HARD Goals — Part 2

We already covered that goals worth pursuing should be heartfelt and animated. Simply put, you have to really care about your goal — not just pursue it halfheartedly, and make your goal so vivid and alive in your mind by implementing visualization techniques that it holds a permanent place in your day to day life. ‘H’ and ‘A’ were all about developing feeling and personal attachment to your goals and ‘R’: Required and ‘D’: Difficult complement the theme nicely.

The Required question addresses the necessity of completing your goal. If you are able to convince yourself that completing your goals is a necessity and not an option you will be much more likely to reach the finish line. This section of the book also addresses the procrastination issue we all face at one point or another. Consistently reminding yourself of future payoffs can ensure that the urgency remains alive and that you focus on small every day gains instead of thinking about the promise of tomorrow and inevitably pushing your desired outcome further out of reach. Start now, because if you get into the mindset of “starting tomorrow”, the days can quickly turn into weeks and months.

The takeaways from this chapter for me were about limiting choices (making it easier to choose a goal in the first place) and dealing with negativity arising from focusing on struggle in the present by making a list that specifically outlines the ways in which your life will be improved in the future as a result of accomplishing your goal. Out of the six ways to create a sense of urgency suggested in the book, this one spoke to me the most; minimize your costs by mentally recasting them as projected benefits instead. Revisiting these chapters was particularly useful after taking a long break from LaunchSchool. As I enter another busy work season (I work in emergency services) it is especially important that I revisit these chapters to keep my head in the game and not get discouraged by long days and lack of time. The author underlines the importance of not having any “zero days” and keeping momentum. A long break can result in loss of motivation and having to start from the beginning.

My favourite section of the book is last — goals have to be Difficult. I recently started learning Portuguese and picked up a relevant concept from a language learning book “Fluent Forever” by Gabriel Wyner that relates nicely to learning code. The concept of “comprehensible input” is defined as language input that can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and structures in it. It is described as one level above that of the learners if it can only just be understood. This sweet spot exists in all pursuits and it’s what makes learning possible by making it rewarding, interesting and most importantly not so overwhelming for the learner that they want to quit. If one of your goals is to finish the LS curriculum, this one is somewhat solved for you since it’s programmed into LS. There is a certain amount of struggle as you progress through the modules and assignments and consistently riding this sweet spot stretches your abilities, makes the courses interesting and gives you a sense of accomplishment in the end.

To set a HARD goal and follow through, you must be learning new things and be on the edge of your comfort zone on a daily basis. And if you can explain why you care about your goal and can employ visualization techniques into your goal making, accomplishing your goals still won’t be easy but it will become predictably certain.