If you could chase any goal you like, what is the one you’d pursue in life? Different people will have different answers such as:
- I want to make a billion dollars(or a similar money-oriented goal whatever the number is)
- I want to travel around the world, visit a hundred countries and experience different cultures
- I want to start a business and be my own boss
- I want to become famous(like an action, singer, or a politician)
Even if you believe you lack ambition in life or feel restricted by your current circumstances, you still have a big goal that you’d like to pursue.
But, reality works differently and not everyone chases their dream. Can you wake up one day and say, “Ok, I’m done with my current job. I’ll pursue my long-forgotten dream.”? We all wish we could, but we have bills to pay in the present, don’t we? Therefore, we stifle our dreams and sail through day-to-day life enduring whatever is thrown at us.
But, what if you could achieve your goal from your current scenario? What if you could pursue your dreams without ignoring your present? What if you could give your dream goal a shot irrespective of your current circumstances?
That’s what this article is about – how to go from where you are to where you want to be. If you’re expecting a list of 10 tips to achieve such a feat, please stop reading this article right now. Achieving a massive goal takes proportional effort. If it was easy, you’d find a billionaire and a celebrity in every street.
So, if you’re not ready to put in hard work, please close this tab or hit the back button. But if you’re willing to persevere, let’s get started.
- Why do people fail to achieve their goals?
- How to get from where you are to where you want to be:
- What won’t bring you success
Why do people fail to achieve their goals?
Have you watched a dry piece of wood flowing in a stream of water? It moves with the current, bumping from one object to another. It has no control over its destination. Unfortunately, most people lead their life like a piece of wood flowing through a stream of their own circumstances. They bump from one situation to another without exhibiting any control over their outcomes.
Make no mistake, everyone dreams of achieving big goals. But the difference between the successful and the mediocre lies in how they react to the effort required.
Mediocre people run away from hard work and endure their current circumstances whereas the successful endure hard work to run away from their current circumstances.
Everyone wants the outcome, but only a few are willing to withstand the journey to get there.
How to get from where you are to where you want to be:
The following three attributes are necessary to achieve an audacious goal:
You cannot achieve success by ignoring all three of these elements. Depending on your goal and circumstances, one of these will be more important than the others, but all of them will pop up in some shape or form.
For the observers, Elon Musk is the uber-cool tech entrepreneur who smokes weed on public TV, invests in cryptocurrency, and brings revolutionary ideas to life.
He built Paypal and made millions, so the rest came easy for him, right?
Musk has sacrificed way more than any normal person would, the biggest of them is the comfort of life. He neither indulges in most of the materialistic pleasures nor has a personal life of his own. On a weekend, where you’d want to relax, Musk toils hard to bring his next idea to life. For Tesla Model 3, he was even working on his birthday.
“Big deal. My boss made me work on my birthday too,” you retort. But the difference is that Musk does it out of his own choice while others do it due to compulsion.
What about his work hours? When you have a busy week where you work 60 hours instead of the usual 40, you complain, “My work is stressful.” Compare that with Musk who works 100-120 hours every week. Yes, that’s right. Every goddamn week.
Not everyone agrees with Musk’s extreme workaholic lifestyle and that’s OK. You don’t have to. But that’s the sacrifice Musk is making to achieve his dream.
Any goal you set out to achieve can be depicted with a simple line(though the path, in reality, goes through erratic ups and downs).
Your current situation and your goal are two different points as shown above.
To achieve your goal, you need to go from here to there. And to do so, you’ll have to sacrifice either time or comfort in the short term.
How do you reach from where you are to where you want to be? In theory, it’s simple. You have to spend time working on your goal. Unfortunately, that’s where most people stall.
The most common reasons people come up with are:
- My work is stressful
- I don’t have any time to spare
- I have personal responsibilities that don’t allow me to work on what I want
- If I had an easier job, I would have spent time on my real goals
- My boss gives me endless things to do
Agreed, all of those take a toll on your time and energy. But, all said and done, those are your problems and they aren’t going anywhere. You can either endure them by making reasons or escape them by making sacrifices.
Sure, you’re right that your circumstances don’t allow you enough time, but you have to give up something to make time for your long-term goal. If you work for 8 hours on Mon – Friday, you still have 16 more hours to chase your dreams. You can use the time after you put your kids to sleep. You can use the free time during the weekend. You can sleep an hour or two lesser.
Is it easy? Nope. But, is it worth it? That’s up to you to decide. Are you willing to make a sacrifice in the short term to experience the joy of achieving your goals in the long term?
To achieve contentment in the future, you will have to forego some of your comfort in the present.
For example, here are activities that make you comfortable:
- Spending an hour watching your favorite TV show on Netflix
- Catching up with friends every Saturday to party
- Sleeping for 10+ hours on the weekend
If you’re unable to make any progress towards your long-term goals, you’ll have to sacrifice some of these comforts.
If you’re neither willing to make time nor give up your current comfort, your chances of achieving your goals are quite slim. If you submit to laziness and procrastinate the action required to reach your goals day after day, you’ll eventually reach a point where you realize you can no longer pursue them. At that point, you give up completely and regret your previous actions and decisions. But unfortunately, it’ll be too late to make amends by then.
Even if you sacrifice your time and comfort, you won’t possess all the skills required to reach your goal. As human beings, we’re inherently good at a few skills, while we have to learn the rest over time. Even if you consider highly skilled individuals, the majority of their expertise comes from their relentless practice.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you either have it in you or you don’t. You have to spend time learning the required skills to achieve your goal, no matter what it is. The tougher your goal, the more the learning involved.
For example, if you want to get promoted as a manager at work, you’ll have to learn a bunch of leadership skills. The effort involved can span from a few months to a couple of years depending on your current skills.
On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a daring goal like winning the gold medal at the Olympics, the learning involves decades.
When you pursue massive goals, you’ll encounter a skill gap. The only way to leap past that gap is to learn the required skills.
You’ll want to achieve your goal in a hurry with what you already know, but you’ll have to learn skills to achieve your long-term goals irrespective of what they are.
- Want to turn from an employee to an entrepreneur? You need to learn the skills to run a business
- Want to trek on the most treacherous mountains in the world? You’ll need better fitness and learn how to scale such mountains
- Want to write a best-selling book? You need to hone your writing and marketing skills
The above are only examples. No matter what goal you aim for, you’ll have skills to learn and expertise to gain.
Learning also ties together with sacrifice because you’ll have to sacrifice your time, comfort(or both) to master the required skills.
Achieving your goals involves a certain element of risk and fear. Whether you choose to play it safe or take a risky route is up to you. One approach isn’t better than the other. It depends on your risk-taking appetite.
For example, if you want to make a million dollars, you can choose any of the following ways:
Low risk: You can opt for safe deposits or bonds, and build a diversified portfolio. The millions won’t show up immediately, but you’ll achieve your goal over the years. Because you chose a route of low risk, your goal will need a longer time.
Mid-risk: You can quit your job and start a business. You can make a million dollars faster than safe investments with your venture, but you have to bear the risk of failure. The negative consequence of such risk is a loss of a stable income. But that’s an exchange you make for possible massive or faster returns(much more than a million dollars or achieving your goal in a year)
High Risk: You can invest all your money in risky investments like cryptocurrency or volatile stocks. For even bigger bets, you can buy the lottery and wait with your fingers crossed. You can reach your monetary goal faster than any other means with such risky investments, but you also have a high chance of losing everything you have.
Whether you agree with the above methods or not is beside the point. These are just examples and not the only way to make a million dollars. But, no matter what your goal is, the path to get there involves risk and fear. The higher the risk and fear, the quicker the returns. Only you can decide what’s the right approach for you.
Don’t expect to achieve your goal without undertaking any risk or undergoing any fear. It’s their presence that makes the reward more fruitful.
What won’t bring you success
So far we discussed the three attributes necessary to go from where you are to where you want to be. In this section, we’ll discuss the common reasons why people fail to get started or give up midway.
1. Planning with no action
If you climb up a 10 storeyed building and throw a pebble, it will invariably land on a person who wants to achieve a big goal. But, most of them haven’t thought about how to get there. Those who have a plan haven’t even taken the first step to achieve their goal.
Vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.
2. Waiting for the future to take action
“I will start when …” The sentence ends with a reason such as:
- When the market is better
- When I make X dollars
- When I have more free time
If you have a genuine logic to withhold action, that’s Ok. For example, an entrepreneur waits until he saves 20K $ as capital to start a business.
But more often, people make reasons to justify their lack of action. “I will look for a better job when the market picks up” might be your way of avoiding the trouble of applying for jobs, preparing for the interviews, and attending them.
When you find your inner voice asking you to wait before taking action, take a moment to pause and evaluate if your reason is genuine or if you’re fooling yourself to remain in the comfort zone.
3. Getting used to a routine after initial headstart
Students out of college start their professional careers full of vigor. After a few years pass by, many no longer have the same spark in them anymore. Only a small subset of people sustain the same enthusiasm to pursue excellence while the rest fade into mediocrity.
To get to where you want, you’ll have to strive for a long time. In today’s world, if you settle down with what you have, you’ll be left behind.
“I can’t because …”
Just like your mind brings up reasons to justify postponing the action, you also find excuses to explain your inability to take action. The most common excuses are:
- I don’t have time
- My circumstances don’t let me
- I don’t have the skills
- I don’t have the money
- I have other commitments which need my attention
Even if your reasons are valid, if you want to get to where you want to be, who do you think needs to find a solution? That’s right. It’s you.
5. Giving up at the first failure
To achieve your goal, you will have to try different approaches, and evaluate what works. During your journey, many of your tactics will fail.
No one gets it right the first time. It takes multiple attempts with improvised iterations to achieve a massive goal. If you give up at the first failure, the chances that you’ll reach an audacious goal plummet.
Don’t look at your failures as a brick wall. Consider them as an essential part of learning on your journey towards success.
Going from where you are to where you want to be takes patience, effort, and sacrifice. You can’t get what you want by being where you are. You’ll have to move your butt out of your comfort zone and strive for it.
So, what are you waiting for? Get up and get going.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.