When you go after a goal, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want or where you want to be when you succeed. But you don’t need to be overly concerned about how you will get there. The details of how to reach your goal will unfold as you go. Even if you listed every single action step, unexpected results, people and events will occur along the way causing you to alter your course. If you’ve ever have to take a detour from your carefully charted route or GPS guidance, you know what I mean.
Here are five ways to proceed that have worked for me and others.
- Learn from people who have already accomplished what you want to achieve.
Just one conversation with another mom who was working on her doctoral degree gave me the courage to begin my own doctoral studies. It’s best, if possible, to have a mentor or supportive group with whom you can exchange ideas and get encouragement. It’s fortunate if you meet in person, but when you can’t, grasp the wealth of encouragement available from books, movies, and information exchange on the internet.
- Be willing to concentrate so hard on what you are doing that time seems to stand still.
In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this optimal experience “flow.” He described flow as
The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.
When I’m engaged in writing an article, for example, I sometimes get so caught up in what I’m saying that my fingers seem to fly trying to capture the thoughts rushing out of my head. At these times I reach such a peak of exhilaration and joy that I forget to eat. When this period subsides, my stomach growls, reminding me of my negligence.
- Be willing to do what it takes to reach your goal.
This may sound too obvious to even mention. But it’s true. Many years ago when my kids watched Mr. Rogers, one of his popular songs was “You’ve Got to Do It.” The gist of this seemingly simple song was that you can make believe, wish or daydream about what you want, but for something to happen you’ve got to take action. You have to know every single step to start. Just take the first one and the second one. The remaining steps will become apparent as you progress.
- Be willing to be alone.
I love having dinner parties, travel, and going to live theater. But I also love my own company. It’s only when all outside stimulation is silenced that some of my best ideas surface.
Some of the activities you’ll need to complete on the way to your goal must be done alone. If you feel the need to have a buddy, helper or ride-along with everything you do, you’re going to slow down and maybe even derail your progress.
- Be willing to fail or quit.
The unwillingness to fail or be rejected is what causes us to procrastinate or stick with things longer than we should. We keep holding back waiting for things to be perfect or cling to a failing project long after it’s dead. It’ s wise to research and think things through, but you must let these ideas, projects, or activities be born, no matter what the outcome.
I decided long ago that when I’m sitting in my rocking chair stroking my gray Afro, recounting my life story, I’d much rather talk about the many things I had tried that didn’t work out than about what I wanted to do but never had the courage to try.
In his book, The Dip, Seth Godin points out that successful people quit many times. The key is knowing when to quit before you spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy on a goal or task that’s not going anywhere.
When Jia Jiang’s plan to create a to-do list app fell through, he was crushed. Not only did his major investor let him down, but now Jia had to disappoint his four employees and ask his wife to keep supporting the family while he pursued his dream. He was angry, plagued by fear, and felt sick at the stomach. He decided that if rejection is part of success he should build up resistance to it. That’s how his 100 Days of Rejection Therapy began. The plan was to make outrageous requests, video the response and blog about it. On Nov. 15, 2012 his began by asking a security guard for $100. The answer was “no” and although Jia was nervous, he continued his project. Check out his many requests and results on his blog at www.entresting.com.
You may not be brave enough to stare rejection in the face as Jia did, but don’t hesitate to start a project for fear of failing. Instead of thinking of failure as the end, think of it as the cost of succeeding.
Set your vision and be willing to do what it takes to get there. The “how” will unfold in wonderful and amazing ways.
Share about a time your plans changed for the better as you moved toward a goal. Have you asked for something outrageous? How did that work out?