“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown
Set a goal where your mind and heart are out of alignment and success will be fleeting. Choose one that’s not quite right and your mind will fight you all the way to the finish line.
However, by combining a goal with the right psychology you can reach both the moon and the stars.
So to help mesh the right goal with the right psychology, here are 32 ways to get your heart and mind to cooperate and virtually guarantee you reach your goal:
1. Form a strong mental image of what you want — Your mind is drawn to and influenced by pictures. An image of a red sports car you want held in the mind pulls the rest of your being to taking action towards getting that car. A picture of a four bedroom brick house in the country, if focused and dwelled upon, will draw you toward seeking out and buying your dream house.
Virtually everything you have gotten in your life started as a gleam in your eye; as a picture. So accelerate the process by holding the image of what you want in your thoughts until it comes into being.
2. Make a goal collage — Open up your crafty side… Since the mind targets what it can see, a fun project for a rainy Saturday afternoon is to make a goal collage. Grab some magazines and cut out pictures of what your completed goal looks like and paste them onto a large piece of cardboard. While doing this, picture yourself enmeshed in the center of all the action. Breathe it all in. You might even paste a picture of yourself in the center of the collage for good measure. Crafts rule!
3. Focus on what you win, not lose — I assure you, there will be times when you aren’t going to feel like following through. You might think “it’s not worth it.” Or you might say to yourself “I’ve been at it for a long time and I’m not seeing the results fast enough. Maybe I should just quit.” Those feelings are disruptive and can cost you your future.
At times like these, it’s important to focus in on what you’ve won, not what you’ve lost. Focus on the progress you’ve made, not the money or time you may have lost.
Working toward a worthy goal is such a rich addition to your life, even the downsides become up-sides when you get a few years under your belt. I can almost guarantee if you talk to anyone who has achieved a huge goal they at one time thought about quitting. Now, they think. “Man, I am glad I didn’t quit back then. Quitting would have been the worst decision of my life.”
4. Set your goal higher than what you expect — Like shooting for the moon, you can set your goal higher than what you expect to accomplish. We call these “stretch goals”. Stretch yourself and you will grow. And if you do fall short, you end up higher than you would had you not set the goal.
5. Don’t be realistic — Let’s face it, you may have never achieved what you set out to before. So maybe you don’t know what you’re capable of. Being “realistic” could mean you are setting the bar too low. Dream big and set your goal high just out of the comfort zone.
A great example is when in 1993 Bill Gates was quoted as saying “The Internet? We are not interested in it.” You think Bill and Microsoft are interested in it now?
My point is even the most “realistic” people can be wrong. Don’t be realistic in your dreaming.
6. Tell the world — I like to call this bridge burning. When you tell everyone you know that you are reach your goal “come hell or high water..” You are suddenly accountable to all of the people you tell. It’s highly embarrassing to have to make excuses for not following through – so rather than suffer through this embarrassment, you’ll make yourself do what you need to do.
Do not underestimate this tip. It can work wonders if you are the type who hates to disappoint people.
7. Make progress every day — Success is a habit… You can blow by all expectations by simply making tiny progresses every day. Like the old saying goes “by the yard it’s hard, but inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” If you are used to doing nothing now, imagine what would happen if you simply committed and followed through with 15 minutes a day, every day…
At the end of a year that would be over 2 forty hour workweeks. You’ve got 15 minutes don’t you? Consistently increase that by a minute or two and your progress will grow exponentially.
8. Start working on your goal first thing in the morning – For most people, I recommend getting working on your goal as your first task of the day. The problem with not doing it first is it’s easier to delay working on it the whole day. A day could pass before you get an opportunity to work on it. But if you start first thing, then you’ve finished work on your goal before the other distractions have gotten a chance to invade your day and disrupt your progress.
9. Rewrite your goal 3 times per day – A tip I learned from Brian Tracy. One way to motivate yourself is to write and rewrite your top 3 goals every day. Simply writing and rewriting your goal gets your juices flowing. But there are other great benefits too. One is your goal will easily become more refined and focused. And two, ideas about how to get your goals done will bubble up as you write them.
10. Be thankful — If you are reading this, you have the freedom to pursue your dreams. Not everyone in the world can do that. There are people starving, fighting genocide and oppressive governments. But you have a choice. You can be sad about what you don’t have or be thankful about what you do have.
Choose to be thankful. Being thankful for what you do have opens your life for more of what you do want.
11. List reasons not to take action — This is a fun motivational experiment. When you have the blahs and don’t want to get to work, list all the justifications why you shouldn’t take action. Like reverse psychology, listing why you shouldn’t take action will influence you to take action because the reasons end up looking pathetic when you get them on paper. Egg yourself on and add in some jabs as you see fit.
- I shouldn’t work on my goal today because I’m tired. Aren’t I the poor baby?
- I shouldn’t take action today because I’ve worked hard all day. So working hard during the day is a good excuse to flush my life dreams down the toilet?
- I shouldn’t take action today (nor yesterday or day before) because I deserve a break. Wow! What a princess I am. Maybe I should get someone to rub my feet while I’m at it.
Going after what your heart desires is easy. Going after what your parent’s heart desire is for you is a recipe for disaster.
13. Use positive self-talk — Positive attitudes result in positive actions. Have you ever noticed when someone calls another person a name, the result is the other person takes on a bad attitude? It’s the same when you are thinking to yourself. Saying “I will get in 1 hour of good tasking before noon today” is a positive thought to yourself. The opposite is, “I was such a lazy bum the past week, I better get to work today!”
Both positive and negative ways may appear to have their merits, but which do you think gives the better results? A positive attitude makes light of the work, where the negative is forcing you to do the work. It’s like the difference between eating a scoop of your favorite ice cream and being forced to eat it or else! Both accomplish the same ends, but one is more enjoyable, thus easier to make a habit.
14. Keep your goal a secret from negative people — It’s nearly impossible to stay positive when you are surrounded by negative people. That’s why you should never share your goal with negative people. If you’ve stretched yourself by setting a challenging goal, it will be tough enough to stay on track. You don’t need someone standing on the sidelines telling you how you can’t do it. (I know this appears to conflict with #6 but it’s a judgement call. If it’s a negative stranger saying “you’ll never do it”. Who cares? If it’s a negative Mom or Dad, that’s another story.)
Guilty pleasure alert: When you get good at goal setting and confident with it, you can start to tell negative people about your goals… I sometimes get a kick out of seeing them have to eat their words!
15. Avoid negative people and situations – As implied in the step above, a positive attitude is one of the most powerful assets you have at your disposal. But there’s a catch. Keeping a positive attitude isn’t so easy when there are negative people gossiping and complaining all day. But not only that, if you watch the news, the negative news can have an impact on your attitude as well.
Try to limit your exposure to negative people and situations. It might mean wearing headphones if you’ve got a chatty depressed office mate. It might mean switching from cable news to Carol Burnett reruns. For me, I’ve quit jobs due to negativity in the work environment. The reason, negativity can always get the best of you if you aren’t careful. So it’s best to just get away from it as soon as possible.
16. Commit — Imagine if you had to go through the paces of your goal for 6 months before you saw any benefit from the goal? Could you do it? That’s where commitment comes into play. Sticking with your commitment is what allows the benefits to flow into your life.
Example: Everyone who starts a blog typically sees no revenue for at least the first 6 months. The vast majority will never see any revenue at all – why? Because they haven’t committed to the project. Commitment, much like a marriage commitment, is for better and for worse. Think about that for a second. Are you ready to take the bad with the good? The up times with the bad? Because I assure you, with every major goal, you’ll have your fair share of both.
17. Listen to audio learning programs in your car — One step you can take right now is to purchase some audio learning CDs or tapes to listen to in your car. No matter what your commute is, whether it is 20 minutes or two hours, you can turn all of that time into shortcuts to your goal by listening and learning as you drive. There are literally thousands of audio programs out there. You can learn a foreign language, you can learn marketing, you can learn effective small business skills, you can learn how to have a happy and successful marriage — all while driving your car. This is free learning time is your own university on wheels that is not being used by the vast majority of people.
18. Target your goal so it reflects your best skills — This is a subtle nuance, but if you can do it, you will have another technique you can add to your arsenal. What I mean by targeting your goal to meet your skills is best explained with an example. Let’s say for instance you want to write your first novel. Your strengths are in being creative, coming up with a plot line, the theme and character structure. You are also good at writing stories. But your weaknesses include editing, and boxing up and sending out your manuscript.
So instead of targeting your goal as “I am going to write and publish my first novel.” You can instead choose to match your skills. The way you would do that is to limit the goal to actually creation and perfection of the writing itself. Then, you could hire a freelance editor to do the editing, and then hire a student to box up the manuscript and send it to publishers for you.
This frees you up to attack your goal with your best skills. You get to have fun instead of straining with the editing process or doing a sloppy job of packing and shipping process.
19. Limit distractions — A cell phone, TV, or Blackberry Instant Messenger won’t help anyone lose 25 pounds. Also their interruptions throw you off track. The end result is you get frustrated and annoyed that you aren’t progressing toward your goal fast enough. The only way to take action on your goal and feel good about the action you take is to focus on it. A beeping cell phone or pager won’t help you. In fact, these devices will hurt your progress if they aren’t seen for what they are – IDDs (Instant Distraction Devices)
If you want to keep a positive attitude as you work, turn off or get rid of these heat-seeking attention-draining devices.
20. Don’t use “not knowing how” as an excuse for non-action — Trust me, when the going gets tough, a hundred excuses will pop into your head. One of the best I’ve found is “I don’t know how”. If your goal is to build a new business, start your own blog, learn a foreign language or do anything else that you haven’t done before, “not knowing how” will eventually rear it’s head.
Fact is, you didn’t know how to do anything you know how to do today. You had to learn it all – either from education or from experience. Take a little baby and say “eat”. A baby doesn’t know how to eat. You have to teach it, even with nature kicking in, you still have to shove food in it’s mouth until it figures out how to eat. As humans, we know how to do nothing until we do it. So treat situations where you don’t know how to do something as an opportunity to learn to do something new.
21. As you progress, teach others – A good way to maintain your positive attitude is to share it with others. I am not saying on the first day of your new goal you go out and try to teach someone how to accomplish what you are setting out to do. Wait until you get some steps out of the way, then it’s fun and enlightening to teach others how to get where you are.
Teaching has brought great benefits to my own life as well. I have had many experiences where training other people on how to set up landing pages for small businesses, their excitement was infectious. By teaching, you get to bounce ideas off of each other. Usually, before you know it I was aching to get home and do some marketing on my own business!
24. Conserve personal energy — it is important to you have enough energy to complete the goals you strive for. Therefore it’s a good idea to get in tune with what tasks, people, advance and situations drain your energy. Become aware of the energy sapping situations so you can avoid them. By avoiding these people and situations, you will have more energy you can dedicate to your goal.
On the other hand, there are certain people, situations and environments that energize you. You need to become aware of those situations and people as well and put yourself in those arenas as often as you can.
25. Create a mantra — similar to positive self talk as mentioned above, you can also create or swipe a mantra you can use the site yourself up. A mantra is one or two or three words that you repeat over and over to calm and centered yourself. By calming and centering yourself, you can focus better and motivate yourself. Here’s an example of one of the monitors I’ve used in the past (hat tip Brian Tracy):
“Back to work”
By repeating the phrase “back to work, back to work, back to work” many times in my mind, I find myself compelled to get back to work. When the phone rings or I am distracted, repeating the phrase “back to work”, always centers me and gives me back in the mood to doing what I know it needs to be done.
Mantras all have to be personal. My mantra may or may not work for you. So try out a few. Some people simply say “hmmm…” or “The” over and over in their minds. Whatever you choose, it should quiet the noise of the day. And allows you to focus as well. So spend a few minutes deciding what you’re mantra should be it should keep you on track and help you get things done.
26. Stay single-minded — as the late Earl Nightingale said, “you become what you think about.” By focusing your mental power and energy into one single major goal, you make it come into your reality. But the way this works is similar to the way a college student decides he or she wants to be a doctor. They picture it be lab coats and helping people and perhaps the money cars and big houses that other doctors know. They emotionalize the goal and attach meaning to it. If you were to ask any college student in med school what they think about most, I am sure they would report thinking about being a doctor. And that is what they become.
So whatever your goal is, stay single-minded on it. It should be just short of an obsession. Almost like a new love of your life. If your top goal is not something you can fall in love with, you have probably chosen the wrong one. Pick again.
27. Build your mind power — Feel like you can’t put two and two together or that you are struggling every step of the way? Then you need to build your mind power. Practice exercises that awaken your brain. Do crossword puzzles in your spare time and do suit Sudoku puzzles as well. These get you thinking and get your mind working in new and better ways. By thinking better, your achievements will come easier. You’ll see new paths. You’ll see new answers to old questions and you’ll gain new ideas.
28. Leverage with the carrot and stick — one technique you can use to get yourself to take action is the proverbial carrot and stick approach. The carrot and stick is an old term used basically to describe how an old tiny milkman would convince his stubborn mule to pull his milk cart through the streets on the delivery route. The milkman would take a stick with a carrot suspended from it and hang the carrot out in front of the donkeys nose. The carrot would tempt the donkey forward. But in case the donkey wasn’t feeling very motivated that day, the milkman would strike the donkeys butt with another stick. This stick would serve as a negative punishment for not doing.
Now each of these devices have power on their own. But when you put the combination together, you will see the most benefit. When you have a reward (like cookie) for finishing a report. That is not a bad deal.
When you have a punishment (like a demotion or loss of yearly bonus) staring you in the face if you don’t finish your report, that is motivating in too.
But when you put into together, you have the most motivation. Not only will you not be punished if you finish the report you will actually be rewarded with a cookie for doing so. That’s how the carrot and stick works. Now it’s up to you to figure out what is your carrot and stick
29. Daydream solutions — When you are stuck, take some time to daydream. I don’t mean lay your head down and go to sleep. Instead I mean to take time out to daydream and think without pressure. I use the term dream because there should not be pressure or stress when you sit and think through your solutions.
Recommended time period for this type of dreaming is 30 minutes to one hour. If you were stressed and frustrated because you weren’t making any leeway, and dreaming up solutions will relax you and give you ideas on how to make it through.
30. Stick to the basics — Is there a magic tool or effective program you will make you successful?
Unfortunately, no there isn’t. If there was, everyone would be using it. So as you pursue your goals, you will want to stick with the basics. The basics are available to us all. Never substitute browsing the Internet for action. Action is a basic. Never substitute crystal ball gazing for planning. Planning is a basic.
31. Fail more — some of the best lessons I have learned in life came through doing things the wrong way. You can find much success from doing what you think is best – even if you fail. A failed attempt, is a learning experience. When you learn a way not to do something, that brings you that much closer to a way to do something and succeed.
So do not stop doing just to avoid failure. Yes, you will want to try and do things the right way on the first time. But don’t beat yourself up if you stumble or fall. If you fall, you have just discovered a new way not to do something. And that brings you closer to the outcome you seek. So every failure can be a success depending on how you look at it.
32. Fail Faster — What goes along with failing more and testing more is getting bad news early. There is a smart technique in Adwords marketing called “failing fast”. What failing fast means is as a shield against dumping tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life into a business idea that will never work, you invest a smaller but high budget in it so you get your results in 1 week.
The way it works is this:
Someone has an idea for a self-help book. But before the author sits down to write it, she decides to test it to see if there is a market for her concept. Utilizing Adwords, runs a market test of the book idea to see what the success rate is – see how many people sign up for more info. In a matter of days, we would know with certain proof whether her book would be a success or a failure. If she fails fast, she succeeds because her book does not slowly bleed away her time, money and energy the could be spent writing a winner.
If the book succeeds, that’s all the better, she makes money and gets published.
I want to caution you to only fail fast at your steps and tests not your goals. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, and on the second day you have gained 1 pound, that is not “failing fast”. That is not a good excuse for abandoning your goal. Failing fast is historically task related feet. You might try the Atkins diet and see what happens after four weeks if that fails, try something else. You don’t throw the weight loss goal out entirely.