When you embrace the Excelerated Life™, focus comes before goal setting. Without focus, your goals may not reflect your true desires. With focus, you have clarity on what you want and, importantly, why you want it.
I have a BIG — Bold, Important, Gratifying — goal. I want to have a blog that rates in the top 10% of blogs in the category of self-development. That is a huge goal and one that will take many, many, many steps. It’s my 5 – 10 year goal.
Two related principles of the Excelerated Life™ deal with setting and achieving BIG (Bold, Important, Gratifying) goals. The two principles are Goals and Goal Setting and Action. Goal setting is an important step but by itself is not enough. Once you have your BIG goal in mind, you must start to take the actions that enable you to achieve it.
I have told the story before about my client, “Mary”, who came back for more coaching after she had set some good, workable goals but had failed to make progress on any of them. I told Mary at the time that a goal “was a necessary step toward creating her best life, but it is only a step . . . a beginning step at that. She needed to develop strategies – a detailed plan – to help her progress toward achieving her goals.”
Success comes from doing a few simple things, every day, over time. And failure comes from not doing those simple things, every day, over time. Consistency is key.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~ Calvin Coolidge
The Stone Cutter
Imagine you come upon a stone cutter standing before a huge rock. As you watch, he strikes the stone with his hammer. Nothing happens. He strikes again. Nothing. He continues hitting the stone and you begin to count the number of times: 3, 4, 5, 6 . . . 48, 49, 50 . . . 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 . . . Nothing. You can barely see that he has hit the stone at all.
But on the 100th blow, the stone breaks in two. “Wow,” you might think. “That 100th blow must have been tremendous!” But you’d be wrong.
Caring people live in a caring world. Loving people live in a loving world. Mean people live in a mean world. Grouchy people live in a grouchy world. It’s the same world . . . what you focus on expands.
“In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. . . Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong.” ~ Romans 7: 15, 18b-19 [Bible Gateway]
Three Riders On The Subway
Things were not going well at work. And, if I were truthful with myself, things weren’t going well in my life, period. Much like the apostle, Paul, even when I wanted to do what is right, I didn’t do it.
I scanned the subway cars, looking for one that was near empty. In my foul mood, I really didn’t want to be around anyone. I spotted a car that had only 3 people in it. Shoulders slumped, head down, I stepped in, not making eye-contact with any of the others, moving to a seat as far away as I could get.
Motivation is fickle. Willpower is unreliable. Don’t depend on motivation and willpower for changing behaviors. Make the behavior easy to do. Then repeat to make it a habit.
A Lack Of Self Control?
When Melissa came to me for coaching, she identified several goals she wanted to work on. Her most important goal was to get her home office organized. This was the area that was most disruptive to her life and the one causing her the most stress.
Melissa shared that she could get one section of the place organized, say her desk top or the stacks of paper on her bookshelves, but within a few days, everything was chaos again. She wasted a lot of time looking for papers or other items she needed which caused undue stress.
“I guess I just lack the self-control to make myself do what I need to do,” she lamented. “I spend so much time and energy looking for articles I need, that it is impacting my life. It is hampering me from getting important tasks done yet I can’t keep myself motivated to keep things organized.”
“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” ~ M. Scott Peck
The 4 Rules Of Time
From Brian Tracy, motivational speaker, author, and expert in human potential and achievement, we learn that there are 4 rules of time. [Tracy]
Time is perishable. You can’t “save” time, you can only decide how you use the time you have. Once a minute has passed, you cannot get it back.
Time is indispensable. Nothing can take it’s place. Everything we do, everything we accomplish — from eating breakfast, to crafting a sonnet, to earning a living, to building a relationship — is done in the context of time.
Time is irreplaceable. Just as you cannot save time, you cannot replace time that has past. You cannot undo that which was done, you cannot do that which was not done.
“Many of our repeated behaviors are cued by everyday environments, even though people think they’re making choices all the time.” ~ Wendy Wood
You and I may think we’re in control of our actions, but research shows that nearly ½ of human behaviors occurs in the same location each day and is cued by the environment. [Duke Today] Recall Charles Duhigg’s “habit loop”, the 3-step process that causes habits to develop. [Duhigg] The habit loop consists of 1) cue, 2) routine, and 3) reward. Repetition of this loop over time causes a behavior (the routine) to become ingrained as habit.
Do you prefer winning once in a while or winning every day? That’s a difference between having a goal and having a system.
“. . . as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better. The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways. To put it bluntly, goals are for losers.” ~ Scott Adams
Goals vs. Systems
Goals are for losers? That’s a pretty odd statement for me to endorse as someone who spends his working time helping and encouraging people to set and achieve goals. However, after reading this in How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big by Scott Adams, best-selling author and the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, I have to say he has a good point. Continue reading “Goals Are For Losers”
Have you ever set the intention to eat a more healthful diet? You pass up the doughnuts at work, eat a salad for lunch, snack on almonds or raw veggies in the afternoon . . . then at home, after work, you find yourself sitting on the 2nd shelf of the refrigerator, eating everything in sight. Or you decide to start an exercise program and to go to the gym directly after work. You load your gym bag in the car . . . but at the end of the day, you are so tired, you drive straight home – past the gym – and collapse in a heap in front of the TV. What happened to your willpower? Continue reading “Willpower, Won’t Power, and Want Power”