While setting big dreams and goals can come easily, actually making things happen for yourself doesn't. In fact, it's the hardest piece of the puzzle and one I struggled with for years.
I'm talking about five years of literally just spinning my wheels. Every single year I'd declare, “This is the year I'll finally make things happen,” only to end up watching another year move by where I stayed stuck in every area of my life.
I'm happy to say I've learned some essential steps over the years that help compleptely eliminate all obstacles, allow you to start moving forward with ease and prevent you from throwing in the towel at any point during the journey.
It's smooth sailing from here. Apply these 10 productive steps to your life, and you'll be feeling the joys of success in no time:
1. Create priorities in your life.
The issue that comes up for most people that leads to throwing in the towel is focusing on every area of your life and goal all at once. If you focus on every area at once, you'll quickly feel overwhelmed and likely won't accomplish very much at all. By focusing on the most important areas first, you'll be able to generate momentum, get excited and create the space down the road to begin focusing on more areas.
Out of all the areas in your life (including health, finances, relationships, work, etc.), you should only have two to three priorities at any given time. To start, choose the areas that are fundamental for your health, well-being and happiness, and have the largest influence on every other aspect of your life.
2. Create priorities between your goals.
Once you have your priority life areas, start by listing out everything you think you need to have, be or do in order to be the happiest you can be in each. From here, look back through your lists and see which items are truly necessary for your happiness and well-being.
This is about weeding out the items that are superficial and less important, so you can see what really needs to happen to create more joy and fulfillment. Additionally, it's very important to look through your lists and determine which items you really need and desire vs. which items you feel you should want.
Items you feel you “should” want include things you believe you need because someone else told you it's important, but not because it's really truly a need or burning desire. Highlight the items that really matter.
3. Create goals that propel you forward.
When I say “propel you forward,” I'm not talking about setting huge, impossible to reach, stressful goals. It's about creating goals with meaning and focus. You already know what life areas need the most improvement first, and what needs to happen within those areas to feel happier and more fulfilled. Now it's time to set goals that matter, and ones that will make you feel alive and amazing when you reach them.
So, what's the difference between a regular goal, and goal that propels? Goals that propel are specific in what and by when, and they're exciting. They tie into the life you're looking to build for yourself, not just the “idea” of what sounds nice or the mundane things you feel you need to do. When you achieve goals that propel you forward, you feel amazing that you have accomplished so much more than you realized was possible.
4. Set small, incremental goals.
First, it's important to make your small, incremental goals realistic ones. You want to make sure the timeframe for reaching your goals is doable for you and your lifestyle. If you have a family, a full-time job, other commitments or all of the above, it might not be realistic to plan on becoming a yoga teacher, going to grad school and running a half-marathon in the spring.
What you'll do is take one goal at a time, and work backward from the end date or event in order to create smaller targets. You can find calculators online for some things, but you want to look at your life and personal schedule when setting these targets. Do not set unreasonable targets. Start with five major milestones and work backward from there until you have things you can do today.
5. Assess your success.
Depending on the goals you've set, you'll want to schedule assessment dates with yourself. Pick the day and timeframe, and set it on your calendar. Honor this appointment just as you would any other scheduled appointment. When your assessment date rolls around, you're going to sit down and take stock of how things are going. Make note of how you're feeling, what you've accomplished and what's gone right or wrong. Consider this a mini-audit of your goals and the energy you've been putting toward them.
It's essential to take time and assess your success. You need to know exactly how much energy you've honestly put towards your goals, and how exactly things are feeling if you want to ensure you hit your targets and build the life you've been dreaming of.
6. Expand the goals that work...
Expanding your goals is all about taking something that's working, and building upon it so you can continue to grow and move forward. Say your goal is to become a yoga instructor, and the first mini-goal was to do 20 minutes of yoga every day. If that's been a walk in the park for you, how can you expand on that goal so you're continuing to push yourself, while moving towards your target at a pace that works best for you?
This isn't about overcommitting. If 20 minutes a day is really all you have time for, leave it as is and maybe look at where you can sprinkle more yoga in throughout the week.
7. And eliminate those that don't.
Now, let's say that 20 minutes of yoga just does not work for you every day. It cuts too much into your before-work routine, which causes you to be late for work and experience tension with your boss. That's not good. Consider it eliminated.
The key to eliminating a small goal and continuing to reach your big goal is to replace it with something that does work. Maybe there is a yoga class you can take after work once or twice a week? Maybe you can create space in your weekends to spend more time on the mat then vs. every single day of the week?
8. Discern perceived obstacles...
Perceived obstacles are manufactured in our heads, and are also known as stories and limiting beliefs. These are ideas or obstacles we truly believe block our way, even though you can overcome or work around them.
“I have to go back to school and get a degree," "I'm too old to switch careers," "I have no idea how to start a business," "I don't have enough money," "I don't have enough time,” etc. While these most definitely present challenges, they are not impossible to overcome.
The way to move through perceived obstacles is to create at least three positive alternatives that are the opposite of your perceived obstacle (or story/limiting belief). For example, “I'm too old,” can become, “I'm the perfect age to achieve all that I want. Age is just a number, and nothing more. I have all the wisdom necessary to make things happen.” Create an alternative story you can feel your way into and has truth, not just a shiny, positive, but false affirmation.
9. From real roadblocks.
Real roadblocks are the unexpected bumps in the road, such as severely spraining your ankle while training, having your business permit delayed, your computer crashing, etc. These are real tangible blocks. They are not, however, reasons to quit or give up on your dreams.
Just like perceived obstacles, roadblocks are simply small bumps in the road, which help navigate you into new, and often improved, ways of thinking or doing things. List out five alternatives for achieving this goal despite the roadblock, and get creative.
10. Don't give yourself reasons to fail.
While similar to perceived obstacles, reasons are more like, “I try to eat healthy, but my family likes fast food, so I can't seem to lose the weight.” Or, “I tried to train regularly, but it just kept raining so much.” These aren't actually good reasons, they are excuses. Nothing more.
Just because your family likes fast food, doesn't mean you have to eat it. Similarly, rain is no excuse to not run when there are gyms, treadmills and hoodies. Start by listing out all the reasons you have for not being able to achieve your goals, then throw that list away. Come up with three alternatives for each excuse, and get back to work.