Why you may not be achieving your goals
What is the key to success with goal achievement? In one word, it's momentum!
While using Goal Trax recently someone asked the question “What do I do when I have my goal created, my steps listed, my motivation clearly defined and then I find myself ‘Stopped’ and not moving forward with my goal?”
This is a very common issues that many people face when they want to achieve goals. Thankfully, there is a simple solution. Donald Trump said in his book How To Get Rich “The Most Important Thing You Can Have Is Momentum” Now he was talking about business, but the same applies for anything we want to achieve in life.
Think back to when you were creating the goal in the first place. You were motivated, which is one piece of the puzzle. However, motivation starts with a thought. Here is the cycle.
Thoughts – We start EVERYTHING we do with a thought. No matter if it’s a common task or a major goal. Everything we do begins with our thoughts.
Feelings – Our thoughts, create feelings we have. So if the thought is “I can do this” then we take an action that moves us forward. However, that works the same way if our thoughts create a negative feeling too….
Actions – Our feelings produce actions. Actions can be GO actions or STOP actions. Go actions are actions that build momentum, even if that momentum is slight. Stop actions are negative actions that slow momentum.
Results – Actions create results. You either take an action that creates a result that takes you closer to your goal or you take an action that creates a result that moves you away from your goal.
Let’s look at this in a visual way so you can see what I mean. Imagine a large locomotive train. One of those old coal fueled, huge engine pulled style trains that are overwhelmingly massive in size. That’s the way I want you to envision your goals. Now if your goal is HUGE then you have to envision that the train is filled with a lot seperate cars (each piece of the train). The more cars that are attached (the bigger the goal) the longer it will take to build momentum. So think about a massive line of train cars. What happens when the train begins to take off? There is an obvious attempt to get in motion, but all that really happens is a huge puff of smoke, some noise and perhaps the engine moves just slightly forward. Next puff, more slight movement, next puff, more slight movement, and so on and so on. It takes a long time for the train to get into any type of motion. It might even seem like the train is never going to get moving.
But let’s imagine what happens when that same engine is attached to only one car. So the visual idea is that each step is a car. If the engine starts, then the first puff will create immediate, obvious movement. The next puff will create motion and before long, the train is moving along the track with ease. Now if that train were to suddenly get another car attached to it, it may feel the weight, but the momentum keeps it going and before long it’s chugging along and has MORE momentum behind it because it’s actually carrying more weight! Add another car while it’s in momentum and the momentum is even greater because of the movement the train has already gained.
Many times, people look at their goals as a whole, even though they have broken them down into what they think are “Measurable and Achievable” steps. So let’s think about goals as if they were a train. Since goal setting is supposed to motivate us, we should be setting goals that we can achieve quickly. Reaching a large goal is nothing more than achieving a series of smaller goals along the way.
So let’s think about this from the popular show “Hoarders” Most times, the people who want to get their house clean look at the whole picture. They see the goal as “Get my house clean” and that goal is like a HUGE locomotive being started with hundreds of cars. At first, the movement is slight, and since we are human and not machines without emotion, the thought could quickly turn from “I can do this” which would create a feeling of hope and inspiration, and action of starting to clean and a result of getting started on the larger task of cleaning the house. This is good. However, since we are constantly dealing with the voice in our head that we battle with at each moment, if we step back and look at the house again…..we may find ourselves with the thought of “I’m never going to get this done” which creates a feeling of hopelessness and our action might be to sit back down on the couch and create the result of ‘everything goes back to the way it was’…..
But let’s look at this again, using the same train metaphore. What if instead of the goal being “Clean the house” the same person set a goal to “Clean the dishes in the sink and get them put away.” Now you might say to yourself, if cleaning the house was a goal “But doing the dishes was one of my steps.” You would be absolutely right. If your goal is clean the house and your carrying the weight of that goal and working on getting into momentum, then the weight of the goal is going to seem overwhelming at first. Remember, steps of a goal are like a freight car. If you have a huge goal, you’re carrying a lot of weight.
So instead of someone in that situation setting a goal to “Clean the house” and carry the heavy burden of that goal, even though in the beginning of the goal they may have positive thoughts, the weight of the goal can quickly turn those thoughts around. That person would be better off setting a goal to “Get the dishes cleaned and put away.” Over burdening yourself with to many tasks typically creates a sort of paralysis for many people.
So instead of setting BIG goals, with a lot of steps, people would be better off setting ACHIEVABLE goals and achieving the goal faster. Then setting another achievable goal and accomplishing that goal, all while setting steps to achieve the smaller goals just the same way you would set steps to achieve a bigger goal. And remember it’s important to REWARD yourself for your achievements. So if you do achieve goals, celebrate them!
Now, one final word about goals. And one final use of the train metaphore. Some times, one engine is not enough to pull a train. There simply just isn’t enough power in a single engine so they have to add more engines to get the train to move. So if your goal is to big, you simply just can’t do it on your own. So at this point, you are left with only 2 option. Add more engines (ask for help) or break the goal down into more achievable goals and remove some weight from the larger, overwhelming goal.
In conclusion, it’s better to build momentum with smaller goals and stay in momentum by setting other goals along the way. Allow yourself to achieve success. Celebrate that success and enjoy the feeling. Remember, in order to live a great life, all you need to do is learn how to live a great day and then do it over and over again. So learn to fully accomplish a goal, and then do it over and over again.