that is easily recognizable. Treasure Island, Peter Pan, The Deep, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, National Treasure, Into the Blue, Sahara, Three Kings, Trespass, City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, and Easy Come, Easy Go are all treasure-seeking movies or books. Nancy Drew frequently used a map. The Nancy Drew computer games incorporate mental games and treasure maps into many of her mysteries. Treasure hunting is big business for Hollywood.
Why not apply that principle to your own life and mine your own treasures? You may find rare gems, gold, silver, or platinum even.
But I just can’t stick to my goals.
Twenty jumping jacks while reciting “I will not say I can’t!”. Yes, you can if it’s important to you. Which leads us to the first point:
- Make sure the goal is something you really want, not just something that sounds good. Just becasue Tiffany and Shelby are setting a goal of losing twenty pounds does not mean you need to also. Be realistic, and evaluate your life, and set your goals accordingly.
- Your goals should never contradict another goal. I want a $350K house, with a swimming pool and a gated driveway. I want to earn a promotion at my job to earn $55K this year. Please tell me you see the irony there? If you have this type of non-integrated thinking, please pm me, we’ll talk. There is no way realistically you can afford the payments for a $350K house on an income of $55K unless your spouse or partner is bringing down $200K. Living like you want to be wealthy and being wealthy are often two entirely different things. the same applies to every area – eating anything you want because you don’t thinki t’s fair that your friend, the little skinny minx can semingly eat anything and not gain weight while you can smell food and gain weight does not change the fact that you need to make some changes if you want to reach your goal weight. Maybe your skinny minx friend wants to put on a good 10 pounds of toned firm muscle.
- Write your goals in a positive light – avoid negative.
Human psychology here – if you write down: Your inner child hears:
Don’t eat fried foods. EAT fried foods.
Don’t procrastinate. Procrastinate.
Don’t assume any more debt. Assume more debt.
Don’t spend so much time watching TV. Spend much time watching TV.
We are quirky creatures, subtle nuances are often lost, and our mental games undermine our best efforts. We have to learn to state things in the positive to “trick” our inner child. It’s akin to the reward / punishment theory by B.F. Skinner. If we percieve it as a good thing, we are more likely to do it – hence reward. If we perceive it as a bad – DON’T is setting limits, it immediately prompts us to rebel – hence punishment. If you don’t believe me think about the last diet you went on. Let’s say it was a low carb diet, that restricted your carbs to nothing for the first week. What did you crave? The very thing that was restricted. It’s the same thing with making a resolutions – I am not allowing myself to have soda. Dude – you just sealed your failure, you’re going to crave soda every single day until you can’t stand it. Then you are going to have more of that item than if you’d never restricted it.
But won’t my inner child know I’m tricking it?
Drop and give me twenty pushups counting off while saying “I will not whine!”
You’d think so wouldn’t you? But it’s not the case. Even though we may know in the planning stage – ok, I have to word this in a positive light to appease “the child”, that same child doesn’t want to focus and before you know it – ooh shiny! Our mind is a million miles away on something else. When the child comes back in from playing it’s all new and fresh as long as they don’t feel like we’ve set a bunch of rules: Don’t do this, and don’t do that, and don’t do that other thing eitehr. Instead you say: We are going to eat tasty nutritious foods, We are going to set a budget and allocate some for entertainment – (yeah!), We are going to tackle things right away and get them done so we have time to play. By this time your inner child is jumping up and down wanting to be a good helper. Just remember, children have short attention spans.
- Write your goals down! 3% of the population utilize this little tool. Those 3% succeed while everyone else scratches their head wondering why things went so well for the 3% and not for themselves. Meanwhile they are wandering aimlessly with no map! You can’t find the treasure until you have the map!
Don’t argue with me just do it! You’ll thank me some day.
Now, here’s the tricky part: Keep them private! Do not freely share your goals with others. You do not need an opinion poll as to what others think of your goals. I know, you want to be praised for accomplishing something and want approval from family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. Just don’t. Not everyone is going to agre or understand your goals. In fact their negativity may undermine your efforts. Lemings – the lot of them. they don’twant you to rise above, they will pull you back donw, sometimes pushing you below themselves. Get your own self talk going, and if your goals are valid and something you really want (see first point above) you will be stoked to work towards them.
*shock face* But, but how am I going to achieve my goals without support of others?
That’s it, we’re going on a road run. Get on your running shoes. While we are running you will recite the above points.
Isn’t it better to be praised for accomplishing something than seeking approval of what you plan to accomplish? There comes a time when you have to make your own decisions and go rogue from the lemming crowd.
Review your goals frequently. I review mine daily to keep me on task. Of my goal list for last year, the ones that I had written down and reviewed daily were accomplished. Visualize your goal, visualize the path your treasure map is taking you on and you’ll find these landmark obstacles aren’t really as difficult as you thought. If you follow this process you will be well on your way to achieving success and finding your own buried treasures.
I didn’t come up with this plan. I have used it for so many years that I’ve forgotten where it came from. You can probably find something similar from Zig Ziglar, or Dan Miler, or even Michael Hyatt. It’s an old lesson but sometimes they bear repeating. We learn by repetition, and sometimes it seems some of the things we knew fell off the back of the mental bookshelf.
Write on my friends, and go dig for your treasures!