You have a strong goal, you have willpower and you have all the time and resources you need. Why is it still so hard to pursue and to achieve your goal? Take care of your environment and of the people around you.
A Thought Experiment
Imagine you are invited to an event and in one presentation you listen to the speech of an amazing motivational speaker. She tells you that you can achieve everything. You have to dream big and then go for it. For practical reasons we shorten this a bit here. However, she is absolutely convincing, full of energy and you agree with her in every point.
The speech is over. You get a signed book and you go home – happy, motivated, full of energy and optimistic that you can achieve all your dreams too. You are going to start tomorrow.
On the next day you come to the office and you recognize there is something in bad shape with this project you are working on. There is always something in bad shape with every project. Not a big deal but it needs your attention and you are working on it for the whole day.
In the evening you come home a bit exhausted. You always come home a bit exhausted. Anyway, you are still motivated enough to start working on your big goals the way you learned yesterday from this motivational speaker. This is when your spouse tells you that you (both of you) want to meet with some friends tonight. Sure, this will be fun so you go.
Back home you are tired, go to bed and just before falling asleep you think that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, you will start working on your goals.
A Cog in the Machine
If the above story sounds familiar, please rest assured that you are not alone. You are a cog in the machine and usually the machine works for someone else’s goals.
There is a thin line, of course. You might very well work for a big company in perfect alliance with your own goals. First, if you identify with the vision of your company you work for something bigger than yourself and the results might be far beyond what you could achieve alone. Second, you might need to work for a living and even if you do not like everything about your job it is still a good source for money. So, your corporate job can be the cross-funding for your goals outside your workplace.
This is all fine. It becomes a problem, however, when you hate your job and you spend day and night to dream about this big goal that you always wanted to pursue. There are some milder forms of this as well.
The problem is deceitful. If you have a big goal that you would like to achieve within the next 20 years or so, it does not seem to matter that much if you start today, or tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. As a consequence, chances are you never start or, you lose traction on the way.
As a result, you remain the cog in the machine and you only recognize this when it is too late. In the worst case you lead a wasted life. A life dedicated to the goals of other people.
Don’t Blame the Machine
Don’t blame the machine. Don’t blame the circumstances.
The environment is an often underestimated part when it comes to pursuing your goals and dreams.
Just small changes in your environment can make or break it. For example, the cookie jar on the table might ruin your goal to lose some weight. On the other side, the running shoes in sight can make it easier for you to decide to go for a quick run. A bad environment or poisonous people make is hard to go for your goals.
Let’s take our working environment. There are so many seemingly important day-to-day tasks going on. But, are they really important? Maybe they are just urgent, if at all.
Build the Machine
Try not to be the cog in the machine. Try to be the motor, or even better, the constructor of the machine.
Most people come out of a motivational speech – well – motivated. Back in their usual environments this motivation quickly fades away.
For changing your environment, the following questions can be helpful:
- Are you in an environment that motivates you to pursue your goals?
- What can you change in your environment to make it easier for you to pursue your goals?
- Do the people, you usually interact with, support you and your goals?
- Who can become your supporter?
- Is what you do right now, helping you with your goals? (Powerful. Set a reminder to answer this question several times a day.)
- Are you in an environment where you can give yourself permission to pursue your goals?
- What does your inner voice tell you?
- What holds you back?
- What are you afraid of?
- How can you find a calm place to work on your goals?
Save the Goal-Setting Environment
As a practical advice, try to schedule some time every week to work on your goals in a nice and undisturbed environment. First, it might feel like unproductive time. But it helps immensely to re-focus and to plan activities that indeed bring you closer towards your goals. And, seek people and environments that are supportive, e.g. mentors or Toastmasters (for public speaking).
To bring this to the next level, you can put yourself in an environment that is likely to have a big positive effect on your goal-setting journey.
If you want to found a startup you can sit at home and write a business plan – good. Or, you can go out to a meeting where other startup founders, potential investors and like-minded people meet – better. You can find such places in your area and for your interest group for example at Meetup.
Or, you can talk to new people, travel, learn a new language or try a new sport. All these “new” activities train your change muscle and most likely help you to think out of the box. This also helps a lot with your goals.
You can find more information about goal setting and specifically about the environment in our free eBook “Goal Setting for a Fulfilled Life”.