The majority of our bright eyed, bushy tailed young selves once would have wanted to be an astronaut, footballer, famous actor or Formula One driver and yet end up asking if ‘you want fries with that.’
So what happened to the young footballer or astronaut? They got told many many times to be ‘realistic’. There it is… the one word that kills all dreams. But wait… There are a few people that did become that astronaut and many that became that footballer or famous actor. It appears that the big question here is why? Why did a few people become what they wanted and so many went for more ‘realistic’ (read ‘unfulfilled’) careers? Luck? most definitely. But when you think about it… even the McDonalds worker needed luck to get that job. He was lucky that out of the hundreds of people applying for the job, he was the one to get it. We all need luck in all aspects of our lives, all to often we use it as an excuse to not achieve our goal, or more to the point try to achieve our goals. Personally I think its what the Astronaut didn’t do that set them apart from the McDonalds hamburger flipper, they didn’t accept ‘realistic’, they didn’t accept the everyday miseries and disasters of the game. They didn’t conform.
However being human we never stop dreaming, the majority of the ‘cows standing in the rain’ will still be dreaming. Every time they copy that spreadsheet for ‘the man’ they will still be dreaming of a better tomorrow, The one thing that will stop the majority of those dreams is inertia and the lack of action… Its amazing how many people will dream of retiring early to a desert island and never actually do anything to better their chances of achieving that dream, I think we are all familiar with the concept of ‘If you don’t ask, you won’t get’. And if we want to acheive our goals in life we have to start getting a lot better at asking.
Through trial and error, reading (a lot) on the subject and a little common sense I have found that the only way that we can achieve any goals in life, short term and long term is to plan. Im not talking a 150 page business plan, 3 sentences will be enough in some cases. Now this will depend on the person, some will feel more inclined and comfortable with something more substantial and that’s fine. From the extensive reading I have done on the subject, I’ve come across a lot of bullshit to be honest. A lot of ‘Gurus’ will have you believe its a science to plan… Personally if you stick to something simular to the 3 steps I have listed below you will be well on your way to getting what you want.
- Start at the finish – Clearly define what it is that you wish to achieve. Too many people in my eyes ‘start on a road to nowhere’ and in some ways I think this maybe the reason behind Colin Wilson’s quote this post is titled under, people have started on the road and then lost their way and in the lack of direction they “accept (everyday) miseries and disasters”. Once you have defined where it is you want to go, you can always refer to this when struggling for the next step to take.
- Set the checkpoints – Write down three milestones that you will need to pass in order to reach the goal. This not only gives you some feelings of acheivement when you reach the milestones but again makes sure that you don’t lose your way on the journey. Something all too easy to do.
- Kick Off – Write down three things that you can do today that will get you going on the road. This is I think the most important one of all because it means you have started you’re journey and you won’t forever put it off till tomorrow.
In addition I break it down further that I will then plan the three main checkpoint/milestones that I will need to acheive on the way to the first milestone and then once thats acheived move onto the next and so on. This means that I always only have three things to do on my to-do list at anytime. Which for me is acheivable, something very important to stop inertia and defeatism.
Very importantly, I currently only set goals that are acheiveable within a three month timescale. This helps give you some imputus and stops you from delaying action to the next hour, day or week.
I’ll leave the final thought to Jim Morrision.
“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”