The Way Of The Tortoise

business competition - young vs oldSetting big and compelling goals for yourself is a great idea and something that we at The Compass would heartily endorse and recommend (in fact, we probably already have somewhere else on this site!). Having a clear compelling vision of a better life for yourself and your family, and having a strong desire to achieve more for yourself is motivating and gives you focus and direction in your daily life.

And we are often told to imagine ourselves as already having achieved our goals – to see ourselves having arrived at our destination and to feel the positive emotions that would accompany such an achievement. This, it is said, will activate the Law of Attraction and help us to manifest the things we desire in our lives.

Whilst this is all good and sound advice, the reality is of course that once the positive euphoria of setting our goals begins to wear off, and we get down to the day to day business of trying to make it happen, there can often be a disconnect with the lofty goals we aspire to and the day to day activities that go into just “living our lives”.

If this has happened to you in the past, or maybe is happening right now, then let is offer you our “Inch by Inch” strategy!

I am sure you are all familiar with the saying about how do you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time, which of course is simply suggesting that we break down our large, nebulous and sometimes rather woolly goals into bite sized chunks. But what if we don’t have a clue where to start?

Step 1 – Do Something!

Do what, you may be asking… It doesn’t matter – just do something! Often it is simply a combination of procrastination caused by unclear goals and inertia caused by lack of focus and direction that keeps us firmly rooted to the couch, and means we never get around to taking the all-important first steps towards our goals. Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. Equally an object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. In other words it doesn’t really matter what that first action is as long as it gets you moving, and once you are moving then hopefully your momentum will keep you moving.

What if the action I take isn’t the right one?

Well you are simply following exactly the same principles as a guided missile. A guided missile is programmed to move towards its desired target by continually measuring where it is currently heading, and comparing this to where it wants to be. By a continuous process of readjusting its course it snakes its way, inch by inch, towards its target. In fact, for something like 95% of its journey it is actually off course!

A great place to start, when you don’t know where to start is with a pen and a blank piece of paper. Brainstorm around your goal and let your ideas free flow – create a mind map as your thoughts come and go, and use this to formulate a rough plan. Don’t worry that it’s not the finished article – again it will provide you with momentum and you can always refine your plan as new information comes to you and as you begin to get clearer about the way forwards.

Step 2 – Take Action!

While you are formulating your plan and as you are becoming clearer about how to approach your goal, resolve to take at least one action in the direction of your goal every day. Again, it doesn’t really matter what this action is and it doesn’t have to be momentous – it simply has to be something which maintains your momentum and moves you just a little bit closer to your desired outcome.

Step 3 – Resolve to improve by just 1% per day

If you follow steps one and two, and you are taking regular, small but consistent action, then by using the guided missile principle you should be able to assess whether you are getting closer to, or further away from your goal each day. Progress doesn’t have to be dramatic, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel your progress is somewhat pedestrian – as long as you are moving in the right direction you are still on track!

Suppose your goal is to write a book for example. What if you simply committed to writing one page per day? Do you think you could write your book within a year? Within 6 months even? You get the point.

Or what if you wanted to learn to speak Spanish, so that you could converse with the natives on your next foreign trip… If you learned just 10 new words per day, and did some basic revision of those words along the way that would be over 3,500 words in your vocabulary within a year. Ok maybe not enough to be fluent, but certainly enough that you wouldn’t get lost or embarrass yourself in front of ‘la señorita en el restaurante’.

And what if you wanted to develop your knowledge in a new subject area, maybe to create a new niche area for your business for example. Just by reading for 60 minutes a day in your new subject you could easily read a book per week, which equates to 4 books per month and around 50 books per year.

Do you think that if you read 50 books over the course of a year on any subject, that you wouldn’t become somewhat of an expert over that time?

The same principle applies to CD’s, mp3’s or any other form of audio learning. If you drive to and from work every day for example, you could turn your car into a travelling university!

Step 4 – Go easy on yourself!

Perhaps an improvement of 1% per day is too much to expect – fear not! Brian Tracy uses the example of someone improving by just 1 1/10th of one percent each day (0.1%). Even at this rate your yearly improvement would still be 36%. Keep this up for 10 years and you could become over 10 times more effective than you are right now over the course of the next decade… That’s the power of tiny increments!

Categories: Mind Tools

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