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Set Ambitious Goals (But Learn to Accept What You Achieve)

Set Ambitious Goals (But Learn to Accept What You Achieve)

 

    The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?”
    Zhuangzi – 300 BC

    Success begins in the mind. You need to set your mind to do something if you want to achieve anything. You need to set a fish trap to catch fish.

    Modern motivational gurus tell us to dream big, and to have a “can do” attitude. In The Secret Rhonda Byrne tells us that everything is possible.

    We are told that we need to set ambitious long term goals, and clear short term targets. Just as the greyhound runs faster when chasing the mechanical rabbit, people are more motivated when pursuing identifiable targets.

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    If we achieve these goals we feel good about ourselves. Few things make us as happy as performing a difficult task well, and doing something useful.

    What is more, making up our minds to do something makes us healthier and happier, regardless of our age, according to Harvard psychologist Ellen J. Langer, in her recent interesting book Mindfulness.

    Langer warns about the dangers of limiting our opportunities by adhering to preconceived conceptions. She refers to the “destructive state of mindlessness.”

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    But reality has a habit of putting obstacles in the way of our dreams. We are not going to win every race. We may travel a long way down a road, only to find that we cannot quite achieve our original objective. If we only focus on the final goal, we can become uptight. Not only may this affect our chances of success, it makes us less likely to enjoy our journey.

    In fact relaxed mindlessness has its benefits. Familiar thoughts and habits help us cope with the new experiences that we face in life. It is not practical to judge every new situation from scratch. Preconceived ideas are comforting, and useful.

    Whether at work, or playing sports, or learning a language, we cannot constantly second-guess ourselves. We need to trust our “instincts”, which are mostly not instincts at all, but habits, the result of repetition and experience.

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    Life is not a short dog race, but a long journey with many detours. if we are too focused on chasing the mechanical rabbit and worried about short term outcomes, we may miss the enjoyment of every rich moment in our lives. If we relax, we are more likely to continue in our projects and acquire experience, knowledge and important life skills.

    We should not allow ourselves to become disappointed if our achievements do not match our dreams. We should seek to enjoy what we are experiencing and achieving. This does not mean overstating the level of our achievements in some kind of empty assertion of our own self-esteem. It just means being satisfied with what are and what we have.

    If need to combine the mindfulness of the motivational gurus with an effortless appreciation of life, every single day.

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    The Sage is occupied with the unspoken
    and acts without effort.
    Teaching without verbosity,
    producing without possessing,
    creating without regard to result,
    claiming nothing,
    the Sage has nothing to lose.

    Dao de jing – 600 BC

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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