The Number One Reason You Don’t Want to Reach Your Goals
“How do you want to feel in April?”
He looked at me with a perplexed smirk.
“This is different” I could see him thinking.
When setting goals for the future, it’s easy to trick yourself into creating a list of tasks and actions instead of staying focused on the work.
Here’s the difference:
A goal is a destination. It represents the “why” you are doing a particular action and the transformation that you will receive.
A task or activity is the journey. It’s the “how” you are going to get to your destination, the path that will get you to your desired transformation.
Just like on any map, there are many ways to get to the same destination: some quicker, some more crowded, some more scenic.
All that matters is the outcome. That’s why, when you start from actions right away, you are just creating a lot of admin for yourself without knowing where it will take you.
That’s why, whenever I help a coaching client figure out a stable direction, I like to start from a feeling first.
How do you feel today, and how do you want to feel in the future?
Once you are clear on that, you will suddenly know which results will trigger that feeling and create that state of being. And, once you have your goal, you can map out how to get there.
The sequence is feeling > goals > actions.
Why you can never stick to your plans
If you keep setting an endless list of goals, including
- read 20 books in a year
- get in better shape, and
- finally, launch a new product
but can never stick to it, here’s what’s happening.
You are focusing on actions instead of goals, planning so tightly that there is no space for you to learn and adjust.
When you focus on actions and tasks instead of goals, you get stuck in the 3 traps of overplanning: just like quicksand, the more you move, the more cemented you get.
Here are the three traps of overplanning.
Trap #1: the person planning hasn’t got the results
I used to plan every single aspect of my life until I realised that the person planning hadn’t yet achieved the results those plans are for.
Whenever you want to create a transformation in your life, the only certainty is that what you have done so far hasn’t worked: doubling down will not work.
That’s why long lists of actions keep you stuck in the same patterns, instead of creating the transformation needed for a radically different outcome.
Remember: your plans were made by the person without the results (i.e. you).
Trap #2: you are reinforcing the same thoughts
Having a long list of tasks is comforting: on your journey to pioneering new results in your life, you’ll feel very often out of your depth.
Having a blueprint, you can cling to make you feel safe like you know what you are doing. However, this reinforces the same thoughts and patterns that have created your present situation.
That’s why, to achieve your 2020 goals, you must let go of planning, and leave space to think and let things happen. You want to maximise feedback so that you can rapidly change the way you think and act.
Trap #3: actions keep results at a distance
We don’t like change. When I travelled for six months throughout Europe, I hated every time I had to leave my current abode and move on to a different city. Within two days, I had adjusted and felt at home and loved the new location. After a while, it dawned me: I was resisting change.
A long list of tasks creates distance between you and your results, meaning that you won’t have to cope with change (whether positive or negative) for a long time.
Overcomplicating things by adding admin, information, and useless tasks is a manifestation of “busy procrastination”. This attitude lets you postpone things while also feeling ok with yourself (because you are “doing” so much). It’s a very subtle form of procrastination, but one that can sabotage all your efforts in life and business.
The antidote to self-sabotage
What to do: instead of starting from tasks and actions, get clear on how you want to feel. For example, you may want to feel “proud” about the work that you have done on your business over the next six months. How does that feel? What will get you to that point?
Get super specific on your destination, and the route will take care of itself.
Knowing that you are not the person that has the results means letting go of control, and accepting that you will have to change and learn as you go.
Social media, podcasts, and our peers, all want to tell us what we must do, own, or experience to feel a certain way. Instead of listening to someone else’s list and jump into an endless to-do list, travel to the future and listen to how you want to feel alternatively.
Next, identify what achievements and thoughts will enable that, and write down your goals: the destination.
Once you know where you’re going, you can finally focus on actions and find your route to get to your goals. Just like in Google maps, the course is secondary: there are many ways to get to the same destination. All that matters is that you get to the right place.
How will you feel?