Big Goals for 2016? Be Sure to Avoid This

Last week we looked at one thing we need to do, to accomplish our goals this year…getting adequate sleep? Today, I want to talk about one thing that you need to avoid in order to reach your goals.

When Kathy and I lived in Hamilton, we would regularly go for a run along the escarpment. Our usual route included two sets of stairs. We would go down one set of stairs, then run along the path until we came to the next set. We would then proceed up the stairs then return to where we started.


The first challenge was that there were 325 stairs at each set. Yes we counted them; we wanted to know what we were up against. The second challenge was, we didn’t know if we could actually do it. Going down wasn’t so bad but going up seemed overwhelming, especially the first few tries.

The Problem

When we stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked to the top…well, let’s just say it seemed like an enormous task. Could we do it? What happens if we get halfway and can’t go any further. What if I lose my lunch (we weren’t the only ones there) how embarrassing would that be? What happens if my heart gives out…how in shape will the paramedics be who have to rescue me from this mountainside? I think you get the picture.

The Solution

As long as we concentrated on the top of the stairs, our ultimate goal, we struggled to believe we would be able to do it. But soon we learned that the only way to conquer those stairs was to focus on the first one. One step…that’s it…one step is easy…then the second, then third and so on. As long as we focused on the top, we would be in trouble. But concentrating on the steps we needed to take along the way, made all the difference.

I bet you have people telling to review your goals regularly; perhaps read them every morning and tell the world what you’re going to accomplish. I think this is bad advice.

I love college football and Alabama who just won the national championship is my favorite team. But here’s the deal. I’ve never met the coaching staff but I’m confident of this. In training camp, they may have talked about winning a national championship, but throughout the season the staff and players focused on things like practice schedules, watching film, workout routines, curfews, etc. Sure their goal may have been a championship, but what they spent their time focusing on was the daily habits that would get them there.

If have big goals, stop focusing on them. If you want to achieve big goals this year, and I hope you do, then there is something that you will have to do that seems counter productive. Instead of keeping your goals front and centre, focus your attention, energy and time on the incremental steps you will need to take to reach them.

  • You want to lose 20 pounds? Stop focusing on that and plan your meals for today
  • Want to write a best-selling novel? Stop thinking about the book and write a paragraph
  • Want to grow your business by 20% this year? Stop focusing on the goal and make your next contact.
  • Want to save 3 months of expenses for an emergency fund? Make your first deposit.

Listen, focusing on our goals and constantly reminding ourselves of how far we have to go, can lead to discouragement. It’s demoralizing and can keep us from making any progress at all. When discouragement sets in, we can find almost anything else to do except what will move us one step closer to achieving all we want to achieve. We may actually just do nothing at all.

Instead of reviewing your goals daily, take the next step necessary to reach your goal.

Kathy and I did make it to the top of the mountain. Yes, we were huffing and puffing and our legs burned but it was invigorating and satisfying. And we did it by focusing on each step, rather than the end goal.

You have big goals for this year. Great! Now stop focusing on them. Instead, write down 3 steps you can take today toward your goal.

Q. What action steps will you take today?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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