I set aggressive goals for my career, financial freedom and family. Some goals include reading x number of personal development books a year, exploring new ways to earn passive income, set a deadline to finish writing my book and carving out more family time. I usually go through a few phases:
Honeymoon Phase: I am incredibly enthusiastic about my goals and immediately start working on them. The steps to achieve my goals are fresh and new, and I can often see real results from those steps. Even if those real results are small, they seem wonderful because they’re moving in the right direction.
Valley Phase: My initial enthusiasm fades and I begin to see how long it will take to achieve real results. The thrill of making good moves is gone, and the minor drawbacks of those good moves often come to the forefront.
Once I push through the valley, I often come to what I call the HallelujahPhase. The HallelujahPhase comes when I have truly incorporated most of the changes needed to make to achieve the goal into my life and the positive progress toward that goal becomes a natural thing.
The vast majority of my goals die in the valley phase.
For example, I will strive to write one chapter a week of my book, enjoy the thrill of sitting in front of my computer with my research and then get distracted with the scores from the Toronto Raptors game ( I am a huge fan!).
If a person persists through the valley, they’ll reach a point where the new behavior becomes a natural thing. The positive results begin to seem easier and easier and, before long, the big goal seems like a foregone conclusion.
How does one get there? How does one dig through that I’ve found four things that help me dig out of the “valley phase”?
Forget the big goal
The big goal that you set at the beginning seems fantastic and life-affirming, but as you move into the valley, that big goal begins to seem impossible. It’s something that can only be reached with stupendous effort.
So, forget about the big goal. It really does not matter anyway.
All a big goal really does is set into place the kinds of moves you need to make in your day-to-day actions. If you set a big financial goal, that goal only happens if you make smart individual financial moves. The big goal really doesn’t matter when it comes to achieving these little steps. Your big goal really is nothing but a pile of those little steps.
So, forget the big goal and focus only on the little steps. The only thing that matters is your next step
Your focus should be entirely on the day-to-day choices you are making. Are you making wise decisions when purchasing an investment? Will it help you achieve financial freedom? Are you happy when you get back from work after a tough day so that you can spend quality time with your family? It is those individual steps that matter more than anything else, so focus on them and enjoy your success at each of those steps, because that is where the real success happens.
The goal that matters in the valley is the micro-goal – the next step you need to take on that path. The more times you achieve those little micro-goals, the easier and more natural they become.
Don’t keep score. It is very easy to get disheartened by the fact that each step is only taking you a few more inches along in the journey of a thousand miles. If you keep thinking about the distance, it can be very easy to give up.
The only metric that matters is whether or not you made a positive step today. That’s all that matters – nothing else. Did you succeed today? Yes or no? Did you keep your wallet in your pocket? Did you spend quality time with your family? Did you write a few lines for your book? Are you closer to finding out more about passive income opportunities?
You will get through the “valley phase” if you stick with it. It takes time and patience and a willingness to focus on the details above all else, but once those details are right, you’ll find yourself heading directly toward the “Hallelujah Phase,” and that’s where you find yourself moving inevitably toward your big goals. The goal is to focus on long-term repeatability.