What is a goal you’ve had for a long time that never seems to happen?
Have you given up on it? Or does it still exist in dream form, something you’ll make happen one day?
From what I’ve seen, we all have those goals.
They nag at us in our quiet moments, wondering when, if ever, they’ll be allowed to see the light of day.
Those of you who have known me for a while know I have had a goal for a long time of launching a group coaching program that would help several authors at once rather than trying to divvy up my limited time one author at a time.
The Problem With (Some) Goals
The thing these goals often have in common is they aren’t realized immediately.
There are always daily demands that get in the way, weekly tasks that need attention, even monthly milestones to be met if the bills are to get paid.
Because the human mind is amazing, we can successfully relegate our ideas to the back of our minds, waiting for a more opportune time for them.
We tell ourselves we’ll have time for them when the kids are older, when we’ve gotten that raise, when the mortgage is paid off, after the dishes are done.
Why this doesn't work
Two big issues here.
First, you’re never going to hit your goals this way. But you already knew that.
Second, no matter how good you might be at stuffing your goals under your daily tasks, they’re always going to be there. A nagging stressor at the back of your awareness constantly draining your energy.
In that respect, they can be a bit like a parasite. No one wants one of those!
Don’t let your audacious goals turn into parasites!
How to achieve your goals, the traditional approach
If you use this subheading as a search term, you’ll likely get a list of all kinds of productivity hacks.
- Break your goal into stages
- Break your stages into steps
- Break your steps into microsteps
- Schedule your microsteps into your daily schedule
- Don’t allow anything to bump your microsteps out of their spot
- Rinse and repeat until done
Sounds simple enough, so why aren’t more of us hitting our goals?
Stop beating yourself up!
The problem with the above solution is we are not machines.
Our lives are messy, chaotic even, and we constantly need to adapt to changing situations.
For most of us, it’s true our days are overscheduled even before we factor in the people in our lives.
You know who I’m talking about. The toddler that decides today is his day for throwing tantrums in the store, costing you another 30 minutes.
Or the teenager’s latest dramatic episode that requires your immediate attention for the rest of the evening.
And it doesn’t even have to be something unpleasant. It could be as simple as your dearest spouse lovingly inviting you to a quiet evening alone together.
Welcome or not, these little time-stealers unknowingly throw a wrench into the works and our task for the day doesn’t get done.
Maybe we can make it up tomorrow.
We think we need more discipline. We doubt whether we are as committed to our dreams as we thought. Enough of these kinds of days and we give up.
Don’t give up!
But also, stop treating your amazing, complex human self as if it is nothing more than an elaborate supercomputer.
Hit your goals the human way
This past week, I’ve been playing with brain science and it made me realize how much we have come to think of ourselves as little more than organic computers with built-in mobility.
As comforting as it might be to have an understandable-ish model of the human brain by looking at the computer hard-drive, it’s a terribly false comparison.
Trying to measure our performance based solely on the analytical and distraction-free powers of today’s computers isn’t fair play.
As someone told me once, it’s like trying to compare apples to plastic. Even if the plastic is shaped like an apple, there isn’t enough similarity.
A computer has a limited number of inputs – keyboard, mouse, microphone, internet – and processes all the information it receives through an analytic set of processes that generally don’t rely on other internal characteristics.
The human mind, on the other hand, while also apparently limited on inputs – touch, hearing, sight, smell, sound, taste – processes this information in multiple locations in multiple ways at multiple times and as compared with infinite additional factors including past experience, future hopes, and present circumstances.
Bottom line, you are not a computer. Don’t expect to act like one.
The reason you are not hitting your goals is not because you are a failure. It is because you are failing to take into account the entirety of the human being that you are.
More than understanding the step-by-step process of how to achieve your tasks, you need to understand the emotions wrapped around those tasks, the expectations and dreams you have about them, and the fears that might hold you back.
If you have a goal, you have not been able to make progress on for too long, try looking at the other sides of yourself for the block.
How are you feeling (emotions)?
How does it sit with what you consider your higher purpose (spirit)?
What changes can you make to your current reality to make room for it without forcing yourself to go all superhuman (physical)?
Bringing the human back into your planning will help you achieve so much more than you thought possible.
Oh, and that course I mentioned at the top of this post? Watch for it this coming week!