The Secret to Achieving Any Goal or Dream
All of us have dreams, aspirations and goals that we would love to achieve and attain. While some people do succeed, a large number do not. What is the difference between the two groups? One might guess that the obvious answer is that successful people have higher intelligence, contacts or opportunities. However, I believe that the real answer is more simple: successful people take small steps consistently. That is it!
Think about it. Most people only try to focus on the end goal: becoming rich, having a muscular or fit body with low body fat, being able to play the guitar like Eric Clapton, having a successful and loving relationship with a compatible partner, becoming a successful lawyer, being happy with no stress, etc. While it is good to know the end result we would like to achieve, the path to this attainment of success is really the cumulation of small, incremental steps.
Very often, a person who is severely overweight or obese finds it nearly impossible to imagine himself or herself being slim and in shape. Similarly, people who have been broke for a long time often find it extremely difficult to imagine themselves possessing abundance, just as a person who has been in countless bad relationships cannot imagine being in a loving, healthy one. If we cannot perceive it, how can we possibly achieve it? The answer lies in breaking down any goal or dream into smaller, more manageable steps that we can perceive and achieve.
The best path to achieving something is not always evident or obvious. Imagine that you want to drive across the country from New York to Los Angeles. You look at a map and determine the route beforehand and you set out on your journey. You first need to be able to navigate and get yourself to the next city or town. This seemingly small part of the journey is as important as any other part and, without it, you will never reach your eventual destination. After completing this first (and vital) part of the trip, you know with certainty that you are making progress and you subsequently embark on the next small leg of your journey to the next small town or city.
Very often, despite carefully planning the entire route of your trip, you will encounter unexpected roadblocks, diversions and obstacles which you need to circumvent. Because you have broken down your trip into smaller portions, it is relatively easy to do. You make adjustments to your route and you embark on your journey to the next town. You know that the minor alteration of your route-plan helps put you one step closer to your eventual goal. No matter what, make the effort to progress on your journey each day.
Achieving our goals successfully is very similar. It comprises incremental steps that put us one step closer each time. I like to compare this to water dripping down on a rock. At first glance, it seems that the water will make no impact on the rock since water is soft and the rock is hard. But, over time and with consistency, the drops of water start to have an impact and they actually make an indent and start to erode the rock, as impossible as that might seem. This is how we successfully attain our goals: by taking small steps and consistently making an effort. We do not need to possess the force of a tidal wave; we merely need to be like consistent drops of water. By showing up consistently and taking small steps, we can accomplish amazing feats.
Let’s apply this to some common goals and dreams that people have:
Getting Fit/Losing Weight
Instead of focusing on looking like a fitness model, it is better if we take small, consistent steps. Start by walking for five minutes a day, slowly increasing the duration each day by a minute. Everyone can do that. It is important that we remember that each seemingly short walk puts us one step closer to our goal of getting in shape. We can then start lifting light weights after we finish our daily walks. Soon, and with consistency, we can progress to brisk walking, and then jogging. We can slowly increase the intensity of our weight-lifting as we get stronger and healthier.
If our goal is to start eating healthier and more nutritious food, we can start out small. We can start juicing fruits and vegetables each morning. We can slowly increase the proportion of vegetables at we consume at each meal. When we drink our coffee we can gradually reduce the amount of sugar we add to it, and eventually start drinking green tea as a substitute. We can slowly cut back the number of times we eat out and start cooking simple but healthy meals at home more often. We can make incremental improvements by eating less red meat and substituting it with lean white meat and seafood.
There are two ways to become more wealthy: one is to earn more money and the second is to spend less. In order to make more money, we need to improve our knowledge, skills and network. We can start by taking a college course that will solidify our resumes and increase our skills. Once we complete that course, we can enroll in others that are slightly more difficult. Each course we successfully complete builds our confidence and paves the way for the next one. We can start to read for 15 minutes per day in order to develop our knowledge in a certain industry, slowly upping the duration each week. We also could update our LinkedIn profile and make an effort to meet one new person in our chosen industry per day. We can sell all or most of the junk in our garage that we once thought was imperative. We can start being prudent about how we spend our money, only shop when there is a sale, and gradually eradicate things on our regular shopping list that we do not need. We can decide that we are going to save 10 percent of our monthly income and slowly increase that amount each month. After we have done that, we can invest some of that money.
Becoming Happier/Reducing Stress, Anxiety and Sadness
Since happiness, stress, anxiety and sadness are generally a result of our thoughts, we can learn to become more mindful and start living in the present rather than the past or future. Knowing that meditation is one way to become more mindful, we can start to meditate for a few minutes each morning, slowly increasing the duration each week. We could spend a few minutes each night before we go to sleep focusing on five things we are grateful for. We can gradually progress to keeping a gratitude journal that we fill out each day.
These are just some examples of how small, incremental steps help us to achieve even the loftiest goals. We need to focus on doing a little bit consistently each day. That is integral. No matter what happens or how we feel, it is essential that we make that effort each day to make progress. Without consistency, we become stagnant, lose confidence, and revert back to our old ways. Do not feel like walking for five minutes this morning? Do it anyway. Not in the mood to juice fruit and vegetables this morning? Do it anyway. Feel like skipping your 5-minute meditation session in the morning? Do it anyway. It is a small price to pay for the eventual rewards you will reap at the end.
Be like the drops of water that have the power to erode a boulder. Show up no matter what the circumstances and no matter how small the endeavor. If you do this consistently, you will succeed.