Many of us have aspirations of changing into a newer, and better version of ourselves, but yet, it seems every time we try, we come up short, causing us to either reset the same objective or give up on it completely.
And with each and every failure, we become more disappointed in ourselves, and begin to lose trust and confidence in our ability to meet our own goals.
Why does this happen? How come it’s so tough to achieve our most desired goals?
Well, I believe that the defining circumstances between who gets their goals and who doesn’t can be summed up into 4 factors.
The Man Who Chases Two Rabbits, Catches None
According to a study done by the University of Scranton, 92% of individuals fail to achieve their goals, and one of the factors that causes this is the illusion that any one person can pursue multiple goals at once. While you can pursue multiple goals at any one time, the likely hood of you achieving those goals are slim to none.
It’s just like the old chinese proverb by Confucius;
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches none.”
Not only is this a recipe for failure, but it’s a sure fire way to feel like you’re accomplishing your objectives, but in reality you’re a hamster on a wheel going no where fast. The antidote to this problem…
Simplify your life and focus only on a few goals that REALLY matter to you. The reason this works is because you pick one or two things and you do them more intensely, instead of spreading your energy into several different areas.
It’s like taking an axe and trying to cut a tree down by swiping at all angles of the tree in hopes of it coming down, instead of swiping at the same spot where the tree will tumble down more efficiently.
Take Scott Young for an example, an individual who managed to take on the challenge of learning the 4-year MIT curriculum for computer science in less than 12 months. One of the things he touts to his success was his ability to focus only on this goal instead of spreading himself too thin…
“…As an example of the power of focus, I want to contrast two years in my life. One where I burned out and felt enormous stress, and the other where I felt almost none and I was generally pretty relaxed…The difficult year was in college. Like the hypothetical student I discussed, I severely lacked focus. I had two positions in student government, full classes, and a demanding schedule of competitions. Not to mention trying to sustain this blog which would eventually become my full-time business…I was so burned out by the end that I left the country for the year, with little to show other than aches from my misadventure.
The year of low stress and relaxation? This past year, doing the MIT Challenge.
To an outsider, last year seemed a lot more difficult. After all, trying to learn the content of a 4-year science degree from a tough school seems far more difficult than trying to balance a few student council positions while taking a couple business classes. The difference was focus.”
-Scott H. Young
Or take what Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing and co-founder & chairman of Keller Williams Real Estate company who also touts his success to being focused on very few things that really matters to him…
“…Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”
So if you want to be able to actually accomplish your goals, take the advice of the individuals above, and focus only very few goals that really matter to you. I suggest focusing only on 3-4 big life changing goals for during the year and maybe 3-4 small goals that don’t take much effort to accomplish.
2. Thinking Willpower is Key To Success
Most people have the illusion that they can solely rely on their willpower and discipline to help them accomplish their goals. The problem is that willpower is not an unlimited resource that you can call upon at any given time, it’s limited. Although, you can continue to build discipline and willpower like a muscle, there’s always a limit to how much any one person can use.
For instance, a psychologist by the name of Roy Baumeister conducted a study on self-control and self discipline. The short of the story is this, he conducted the study by bringing subjects into a room that was filled with the aroma of fresh baked cookies that were on a table along with a plate of radishes.
Some were asked to sample the cookies while some were asked to eat the radishes. After the offer, the subjects were given 30 minutes to complete a geometric puzzle.
Those that were told not to eat the freshly baked cookies and ate the radishes gave up on the puzzle after 8 minutes on average. While the subjects that ate the cookies continued to do the puzzle for an average of 19 minutes. to make the long story short, Baumeister concluded that willpower and discipline are a limited resource and can be depleted.
My point, with all the different responsibilities that our lives require, family, work, friends, and keeping our lives running smoothly. How can we when we have several responsibilities that require our constant attention that deplete our willpower and discipline? Well, I believe the answer lies in developing what are called systems to help accomplish our goals.
“Goals are harmful unless they guide you to make specific behaviors easier to do. Don’t focus your motivation on doing Behavior X. Instead, focus on making Behavior X easier to do.”
Dr. B.J. Fogg
Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab
Systems, is something I learned from by individuals named Ramit Sethi and Dr. B.J. Fogg, and they tout most of their success to this practice.
Here’s an example that best sums up how they work by B.J. Fogg,
“By designing for laziness, you can stop or reduce a behavior. For example, put bad snacks in the garage on a shelf that requires a ladder…I pack my gym clothes in a bag the night before and place them right next to my door. On cold days, I even place my jacket on the counter-top by the door. By again designing for laziness, I eliminate all possible excuses by getting things ready when my willpower is high (aka: the night before, when I don’t have to go to the gym).”
Simply put, you design systems based around your natural human behaviors. One example of how you can use systems is say I wanted to go to the gym on a more consistent basis.
Instead of trying to do it on my own, I could design an accountability “system” where I pay money for a trainer to push me and expect me to show up to each workout sessions. The reason this would work is because the thought of paying someone puts me in a position where I feel I have to show up or else I’d be wasting my money and someone else’s time.
Not only does this help me stay consistent but it also gives me the luxury of not having to think about what I’m going to do in the gym since my workouts are set up for me. Take for example what Ramit Sethi did to get himself to go to the gym on a more consistent basis using systems…
“A few years ago, I was trying to form a gym habit. The problem I had was that I’d get up in the morning planning to go to the gym, but after a few minutes of being awake, I’d decide not to go. So I built a system the next time I was feeling really motivated. And it looked like this: I put my gym clothes and my shoes next to my bed so I saw them first thing in the morning. As soon as I got out of bed, I would get dressed. By time I finished putting on my clothes, I’d think to myself ‘Well, might as well go to the gym’ and I DID!”…These types of systems guarantee success.”
Or say if you wanted to eat healthier, you can start by purging all the junk food in your house, create an accountability system where you give your friend a check written out to them for $500 dollars, and tell them you will check in with them every day with pictures of your meals.
If you slip up or miss a meal or end up eating some junk food, they deposit the money and they spend it immediately.
These are just a few examples of systems that you can put into place and you can use to increase the possibilities of you actually following through with your goals. The point is to find and set up a structure for yourself that helps you follow through with your goals.
3. Running east looking for a sunset
Have you ever pursued a goal only to end up hitting considerable amount of roadblocks that stalls your progress? I think most of us have and the sad part is when this occurs most of us end up giving up on the goal altogether due to the sheer challenge and constant walls we hit.
That’s why in the month of January you see gyms filled with tons of people all with the same goal of getting in better shape, and by February, more than half have disappeared.
Well, most of them start with the wrong plan in mind. According to a clinical psychologist named Joseph J. Luciano, more than 80% fail to stick to their new year’s resolution. If I were to take a guess why this is, it’s due to the fact most people try to change fast and drastically and also do it with the wrong plan in mind.
For instance, most cannot stick to going to the gym and/or a diet because most people crash diet and make an effort to “go hard” when they first start. All this could’ve been avoided if they hired a trainer or a coach to show them the way, and guide them through the unforeseen obstacles that trainers and coaches have solutions to.
The Solution Is A Guide
Hiring a professional or getting a program not only can help prevent you from running into countless roadblocks, but it can help you discover shortcuts that will guide you to your desired results faster and more efficiently.
If someone offered you the chance to avoid 10 years worth of mistakes, would you take it? Of course, but most of us don’t take the opportunity because we don’t know how to approach it, or we feel like it’s too difficult to do.
I can’t tell you how important it is to have a mentor, coach, or a program you can follow that can get you to your goals faster. Getting a person that has a proven record of getting results for others can shorten the time span between you and your desired results.
For example, according to a study, 80% of CEO polled stated that they have mentors and also given them insider knowledge and access to power that they otherwise never had.
Take Tony Robbins an American businessman, author, and philanthropist who is worth over $480 million dollars and runs 12 companies said,
“One of the things I’m best at is modeling. I find someone who is the best at something I want to learn. Then I model them, and learn it myself. Then, when I’ve proven it to myself, I teach it to others.”
Also, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most widely recognized and influential scientific minds during the scientific revolution has always been quoted from a famous letter written to Robert Hooke describing his life’s work as,
“If I have been further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
-Sir Isaac Newton
So as you can see, having a mentor or something that you can follow that will give you results will make your life so much easier when it comes to achieving your most important goals. However, there’s a key distinction that we all must understand when it comes to finding a program or mentor to help us achieve our goals and it’s this…
find something that has been proven to get results.
4. Lack of goal integration
As individuals with many different responsibilities, we tend to compartmentalize our lives to make it seem more organized, but the truth is, when we do this, we can create more stress for ourselves than it is necessary. What do I mean?
Well, if you take a look at those that have achieved extraordinary results and live an outstanding life, their lives seem more integrated than “balanced”. In my opinion, balance is an illusion, people who live extraordinary lives and accomplish their goals are not balanced but counter-balanced.
These days, where people lead busier lives more than ever, achieving equal balance in each area of your life could not only be overwhelming but also ineffective. What most of us should be focused on is living a more integrated life where one effects the other in some positive aspect. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, when it comes to work-life balance,
“…The term work-life balance implies that one dedicates an equal portion of time to work and life. Catalyst, a research firm focused on women in business, uses the phrase work-life effectiveness, and suggests striving for a situation where work fits with other aspects of your life. Researchers, Jeffrey Greenhaus and Gary Powell expand on this concept and recommend that work and personal life should be allies, and that participation in multiple roles, such as parent, partner, friend, employee, can actually enhance physical and psychological well-being…”
Later in the article, it even said that Sir Richard Branson credits that some of his best ideas came from engaging with his children.
When you have the mindset that everything in your life should be separate, not only are you overwhelming yourself, but you’re also setting yourself up for failure in all aspects of your life if things are too complicated.
Make an effort to lead a more goal integrated life. When “MOST” of your goals are more integrated within each other, each activity becomes more effective and actually achieving those goals becomes easier. In a way, it’s like killing two birds with one stone. How do you apply this?
Well, let’s say that you have several goals as follows:
- Grow closer with my family
- Grow closer with my significant other
- Be more productive at work
- Meet new people
Well, if you have a family, maybe you can get your whole family onboard and work out together instead of having “just your time” to work out. Not only will everyone be on the same page but this can accomplish more than one goal. You’ll spend more time together as a family, you’ll grow closer, and you’ll improve your relationship with your significant other.
It would most likely improve your productivity at work, and you may have more clarity with your thoughts that will help you in the direction you want to head for your own life. Also, since you’re at a public place, you can maybe increase your social life by meeting new people at the gym.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
Understanding the benefits of using a goal integrated system can tremendously reduce your stress levels and make things work in harmony with each other which is how it should be, instead of overwhelming ourselves and putting forth effort to make everything separate.
So, if you want to get back on track to accomplish your goals and see them through to fruition, I suggest taking into account some of the factors that were mentioned above. Take a bird’s eye view of your own circumstances, and figure out how you can implement some of these tips to help increase your possibilities of accomplishing your own goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to actually accomplish your goals, and are serious about taking action. Fill out the form below to learn this 3 step system to start your journey to achieving your goals.