If you’re anything like me, it seems like there are a billion things that you want to accomplish, but you’re not sure where to begin or how you will ever find the time. Maybe you want to get in shape, or start a diet, or complete a project, or grow your business. This can be crushing, because the more we put our dreams on hold, the more anxious, frustrated and unfulfilled we become. The new year is just around the corner, and every year many of us kick it off with fiery ambition, only to have it fizzle away into nihilistic resignation before the end of January.
Trust me, I know; I’ve been there. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Many of us simply lack clarity when it comes to our dreams and goals. In order to hit a target, you have to know exactly what and where the target is before you can take aim. Often, we are not clear about exactly what we want to accomplish or why. This can lead to anxiety and depression and contribute to a whole host of health issues.
Fortunately, there is a fairly simple and cost-effective solution: All we have to do is ask ourselves some simple questions.
- What exactly do you want to achieve?
- Why do you want to achieve these goals?
- How will achieving them transform you as a person?
- How will you feel about yourself afterward, and how will it change your relationships with those around you?
Pick no more than three goals and write out your answers. This will force you to prioritize those lofty ambitions. Be as detailed as possible. The clearer your vision, the more achievable it will become. Remember, we have to know exactly what we are aiming at in order to hit the target. This exercise provides your brain with the fuel it needs to ignite your ambition and overcome the inevitable challenges and pitfalls that you will encounter.
We humans are emotional creatures. We have the ability to reason, but all of our decisions are rooted in the lower systems of our brain that govern emotion. This is why we can’t just reason ourselves into starting that diet or finishing that project — we have to feel like doing those things first.
Now that you have the what and the why, you need the how. Break down each goal into achievable tasks to be completed. Write them out. Schedule them on your calendar or daily planner. Make this a daily process. Begin each day by picking three targets that you would like to hit that day and write them down. Now plan out your day.
If you still feel like you need more guidance, there are some excellent resources out there that really streamline this process. I have personally been using the Best Self© journal for the past several weeks and haven’t looked back since. Whatever journaling tools you use though, be sure that you stick with the process. If you ever get lost, all you have to do is check in with yourself and make sure that you are not only asking the right questions, but that you are open to receiving the answers.