How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

Achieving Ambitious Goals is a Journey…

At the time I write this, we’re about 30 days into the new year. Ah, February. In addition to being dark, cold, and relatively boring… you’re a heart breaker. Valentine’s Day aside, February often brings the bleak reality of what all those shiny New Year’s resolutions  and “new year new you” aspirations actually look like after a month or so of bashing up against reality.

If you’re feeling a little discouraged right now, I have two really important things to tell you: First of all, you’re not alone. Everyone (everyone!) who attempts ambitious goals encounters obstacles along the way. When you try and make big changes, you start off with high hopes, lots of motivation and energy, and then… drift off the path. Totally normal and expected.

Secondly, this “drift” experience is not just normal — it’s good. I know, I know. When you try something new and then don’t stick to “the plan” it feels like you’ve failed. But really: This is not the moment to slink away in defeat. THIS is the moment to double-down, and dig in.

Having things not work is a gift, one that offers you insight and crucial information… as long as you’re open to it. Making a change and then having the experience of whether or not it works is the reality-based information you require to learn, grow, and revise your approach. Having something not work out the first time is simply an invitation to go deeper, and figure out what achieving your most ambitious goals *actually* requires.

New idea: Having the experience of “failure” is what success actually feel like, in practice. (As long as you keep going!)

How to Achieve Ambitious Goals (Really)

The true path forward — the one that’s hard-won through trial, error, and lots of experimentation — is typically not at all like the path forward we imagined in our heads, before we began taking action.

If you started the new year with ambitious goals and aspirations that are already on life-support, or have been abandoned altogether: CONGRATULATIONS. Only now do you have the real-world information you need to reassess your situation, gain more clarity, and tweak your approach.

To help you figure out how to achieve your most important goals for real, I’ve invited master life coach Laurie Gerber of The Handel Groupto share her tips for how to use setbacks to understand yourself more deeply, and shine a spotlight on the mental, emotional and practical strategies that will help you achieve your most ambitious goals.

Listen and learn:

  • How creating multidimensional, holistic self-awareness can help you uncover blindspots that could otherwise become obstacles.
  • Why the obvious path to change is often not effective (and what often unseen things actually are)
  • How to get your thoughts, feelings and behavior into alignment
  • Different ways of thinking that will help you stay motivated over the long haul

 

I hope that this conversation helps YOU dig deeper, get into alignment, and get clarity about where to refocus your energy.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: We discussed a number of resources in this episode. One of them is our free Ten Year Plan exercise. If you haven’t done this yet, here’s the link to get the pdf or access to the online version.

 

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How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Marissa Anderson, “Resurrection”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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The Power-Struggle Inside Us

 

Immediate Gratification sees an opening. It elbows its way past Motivation, to grab the wheel at the helm of my mind.

Sometimes Immediate Gratification it steers me towards a lagoon of lounging around, making ambitious lists of things I never do (which is a very satisfying substitute for actual activity). Sometimes we careen back and forth between small, time-frittering tasks. Sometimes we drift along, chatting with whoever is in the vicinity. Sometimes we go swimming. Sometimes we sail madly for The Emergency of the Day, firing off emails and phone calls in every direction, and that’s very exciting. Sometimes I am marooned on a sandbar of stalled time where fifteen, thirty minutes slide by when I could be something productive but instead am sipping tea and absorbing mildly interesting content from the face of my iPhone.

I am relieved when Motivation finally frees itself from whatever dark corner of the bilge it’s been temporarily trapped in, and strides back in to re-assert it’s authority. Immediate Gratification chews it’s nails and watches Motivation spread the chart out on the table, plot points with sliding rulers, take notes, perform elaborate calculations with sextants and compasses, and then competently steer me towards an attractive destination.

Motivation prods me to get up at uncivilized hours and do important things I’d not otherwise have time to. It compels me to exert myself, tolerate discomfort, set boundaries around distractions and move forward every day. Immediate Gratification pretends to stand respectfully in the distance, but has a long fishing pole with shiny lures on the end that occasionally dangle in front of my face: Online shopping, trip-planning, Twitter-surfing. Motivation swats them away, keeping the other hand steady on the wheel and eyes on the horizon.

Does this sound familiar? I bet – This struggle lives inside us all.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about how to keep Motivation in charge most of the time:

1) Stay Scared.

Tony Robbins (I love you Tony) astutely pointed out that we’re motivated not just by anticipation of positive reward, but by clear understanding of the negative consequences of our actions. This is supported by research in the study of motivation and persuasion. Fear is a powerful motivator. We can lull ourselves into believing that when Immediate Gratification is in charge, it’s really okay. It’s fine. It’s okay to spend an afternoon cleaning out the kitchen drawers or watching three movies in a row or FaceBooking for hours because it’s just fine.

But what’s actually true is that what we put effort and energy into every day creates our future reality. So indulging Immediate Gratification really equals Future Failure to meet our goals. Envisioning Future Failure and then linking that negative vision to something pleasurable (like watching TV) “reframes” the activity.

Remind yourself that: “I’m not just watching TV, I’m loosing the opportunity to [insert important goal here]. Choosing to watch TV means that I’m choosing [insert scary future outcome here].” Watching TV is not a benign activity when it’s a conscious decision to fail. When it becomes associated with danger and failure instead of pleasure, you’ll feel less comfortable with it. Then it’s easier to reconnect with Motivation.

To be a little anxious is a good thing. Go ahead and worry about what will happen if you DON’T follow through. Immediate Gratification will seem less like a laid-back friendly buddy, and more like a flaky, chain-smoking neer-do-well with trembling hands. You’ll run right into the arms of clean-cut, trustworthy Motivation.

2) Don’t Kill Yourself, or Get Confused

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that when Immediate Gratification takes over it’s because I’m either tired, or because I don’t know what to do next. That awareness helps me 1) Not beat myself up for going “off the reservation” once in awhile and 2) Get back on track. Because in the ebb and flow of motivation, sometimes you really do need to rest and re-group before moving forward again.

Motivation will flag if you get burnt-out. Don’t go crazy and try to achieve big huge goals quickly. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Build time for rest and renewal into your day, every day. Just stay the course and keep working towards your goal a little bit every day too.

But you’re not going to be perfect all the time. You can be laser-focused and achieve an important goal and then…. Drift for a little while. And then sooner or later you’ll look around and say “Hey. What am I doing?” and then you’ll have to reconnect with Motivation.

This requires looking at your map again, to see where you are in the arc of progress. This is why it’s so important to have written goals, and a clear plan of action to refer back to. This is especially true when you have a big goal with lots of twists and turns.

You can make a lot of progress, but you will periodically falter. At those moments you need to pause and re-orient yourself as to where you are now and what needs to happen next. Without that clarity Immediate Gratification will jump right in, swing the wheel around and head for Vegas.

3) Do it Every Day

In order to keep Motivation in charge long-term, you must intentionally check in with it every day (unless Motivation is already in firm command). The way I do this is by journaling. I just check in with myself: “What’s the most important thing for me to be doing today?” And then write about it for a few minutes. I often re-write my goals in order to keep track of what I’m doing and why. When there’s an ebb in motivation, or when I loose track of The Most Important Next Step, this moment of touching base re-orients me and helps me prioritize my time.

But the single most important thing I’ve found is to create a routine where time for me to work on my goal is blocked out every single day. It is much more important for you (us) to work consistently than it is to do huge amazing things once in awhile. Twenty minutes of jumping around in front of a work-out video every morning is much more effective than a big heroic three hour work out once a week.

When you work a little bit every day, you know what to do, and you have the time to do it. You don’t have to start over every time you re-engage with a project. You don’t have to re-motivate yourself. You just stay the course.

Bottom Line

So: Go forth and cultivate a little anxiety, don’t over do it on any given day, check in with Motivation and “The Plan” frequently, and create routines that support progress. Let me know how it goes! — Lisa

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