I had no clue as to the real science of achieving goals. However, science does seem to understand this human quality. Think of a billiard player who hits the cue ball with his stick, that ball whacks another and, whammo! Goal accomplished as the second ball sinks into the hole. Sounds simple compared to all the complexities of life but still, it applies. The billiard player carefully planned his shot by considering all the angles.
Most people casually stroll through life and do just fine. However, for people who have a specific goals, achievement of their dreams does not happen by accident. The overachiever creates a successful plan just as the billiard player sets up a winning shot. Knowing what the goal is and having it in sight enables you to create a strategy on how to get from point A to point B.
Once you understand the intention behind your actions, with assurance you head in the right direction. Self-confidence grows and this gives strength to your abilities. That’s when you begin to understand the difference between disciplining yourself and acting out of habit. Discipline can lead to change. Change can lead to growth. Growth can lead to accomplishing goals.
To develop the skill of self-discipline, you have to break out of the comfort zones of habitual behavior that is holding you back. Rather than get discouraged with this struggle, give yourself permission to be flexible. Don’t see a regression back to a nasty old habit as a failure. That is simply part of the process of change. Change isn’t change until it’s changed. Change takes time. Sometimes it is three steps forward and two steps back, but even the result of one step forward is still progress. Put it behind you and just keep going. Eventually you will break free from the old habit and have a new routine of self-discipline.
Consider yourself the CEO of your own life. What are some of the achievement behaviors of successful CEO’s in the business world? First, they determine their goal. Then they create a roadmap to get there. Many small businesses stay small and do not grow simply because they ignore this easy tool for achieving success. Don’t be afraid to dream big! You can surely be greatly inspired without being delusional.
What does such a roadmap actually look like? Well, basically, it is a list. At the top of the list are long-term goals. Write down where you want to be in five years’ time. Give yourself a short interview. Ask yourself why you want to be in that place five years from now. Write that down. Much can happen to change perspective in five years. You can refer back to this statement and see if you are still the same person or if long-term goals need a re-evaluation.
Be specific in outlining exactly what you want to achieve. Measure it! Put a value to it! Goals are usually about time or money. Define what action needs to be taken to achieve the goals but be realistic. Challenging yourself is fine but don’t set yourself up for failure with outrageous expectations. Next, create a calendar, schedule milestones and track your progress.
Next, list a goal of contribution to your own community. What is it that you can do to make your little corner of the world a better place? Perhaps select a local charity that you can contribute to on a regular basis, whether the contribution is financial or volunteer time. Specify a time span of commitment. When the time expires, re-evaluate whether you want to continue or try something else. Expert studies indicate the most successful people give back. This may not seem like a very important commitment, but maintaining a commitment to something that is entirely voluntary builds strength of character where self-discipline is concerned. So, do it.
Next on the list is your own social well-being. Commit a certain amount of time on a regular basis to recreation and entertainment. A self-disciplined life creates a certain level of stress. It is very important for physical and emotional health to relax and decompress. Also, when self-discipline becomes a power struggle within yourself, it often helps you have the strength to push through and get something done if you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Getting motivated can be as simple as saying to yourself, “Just two more days of this and then it’s dance night!” That is psychology 101 and a very effective technique of self-manipulation.
Next, list your financial goals, long term and short term. This is actually one of the easiest things to work with because it’s all about numbers. If you know how much you earn and what your expenses are, it all comes down to creating a budget and sticking to it.
That, in a nutshell, is the simple science of setting goals and achieving them. And, remember, be flexible. Everything can change in an instant. This list of goals is not a rigid, binding life document. It’s only a tool and it is up to you to wield the tool correctly and effectively and modify it if necessary. When the unexpected happens in my own life, I don’t throw my hands up in the air and prepare for the sky to fall. I simply say, “The plan is, nothing goes as planned. But, at least I have a plan!”