An impossible goal? Here is the problem (… and the solution)
“Is it worth trying to go after it?“ and then, “It’s just some castle in the sky, this dream of mine. I will never be able to get there”. That’s the line of thinking that we hear from many. But is it really so, or the issue lies elsewhere and not exactly in the difficulty of fulfilling our dreams?
We will show you today that there are no impossible things but only impossibly short time constraints.
It happened to us
We have made a lot of mistakes over the years. Some of the most glaring ones were because of our poor view of how much time we needed.
Two of those are quite indicative.
“Millions of pennies”
In accordance with his vision for personal finances, Niki set into motion a plan for a rainy day fund. Or what’s called in Bulgarian “white cash for black days”.
A quick note:
Of course, it’s the prudent thing to do. Everyone should have stashed away enough that would allow them to go for six months or a year without any source of steady income.
Niki, however, decided he could get it done in only four months. He soon found out for himself how difficult it is. Well, it took him almost two years, to be exact.
Why so long?
A substantial drag was that he had no clue how to determine the amount to be saved each month. He simply came up with a number which was based on nothing more than just his wishful thinking. In other words, the objective was ill-defined as being the end result, instead of as a series of actions in the form of small achievable steps.
Another mistake was not taking into account the effect of his credit card and other depth. In fact, it is a better strategy to first take care of it and only after that to proceed with any savings.
There was some good that came out of this – he quickly gave up on what was wrong, learned his lesson and embarked on a completely new course.
He first set a 90-day goal to devise some good tactics that could later be applied for as many months needed or years for that matter.
Let’s now go to our second example.
„The high school IT genius“
Niki was well motivated and highly driven even as a kid. In his junior year at his elite high school, he decided to become a top software developer within only 12 months.
He considered his chances to be pretty good. He was straight A student with an analytical mind who was exceptionally good in mathematics and programming. Niki routinely had scored near the top in several international competitions.
But there was a huge disappointment coming his way when that same year he failed miserably at the European Olympiad in Informatics.
His efforts came to fruition but it happened later in life and only after years of work and a great deal of experience in the field.
And the moral is…
Having a grand objective like that requires the proportionate amount of time. It’s not that the goal was out of reach but that the deadline was too close.
While this might sound logical to you, the sad fact is that very few people have it in themselves the skill to correctly evaluate what it would take in terms of time and effort to get a job done.
We often set our eyes on things which we would like to have asap and that rush can often misfire, leading to thoughts of low self-esteem and these can easily invite a defeatist feeling.
Why can’t we get a good handle of time?
There are two factors that are commonly playing a significant role here.
The first stands out clearly:
Impatience is the word for it when we are dying to achieve something and the feeling of enthusiasm is blinding us to the correct assessment of all circumstances along the way.
And the second one is something we aren’t fully aware of – nature made us such that we, as a species, are very good at reacting quickly. But this old prehistoric advantage is sometimes a clear liability in the modern world!
Our mind is shortsighted
Thanks to evolution the brain is not well fit to look too far into the future.
Meanwhile, big goals mean big changes over the course of months and years. We have to be able to foresee most of what would happen.
“Now or never”
Losing weight is another very telling example. Once the decision is made, and let’s suppose it is something like 30 lbs to be gone, you may think you can do it in just a couple of months, right?
Well, not at all. In fact, we are more likely to slim it down if we had at our disposal a couple of years instead. But that kind of well-grounded attitude is more of an exception than a norm.
Of dreams and the anxieties, they come with
Overcoming our fears is one of the trickiest changes to undergo in expanding our horizon.
Failure and the unknown are the two that scare us the most. With no support system to lean on, we can quickly start worrying too much about losing motivation and giving up. Being able to think in the long run with a far-reaching perspective is a double-edged sword.
The way you allocate your limited resource of time when in pursuit of your deepest aspirations reveals a lot about what kind of person you are.
There are two possibilities.
# 1 If you are a realist…
… then you will discover that your plan is not quite going to work out in the available time frame. So, you will most likely discard it as a pipe-dream.
No one is immune to that and it happened to us on a number of occasions.
A six-pack for Ivan and we don’t mean beer…
When he decided to get into better physical shape, it became for him a full-frontal assault on the target – an online coach, a customized training regime, nutritional supplements, and what not.
All of that was okay except that he didn’t get what he wanted in these couple of months he was hoping. This, plus the few other setbacks, only reinforced in him the limiting belief that it was one undoable task after all. He is not the only one who would set himself for failure because of exactly the same type of unrealistic expectations.
Only when we had already developed “GoalBuddy” and took full advantage of it that he finally managed to flatten the belly.
# 2 If you are an optimist…
… and dive head-long into it with the attitude of “No problem, it can be done by tomorrow”. But again, you are taking a huge amount of risk. Even if in a completely different way you are still likely of giving up at a certain point when you push too hard.
Regardless of the manner in which you do it, by taking on too many things, or sprinting towards the finish line of a long distance race, the result is the same – you simply burn out too soon.
There is always the possibility that you get so beat and exhausted that as aftermath you won’t be able to do anything at all for quite a while. Which is pretty much the same as quitting.
The key is not to stop but keep going at a steady pace.
It is preferable to spread your efforts over two or three 90-day periods. This way you’ll ensure a normal and constant rate of progress. We’ve said it before – “Success is a marathon and not a sprint”.
Good and meaningful things are the result of consistent and focused effort. Otherwise, we rush it and end up burning out and crashing.
But pay attention here! Don’t overdo it – procrastination won’t get you anywhere either. A deadline is must in here because it will give you focus, motivation and a cut-off point for drawing the bottom line.
It’s good to have a system
It will provide you with control over the balance between knowing where you are going and doing it within a reasonable speed limit.
It is very simple, in fact. Use a method that creates a synergy between the long-term perspective of the vision and the winning strategies of the short-term 90-day action goals.
The first maintains your direction and focus which steer you away from the trap of being short-sighted and therefore prone to misjudge the situation.
The second gives you the solution on how to advance on a regular basis with the weekly steps. In that way, you can witness your own achievements, and build up the confidence that you can bring it all home.
What made all the difference for us
We would never be able to create “GoalBuddy” if we didn’t have the vision for it which started with just an idea one afternoon.
Obviously, one month is not enough to build a system, write a book, create a website, do podcasts, launch a mobile application, and run workshops.
If the time horizon was too close, we would have already given up. Lucky us! Lucky to have a long-term objective with a span of 25 years.
We start every 90 days with one and only one project involving our vision. We can see right away the initial results. This either gives us the momentum to continue if these are great or helps us rethink our approach if things are not going very well.
When little is too little
Perhaps you would think, and rightfully so, that subjectivity makes our words somehow relative. The same amount of time might be perfectly sufficient for someone and at the same time be completely insufficient for the next person.
One of the many uses of the small weekly steps is to get an idea of your own capabilities.
When you overestimate yourself
In that case, you will notice that it will take extra in terms of resources and effort.
When that happens you can employ a framework called OKR (Objectives and Key Results). Corporations like Intel and Google have been making good use of it for years.
In short, the mechanism is as follows. The excuse behind setting goals that are too small and easy is to ensure their success which, however, will be correspondingly small too. If you set objectives with specific and demanding criteria to satisfy (Key Results), the overall outcome will be bigger even if the target didn’t get hit. This means to knowingly overreach beyond your own abilities. Whether this methodology is a good match for you depends on what kind of personality you have. I.e. would it sound good enough for you to have lost 10 lbs only while it became a second nature for you to do the gym every other day.
Let’s take a look now at what happens when you set the bar too low.
When you underestimate yourself
This is the case when you are about to start something totally new and you have no idea how to kick it off. Since you are so much in the dark about it there is the possibility that your journey would be shorter than you think. Eventually, you will realize that the time you put aside is, in fact, more than enough.
Either way, the best way to learn well something new and improve yourself in the process of doing so is by setting a new challenge for progress in areas important to you.
It shouldn’t be any secret for you by now- success is the result of the cumulative effect of small but regular actions.
So far, so good…
How to do “who wants to be a millionaire”
Only if it were that easy – you set up a reminder in your app to pop up a couple years from now. And then you wake up one morning to find out that you somehow mysteriously became rich.
Transformation is not some inflection point in the future, but acting in our present time. Achieving something big is a chain of interlinked actions, regardless if it is about personal finance, health, career growth, or family.
And that’s true for the impossible dream too.
Wait for a second! Did we say “impossible”?
Even the wildest trips of your imagination would become a reality when you dedicate yourself to them by making one step forward every single week for long enough.
One life is not enough
Having incredible aspirations that you can’t expect to fulfill because life is too short, doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming.
There is little that can stop you from making it all the way to 100 years. Isn’t it yet another incentive to work harder on your vision for health and longevity!