Is where you are today, stopping you from getting where you want to be?
… it shouldn’t.
We set goals for ourselves because we have that desire to improve our lives in some way. How difficult is it, really, to reach your goals? However big or small they might be? There are so many people in the world, making a living by teaching others how to reach their goals. There are books, workshops, videos. Just google “how to reach your goals” and you’ll get about a million hits. It’s a subject touched on by numerous life coaches, psychologists, business and personal development educators.
So, if this is something that’s been talked about so many times, by so many people, why are we still looking for answers?
Your goal (or goals) can’t be just a vague desire. Think of it as traveling. You don’t get on a plane, without knowing what your destination is. Let’s say you’re flying to NYC. You feel excited, a little anxious, maybe? You can almost see the skyscrapers, you can hear the people walking on the streets, cabs honking, you can smell the air. You can almost feel the atmosphere. That’s because you know where you’re going. How will you feel once you reach your goal?
A clear vision is one of the most important parts of achieving your goals. You need that clarity so that you know where you’re headed and so that your actions are congruent with those goals you set for yourself. That vision is a powerful tool- it’ll keep you going when you lose your motivation or when you experience setbacks. And both will probably happen, at some point. It’s also what gives you purpose and meaning.
“But I do have a very clear vision of what I want to achieve“- okay, but how clear is it, really? You can say “well, one of my goals is to be happy.” Alright, but what does being happy mean to you? Does it mean starting a family? Traveling the world? Getting fit and healthy? Creating your own business? Buying a house, getting a better job? I can go on and on. Being “happy” means a million different things to a million different people. You have to be specific. There’s a major difference between setting a goal and actually achieving it. A lot of us set goals for ourselves, but we don’t always reach them. I’ve been talking about things like picking up my violin again, learning to play guitar or getting a motorcycle license for years. I know people who have been trying to lose weight for ages. People who spend their entire lives being on diets. People who are stuck in dead-end jobs. People who always talk about getting out of toxic relationships, but never actually do it. People who I’ve heard say things like “that’s it, this time I’m done, for good” at least a hundred times.
Your vision for your goals needs to be clear and concrete. Some goals are small, some are big. Some can be achieved in a day, some can take years. Regardless of what your goal is, be specific. Get a piece of paper and write it down. Do it. Now, ask yourself “what can I do today, that will bring me closer to that goal?” Let’s say your goal is to lose 10lbs. Write it down. Think about some of the things you’ll need to do in order to achieve that goal. You’ll probably need to change some of your eating habits and get physically active. Write those things down. Okay, now, how are you planning on changing your eating habits? What’s your plan for getting fit? What workouts would you like to try? Write those down, too. Now, go for a walk. Today. Now. Every day, look at that piece of paper where you wrote everything down, and ask yourself “what can I do today, to bring me closer to my goal?” When you write those things down, your brain registers it in a different way, if you were to just “think” it. Your brain, your emotions, your body chemistry changes. They all get in line with your vision.
STOP WITH THE EXCUSES… SERIOUSLY
The only way your past or present circumstances can equal your future is if you allow them. You may not have “something” (like resources, support, money) but you can’t let that be the defining factor. Let’s go back to our example about losing those 10lbs. You can say that you don’t have money for a gym membership. Healthy food is expensive. You don’t have any workout clothes. You can’t afford a fitness class. You lack motivation. Your entire family struggled with their weight, so it’s just your genetics, you can’t help it. It’s too difficult. “No one supports me“. “I’ll probably gain it all back, so why bother?“
Been there, done that. And you know what I have to say about it? Bullshit.
We love feeling sorry for ourselves, playing the victim.
I had every single reason in the book to use excuses as a way of stopping me from achieving my goals. And, for a very long time, I did. I worked 6 days a week since I was 15 years old. I moved to the States and was forced to go to work after only being here for 5 months. I didn’t know English, I didn’t have any friends. At home, I was being criticized every single day. I was told I was stupid, I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything in life. I was made fun of for having anxiety. I suffered from an eating disorder, I used to cut myself, I was depressed and prayed to God, every single night, asking that he just let me die.
I had no dreams, and even if I did have a few small ones, I never believed I could actually make them come true. I felt small and worthless. I couldn’t stand to look at myself and constantly questioned every single thing I did. For the longest time, I was a walking definition of an “excuse.” I told myself that I can’t do things because of the way I was brought up. That I can’t be happy because I’m too “broken” to be in a loving relationship. I blamed everything and everyone for my failures. Now I’m sitting here, giving out life advice. I mean, WTF, right?
See, our beliefs about ourselves are shaped by the people around us. Everything you believe yourself to be is a combination of what your parents taught you, the way your teachers spoke to you. The way you saw and experienced things around you. The way your partners treated you.
I was counting down the days until I turn 18 so that I can be on my own. At 17, I met my husband, two years later we were living together and I was putting myself through college. I struggled with depression for a couple of years. Then I got into the whole self-help and personal development crap and started reading every single self-improvement book I could get my hands on. I started meditating while still trying to heal my relationship with food. One day, I realized something very important- I have the power to change the way I think about myself. Those false beliefs, that lack of confidence, that thinking that I can’t achieve something or that I don’t deserve good things to happen to me- I have the power to change those. I still can’t believe that I can actually take a compliment. That I feel comfortable in my own skin, that I love myself- this is everything I’ve ever wanted for myself when I was younger. Honestly, I never thought I’d see the day when I can look in the mirror and smile.
It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your current situation is, or where you’re planning on getting. Don’t let where you are today stop you from going where you want to be. We have more free resources available to us than we realize. Put your excuses aside, let go of those limiting thoughts and go after what you want.
“I’m starting tomorrow“, “I’ll start on Monday“, “I don’t feel like doing this right now.” Unless you’re highly motivated and already well disciplined (in which case, why are you even reading this? :) ) you probably said those things at some point in your life. One of my favorite Dalai Lama quotes is: “Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” I didn’t really fully understand it until a few years ago.
Being disciplined means doing things when you don’t feel like doing them. It’s a change in your day-to-day behavior. It means being uncomfortable at times. Sometimes, it means missing out on things. It’s consistency and willingness to change your old habits and develop new ones. Also, it’s one of those things that you just can’t reach your goals without.
That vision that we just talked about above, is sort of a map, an operating system that shows how you can achieve your goals. Discipline is what gets you there. So, if you’re trying to lose those 10lbs, you have to hold yourself accountable for your actions. At the same time, don’t you dare give up, even after you experience a setback. As long as you keep going, you’ll never fail.
A FEW FINAL WORDS
Creating a clear vision is an aspirational component, it’s something that will keep you going. When you stop using excuses, you realize your potential. You won’t let your present or past circumstances dictate your future. Lastly, being disciplined will help you make changes in your behavior and daily habits.
If you’re only interested in your goals- set them, talk about them a little- you’ll end up doing what pretty much everyone else is doing. If you actually commit and teach yourself that discipline, you’ll find that will and drive to do everything you need, in order to reach your goals.
Remember, that every single day is an opportunity for you to be better. Focus on what you CAN and WILL do, instead of what you CAN’T and/or WON’T do.