There’s no question that you want your goals to motivate you.
In fact, there’s a reason why the people who seem most spirited and passionate about what they do often who do it best.
But there’s often a sneaky disconnect between the conception of a dream and the execution of it, and it’s a gap that’s filled with an impulse rush. This feeling is one that comes up when we set a goal that’s going to solve all of our problems.
Those impassioned feelings don’t always translate to committed actions that generate the outcomes we initially desire. You don’t need a quick fix, you need a life change, and a life change takes time.
You do not need to write your book in one week. You do not need to get in shape in one month. You do not need to be running a profitable business two months after it is founded. In fact, it is often when we try to do these things too quickly that we end up farther back than when we started.
The faster you try to do something, the more unsustainable it becomes.
This is because when we rush to the finish line, we end up missing all of the important and nonnegotiable growth that we need to sustain the work long-term.
Anybody can write a lot in a week. Anybody can stick to a diet for a few days. Anybody can come up with a business idea and get it started. It’s not the beginnings that you need to worry about, it’s whether or not you can keep up with it. It’s whether you can keep writing, you can keep making healthy choices, you can keep getting clients.
It’s not about what you can do once, it’s about what you can do forever.
It’s really inspiring to hear stories of people who turned their lives around in a really short amount of time.
It’s amazing to know that there are people out there who went from a negative to positive net worth in 3 months, paid off all their student loans in a year, met and married their life partner right after meeting them, or started their freelance business and watched it take off in 12 months.
It’s great to see this because what it shows us is that it is possible.
But the big picture isn’t as simple as the quick fix.
The point of the goal is that your net worth has to keep going into the green, which means that whatever unsustainable spending habits you had before are going to have to be rectified if you want it to last. The point of the goal is that if you’re not budgeting efficiently, you’re going to get back into debt again. The point of the goal isn’t just finding a life partner, it’s developing the personal and social skills to maintain a lifelong relationship.
When we sit down to figure out what we want our goals to be, we tend to do it within a very particular frame of time. But it’s not about what we can just check off in the next 12 or 18 or 24 months. It’s not about what you can achieve by December 31, 2020. It’s about what intentions you’re setting to change your life — and yourself — down at your core.
When we put ourselves on these self-imposed deadlines, it often doesn’t motivate us the way we think it will.
In fact, we rush to make sweeping adjustments in our lives, and totally neglect the reason that we have these problems in the first place. Habits are not something we change overnight, they are a way in which we identify patterning in our behavior, and adjust our character over time.
If you fix the problem, but don’t learn the lesson, you’re setting yourself up to fail again.
If you don’t understand why your past businesses failed, you won’t know how to better create one that won’t. if you don’t understand why you got into debt in the first place, you’ll get into it again. If you don’t understand why your old relationships failed, you’re going to fail at them again.
The process of goal-setting and subsequent growth isn’t just about that moment when you throw your hands up in the air and do a victory lap. It’s about who you become on the path to getting there.
The more slow and steady you go about it, the more the change tends to set in and become your “normal.”
When the change is normalized, you are habituated to it. When you are habituated to it, it becomes second nature. When it becomes second nature, it becomes your life, nearly effortlessly.
It’s the constant upkeep of effort that we cannot sustain forever, which is why that huge rush of motivation to make a sweeping life change always fails us in the end.
Instead of asking yourself what you can achieve next year, ask yourself what you can change in a day. Then wake up tomorrow, and do that again. If your daily actions don’t and can’t support your long-term dreams, they will always remain latent potential.
The faster you try to get there is not the equivalent of how successful you’ll be. The more thoroughly you transform yourself is.