I hate setting goals, so I had to figure out how I could get what I want in life without following the standard goal-setting steps we’re always taught.
Just writing down a goal makes me cringe. But why?
Perhaps it’s because I’m not one of those highly organized people full of energy, That could be half of it, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.
In this article, I’m going to share with you how to get what you want without setting goals. If you hate setting goals like I do, I think this post will give you a lot of relief.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
It’s true, I hate setting goals.
What’s depressing about that is that almost all successful people tell you how clear they were about setting goals to get to the level of success they’ve achieved. This makes me feel like an even bigger loser. After all I’ve learned about goal setting, I still have trouble being crystal clear on what I want to accomplish.
I’ve always been both an abstract thinker and a critical thinker, which seems like a contradiction. Abstract thinkers imagine the bigger picture where critical thinkers question the details. But for me, goal setting has a quality to it that I don’t like. It fits neither category. I think the main reason I don’t like setting goals is because I get lost in the minutia of data.
We’re told to write SMART goals. You know:
But every time I’ve done this in the past, I never got what I wanted. In fact in my quest to reach my goals I got bored and lost interest in the journey.
You’d think that desiring some grand destination or lofty goal would be motivating enough to do whatever it took to attain it, but that never seemed to be enough to compel to follow and accomplish a “SMART” path to success. After about a month or two or following that path, the work to attain the goal builds and builds, and I soon become jaded realizing just how much I hate the pursuit.
I know the goal is right there. I can visualize it. I wrote it down! It seems attainable but no matter what I do, it never manifests. Is there a limiting belief inside of me? Am I just not trying hard enough? I realized I can’t be the only one with this problem.
I know that the more specific I have been with my goals, the harder they have been to attain. In fact, just writing the goal down seems like an impossible task for me.
I think the reason I can’t achieve specific goals is that I am more of an abstract thinker than I originally thought. I think in big pictures: Dreams and outcomes. I enjoy attaining things that make me feel good. But what makes me feel good today may not make me feel good tomorrow so it’s hard for me to nail down specific, achievable, and realistic goals. It’s like saying, “Next Wednesday, I want meat lasagna with ricotta cheese and red sauce. I want it served at 7 PM with a salad topped with blue cheese dressing, and a tall glass of black tea.”
In the moment, it sounds really good. But when Wednesday comes around and I’ve already eaten pasta twice that week, suddenly I don’t want lasagna anymore.
In the above example, my desire for that very specific goal dissolved and left me stuck with what I started with: Nothing.
Have you ever had a desire for something now but lose that desire later?
It’s not that I’m flaky or can’t focus. I’ve just learned that I don’t place too much value on what I can attain, I place value on how I feel.
If you have all the money and stuff in the world but inside you feel depressed and anxious, would you give up all that money and stuff so that you could feel peaceful and happy?
Many people would answer “yes”, but I’m sure some wouldn’t. Some believe that money and stuff bring peace and happiness even though they don’t feel peaceful or happy. But what do you really want out of life? Is it material possessions, or people, or something else outside of you? Or do you want the feelings that come from having those things?
For example, would you take the perfect relationship with the perfect person if it meant you had to stay depressed in order to be with him or her?
I have a feeling you would not take that deal. But if someone came up to you and said, “I can help you feel peaceful, happy, and at ease all the time, but you must give up something important to you. And I promise you won’t even be upset that it’s gone because you will be at peace”, would you take them up on it knowing that whatever you were giving up led you to a path of peace and happiness?
These are philosophical questions that certainly make you think. I ask them because when it comes to setting goals, some of us are just plain horrible at it. I know I am. So I’ve done things a little differently than what’s taught in the world.
I don’t write down S.M.A.R.T. goals. I don’t plan ahead one month or even one year from now (with most things). But I still achieve my goals. I just don’t do it the old fashioned, cookie-cutter way most of us are taught.
Today I am sharing another way to go for what you want in life. Sure, I want to be super healthy and wealthy within five years. It may or may not happen, but I have to use my own methods of goal setting otherwise I know it will never happen.
By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll either be better at setting goals, or I will have confused you because you were already good at doing that. If you’re already good at goal setting and achieving those goals, stop reading now and pass this article on to a friend or family member you know needs it. No need to fix something that isn’t broken.
Regardless of who you are, almost all of us want the feeling that comes with achieving our goals. In this article, I am going to be concentrating on the big picture and helping you achieve the good feelings you want to have.
“Good feelings” may not be your specific goal, but the outcomes you want will probably be the same as if you were setting goals. If that didn’t make sense, let’s just say that feeling good is what most people want anyway. Some people have laid out a path that takes them to good feelings through setting specific, achievable goals. Others like me still get things done but in a different way.
A couple of days before writing this article, I sat down to read a report by Brian Tracy called, Goals! How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than you Ever Thought Possible! It’s based on his book of the same name. It’s all about, of course, setting goals and how doing that can help you achieve almost anything.
I thought the article would be great to talk about on my podcast. But then I got to his actual goal-setting process and started reading the specific steps to creating and succeeding at goals and I started getting discouraged immediately. The further along I read in fact, the more discouraged I got.
As soon as I read the first step, which was to decide exactly what you want in every key area of your life, I felt defeated!
Did you ever look at a project or something else and realize that you simply would not be able to accomplish it, and then felt so overwhelmed that a wave of negativity and failure washed over you?
That is how I felt at step 1 of Brian Tracy’s article.
I read the details of the step thinking that I might be able to accomplish my goal if I put my mind to it. But then I started reading the rest of the steps and noticed how much more work would be involved to continue the process. Again, I felt defeated.
I also felt misguided. I read those steps thinking ‘this is not how I operate. I am not this organized, nor do I ever plan anything like this.’
Brian Tracy’s book is probably one of the best books out there on setting goals and getting anything you want but it’s simply not the way my brain works. And if you’re still reading this, it’s not the way yours works either. The instructions he laid out caused me to immediately recoil in horror thinking that someone wanted me to structure my life like a spreadsheet.
I’ve tried this before. I’ve followed other people’s steps and it always felt unnatural. When people tell me how they’ve set goals and follow a strict routine every day and they are successful because of it, I’m completely envious. I want to have that structure, discipline, and organization in my life too!
But then I’ll watch those same people down a bunch of coffee, run around like crazy putting out fires all day, and get upset at the slightest alteration of their plans. Not all the goal-getters I know do this, but quite a few do. They are usually the most organized and the most stressed.
Staying highly organized takes a lot of time, energy, and mental focus. Our brains are complex, holistic learning machines that have specific tasks to complete to help us stay alive. And having to stay focused long enough to organize and take control of many aspects of our lives can be draining.
That’s why you see people with vices like caffeine, sugar, fatty, and high carb foods, smoking, drinking, and all kinds of other things that many of us do to gain some semblance of balance in our lives. We can end up stressing at work because we feel we have to be “on” all the time, so we turn to these vices to balance ourselves. Of course, we all know that these things aren’t healthy for us, yet we still do them.
When I used to stay up late writing the outline for the next episode of my podcast, I guarantee you I was reaching for that caffeinated iced tea with sugar and lemon. I was balancing my deficiency in one area with a stimulant or stress-reliever in another.
What I really needed to do was go to bed at a more reasonable hour. Instead, I drank caffeine knowing that I’d be able to artificially balance my system when I don’t get enough sleep.
This will wear you down over time. Artificially balancing your system makes up for where you don’t or can’t honor what you really need in life. Whether that’s more sleep, or being in a work situation that is stressful or painful in some way, or dealing with challenges at home with your family, or any of a number of things that create a deficiency in the balance of life.
For me, it’s always been about sleep. I stay up too late then I’m tired the next day. I don’t exercise as much as I should. And on occasion, I use caffeine to help me get through the day.
Of course, there are days where I feel fine, especially when I’ve gotten enough sleep. I’m always sharper and more alert when I’ve had a restful night. But why don’t I always just go to bed on time?
Why don’t any of us do what we need to do in order to maintain a healthy, happy life?
One of the reasons is that we simply have too much to do all the time. Our work is never done and something or someone always needs attention. Several years ago, all I wanted to do when I came home from work is take a break by myself. That might have meant watching TV, playing a game, playing my guitar, or anything that allowed me to connect with myself for as long as I needed so that I could let go of the stress of my workday.
During that time of my life, when I was married, I would come home and my wife wanted to know how my day was. It didn’t matter if I had a great day or a terrible one, but the last thing I wanted to do was recall what happened and tell her all about it.
I really didn’t want to go to work in the first place! So coming home to tell someone about an entire day of doing something I didn’t want to do wasn’t a priority for me. Because of that, when I would get home I would feel a twinge of anger or irritation toward my wife when she asked the very innocent question of how my day was.
That was hard because on one side I wanted to connect with her. On the other side, I just wanted to be alone so I could reconnect with myself.
When I realized why I always got frustrated after arriving home from work, I finally told my wife to stop asking me that question and give me some alone time. She honored that request. This actually improved our relationship a lot because I was able to come home, say hi to her, be with myself, then after I felt reconnected and grounded, I could come out and talk with her about anything, even telling her how my day was.
That reconnection to myself was extremely important. It was what I needed to wind away an entire day of doing something that I would rather not. I enjoyed my job, but I always preferred doing something else with my time. And because I had to go to work, I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. I’m sure you can relate.
Which brings us back to goal setting. After I started reading all the steps Brian Tracy outlined, I was feeling more and more defeated and de-energized. I thought, ugh, who plans out their goals in such detail?!
I also realized something very important that I didn’t know about myself:
I don’t know what I want to be able to plan for what I want.
One of the big pictures in my life is being the person that can handle all the challenges that come along. And knowing that what it takes to get to that place takes a lot of personal growth. I really can’t plan for that.
I think of big picture stuff and do at least one thing every day to move toward that big picture. That’s what many teachers and speakers tell us to do anyway. They say ‘Do one thing every day that gets you one step closer to what you want.’
That’s the kind of goal planning I can actually appreciate and understand. But to specifically write down everything I want in life and exactly what my life will look like is very hard for me.
I remember setting goals in martial arts. The teacher would emphasize setting goals over and over again. She’d say set a number of pushups you want to be able to do, or what belt color do you want to have in 6 months, or what else do you want to achieve while you’re here.
I found this harder to do than almost any physical activity. It was a mental martial arts move trying to come up with and adhere to goals. When I set a goal to do 100 pushups, I thought…
If I set a goal to do 100 pushups, then I am limiting myself. What if I’m capable of doing much more than a 100? If I can do that, then setting the number of pushups to only 100 feels like I’ve already failed.
What a strange phenomenon. That’s like saying you want to make a million dollars, but then thinking how disappointed you’d be after you’ve made it because you should have focused on making more than that. You limited yourself to only a million which doesn’t feel like the accomplishment you thought it would be because you became convinced you could have and should have tried for more. This entire thought process could go through your head without ever lifting a finger to start the journey to your first dollar.
This type of thinking kept me from setting goals for most of my life. In fact, I’ve almost always purposefully avoided setting goals because I would drown in the minutiae. Those are all the details that come up when you write out your specific goals – those SMART goals I mentioned.
I think I consider myself an anti-goal setter. Setting goals works perfectly for highly organized, highly focused people that seem to have endless energy. But I don’t work that way. I am an analytical thinker for sure, but goal setting has always bored me and caused me to quit faster than choosing not to set goals.
I know I can’t be the only one like this. Every time I set a goal, I soon lose my focus and drift farther and farther away from that goal until eventually, I have such little interest in attaining it that I let it go completely.
Can you relate at all? I’m willing to bet there are others out there like me. If you can relate keep reading. This article is for people who want to accomplish things in their life but can’t follow the standard goal-setting advice we often hear from almost all books, videos, and personal growth and development speakers in the world.
So my first talking point today is:
Don’t set a goal, set a direction.
When I used to set goals, I would fail. Then instead of getting right back up and trying again, I would just give up. This behavior is something I’ve tried to overcome time and time again, but I could never gain the momentum I had when I started.
Soon after setting a goal, it became laborious to go after it. Chasing my goal was a chore and I would eventually give up my pursuit. However, when I started planting “direction” into my future, I suddenly had more energy and resources than ever before.
I realized that as much of an analytical thinker I was, I was also a realist. So my realistic nature was convincing me that my goal was unattainable. This inner conflict created resistance inside of me, and soon I was giving up the pursuit.
Being realistic causes you to analyze your goals and sometimes make you believe that they cannot be attained. And because we tend to question a lot of things in our life, we can usually convince ourselves that, realistically, we can’t reach our goal.
Fascinating how you can want something so bad, but because you set a goal to attain it, you ended up motivating yourself to quit.
Has this ever happened to you?
I used to listen to all kinds of personal growth speakers, and many of them said the same things as if they all listened to the same people when they were learning their stuff. A common theme amongst all of them was how and why to set goals.
But every time I followed the steps they laid out, I would fail. I went to a seminar once and the speaker said, “No matter how lofty the goal, write it down! Set your intention and then really believe it will happen, and it will happen.”
If you can do this, I’m envious. My belief system, as open and mutable as it is, still hasn’t been able to fully adopt this. No matter how much I ‘believed it to achieve it’, there was always that tiny hint of disbelief way in the background.
That could have been me not believing enough as I’m told, but it could also mean that I’m simply not 100% convinced. Either way, my deepest thoughts and feelings about believing something could happen just because I believe it could happen were not in alignment. And because I know I have this belief system, I can’t follow your typical ‘believe it to achieve it’ advice. I had to reflect on this. How can someone like me achieve my goals?
This was a serious question for me. I didn’t want to continually force myself to use a system that worked for everyone else but me, so one day after more reflection, I made the pivotal decision to work with my beliefs instead of against them.
My belief system is about questioning things and coming up with realistic ideas. Why fight that? It was time I stopped resisting what existed inside me and start utilizing it for this whole goal-setting thing.
One step I took I already mentioned: Set a direction, not a goal.
A direction allows me to question anything I want along the way, but not get lost in all the details that might slow me down if I stop long enough to begin my process of disbelief.
We’re told that in order to achieve our goals is that we need to say things in first-person as if we already have them. If you want to make $10000 a week and live in a mansion in Maui, you would declare:
“I am making $10000 a week and own a mansion in Maui.”
Then you’re supposed to feel what it’s like living there, really honing in on the details about what you see, hear and smell. You take it all in and act as if you are really there.
When I tried this, I could sense I was there, but there was a voice in the back of my mind telling me no you’re not, get real! That definitely created a conflict inside of me.
However, now when I want something in my life, instead of trying to work against my belief system, I set a direction like this. It’s like an affirmation, but I don’t even use those. I just set my intention:
I want to make at least 5 figures a month and live near the water, and I will do whatever it takes to get there.
The way this is worded frees me from the resistance that built up inside of me. Making a “this is already true” statement makes me feel uneasy. I know I’m lying to myself! But the intention on the direction I want to go lines up with my belief system and my integrity. Sure there are still somewhat specific “goals” in my stated intention, but I feel very little limitation doing it this way.
I am creating a direction, not a goal. And no matter what happens along the way, I keep going in the direction. That way, if and when I fail at something, when I get back up, I’ll know which direction to head again.
The one thing I love about setting a direction is that I can fail as much as it takes to get there. But, if I set a specific goal, then I am reminded often of exactly what I haven’t attained yet.
When you’re constantly reminded of what you haven’t attained, it creates disappointment and doubt. And soon, you might give up because you’ll believe you’re still not at your ideal weight, or you’re still not making as much money as you want to make or you still haven’t met the man or woman of my dreams. These thoughts can plague the mind! They are consistent reminders of what hasn’t been accomplished yet.
I realize we’re told to clearly define our goals and what we want for our lives, but when I’m reminded of the specific goal that I haven’t attained yet, I get jaded and my passion abut that goal dies down. And because of that, I will eventually stop trying to attain it.
Of course, I’m not that high-energy, incredibly focused, extremely organized, and structured person that some people are. If this describes you, then you will want to definitely utilize your own strengths to achieve your goals, and not necessarily follow the process I am suggesting. Though you could try it and find out if it works for you.
I’m a big fan of doing what works. So don’t change what you’re doing if what you’re doing is getting results. But let’s get to our next talking point which is something I just mentioned:
Play on your own strengths to achieve your goals
When you read or hear something motivational or inspirational, and you go out into the world and can’t figure out why it works for everyone else but you, then stop for a minute and remember that we all use our brain differently.
Sure, there are common things that we all do, but what motivates you is going to be different than what motivates me. And what that means is that no advice is one size fits all. Just like I don’t find it useful to tell someone to just think positively! But someone else might want to hear those very words and it will brighten their day.
If that’s the case with you, then think positively! Otherwise, most of us need something a bit more practical and useful.
We all use our brains differently, so that means we are all motivated in different ways. The reason we all use our brains differently is that our thinking is made up of our history. I mean, sure, our brains function in very similar ways, but we all have no choice but to think in very unique ways.
Because of your history, you will think differently than anyone you know. What that means is when you are frustrated with someone and you say something like, “What were you thinking?”, what you’re really saying is, “You think completely differently than me!” which of course is correct.
Because you had the unique experience of your upbringing, you’ve developed thought processes that derive from those experiences.
One example of that in my life is how I respond to people when they are upset. If anyone gets really upset or angry around me, I just calmly wait until they are done with whatever they’re going through then converse like normal.
I don’t react and yell at them to calm down. I’m actually completely calm and don’t feel triggered to respond at all. Well, unless they become threatening, but that hasn’t really happened in my adult life.
So what I do is just wait for them to calm down on their own, and once they’re calm I continue conversing like normal. However, everyone is different in how they react to the upset of others. If someone got really upset and started yelling around you, you might get nervous and walk away. Or maybe you’d yell back because you fear them or are offended by them in some way.
Or maybe you’re like me and you realize that anger and upset is just something they need to experience to release some negative emotional energy and you know it will pass so it doesn’t bother you. Regardless, because I was brought up with a lot of yelling in my house, and I learned to be resilient of it, I am not motivated to respond strongly when people yell around me anymore.
So if I worked for a boss that came out yelling at us to work harder, that wouldn’t motivate me to do any better than I was doing at the time. But someone else may be highly motivated by that.
My point is, depending on how you were brought up and what you were exposed to will be what motivates you to do something.
When it comes to setting goals, you may or may not be motivated by such optimistic auto-suggestion like, “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”, but you could be motivated by a high-stress situation with a deadline.
For years, I worked much better knowing there was a deadline coming up as opposed to having an open-ended date. My motivation was the end of something looming over me. It was a fear that the end would arrive that beckoned me to do or die. It’s a harsh way to function, but it worked. Of course, it was also very stressful, but it did help get things done.
How are you motivated?
How you’re motivated is how you will achieve your goals. If you’re motivated by fear, then use fear to encourage and push you forward. If you’re motivated by reward, then use that.
My point here is to utilize what motivates you, not what others tell you is going to motivate you unless what they tell you is in line with what motivates you!
A great example of this is my ex-wife. She would listen to the gurus and they’d all say the same thing. Statements like, “Just believe it and you will achieve it!” or my favorite, “Think positively!”
Her goal was to create a business. And she wanted to use the principles and teachings that the biggest names taught to make her business a success. If you’re in real estate, you know what I mean because Realtors always end up going to all those seminars that talk about this stuff.
Anyway, she would practice daily. If she failed at something, she would just think more positive thoughts and believe even more that her success was here already. After several years of doing this with not even one dollar earned, she finally got frustrated and lost her interest in her business.
Then, she got angry. All these years went by and now she was angry because she did what she was told to do and she saw nothing come of it. And of course, she would read or watch more videos to find out what to do when you fail, and they’d tell her things like, “You just didn’t believe enough. Your thoughts and actions weren’t in line with one another. If you really believed, it would work.”
This made her even more upset because she knew she really did believe this type of thinking worked. But for her, it didn’t. So she got angry. And when she did, suddenly, she was taking steps that she hadn’t taken before.
Her anger fueled her to create something for herself in her own way. She was sick and tired of being sick and tired, which is how she ended up after years of positive thinking and “believing to achieve”. Her anger made her take bold steps into something new for herself and she made huge life changes, including moving out of the house and starting life in an entirely different city!
And what happened? She found happiness. She found a path she could follow with conviction and passion. She changed her life because she stopped doing what didn’t work.
What motivates you? Is it the pain or the reward?
We learn from many personal growth teachers that it’s always best to state things in the positive. Like, instead of saying, “I don’t want to be broke”, you’d say, “I want to be financially independent!”
But my belief is that you say whatever motivates you to take action and follow a course. And as long as you’re continually motivated, you keep going in that direction until it’s time to change. Meaning, always state things in a way that motivates you. If that means you are motivated for six months by stating it in the negative, but after 6 months you lose the motivation to continue, then try stating it in a different way.
Using the example I already gave, let’s say you want more money in your life. Which one resonates with you more?
“I don’t want to be broke!”
“I want to be rich!”
Or, if neither of those work, how about, “I never want to worry about money again!”
They may all be true or not for you, but which one really motivates you to find ways to get more money in your life? If not money, what about love, or stuff or people, you name it! Fill in the blank, then state what you want or don’t want. Then whatever moves you to take action, use that as fuel to achieve your goal.
A few years ago, when I finally got my family out of the welfare system, I remembered back to the days I was standing in line at 6 AM every morning at the soup kitchen. I realized that I never wanted to stand in line at a soup kitchen again. Never! This was so powerful in my head, that I went in the extreme opposite direction and saved more money in a year than I ever had in my life.
This helped get my wife and me out of a bad situation and back on track in life. For years after that, I told myself, “I will never be broke again.”
I used that as my motivator. Then, after a while, I realized that that statement no longer motivated me as it once did. It still has an impact when I say it today, but I’ve gotten comfortable again not being broke. And because of that, I’ve changed my declaration statement about money to be, “I want to make a lot of money so I have more freedom and more options.”
That kind of statement motivates me to do whatever I can to create that reality in my life. I realize it’s not everyone’s goal to make more money, but as I said, you can change the words to anything you’d like as long as it motivates you to take action.
The next step in setting goals when you hate setting goals is this:
Stop doing what doesn’t work
This is my favorite one because if you really live by this philosophy, you can change your life. There’s a point where you know something just isn’t working. Whether that’s a job, a relationship, a project, or what have you.
No matter how much money, time, or energy you have into something, stop doing it when it’s not working.
My mom thought that her abusive husband would eventually leave if she just stopped loving him and even outwardly hated him. Well, she was right! For 43 years, she kept repeating her same patterns of offensive behavior toward him hoping that he’d leave, and he finally left.
43 years of doing the same thing over and over again hoping things would change. She never took action herself so he never left until there was a blowup about a year and a half ago. All that time she could have gotten her life back, but she waited.
What she was doing wasn’t working, yet she continued to do it anyway. She was in denial and really believed that soon he would see how unwelcome he was and want to leave of his volition. But nope, he never did and she stayed miserable. Well, he finally did leave a year and a half ago, but it took 43 years and it wasn’t even related to how she was acting towards him.
She is just now starting to realize how much more happy she could have been had she done something years ago. Now that he’s gone, she’s finally experiencing some peace. But 43 years have come and gone. That is a clear indication of what doesn’t work.
Another example is the story I told in the previous segment how my ex-wife kept thinking and believing that things would come to fruition but they never did until she changed her beliefs and attitude. Year after year went by but things never changed.
Things sometimes appeared to get better, which would be an incentive to continue along the same path, but the outcome always ended up the same.
That’s just it, do you measure your accomplishments by what appear to be steps in the right direction? Or do you look at the outcome of what you were trying to achieve?
It’s true that every step toward something leads you closer to success, but where and how you measure success is the biggest factor. If you want a relationship where trust and safety are the biggest indicators of success, and you feel less and less safe with the person you’re with month after month, do you think that’s continually moving towards success?
If you’re working for someone or even for yourself, and you haven’t been promoted, gotten a raise, or made any more money in, let’s say, over two years, and you’re already feeling kind of burnt out, would you call that closer to success or farther away?
You may be working towards something that takes many years to accomplish, and if that’s the case, that’s your gauge. If you know that a project is going to take 4 years to complete, you need to look at how far you’ve come in the time you’ve had and gauge it from there.
Or, pivot. Pivoting is when you change course and move in a different direction. When I created The Overwhelmed Brain podcast, I knew that I’d have to start making money somehow or I wouldn’t be able to sustain it. But I also knew that creating a weekly show like that takes time to grow.
After the first show aired, I gave myself 6 months to start looking at income opportunities. 6 months came and went and I got nowhere trying to create any sort of regular income. Then a year came and went, and I realized that if I didn’t do something, The Overwhelmed Brain couldn’t “be” anymore.
I went from just sitting back, believing that the show would grow on its own and eventually earn money in a way I hadn’t thought of, to pivoting after a year because I realized nothing was going to happen until I took massive action to achieve it.
In regards to stopping what doesn’t work, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with this show since the beginning. The early shows weren’t popular so I changed the format. I once focused on taking donations but that didn’t work so I buried the donation button on a page deeper in the website. It used to take 40 hours to create a one-hour episode but I cut that exponentially by changing the format of the show.
What are you doing that doesn’t work anymore? Be honest with yourself too. Think about what in your life doesn’t work and think about how you can either make it work or move on.
One of the final steps I take when I want something to happen in my life is to create a deadline. By creating a deadline, you give yourself or other people up to that date for things to change. If they don’t, you follow through and take action.
What do I mean? Let’s talk about that final step in setting goals now.
Some things take a long time to manifest. It’s just the way it goes sometimes. There’s a belief I have that I attribute to this, and it’s this:
You will never manifest something until you become the person you need to be for it to appear
This sounds kind of spiritual, and for me it sort of is. But it’s also extremely practical.
You’ve heard that statistic that about 80% of lottery winners lose their winnings in about 5 years, right? I don’t know how accurate that number is, but just a quick online search reveals many lottery winners that won millions lost everything in just a few years.
Why? The main reason is that they aren’t the people they needed to be that could keep that kind of money.
In other words, if someone is bad with money to begin with, they aren’t going to be any better off when they get more of it.
Sure, there are some that will hire a financial planner, but many will just spend it because they have it, just like they spend every paycheck now, for example.
The same goes for why we have such a high divorce rate. When you or your partner don’t like something about the other person, that thing you don’t like usually gets worse after you get married. You think it will get better, but it turns out that marriage seems to amplify the best and the worst things about the relationship.
This happened to me. Before my now ex-wife and I got married, I got triggered by her food issues. I figured those triggers would go away after we got married because she was working on herself. And of course, over the years, because she was working on herself trying to get better every day, she would eventually get better and all would be well.
But it only got worse. And it wasn’t that her food addiction got worse, it was my reaction to her food addiction that got worse.
Who you are gets amplified when you get married, or get more money, or whatever happens that causes you to let go of your belief that your problems are over.
This is why I say that you need to become the type of person it takes to be able to manifest something in your life.
When I finally got over most of my judgment issues about my romantic partners, I met someone that reflected everything I wanted in a partner. And since then, our relationship only gets better. No tension and always growing closer.
I worked on myself and healed through the things I needed to heal through, otherwise, the person I wanted to manifest into my life would never have been attracted to me. Does that make sense?
If you plan on having a lot of money one day, but you still purchase frivolous things instead of saving it, do you think that behavior would change if you won the lottery? The behavior typically amplifies, the if you really want what you want, become the person you need to become that can handle it when it arrives.
That means reflecting on what bothers you.
What bothers you?
When you stop and think about what really bothers you right now, what comes up? I’m not talking about in the moment, I’m talking about what occupies your thoughts more often than not. Is there something that continually bothers you?
If so, that thing that bothers you will prevent you from getting what you want in life. The reason is that you have not become the person you need to be that doesn’t get bothered by that thing.
I said something very similar last week, but it is so important to hear this again. If you are not the person you need to be to have a million dollars in your life, you will not be able to earn it, let alone keep it, if it happens. The same goes for love, respect, kindness, or whatever you want more of in your life.
Money is a great example though because it’s easiest to measure. You know how much money you have, so if you want a million more than you have, what kind of attitude and behavior would a millionaire have?
If you have any hangups about money, I’d highly recommend working on those before becoming wealthy, if that’s your goal.
Or how about relationships? If you don’t trust the people you are attracted to, yet still want a relationship, I highly recommend working on trusting yourself.
Work on what bothers you to become the person you need to become so that you can manifest the things you want in life. Who knows! You could be ready for something right now and are just waiting for it.
Well, once you are in that space, it’s helpful to let go of your attachment to the outcome. Sometimes what’s perfect for you is on the way, but just needs time to get to you.
That brings us back to the last talking point which is this:
Set a deadline for what you want. If you don’t meet it, take action.
That’s it. Set a date and gauge your level of success when that date arrives.
I did that with myself at a job I worked at for several years. I just put it on the calendar and told myself, “If things don’t change by this date, I’m quitting.”
And I did everything I could to make things change, but they didn’t. So I followed through and quit.
That’s the most important part of this point: Follow through. This creates accountability. Without accountability, things are wishy-washy.
It’s like telling your child over and over again that you’re going to count to 3 if he or she doesn’t behave, but they eventually stop believing you because you never give them a consequence.
The deadline you set is the date of consequence. Look into the eyes of what you want to change and set the date. Say, “If you don’t change by this date, I’ll change things for you” or something like that.
This can be hard because it’s a commitment. But it eliminates the wait and hope game. You wait and hope things will change month after month, but they don’t.
You see tiny steps in the right direction, but the results are still the same as they were months ago. Wait and hope, wait and hope, and keep getting disappointed.
As I said, some things require more time to complete, so you need to be the judge of how long is too long or too short, but there has to be a deadline that you can just cut the cord and move on.
I like to use the analogy, “If you’re trudging through mud, you’re probably going in the wrong direction.”
What that means to me is that the harder it is to move in the direction you’ve chosen, the more likely it’s the wrong direction.
When you are going in the right direction, resources appear that weren’t there before. Things happen and align for you that you’d never think would happen. People show up and mountains are moved to make it happen. It’s fascinating to watch it unfold actually!
I’m not sure about the forces at work, but things do seem to line up and make the path free of obstacles when you are heading in the right direction. It’s like someone opened a door and said, “Right this way!”
This even works in directions you don’t want to go as well. For example, you could be working toward something big but you just keep running into obstacle after obstacle. So you pivot and head towards something else that you may not think is necessary at all, but suddenly the path opens up and you are free and clear to enter.
When I focused on writing ebooks, the path opened up just like that. All the resources I need came to be and suddenly I was an author. However, before that, I was struggling. I was taking one path that just kept getting me stressed. It didn’t feel right, but I kept going because I believed what people told me.
I was told that if I want to be a success, I had to do what they did. Turns out that I had to do what felt right to me. Once I got that feeling, I felt passionate and became the person I needed to be that wrote books. Doesn’t mean I’m a brilliant writer, it just means I found a path that calls to me, so I decided to take it.
Do what works. Follow the path that doesn’t feel like constant resistance. There will be challenges on any path for sure, but the right path will always have a solution. It may be hard to figure out at first, but learning the solution only gets you closer to your goal.
And that’s where we’re going to leave it for today. Setting goals is still something I don’t like doing, but I absolutely love the idea of setting a direction.
drive west and just keep driving west to succeed in life, that would feel a lot more possible than if I said you need to be at a specific building on a specific day and time to attain your goal.
reasons I started feeling defeated when reading Brian Tracy’s steps, was that the steps are so rich with detail and each one takes a lot of thinking and planning ahead.
One of my goals every week is to create a new episode of The Overwhelmed Brain. It’s a deadline I created for myself, and so far I haven’t missed a beat (I’ve created a new episode every week since November 2013)
Because of this, I’ve created the largest accountability group in the world: The listeners who expect a new show every week! The audience has increased by tens of thousands of people. When you have people in your life that hold you accountable, it certainly motivates you to complete your tasks. I didn’t really talk about accountability in this article but I’d like to mention it now because it is a great way to stick to your goals. As soon as you tell someone else what you are going to do, you suddenly feel accountable to do it.
Just having someone else know about your goals is motivation enough to help you complete them. After all, many of us have a tendency to not want to let people down. So find an accountability partner and tell them what you’re aiming for. Or better yet share what you are doing with the entire world, then you’re sure to meet those goals.
Even if you don’t meet them you’re going to learn a whole lot along the way, opening the door of possibilities you couldn’t have even imagined.