“If you don’t write down your goal, if you don’t define what you want clearly and specifically, then you are setting yourself up for failure.”
Knowing what you want is one of the most important tenets of self-leadership. You have to define your goals so that you know clearly where you want to go. And more than just knowing, I like to take it up a notch and say: you have to write down your goal.
Why you should write down your goal
Many adults today avoid writing down their goals for their work, business, relationships or health. They say, “It’s impossible anyway. That’s just wishful thinking,” or “I know my goals in my head, so there is no need to write it down.” The truth is, if you don’t write down your goal, if you don’t define what you want clearly and specifically, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
The human brain is wired to be efficient. And what that means is this: the human brain is very lazy. If it thinks that an information is not important or unnecessary in daily use, it will begin to forget it so it can make space for our daily mental processes: deadlines, bills to pay, that new Netflix show, etc.
Writing down your goal, reading it over and over again, is telling your brain that THIS — this is what’s truly important to me. Don’t you dare forget it.
But wait, how many goals do you have?
The problem is…we humans are greedy. We want everything we can have. We fill our plates at buffets because we can. We subscribe to social channels, magazines, newspapers so we can fill our life with more. More information. More knowledge. More noise. More clutter.
Many multitalented people today remain underachievers because they have too many goals. They want to start their own business, they want to make it BIG. They want to write their own book, get an MBA, keep up a blog, a Youtube channel, a podcast. Add all that to their five or fifteen ongoing online courses…no wonder they don’t have time to finish anything!
Of course, you can sacrifice all other aspects of your life, including your health and relationships, to make some progress in all of your goals. I have been there – I drove myself to the ledge working 15+ hours daily as a lawyer and investment banker.
Yes, the career growth was exponential, but outside of my career, I was breaking down. My relationships were failing. My health was deteriorating. I had trouble sleeping. And I lived my life in a state of constant stress and pressure to do more, more and more.
The problem with goal competition
A useful concept for the busy, modern-day executive or entrepreneur is ‘goal competition’, or having too many goals at the same time. Think of work: when you have 10 deadlines marked urgent, you’re probably gonna be a mess.
Where should you begin? What should you do first? What is actually the most important work to do here?
The greatest barrier to achieving our goals in the corporate or entrepreneurial world is the other goals we have. Whenever we chase a new goal, we have to pull energy, time, and focus from other pursuits. In other words, all these goals fight for your attention and time.
The problem we have now is not just goal setting, but goal selection.
Start with ONE personal goal
I had to hit rock bottom before I realized that I had to stop treating myself like a slave. I want to be my own boss, I want to have control of my time, I want to do purposeful work that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. And so, I spent time to identify just one goal, just one thing to aim for. It started with my health, which then led me to pursue the path to wellness and finally, I found my calling in being a motivational coach.
But at rock bottom, I started with working on myself.
Facing yourself and say: “it’s enough. I don’t want to be treated like your 101st priority.”
As self-leaders, we always have to start from the inside out. When we’re goal setting, we need to set a personal goal that isn’t just about external success. We need to first define goals that will make us better, whether it’s improving our health, our confidence, our self-knowledge, etc.
What I did then was to radically set myself free from goals that don’t actually make me feel happy. What are these? These are the goals that the society, your colleagues, maybe your Asian parents said you should do.
I looked at myself in the mirror and tried to be honest with myself. I voiced out what isn’t going right. I tried to put my dreams and hopes into words until finally I found my voice.
You have to say your dreams out loud for them to grow
At first, I thought that my dream was crazy. A top motivational speaker? I didn’t go to grad school for that! But I got my pen and my paper and started writing my goal… and things started to make sense.
When you put your goals down to paper, you are making a promise to yourself: This is what I want to do now. Focus on this.
Revisit your journal daily or better yet, tape that page on a mirror or a wall. Read it out loud daily and anchor yourself on your true purpose.
In our world today, it can feel like we have to do everything at once. This is why so many people feel confused, anxious and burnt out. By taking a step back and focusing only on the most important thing you need to do, you will have the space to breathe, flourish and thrive.
Humans are not machines that can process an outstanding amount of input. We are living, growing creatures who crave connection, purpose and growth.
If you’re looking to spark your team’s inner spirit and build their mental toughness, book an online event for your team to help them get out of a rut and enable them to achieve their peak performance. You can also check out my Mental Rockstar Audiobook now available on MentalRockstar.com