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If You Want to Live, Create Goals and Dreams!

If You Want to Live, Create Goals and Dreams!

I once read a book by a very wise man. In his book he said that a man without any goal or any purpose in life is a dead man.

The moment I read those words, I knew they were true.

Goals and purposes are what drive us through the time stream into the future. They give our lives meaning even when our goals seem insignificant to others.

When I first read those words, many years ago,  I was very sick. I started to cry because I realized that my illness had robbed me of every goal I had ever had for this life. I couldn’t do any of them and there was no hope in sight.

I read the sentence again and stared at the page while the full impact of what I was reading sunk in. I realized right then, that if I did not create a goal for myself, any goal, I was not going to make it. Up to that point, I had been literally dying and this book was telling me exactly why, and exactly how to turn it around.

At that point, I decided on a goal and set about trying to realize it.

Up to the point where I had gotten sick, I had been a musician and mom as well as working in Corporate America. One by one these jobs went by the wayside due to my illness and I realized that I had not picked up my violin or sung for a very long time.

The goal I set for myself then, was to become a music instructor. All I needed to achieve that goal was one student. Then I could call myself a teacher.

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As fate would have it, once I made the decision to become a music instructor, I found an ad looking for a music teacher right there in my hometown.

I went to the school, interviewed and landed the gig.

And then, the funniest thing happened.

I started to get better.

It did not happen overnight; in fact it took several years to totally kick this illness, but it started the day I heard the words, “Please come for your first student on Thursday”.

I believe that many people who are depressed, or are doing poorly in life, have trouble with goals.

Sometimes they have goals forced on them, and that is as bad or worse than not having any.

Sometimes they cannot decide what goal they want to go after and are paralyzed by indecision.

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Sometimes they have someone in their lives who invalidates their goals.

Sometimes they feel that they lack the self discipline to achieve their goals, and other times it just seems too hard.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are definite steps you should take to create and realize a goal.

1. Lay out your ideal future life.

Take a little time and write it all out. I find that having it written down makes it easier to see. Make sure you include EVERYTHING you want in even the most insignificant areas of your life.

For example you may want to work from home or have a job that is mobile, allowing you to travel and work from various distant places. If this is the case, you will need a profession that allows for that.

Once you write down everything you want in life, the goal(s) will come into focus.

Do not invalidate whatever goal you come up with at this stage. Just start going after it.

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2. Decide what training you need to receive in order to achieve your goal.

If you are looking for a new profession that will support you and your dependents, you will need training. Find out what training is required and figure out how to get it.

In today’s world, there is so much information on the Internet, that you can train yourself fully in many professions without ever leaving your couch.

College educations are no longer prerequisites to having a great job, and self-starting individuals are doing amazing things. The opportunities today are almost endless if you really focus and work hard.

3. Give yourself a long-term target.

If your goal is to become an internet marketing expert, and you are starting from scratch, your long-term target can be landing a certain number of regular clients.

Now, long term is only relative. Even long-term targets don’t have to take a long time.

4. Give yourself daily targets that ultimately result in achieving your long-term goal.

And get them done. Then make new ones. Don’t worry if, while doing these, your goal morphs into something else. It’s all good!

5. Don’t worry about making the wrong goal or ending up in the wrong business.

Any decision you make, ever, can be changed and a new decision made. Resisting changing your mind is ridiculous. Every day we change our minds when faced with new information or just because we decide to do something else. There is no shame in that fact. In fact, a sane and dynamic individual changes his or her mind a lot.

Granted if we have people relying on us to bring in a paycheck, we can’t simply pack it in and start in again at the bottom, but we can change our plans and start working toward something fulfilling while also fulfilling our duties to those we have obligations to.

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6. Realize that the pursuit of the goal is every bit as important as its achievement.

For every endeavor we undertake, we learn. We come away with new skills and these skills have a funny way of coming together in the future in ways we never imagine.

These learning experiences and the skills we take away from them also make our lives extremely rich and interesting.

Some of the most interesting and successful people I know have had several different careers in their lives. They seem to have an uncanny knack for making things work. They always have many irons in the fire and too many projects because they are so dang interested in life.

What many people don’t realize is that life is a living thing and by that, I mean it breathes, it changes, it is anything but static. Too many people try desperately to keep things the same. This is not healthy, and it never works.

If we think that any goal we have has to be one that sees us through our entire lifetime, we are limiting ourselves greatly. We have to allow for how we change and grow, and sometimes we grow out of goals that were once very important to us.

Don’t think that you have wasted anything if you change your mind, even if you change it about something very important.

Goals are one of the most important things in life. Without them we decay and die. If you know of someone struggling with goals, help them create some. If you need help, write to me.

Good luck!

 

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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