“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfilment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”
Have you ever gotten really excited about that million-dollar idea only to end up going nowhere? Often times, the idea itself was not what had resulted in failure, but a lack of a systematic process to take that idea and turn it into a reality.
This is like driving your car across the country, and never filling up your tank with gas. You will only make it a certain distance, and you will never reach your final destination.
What I am about to teach you is a way to create “mental gas stations,” with the Goal Achievement System (GAS). The GAS will allow you to refuel your motivation and allow you to achieve extraordinary results that you did not know were possible.
The great thing about this process is that you can use it anywhere in your life that you choose. You don’t need a million dollar idea, and you might have a different desired outcome, like losing weight. We will use weight loss as an example, but you can apply this same process for any type of goal.
The first part of the system is learning how to set goals. A problem well stated is a problem half solved. We are going to take a simple ambiguous goal, the type that we are used to setting, and turn it into a clearly defined problem.
1. Set a specific goal.
You cannot be ambiguous. If you tell yourself, “I am going to lose weight,” does that mean you lose 5 pounds, or do you lose 30 pounds? Your mind will probably end up giving you that satisfied feeling if you only lose 2 pounds, because that means you lost weight. Be specific. “I am going to lose 30 pounds.”
2. Give your goal a deadline.
Human beings are procrastinators! If you say “I am going to lose 30 pounds” you can easily tell yourself that you are on the right track a year later and 10 pounds lighter, because you don’t have a finish line. At the same time, if you GAIN 10 pounds, you still have not technically missed your goal, because it will never come due.
Imagine if your boss said: “I’d like you to hand in that report sometime before you die.” Would you do it? Probably not. If you tell yourself “I am going to lose 30 pounds in 10 weeks” you add a bit more pressure on yourself and you force yourself into taking action.
3. Use ‘Towards’ motivation.
You need to be aware of two different types of motivation if you are going to learn how to set goals. These are ‘Towards Motivation’, and ‘Away From Motivation’.
Away From Motivation is the act of doing something for the sake of NOT doing, being, or feeling something else. For example, If you tell yourself “I want to lose weight because I DON’T want to be fat,” your mind focuses on what you don’t want, because the human nervous system cannot process a negative though without first focusing on what it is you don’t want.
For example, “Don’t think about Benjamin Franklin’s face on the $100 bill.” Did an image briefly flashed through your head before you forced it out? Away From Motivation usually ends up in us doing just enough to not have that feeling. You might lose 15 pounds and feel ‘not fat,’ and that will end up keeping you satisfied enough, but not completely satisfied.
Instead, use Toward Motivation, as that will allow you to set a positive standard that you are continually trying to seek out and make better. “I am going to lose 30 pounds in 10 weeks so I can look great, be healthy, and feel more energetic.” Which sounds better to you?
4. Put yourself in the future, when you’ve achieved your goal.
This is an exercise that you can use every day to help motivate you towards achieving your goal. Look at your calendar, and find out the exact date 10 weeks later. Close your eyes and tell yourself “Today is December 5, and I am 30 pounds lighter. I look a lot better, and I feel great. People have complemented me on how I look healthier and am a more enjoyable person to be around. I can now participate in activities I’ve always wanted to do but felt limited by my weight.”
Imagine that picture in your head of that slimmer you, and associate yourself with that image as if you are seeing the world through your own eyes as people are complimenting you on the ‘new you.’ Take a moment to feel that excitement and energy. Smile. You will get there.
5. Write down your new goal from step 4 and display it where you can see it.
Personally, I like sticky notes. I like to write my goals down and place them on my computer screen, so I end up looking at them many times a day.
So write down your goal, and make sure you place it somewhere it can be easily viewed at least once a day. “Today is December 5, and I am 30 pounds lighter. I look a lot better, and I feel great. People have complemented me on how I look healthier and am a more enjoyable person to be around. I can now participate in activities I’ve always wanted to do but felt limited by my weight.”
Now, whenever you see your goal, you will be able to revision your experience from part 4 and it will help energize and excite you.
Congratulations! You have just learned how to set goals. Remember, ‘a problem well stated is a problem half solved.’ You might not have lost any weight yet (or whatever it is that you are trying to achieve) but you are already half way there. Trust me. An NFL coach who goes into a game without a game plan will have lost the game before the opening kick-off.
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