It’s easy to get overwhelmed in working towards our goals. Your goal may seem too big like losing 100 lbs or may have too many steps like setting up a new business. We want to see immediate results and it can be frustrating when we set unrealistic expectations or try to eat the whole elephant all at once.
Almost all goals or problems can be solved with bite size chunks. You might not be able to picture losing 100 lbs, but can you picture losing one pound? How long might that take? Let’s say you can do it in a week.
You now have a goal that is going to take you 2 years to complete. Maybe that’s too long of a time and it still seems too big. So maybe you are more comfortable with 50 lbs. Now you can do it in a year. It’s more manageable in both size and time, and probably more likely that you can accomplish it.
Starting a business is a different set of problems. There are lots of different things to do and you can get overloaded trying to do everything yourself. Where do you start? As in the Wizard of Oz – it’s usually best to start at the beginning.
The path to follow is rarely as obvious as a yellow brick road, but the principle is the same. Start moving in the direction that you think you are going. There will be obstacles along the way, but there will likely be people to help you as well.
Dorothy didn’t know everything she was going to have to do to get home, and you probably don’t know everything you are going to have to do to reach your goal. The key is to start moving and to pick 3 or 4 things that you are going to do every day and start doing them.
Which things to start with?
Your habits are going to be different depending on your goal. Focusing only on 3 or 4 goals is important because this is about the maximum number of things that the human brain can realistically keep track of at the same time. The following items are my personal list of actions for each day. They are a good foundation regardless of what your goals actually are:
I would love to be able to say I start each morning at the gym with lifting and a 5 mile run. That might have been me a couple decades ago. Walking a mile a day is my baseline, but I’d like to get back up to running.
It’s been about 25 years since I’ve done a 5K. Needless to say, this is probably my weakest link in the daily actions chain. I still make an effort to do some exercise every day. It’s not as much as I would like it to be, but I am working on it. An assortment of injuries and too much time spent behind a desk take a while to work back from.
Just keep working at it and you will eventually get to where you want to be. If you aren’t working on a habit that you want, then you are working on a habit that you don’t want.
Wake up early
This habit is probably the hardest for most people, but it can have the biggest impact in reaching your goals. I used to wake up at 6 but I am now grateful for an old dog who can’t wait that long.
My day now usually starts somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00. It might sound a little painful if you aren’t a morning person but you can get an amazing amount done in the 30-60 minutes before you would normally get up.
Most successful people get up earlier than the general population. It’s the old adage, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. This can be the fuel to move you towards your goals.
Write every day
Writing every day is an important habit even if writing isn’t part of your long term plan. The act of writing down your goals helps align your actions towards making them a reality. My handwriting leaves a lot to be desired so I tend to do most of my “writing” with a computer.
Unfortunately this will only get you part way to your goal. You actually need to hand write things every day. Write what you have accomplished, what you are grateful for, and what you plan to accomplish. It does make a difference. There are a variety of studies done on the subject so it is real.
I was more than content with my typing for years but really noticed a difference when I started writing things down by hand. There are a variety of success journals out there. Zig Ziglar has a popular one. I use the Freedom Journal by John Lee Dumas. Both follow a formatted approach so you don’t have a blank page staring back at you.
If writing a blog or book is one of your goals as well, then you are killing two birds with one stone. Writing every day will also help you get better at writing. If you write 500 words a day, you will have a book length document within less than a year.
Don’t worry if it is perfect. It won’t be great when you start but it will get better over time. Eventually it will become habit and you will find that it is much easier to crank out 500 words a day or more. If you blog you can share as you go to get validation. Or if you are just writing a book directly, there’s always time to edit later. Don’t look back. Just keep looking forward.
Create space in your life
Goals are as much about creating something as making room for that something to exist. Many people ignore this last part. Waking up early is partially about creating space. It will probably be your first glimpse into seeing results from your actions.
You need to look at what things are taking up time in your life. Are you watching a lot of TV? Are you commuting 3 hours a day? Do you have a million projects? Activities expand to fill time.
Eventually most people find they aren’t making progress because they have too many other things going on. Get rid of some of them. Turning off the TV is usually one of the easier ways to create space in your life. Successful people generally watch less than 1 hour of TV per day. Unsuccessful people tend to watch several hours of TV per day.
Look at all your projects and see which ones aren’t working for you and eliminate them. If you can’t get rid of some things, maybe someone else can do it for you. There are lots of outsourcing options to do tasks that would otherwise take up your time.
I regularly outsource a few hours of tasks a week. You don’t have to hire a full time worker to outsource to. You can start outsourcing with a batch of tasks often for $50 or less.
Eliminating activities or physically cleaning up your work space actually creates opportunities for new experiences, relationships, and even ideas. Activities will expand to fill time. Eliminating them makes room for new opportunities.
For most of us, perfection is the enemy of good enough. We often don’t move forward because we think we aren’t good enough or can’t complete a particular task. We need to remember that starting is the important thing.
Once we get started we need to keep moving forward. Having regular daily actions will keep us moving in the right direction. Taking small consistent steps will ultimately move us towards the goals we want.
If you haven’t started yet, set your alarm 30 minutes early for tomorrow morning. It will take a little getting used to, but if you start incorporating these items into your daily activities, you will start to see your goals coming closer to reality.