14 Easy Ways to Get Started on Your Goals

Overview

Like the worn out, old expression says, “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Unlike the worn out expression, today is the first day you can get started on goals that you have for now and the rest of your life. That makes things a little more compelling doesn’t it?

Allow me ask you a philosophical question. Can you store up happiness? Can you pluck moments of happiness from your life here and there, and put them in a bottle, or in the freezer, to be withdrawn some time in the future, when you want to be happy?

No, no, a thousand times no.

To be happy is to be happy now, in the present. When the future arrives, you will either be happy or you won’t; you’ll know on that day, in that present. Many of the goals you wish to reach are best set now. You probably have a lot of things to do and that you fully intend to get started on some goals next week, and next month. Consider however, those goals that make the most sense to initiate this moment.

It all Starts Tomorrow

Suppose you want to lose the proverbial ten pounds, and you tried to do this many times in the past. “Let’s see, I’ll eat a big bag of chips today, some ice cream, and some heavily fatted meats because, after all, I’m starting on my diet tomorrow.”

You laugh, and yet that is the mind-set by which so many people proceed on weight- related or other goals. They behave in ways contrary to the accomplishment of their goal, because after all, they haven’t “officially started.”

The official start time for many of your goals is now. It’s now because the behavior in which you need to engage isn’t going to change 180 degrees at the stroke of midnight.

The Mindset of a Goal Achiever

To begin watching your diet, moderate your calorie intake, eat more healthy foods, take vitamins, engage in regular exercise and so on, above and beyond your lists, charts, and time lines requires a proper mind-set.

Suppose I told you I have $1,500 in a savings account, and my goal was to get that account up to $10,000 within six months. I am, however, going to start tomorrow. So, for today, I can spend everything in the account. After all, I have a full six months to get the account to $10,000.

What would you think if this is the way I proceeded in pursuit of this goal? Foolhardy, you say? Why deplete the balance you already have? Good question. In fact, it’s the same question you might ask of someone who is going to go on a diet “tomorrow.” Why add to your burden by stuffing yourself with calories today? You’re only making your burden that much more difficult.

If you’re serious about reaching any of your short-term goals, those that you wish to accomplish in say, a year or less, and similarly are as focused on some of your longer term goals, there’s no way of getting around this: you begin to engage in goal supporting behaviors and activities in the present.

Action Speaks the Loudest

Action does indeed speak louder than words. What do you tell your inner being when you stuff yourself with calories, or deplete your savings account, all because you’re going to “get started tomorrow,” when such actions are contrary to your long-term pursuits?

Indeed you may choose to eat a few chips, a spoonful or two of ice cream, and a half the portion of fatty meat you had intended to devour.

n Perhaps there’s a critical purchase I need to make with some of the funds in the account which I choose to have grow to $10,000 within six months.

There are powerful gestures, however, that you can engage in that will deliver a message to every fiber of your being that you intend to pursue this goal with vigor. If your goal is to reduce your weight by ten pounds (the most appropriate wording is to have a more trim, healthful appearance) go to your refrigerator right now, take out the ice cream, and flush it down the sink. Throw out the box of chocolate chip cookies, or better yet, if the pack is unopened, drop it off at a shelter for the homeless.

If you intend to quit smoking, which most appropriately worded is to have clear, clean, healthy lungs — round up all the cigarettes in your household and throw them out. Don’t bother donating them to anyone else.

You know what? I think I’ll deposit another $250 in savings.

To What Are You Committed?

After all is said and done, much more is said than ever done. Are you committed to the goals you have set for yourself? Do you intend to reach them? By stripping your kitchen of fat or sugar laden foods, or chucking all of your cigarettes on the spot, you demonstrate commitment, albeit relatively small measures in the grand scheme of things. Yet, this kind of action is as powerful a gesture as any, when added to another and yet another and another.

Do you have the fortitude to put down this article right now, go to the kitchen, and throw out the rest of the ice cream? This is not a test. This is your life. Either get up and do it right now. Or, perhaps think about who else you could give this article to — someone who’ll actually read and follow the advice.

Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

While you’re in the groove, what other action can you take right now, around the house, to signify your commitment to the goals you’ve set for yourself?

n Has too many hours with the TV on proved to be a bane? Do you have the mental and emotional strength right now to pull the TV plug out of the wall, then, get a pair of scissors, and snip the end so you can’t plug it back in?

n Is there a pile of stuff stacking up that you’re never going to deal with for which you can muster the fortitude to simply throw away en masse?

n Are there clothes in your closet that you never want to wear again because they represent the old you and you need to make space for the new you? If so, there are plenty of charitable organizations that would appreciate the donation.

Commit and Prosper

It all comes down to whether or not you’re committed to your goals. You need to do more than put them on paper – commit at the highest level of your cognitive capabilities. If you do so, you’ll take action consistent with reaching them, independent of whether you’re formally starting today or not.

If you discover – via your unwillingness to take action – that you’re not committed to one or more of the goals you’ve set for yourself, park that goal for now. Do not make it a part of your activities. Why? If you’ve set some goals but actually have no intention of reaching them, you run the risk of dampening your progress on yet other goals.

Many people who have these well crafted lists of goals they intend to pursue that seem to just linger on, for an indefinite period. It is fine to have dreams, but if you want to convert dreams to goals you need to pick ones that are challenging but reachable, quantifiable, and you need to create specific time lines.

Archive It and move On

If one or more of your goals keeps making your list, but you haven’t taken step one, put it on a 50 or 100 things to do in your life roster. Then, at least you won’t forget it, nor feel guilty for not having taken any action on it. In either case, get it off of your current goals list, because it doesn’t belong there if you’re not committed to it.

From Where You Were to Where You Want to Be

Despite your best intentions, sometimes the reason why you don’t take action even when you’ve engaged in all the other steps of the goal setting process is that you begin to rationalize with yourself. This occurs when the thought, “Hey, things aren’t so bad,” comes up in place of your taking action.

If you’re way overweight, you convince yourself, at least temporarily, that you’re happy at this weight.

If you’re utterly alone, you dwell on the moments here and there where being alone has it’s advantages.

n If you’re 52-years-old and you have no real savings, you rationalize that many of other people are in the same boat, or that you’re about to get into your prime earning years.

No One is Immune

Everyone is subject to rationalization at one time or another. However, if excessive rationalizing keeps you from taking the action that would enable you to go from where you are to where you want to be, perhaps it’s time to reconstruct your self talk:

“I’m overweight, I’ve been overweight for years, and I can’t stand it. I choose to reach my target weight.

“I’m alone, utterly and miserably alone, and I want very much to have a partner.” I choose to join a single club. “I have no savings, nothing to show for myself for all these years, and I choose to save $10,000 by June 30.”

In each of the above situations, as well as any others you can imagine, the quickest road away from rationalizing is to take action. Sign up at a health club today, and start going regularly.

Pick up the phone and join an organization where you’re likely to meet other singles whom you are attracted to, and start attending at the next meeting.

Take $20 out of your wallet or whatever money you have hanging around, drive down to the bank and make a deposit. Then, make another one next week, and next week and the week after that.

A Paralyzing Rationalization: “I Get no Breaks”

There’s an old expression that says, “Don’t talk about luck in the company of self-made people. People who set and reach goals appreciate any luck they receive along the way but largely they chart their own course.”

Often you hear about or read about this person or that one who says they never got any breaks. Some people think the deck is totally stacked against them when it comes to opportunities. These kinds of claims always confound m

If you choose to engage in academic excellence, who on this earth can stop you?

n If you set your sights on being a master in using word processing software to the point where you score the highest on any test administered to those in your job classification, who in particular can stand in your way?

If choose to be a master at any other vocation, who but yourself will be your obstacle?

Are you telling me that somebody is coming by your house at night, or your office in the morning, and pulling the plug just as you were about to crack the books and delve more deeply into your subject area? Are you saying that the library is not open in your town? Are you saying that you literally lack the funds to make the minimal investments needed to get started? Are you saying that there is no one else on a planet of six billion people who shares your goal and with whom you may team up?

The Hardship of Better Living

As hard as it may be to proceed month after month, year after year without getting what you want, are you willing to accept the hardship of making a better life for yourself? If not, please don’t feel as if I’m picking on you. You are, however, simply part of the broad masses of society who, effectively, accept their lot in life and vie for the table scraps that might fall their way.

If you are willing to accept the challenge of making a better life, and if you are willing to get into action, the outcome of your quest generally is up to you. If you make it all the way, no one will deny you your place when you step into the winner’s circle.

Action is Invigorating

Planning is important.

Plotting is important.

Visualizing is important.

Taking action is essential.

Taking action separates the boys from the men, the girls from the women, the pencil pushers from the doers.

It’s lamentable, but every time the federal government in Washington seemingly wants to take action in some critical area, the first thing they do is pay a ton of taxpayers’ monies for a bevy of studies, the majority of which no one reads or takes seriously. If there’s some new bridge to be constructed or some new process to be devised, it seems that there’s far more attention paid to theories on how to build a bridge or engage in the process, than there is interest in actually having the bridge built or the process perfected and completed.

Paralysis of Analysis

This proclivity to study an issue to death has put a strangle hold on what started out as honorable pursuits.

Don’t be caught in your tracks because of the all too easy tendency to slip into rationalization, or to engage in the paralysis by analysis. Spend some time carefully assessing the situation; spend more time taking action.

You Will Err

If you’re afraid of making mistakes, here’s an insight for you, you will make mistakes. That is not a reason not to proceed. Ask world champion goal achievers, and they’ll tell you the way to succeed in life is to fail often, learn from your setbacks, and move on.

They don’t mean to imply that you actively go out and seek to fail. Rather, you make a lot of attempts to succeed, and in doing so end up encountering failure, perhaps a little more often than you care to.

There’s an old adage that goes “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ Similarly: “It is better to have attempted something and failed, than never to have attempted it.

Here’s a provoking thought: What you do that’s different now to ensure that you reach the goals that you set for yourself? The answer to this question differs from person to person. For you, it might involve:

Sharing your plans with a significant other.

Rearranging your room, home, office, car or other vital spaces.

Purchasing goal enhancing tools such as a calendar or planning software.

Arranging a meeting.

Making important phone calls.

Taking off for a day to rest.

Engaging in an extended mediation.

n Admitting to yourself that you don’t know what you’re going to do but are committed to taking action that transcends what you’ve done before.

May the most for which you strive, be the least that you achieve.

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