Before you climb a mountain, you must first climb a hill. Before you run a marathon, you must first run a mile. And before you say I love you, you must first say I like you. Grand adventures are the result of gradual increases in effort. With each step you take today, the journey ahead becomes that much more rewarding.
When you consider goal setting, there are three goals everyone should experience before they die. Iconic goals that open you up to greater things. I explain what those goals are and why they are so important in this article. But don’t just take my word for it. Set them for yourself and see firsthand what I’m talking about.
You’ll need better running shoes
Last year I gained 35 lbs. I didn’t want to. It just happened. You know how it goes. The strange thing is, my nutrition plan was generally the same as it had been in the past. Nothing had changed. I still counted calories, I still exercised frequently. The scale didn’t care. The number ballooned week after week. A younger me would have set a very specific goal in response. Something like: Lose 35 lbs. I didn’t do that. Not this time at least. I’ve learned my lesson (repeatedly so).
Everyone should set a weight loss goal for themself just so they can fail at it. Not because you need humbling. Not to make my pudgy-ass feel better.
Rather, you should set that goal so as to learn the importance of control. You have no control over what the scale says at a given time. So when you set a goal to lose a specific amount of weight, you set yourself up for failure. When you inevitably don’t hit the number in the desired time period, you quit. That doesn’t happen when you set a goal within your control though. When you set a goal to run one mile each week, whether you do it or not is on you. Meaning you have the power. If you do it for three months, you might not reach your desired weight, but you will have run a lot of miles.
Instead of feeling defeated, you will feel inspired. And with that feeling, you can set a new goal in place of running. Something else within your control that will bring you closer to your desired weight. As for me, I’ve set goals within my control. I’ve benefited a lot because of them. And the scale agrees (and continues to do so).
The root of the dollar
I wanted 100 million dollars. USD. In the bank. I knew what I would do with the funds. I knew who I would distribute it to and in what quantities. And there was no time to lose. I gave myself three years to make it happen.
At the end of those three years, I had just started a new job. Base pay before commission: $36k babyyy. I also had just recently moved out of my parents’ house. Out of their house and into a one-bedroom apartment. Oh, and I had a roommate. I was nowhere near that $100 million. The thing is, it didn’t matter. My job was new and exciting. My “roommate” was actually my fiance and it was our first place together. Overall, my life was trending up.
You only need to read a few pages into any self-help book to hear that money isn’t the secret to happiness. We read those lines. We shake our heads, agree, and preach it to others like they’re children. Then we forget and set a goal to double our salary by the end of the year. Money is important. But more important is fulfillment. Your salary may get doubled, but the responsibilities that come with it may make you hate the work twice as much. When you place fulfillment at the root of your goals, you prioritize meaning. And though it doesn’t pay rent, it does give you the zhuzh you need to get out of bed in the morning.
A house with a roof
The number of times I’ve sat in my car scream-crying over a failed business venture is too many. Seriously. It’s too many. For years, my main desire in life has been to run my own business full-time. There were a lot of little reasons for it. But the big one was because it called to me. Like a painter drawn to the brush, I was called to entrepreneurship. My mental state was all screwed up though. I had undiagnosed anxiety, problems with overwhelm, and a pessimistic leaning towards life.
In short, I was everyone’s favorite neurotic.
Time and time again I’d set the same goal: run my business full-time by X.* I was the classic side-hustler. Wake up early, work on my business, then start my day job, go to bed, and do it all again. I’d hope to go full-time with my business by December. But the business would be struggling and December would get pushed to June the following year. Then to December again. Then back to June. It wouldn’t be that exact, but it’s the gist.
I’ve since got my mental house in order. It’s not perfect, but there’s a roof and walls and it’s nice. And I’ve since gone full-time with my business as well. Further, I’ve spent a lot of time examining the mental side of goal success. The physical side deals with the work. As in, getting out and swimming those laps, or reading that book, or getting that sleep. But I’ve learned how important the mental side is as well. Believing that you can swim those laps, read that book, get that sleep.
You may not want to start a business, but you are likely drawn to something. And applying the power of belief, particularly through visualization, can help bring that goal into reality.
*Notice how the goal’s outside my control? That’s a red flag.
Moving forward with your goals
There are three classic goals I highly encourage you to set. Not because of what you will achieve with them. In fact, you probably won’t achieve much at all. But, you will learn powerful lessons from those goals. Lessons that will give you the insights you need to build a meaningful life for yourself. Those goals once again are to:
- Lose weight (or gain muscle)
- Make money
- Go all-in on your passion