The fun is just about over. We have new goals to achieve and a new energy with which to force our hand. The days of fun and frolic, gift-giving and receiving, love and togetherness, egg nog and all other holiday cheer has one more night before the real work begins. Are we going to set goals tonight or are they really dreams or desires? What if they are just wishes?
When do you take stock? Is it New Year’s Eve? January 1? Is it through a rabbit hole of self-judgment or comparison to social media posts to see what others are working on for their resolutions? Is it mirror related? Don’t like what you see? How about scarcity related? Don’t like what you have or haven’t got? How we make decisions for goals determines whether we will see them through.
A goal should never be taken lightly. Goals need to consume you entirely. It has to have that intensity to be achieved. That is why we all have to separate our goals from our dreams, desires and wishes. A dream is a nice to have that you can build towards. Put a series of goals in place and the dream comes together. Very few people put their dreams front and center, and strategically build their goals to meet the dream. Desires can usually be fulfilled with a little bit of effort. Wishes are thoughts that will never inspire consistent action. Part of wishing is the understanding that its just not likely to happen, which means your brain has already consigned it to failure.
I like what Warren Buffet said about people making investment trades. He said that people should only be allowed to make 3 to 5 trades in their lifetime. By having such a limit on trades, people would make certain to put in the time and effort to understand each trade and therefore not lose money with faulty thinking.
In a correlation, goals should also be thought of in just such a manner. I have counseled many people who have more than five goals they are working towards. For most people this is way too many. I ask them to identify the goals they put daily effort into right now. Most of the time, the answer is none. But all of them weekly or bi-weekly. This is the recipe for losing interest over time. If you aren’t putting effort into your goals every single day; they are not goals. Maybe it is a dream or a desire. Goals need to consume you entirely. There has to be a commitment that nothing will stop you from achieving the goal. No matter how long it takes. No matter what it requires of you. No matter how many setbacks come up. You have to be willing to succeed or die trying. That is the intensity of a goal. By the way, this is also the Hero’s Journey. All the best stories we will tell are this journey.
If you desire to lose a few pounds, that is a desire. You can take daily steps to make that happen. If you have thyroid or other physical conditions that make it a bigger project then you need to be consumed by the project and take every step you can to succeed. That intensity or demand for the outcome will be the deciding factor when allocating the energy needed to put in the daily effort when the most arduous days challenge you. Dreams, goals, desires and wishes are a spectrum of energy and difficulty. It is helpful to know what you are intending by calling your want by one of these labels.
When I quit smoking, it wasn’t my goal. My wife at the time decided on New Years that she wanted to quit. Five minutes into the new year, I lit a cigarette and was roundly chastised by our friends. I had made no commitment, didn’t even have any desire to quit. I did have a desire to have a happy home life and smoking was now going to disrupt that. A pack a day habit wasn’t something one counts as an achievement when they start treating you for emphysema, so it was over and done. It wasn’t cold turkey, it was a simple choice.
When you look at what you want to accomplish, create some guidelines for yourself. You want your real energy going into the goals. Goals will challenge you if they are worthy. Look at your goals and find what should be demoted to a desire or pushed into a dream. Really shake out what are wishes. Each item we have seeking our attention drains our emotional energy. The longer it takes to fulfill a desire, the harder it is to stay focused. Cloud that up with wishes that just add to the tally of thoughts bouncing in our brains, and you begin diluting your power. You set to stage to begin judging yourself for lack of achievement. When judgment begins, there is only a matter of time before there is inactivity and then ultimately disappointment.
Build your dreams with goals. Build your goals with unflinching commitment. Put your desires in the bucket you have some time for and work to see them happen. Clear your mind of wishes. Free your mind with clarity and purpose. You can relax into the sustained effort knowing your time and your energy are limited, and that laser focus is unstoppable.