” A goal is a dream with a deadline” – Napoleon Hill
This post is not meant to be some self help guru speak about goal setting and changing your life. It is meant to be a practical look at setting big goals, and the power and momentum that comes with them.
Big goals motivate and inspire us and the people around us. Think of a time when you set a goal that you had no idea that you could reach. The bar is set different for everyone. Your goal could be to run across the country, or finish a 10K. Whatever that goal is it needs to stretch the limits of your perceived abilities. (aka step out of your comfort zone. That term is completely over used.)
Here’s my best advice for planning and achieving big goals.
Start with why.
When you pick your big goal, ask yourself. “Why am I doing this?”
Are you testing your limits?
Do you think it would be cool?
No matter the reason, be sure it is a reason that means something to you personally. This is intrinsic motivation, and the most powerful form of motivation. Outside motivation is short lived and weak. Thrill of posting your accomplishment to social media will last a day or so. The feeling from accomplishing something personally important to you will last forever.
Know your limits, then crush them
Achieving big goals takes time, and normally more time than you think. When setting a big goal, assess where you are currently. Then determine how much progress you need to make, and the time it will take to get there. Be self aware, and realistic with your time frame. It’s a balancing act of picking a goal that challenges you, but doesn’t set you up to burn out. The best goals are ones that are slightly out of reach.
If you want a shortcut to your goal. Talk with people that have already achieved your goal. Get their feedback about your time frame, and current fitness. Find out what worked for them and what did not. You can use their experience to accelerate your own progress. Everyone progresses at different paces, but the quickest way to meet your goals is hard work and smart training.
Celebrate along the way
Your big goal make take months or years to accomplish. Set up milestones along the way to measure progress and celebrate. These smaller goals will keep you more focused, and motivated along the way.
Many people training for their first marathon have never run more than a half marathon before. As the plan progresses they will be running their longest run ever each week. Every time they hit a new long distance they should celebrate, and know they hit a new milestone toward their goal.
Enjoy the process
Life is short and time is precious. Spend your time pursuing something you enjoy. The goal is just the finish line, and a small part of the process.
Let’s take the marathon example again. Your goal is to finish a marathon. Where’s the start line? The start line is when you make it your goal and start training. The race is 26.2 miles, but your will train many more miles than that. You better enjoy running, or this will be a long miserable process.
It’s only a failure when you give up
“A failure is only a lesson, until you make an excuse.” – M. Jordan
If you are truly pushing your limits, you will encounter bumps in the road. There are two paths you can take accept defeat or learn from it. Your goal is always in reach if you believe it. History is full of examples, Lincoln, Edison, and Col. Sanders. If you have a moment, look up their stories. They had unbelievable persistence in the face of failure.
When we fail our minds will start to pay tricks with our motivation. That crack in the armor will let doubts creep in. We then rationalize these doubts, and start to talk ourselves out of our goal. These rationalizations are excuses, and excuses are weak. Excuses will sabotage all of the progress you made already.
My best strategy to combat failure and excuses is to decide I will meet me goal at the start of the process. Once you make up your mind, doubts won’t derail you. You are already know the outcome, you just need to put in the work. Your results may not come on your original time frame, but with persistence they will come.