How to Reach Your Goals

how to reach your goalsWe all have days when we have a hard time motivating ourselves to do the things we should do. We also have days when we have a hard time motivating ourselves to do the things we want to do. But what if this happens every day? What if you start and end every day with the feeling that you are accomplishing nothing. Are you subconsciously counting your days by your failures? Think about it. If you have a list in your head every day of what you feel you must accomplish, do you constantly beat yourself up for what you didn’t get done? If so, then this is precisely why you can’t get anything done.

If you can’t accomplish your goals, there is nothing wrong with you; there is something wrong with the goal.

Simplify Your Goal

It’s likely that your goal is overwhelming—whether you want to write a great novel, or you need to finish that report by the deadline. No great novel was ever written in a day, or maybe you already know that it’s going to take you more time than you have to finish that report. If your goal is to “finish my novel” or “complete the report,” then you are not giving yourself opportunities to feel your successes daily.

If you’re writing a novel, a more realistic goal might be write one page a day, or one chapter. Or it may not have to do with writing at all to begin with. Maybe your goal is to be at your desk by nine o’clock in the morning to do research. Or if you know you can’t complete the report in one day, then the goal should be to negotiate a new deadline or ask for help.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you experience some success every day. Success builds on itself, the same way the feeling of failure does. Once you succeed at meeting a goal consistently, add another piece of the project. “I will be at my desk at nine o’clock” may become “I will be at my desk at nine o’clock doing research for my novel,” which then becomes, “I will be at my desk at nine o’clock to do research for my novel, write ten pages, and stop by three-thirty.”

If you add expectations to your daily goal and find that you are consistently not meeting the goal with the added expectation, return to a goal you were meeting, and then try again. It’s important to keep yourself in a place where you can experience success every day.  And it’s also important not to beat yourself up if you need to go back and find that place. Remember, if this happens, there is nothing wrong with you. There is something wrong with the goal.

Evaluate Your Goal

Is your goal realistic? I had “Be an Actress” on my to-do list when I was fourteen years old. I did, at some point, come to grips with the fact that this was never going to happen. Sometimes you have to be brutally honest with yourself. This does not mean you should give up, or that you shouldn’t have lofty goals, but it does mean that sometimes you should shift your focus in order to stop the cycle of feeling like a failure. I will never be an actress, but I do think I can write an academy-award-winning screenplay. I didn’t give up my Hollywood goal, but I did change it to something that I honestly believe I can accomplish.

Is there a reason you can’t meet your goal? This can be as simple as not having the right tools, or as complex as suffering from chronic pain or depression. If you don’t have the right tools, your goals should center around what you need to accomplish your goal, long before they center around the actual goal. If you need sharpened pencils and paper, then that, as simple as it is, should be on your to-do list. It’s a pretty easy success to sharpen pencils and find some paper. If you need a new computer or a better Internet connection, figure out a way to get those things. That should be on your to-do list. If you need a new computer and this has been on your to-do list for awhile because you can’t afford one, then your immediate goal might be something like, “Figure out one thing I can change in my budget in order to save money for a new computer.” If you can’t accomplish that, your goal may morph into something like, “Barter with Dude down the street who tinkers with computers.” Whatever form your goal ultimately takes, you are that much farther ahead by simply having thought about it.

If you are not accomplishing your goals because of a chronic condition, you may have to make your goal pretty simple until you feel well. “Get out of bed” is the best some people can do some days. Make the simplest things your opportunity for success. Build on them every day that you’re successful, or back off if you are not succeeding. “Get out of bed” has the potential to become, “Get out of bed, feel grateful for another day, eat a healthy breakfast, be at my desk at nine o’clock, and write one chapter.”

If you are consistently not getting your “must do” reports done at work, then you may need to consider whether you are doing the job you really want to do. You may think you have no alternative, but you won’t really know until “Look for other ways to make money” is on your to-do list.

Is Your Goal Something That You Really Want?

We constantly clutter our lives with things we should do. Of course, there are things we most want to do, which often get pushed to the bottom of the list by things we should do. This can leave you feeling resentful and resistant. You will never accomplish a goal in this state of mind. If you hate yourself for always buying the brownies for the school bake sale and putting them in your own Tupperware, then stop doing it. Take volunteering for the school bake sale off your mental to-do list.

It’s Not About the Goal—It’s About the Journey

When you start feeling success every day, you may experience some profound changes. Feeling successful every day will help you to feel better physically and emotionally. I have actually come to the place in myself where I no longer believe in failure. Even if I never accomplish my loftiest goal, I have not failed; I will have learned something. I’ll have stories to tell. I’ll make new friends. I might accomplish something that never even made it to my to-do list. The point isn’t actually to accomplish everything you put on your to-do list. The point is to live your potential. The point is to do the best you can. Look every day for your successes—sometimes they will be the tiny whispered secrets in your soul. Sometimes they will be big enough for anyone who looks to see them. But they will be there. Every day. Without fail.

The Culture of Extremism

Untitled artwork by Sulamith Wulfing

Untitled artwork by Sulamith Wülfing

When you hear the word “extremist,” you immediately think of “those other people” who like to take hostages or blow themselves up in a crowd in an attempt to further some radical agenda, such as militant Islam or right-wing Christianity (Timothy McVeigh, for example). But the truth is that extremism isn’t limited to the highly religious or political. When you start to take stock, you begin to realize that extremism has not only become common, it has become mainstream.

If you eat meat, you may have had the experience of tucking into your T-bone steak only to have a militant vegan in your party berate you for your choice of meal. They may or may not have valid reasons for their beliefs, but it doesn’t matter because the result is that you feel bugged and disrespected and suddenly find it very difficult to enjoy your meal. Likewise, if your good friend of many years discovers a new diet that works for them, you may find it difficult to enjoy eating in their company ever again. Like religion, food and diet are one of the great bastions of extremist behavior. To a control freak, a rigid diet is like finding the Promised Land. And if you’re married to one, you may find yourself dreaming of hamburgers and french fries.

Of course, I’m not knocking people’s dietary choices. We have consciously made some ourselves. There is nothing wrong with figuring out what works for you. The problem occurs when people decide that whatever works for them is right for everybody, and they can’t stop evangelizing about it. This is a form of extremism.

Another form of extremism is the hatred of science and technology. Science can be a double-edged sword, certainly. Nuclear weaponry benefits no one. On the other hand, science has done much for us that we take for granted, including western medicine. As an energy healer, I certainly believe in the benefits of alternative medicine. Energy healing, acupuncture, ayurveda, naturopathic medicine, and chiropractic care, to name a few, make important contributions to healthcare. But so does western medicine, and to deny this is to leave the middle ground of balance.

Extremism is the same thing as inflexibility. Extremism means that you will brook no contrary viewpoint. Extremism means that you have made a judgment. If you hate western medicine, you have no respect for those who would utilize it. If you hate the thought of eating animal products, then you have no respect for those who do. If you hate anything, then you are an extremist.

By its very nature, hatred means that you would prefer to extinguish what you hate from the the planet. A balanced, compassionate, and understanding nature knows that others may have different feelings and beliefs and respects that. Extremists hate something and fervently believe that the world will not be right unless the hated thing is eradicated. Extremists judge harshly, and the thing they hate always comes up wanting.

This does not mean that people should stand idly by if someone is getting hurt. “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” But here’s where the trouble begins. The Ego can rationalize anything. So the Ego may convince itself, “You are harming that cow by eating it.” But are you? If the cow is raised for the purpose, is there harm? If the cow is treated well and killed properly and fulfills its life purpose, is there harm? If cows were left to multiply unchecked across the world because no one ate them and people starved, would there be harm? Perception is relative. You cannot trust your Ego to perceive, because it cannot.

We all have opinions and beliefs. We are designed to. But they should not blind us to the truth of others. We become extremists when we judge and condemn without understanding or compassion. When we believe that our truth is the only “right” truth. When we automatically reject opposing beliefs as “wrong.”

Be the change you want to see in the world.
~Mahatma Gandhi

We have the opportunity to stop extremism by stopping it in ourselves. If you are convinced of the wrongness of something, consider that perhaps you are not in the right, either. Consider that angels work in mysterious ways, and that gifts come in unexpected packages. Consider that even if a conspiracy is at work, some good may yet come of it—but only if you are open to it. And most of all, consider that your reality is valid for you, but it may not be valid for someone else. We are all unique sparks of the One.

Former Oregon Senator and Governor Mark Hatfield had a sign in his office that read, “Gray is the color of complex truth.” Truth is a moving target that depends on where you sit. Change positions, and the truth changes with it. It is our job as Divine Creators to accept that there are many truths in the Universe and not just our own limited vision. When we as individuals can be at peace with Gray Truth, we will be at peace as a race.