Sometimes I wish I had a Life-GPS that would help me achieve goals. It would instruct me on my way, recalculate when I don’t take the suggested turn, and visually show me where I am all the time, including the distance left. Sadly, we usually don’t have the map of our lives, but there are important lessons to learn from that picture.
What is the most important aspect of a GPS you may have in your car?
Think for a minute.
It’s telling you exactly where you are. You probably don’t even start driving without knowing your location. This is super important in our lives also. You can have a detailed map and a very clear goal in your mind, but when you don’t know where you are, you simply can’t get there.
Before trying any goal-setting, motivational speeches and progress tracking, the most important thing is to sit down and honestly answer the question “Where am I right now?”
- What is the vision for my life? Do I have it?
- What do I have? What can I use?
- What’s unique about me?
- What’s important for me?
- What are my priorities?
- What strengthens me? What drains energy from me?
- What habits do I have? What habits I would like to have?
- What are my values?
- What did I already try? How many times? (As Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”)
- What aspects of my life are neglected?
When you are lost without directions, sometimes you need to look around, observe, maybe ask others to tell you, but without that knowledge you won’t get to your destination even if you precisely know where it is.
When your internal Life-GPS is warmed up and you know where you are with some accuracy, you can precisely set your goal. There are three important aspects of goal setting that are described by Pareto Principle, Flow and SMART goals.
20% of your goals will usually define 80% of your outcome. This is why you need just a few clear, energizing goals. According to Wikipedia, Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.. You know it, right? And it is good to learn how to make that a conscious choice. SMART goals will help you being precise and avoid wasting energy.
With that knowledge, you are ready to start your journey. You know where you are and you know your destination. Turn on the engine and start moving!
Hints on your way
Many things can happen when your journey has already begun. This is why you need signs and signals on your way.
Inspect and adapt. When there is “road construction” in your life and you can’t take the turn you wanted, don’t be angry. Simply “recalculate” and move on. Life is all about being flexible. Smile and just take a different road.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” wrote ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It’s amazing that you can drive hundreds of miles during the night, when you only see less than 1% of the road in front of you. You don’t have to know all the details to start moving.
Don’t hurry. It kills your creativity. And it drains energy from you.
Get rid of the garbage. In your computer. In your life. Habits. Relationships. Time. It won’t go away on its own. And it smells.
Don’t forget the fun. You are not a machine and you will achieve goals faster and with greater energy when you make things fun. Just an example how fun can change your behavior for better:
Fasting. When you take the same road over and over again, it starts to be boring. Also when you eat the same thing every day, you are losing the taste of it. Take breaks. Stop doing something—eating, drinking, reading, and meeting—for a period of time, just to get the fresh taste after the break. You will be more aware of where you are and will achieve goals faster.
Turn off distractors. You can’t drive very fast and talk and text at the same time. If you want to be fast, you really need to focus. Your phone, social media and sometimes even other people can wait for some time. When you lose your focus, you need to slow down.
Be grateful. Another red light and you may start complaining. But do you do the opposite? If there is a series of green lights on your way do you silently say ‘Thank you’? Gratitude can open your eyes and you may fully enjoy the view while driving toward your goals.