I strongly believe that my worst enemy is myself. I mean, I conceive and discuss these great career goals, development objectives, improvement plans, commendable ideas and a few days later, guess who talks me out of it? My same self! If this also sounds like you, you’re not alone.
I once came across this quote:
“Unattainable goals appeal to heroes. Capable people are those who sit there worrying about the future; the unwise are those who worry about nothing”
I refer to heroes, henceforth:
The key word here is ‘unattainable’. When setting goals, there’s an underlying assumption of unattainability, which if not further unravelled could result in our inability to achieve those goals – right from the very start.
I strongly believe that a key constituent of a goal is that it should scare the living daylight out of you. If it doesn’t, it’s most probably just a task. Goals and visions are intrinsically overwhelming and cannot be rationalised with the constraints of current thought. To achieve those goals, you’ll have to grow and develop into the person with the capacity to execute, achieve and attain those goals. Most times, this will require frequent iterations, learned habits, thought patterns and processes, learning experiences, luck (timing) to get to that desired destination.
With this established unattainability baseline, we can further proceed to tackle the challenges en route where we strive to be.
Divide and conquer
This is a long-established technique which is very popular yet sparingly used in our day to day lives. This method has delivered great outcomes and products in project management, software development, programme monitoring to mention a few, and can make a huge difference in our journey towards success.
For example, your goal is to become financially independent and to achieve this would necessitate that you read recommended books on personal finance. Your first pick is a 980-paged book ‘Money Master the Game’ by Tony Robbins. You work full-time and a good part of your day is expended on your job as a salesperson. You ask yourself, can I read this book? I return home at 6pm each day and barely have enough time to prepare dinner, much less read a book.
The above scenario described only needs to be replayed about 3 times in your thoughts before the whole idea of developing yourself by reading the book is eventually shelved.
Dear friend, good intentions are never enough. You need a strategy that works – divide and conquer.
Firstly, try to determine the following:
- How many chapters are in that book? 7 sections of 140 pages each.
- Can you realistically read 140 pages in a day? Probably not, since you work full-time and have a social life as well.
If you had to choose between a few book pages and a ‘leaving do’ of one of your favourite colleagues, you know your choice. Consider this instead:
- Can you read 10 pages per day? Yes probably, it’s doable. It’s just 10 pages.
Therefore, it’ll take you 2 weeks to finish one section, right? And hence 14 weeks to finish the book? Yes. That’s all there is to it. You now have a strategy.
This exercise is the most difficult part of reading this book. You have a plan now. Place an A2 calendar on your wall and mark the finish date as well as the milestone date of when you must have finished section 1,2,3 etc. This might seem futile but hold on and don’t lose me just yet. Therefore, if in 2 weeks, you haven’t finished section 1, you immediately realise you’re behind schedule and need to take corrective action to get yourself back on track.
The human mind is indeed amazing. As you’ve translated this seemingly unachievable goal to a series of attainable daily/weekly tasks, your chance of completion is more than quadrupled than if you hadn’t. As you progress, learn and enjoy the text via your daily ritual and commitment, the inner reader in you would emerge and you’ll be surprised that you could finish the book in less than a month!
All you did was train your mind to take those baby steps early on the journey towards your goal.
You’d be surprised how much you could achieve if you woke up one hour earlier than you usually would, and read 10 pages each day. Well, that’s a story for another day. I don’t want to mess with your mornings just yet; or I may as well, why not read Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod to get the gist.