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How To Totally Rock Your Goals…Even If You’ve Failed At Them Before

How To Totally Rock Your Goals…Even If You’ve Failed At Them Before

Ever get that feeling that no matter how much you do, there is always a continuing onslaught of things you need to get done?

You had dreams, ideas, things you wanted to try out, and business concepts you know would put cash into your bank account…If only you could get round to doing them you would totally rock your goals!

But then, nothing ever changes. Just as you think you’ve got one time-draining activity out of the way, something else comes along to take its place. It’s almost as if the harder you work and the faster you climb, the steeper the hill gets.

Maybe you can relate to the idea of being on a treadmill at the gym. Each time you have a little success, someone hits the incline button to make you run at a steeper angle! I remember a busy mom describing this as one of her recurring nightmares.

Something’s Got To Give!

If you’re in this situation, it’s not your fault. You got here because you had the best of intentions.

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The reality is, though, the thinking that got you onto this treadmill is not the same thinking that will help you get off of it.

Thinking that you just need to get more stuff done, work harder, or work smarter is still treadmill thinking. It’s not going to fundamentally change anything. All that happens if you apply this logic is that you end up working harder, but still having more stuff come in to fill those precious little gaps in your schedule.

Real change comes from a new approach. Getting off the treadmill depends on starting from somewhere else – away from the treadmill – and applying a new logic.

Step Away From The Treadmill!

You see, the treadmill mentality focuses on dealing with incoming demands and getting through a to-do list. What you need to do to break free of the treadmill is start from:

  1. what you really want out of your life, and
  2. how you want to spend your time.

The first item – what you want out of your life – is fairly straightforward. For most movers and shakers, they’ve got this pretty well defined from the material through to their relationships and their inner world. I’m going to assume you know what you want.

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What is normally overlooked, though, is the second thing: how you want to spend your time.

“We live in an age where hard work and sacrifice are the myths of success.”

The truth is, this is just a paradigm, a way of thinking and seeing the world. However you see the world determines the rules you allow yourself to play by. If you think having what you want has to be hard work, guess what? It will be!

By contrast, if your view of the world is that you can have your life the way you want it, and that you just need to be a bit savvy around how you go about it, you’re playing a whole different game. One in which you open up the possibility that achieving your goals is fun, interesting and taps in to you doing what lights you up…as part of the process, not just the end game.

How To Eliminate The Treadmill And Still Function In The ‘To-Do List World’

“This is all very well,” you may be thinking. “Throwing away the to-do list, and just do what I feel like. But I have responsibilities: a job to do, a business to run.”

Quite right! I agree entirely, so let me clarify something, and then give you a method that you can use to operate in the ‘real world’.

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Firstly, this isn’t about shirking your responsibilities. There are still going to be things that you need to spend time doing. However, if you start from the premise that you should only do what you do best, and can re-delegate or outsource or swap with someone to get rid of the things that are frustrating you, then so much the better.

The Three Bubble Approach

Here’s the method to get real-world results, whilst refusing to get on the treadmill. Three bubbles a day keeps the treadmill away!

  1. Decide on what you really want out of each area of your life. Maybe set a goal for your work, a goal for your relationships, one for your family and one for your health and/or spirituality. Make sure you write these down somewhere you can keep referring back to them.
  2. Each week spend some time working on these things. Let’s use the work category as an example. Imagine your goal is to get more clients. Before you start your normal work or open you emails, take a piece of paper and write on it what you want to achieve that day in terms of finding more clients. It may be that you want to call up some old contacts, or send out an email to your list, or write a few letters to prospects. Whatever it is, put one or two items on the sheet of paper in bubbles around the goal “get more clients”.
    three bubble method
    •  Now look at everything else you need to make happen that week, and decide what category they fit into: maybe managing staff, maybe delivering presentations, maybe renewing your car insurance. Whatever they are, they fit into a category. Write those on the piece of paper too, and see what category you can assign them to.
    • Here’s the tough part. Each day you want to limit yourself to three categories at the most: this is where the three bubbles comes from in the method name.
    • You see, you lose so much time and momentum by constantly switching your focus and you want to minimize this. Only working on two or three categories a day seriously amps up your ability to be productive and stay in your flow. Select your categories for today now. One of these categories should include that first thing you chose that you really wanted to achieve, but probably wasn’t already on your ‘treadmill list’.
    • Each day, you do the same thing: only ever working on two or three categories (you can pick different ones each day). Sure, there may be a number of tasks in one category, so it’s OK to plug through each of those (just have them on spokes that come out of the category bubble, like a mind map).

    The key thing to remember is there is a magic that happens when you apply all your thinking and attention to just one area you want to crack.

    Imagine What Might Be Possible For You!

    If you follow this method, what you’ll end up doing is making incremental progress on only the things that matter to you – and not the things that just take up your time. Sure, you may get the odd thing that takes you off track that you need to respond to, but as long as you have this bubble diagram of your main categories for the day, you can always have traction on the things that are important.

    What’s more, you will always remember the things that are meaningful and important to the direction you want to go in. If getting more clients is important, by using this method there is no way you are going to miss or forget about an opportunity to make some progress in this area. You will flat out get this done!

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    This is a million miles away from the treadmill to-do list you may be using at the moment. What you can probably see already is that it takes the overwhelm out of making progress on something that is important to you, whilst still juggling the other stuff that needs doing. Focusing on just your elected categories for the day allows you to park the others, guilt-free, until their allocated day.

    It’s amazing how freeing this is. Just try it and see!

    What Categories Are You Going To Work On Today?

    OK, so over to you now. What categories are you going to select to work on today? Share in the comments below. It is super motivating to share, and see how others are applying these insights.

    More by this author

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    Last Updated on August 19, 2019

    How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

    How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

    There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

    Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

    This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

    These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

    1. Know Thyself

    One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

    An unexamined life is not worth living.

    I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

    Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

    You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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    None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

    For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

    It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

    2. Figure out What Matters to You

    What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

    When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

    In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

    Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

    A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

    3. Play to Your Strengths

    Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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    If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

    Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

    Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

    4. Listen to Yourself

    It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

    The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

    Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

    To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

    Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

    Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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    5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

    Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

    Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

    When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

    However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

    It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

    “If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

    6. Make Time for Reflection

    It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

    Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

    • What went well today
    • Something you’re grateful for
    • What would make tomorrow even better

    Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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    It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

    Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

    7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

    Arguably the most important step of all:

    Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

    The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

    “I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

    Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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    Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

    Reference

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