The most beautiful paintings start with a simple sketch. Engineers sit for days and posit a design for a bridge to connect two land masses. The Eiffel Tower, New York City’s new Freedom Tower, even Burj Khalifa in Dubai, all started with architectural drawings, simple blocks on paper where someone envisioned a larger-than-life structure.
Today’s post is about building a framework for success. For a little background, read Part 1 of the series I started yesterday.
One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson where she said our deepest fear isn’t about our failure rather it’s of our success.
We unintentionally sabotage our own success because it scares us. I know that’s true for me so I think it might be true for other people too. I base this statement on the plethora of proverbs in common, everyday use, that reinforce the idea to stay where you are and stick it out, rather than chase some pipe dream that will eventually disappoint you. Those statements are real, we hear them everyday and we probably could find a million and one instances that support them. We stay where it’s familiar and reformat our dreams as bedtime stories to rock ourselves to sleep.
Sometimes dreams are a form of palliative medicine. We have a carefully constructed dream and story that we use to comfort ourselves or parade around for anyone else who asks what we’re doing with our lives. We do this because we’re more or less comfortable with the lives we lead, it’s the life we’ve always led and we know how it works. We’ve been in this position for so long, we wear it like a lounge suit and we have no real desire to change. But when we’re questioned, or when we intuit that someone thinks we should have or do more, we bring out the dream, like a photo album of a constructed future. But we have no desire to actually live the dream because ‘What would we dream about then?’
This probably sounds ridiculous but I’m sure if you look around your life, like I’m doing with mine, you’ll find some place where you’re doing the same thing.
So we talk about it but never do anything for it to come true. That’s a dream. Having a goal instead means making the decision that you’ll work to make the dream come true.
There are 3 steps that separate a dream from a goal:
- A decision
- A plan
- A timeline
Saying, I am comfortable being on the opposite side of the goal. If the goal is to write a memoir, saying I’m comfortable having my life in print for everyone to read and comment on ad infinitum. If it’s to lose 20 pounds, it’s saying I am comfortable getting rid of the clothes I have now and buy new things, the attention I’ll get when I lose the weight. If it’s to start a new career, it’s saying I am comfortable going back to school and surrounding myself with people a lot younger than I am, investing maybe thousand of dollars in something that might not give a reward for years, sacrificing my free time to study, trying something new, going through the interview process to find a new job, etc.
Most people don’t like change. This Huff Post article explains why.
And that’s fine if you’re happy with where you are. But if you’re not, then you need to overcome that distaste for your present circumstances and make a decision to change your life.
Figuring out how long it will take to accomplish the goal and making time to work on the process and dedicating regular, quality time and effort towards it. This is the boring part. It’s the long-term grind, the blood, sweat and tears portion where you write lots of words, or go to the gym every day or eat broccoli when you’re craving mac and cheese. This is the tough part and you have to have a plan for how you’ll accomplish it.
- Make a schedule so you’re never wondering what you need to do.
- Make a daily timetable that includes time for working on your goal.
- Make a To-do list of items that you can cross off.
- Find out how many words you need to write (the average novel is about 75,000 words) and make a plan for how many words you will write every day. Put it on a calendar so you can cross it off.
- Consult a fitness trainer and figure out how many calories you need to burn to everyday to reach your weight loss goal.
- Write a menu of meals that meet your requirements.
There has to be a realistic cut off point at which you evaluate whether the goal has been achieved, or why it hasn’t. If there is no timeline, you’ve abstracted your way back into dreamland.
You have to say to yourself:
- I plan to finish writing this 2,000 word article by Friday.
- I will lose 20 pounds by the end of March.
- I will get my MBA by June 2018.
- (Insert your own goals here)
Someday is not a timeline. One day is not specific enough. Eventually is just a pipe dream and since (not if) we’re serious about moving from dreams to goals, we need specificity, not abstraction.
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a meal plan that has worked for me in the past and that I am customizing to use again.
My blog is called Eat Right, Live Right, Run Wright for a reason. I think it all begins with our food – you can’t change the world if you’re constantly thinking about how hungry you are, or dealing with cravings that are controlling you.
So meal planning is always my first building block for success.
I hope you join me tomorrow for the next post.
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