Almost all of us look back at our lives from time to time and wonder what could have been. What if we had put in the effort to get that degree? To launch that business idea? Or create that app? It’s painful to look back at the opportunities we lost simply because we lacked a plan to reach those goals.

But is it painful enough that you will change yourself today?

Dream Right

Most of us are easily distracted by pleasant fantasies of future success. Rather than take concrete steps towards our goals, we replay the trappings of that desired, yet-unattained success in our heads. The resulting endorphin rush placates the mind and douses its sense of urgency.

The trick is to consciously stop fantasizing about the feel-good parts of your long-term plan that have never managed to inspire you to action. Instead, identify a challenging but achievable goal that you can act upon immediately. It will be less enjoyable but set you on the right path. Follow up with subsequent mini goals and savor the pleasure derived from real action.

Nix It

More is not necessarily better when it comes to goals. Many of us create long wish lists of goals to achieve … and end up not even accomplishing one of them. Just as it is with dreams, the number of goals on your list may make you feel good about your ambitions but it isn’t doing anything to help.

Instead, trim your list until only the one or two most important remain. Devote all your energy into working towards those objectives, unencumbered by distractions from less significant tasks.

Halve It

You have a massive goal and don’t know where to start? Halve the goal until you see a clear path in front of you. For example, you want to climb Everest in a year’s time. Where would you have to be in six months? Where would you have to be in three months? Then, one and a half months? Three weeks?

With this perspective, you suddenly see a trail of breadcrumbs that nudge you onto the right track. They will also help you gauge your progress and likelihood of success along the way, which makes minor course corrections much easier.

Share It

We give ourselves far too much leeway to be good taskmasters – external oversight can be a more potent force. Share your goal with people whom you meet often. For example, a loved one or colleague.

Much of the benefit of this tactic derives simply from the impetus you get when you know that they will discuss your progress. However, don’t forget that the people in your circle are a great repository of ideas and advice, too. Need help setting goals? Drop me a line today.