It's all sunshine and roses to say, "Go after your goals! You can do anything!" Sure, this motivation can inspire us for a few minutes, hours, days, but it's ultimately fleeting. Yet, these exclamations are true...you should pursue your goals, you can do anything. So, how do we transform transient motivation into persistent, consistent action? How can we define and actually pursue goals that will lead to a fulfilling life.
From my experience, purpose-driven action and goal achievement is accomplished by way of a three-step process:
Step 1: Think Deep
Step 2: Put Pen to Paper
Step 3: Act
We all have goals, right? For most of us, they are like little floating bubbles in our head, wandering and hard to fully capture in their entire essence. Maybe we have a rough sense of what we'd like our life to look like in 3-5 years, what our next career move would be, our ideal physique. Great, that's a start. But, you must go a step further. You must realize that your goals, if they are to be accomplished, must align with your values.
This is where you must think deep. What takes precedence in your life? If you put your family above all else, you probably value connection and community. If you put your business or your job first, you likely value discipline and hard-work. This is the purpose of step one - defining your values, whatever they may be. Be honest with yourself.
With our core principles in tow, we begin to see clearer than ever. We recognize what matters and what maybe does not mean as much as we once thought. Now, we must solidify this breakthrough. And, the way we do it is so simple - we write our values down on paper, with a pen (or pencil, you choose). This is when it really gets real...we can see what we cherish most right in front of us in our own, funky - I mean, lovely - penmanship. From here, we can begin to formalize our goals. Write these down too, remembering to ensure goal-value harmony.
Say you value family and community, create a goal that fulfills these principles - such as, spend at least two hours a day with my kids, or, volunteer at least once per month. Write 'em down - seriously. Now, not only are your goals helping you become the person you want to be - a truly better version of yourself - but also, they are actually doable because they match your value system.
Step three is rather simple, but it is not easy. Simple in the sense that we must make just one decision. Difficult because that decision must be made repeatedly, but, each time can be met with resistance in the form of self-doubt and insecurity. That decision is to act. To progress towards your now-clearly-defined, value-aligned goals. Standing in your way are likely a host of things - prior commitments, family/friends, work, other people - but none more persuasive and stonewalling as your own doubt and insecurities. These pesky thoughts have little to no basis in reality, yet seem all too real. They are constant reminders that you aren't capable of living the life you want. They are crippling. They are false. You must work hard to ignore them, for they inhibit action and achievement. The best way to shut them up? Hear them, but act anyway. They then lose all their power.
With clear values and goals that work harmoniously in tandem and a prerogative towards action, now, when the motivation hits you, no longer will it be fleeting, it will perpetuate a virtuous circle, in fact. Motivation will inspire you to act, progressing you towards your value-aligned goals, which, as you make positive strides, will only serve to motivate you further, and before you know it, you're moving in an oh-so-virtuous circle of self-betterment propelled by purpose-driven action. Goals will be achieved, fulfillment will be felt.
If you're still struggling with how to put these three steps into practice, let me offer a personal example. Although I worked through these steps slightly out of order, please bear with me. I once made it a goal of mine to learn how to play the piano - more specifically, to learn five songs within a year (yes, I wrote it down, too). After 6 months, I had learned one (...and a half...maybe). Backing up a bit, why did I want to learn how to play smooth tunes on the ivory keys? Well, I thought it'd be a cool party trick to bust out, a unique hidden talent to showcase before the eyes and ears of envious on-lookers. But, as reality would have it, this dream never came true - I gave up. Not regretfully, though - it was almost relieving. Only upon reflecting on my true values and priorities, did the failure, the relief become clear. While I value freedom, accountability, education, and community, I do not value attention. This is why the goal I made two years ago to start a business that, in part, aims to foster a family of learners, stuck and the goal I made to learn an attention-grabbing party trick flopped.
If I can sum it all up in one sentence, here's what I'd say: If it's a fulfilled, purpose-driven life you seek, start with your values, write 'em down, move on to your goals, write 'em down, and act, in revolt of self-doubt and insecurity and in pursuit of your full potential.
Never stop pursuing what matters to you. Talk soon.