I talk to a lot of people every day; most of them have dreams, many are passionate about their aspirations, a purpose drives some of them, only a restricted few seems quite comfortable they will reach their objectives in the long run.
Whether they openly admit it or not, the vast majority of people feel they have lost their passion at some point, or that fear is preventing them from keeping up with their aims.
If you recognise yourself in this description, sit down and read carefully. The good news is: it is not your fault, our brain is designed to work in such way. Whenever we have an idea that we are enthusiastic about, to the point of setting new objectives to make it real, our brain allocates a high volume of resources to focus on them, but for a limited amount of time. As soon as the time is off, if we did not achieve any of those objectives, our brain will likely drive us away from them, looking for new challenges, re-shuffling our priorities.
Do not feel alone in this process, as almost everyone has to go through it sooner or later.However, if you are expecting to find a magic pill or a shortcut to avoid those feelings, I am afraid I will have to let you down. Not a single accomplishment ever came from anything that was not commitment and dedication. However, fear not: it is not about producing and relentless effort but focussing your energies in the right direction.
Everybody knows that money can open a lot of doors, but whether or not you will cross such doors at the right time, knowing what comes next, only depends on your determination. Without determination, even the wealthiest person on Earth can easily get bored and unsatisfied. And this brings me to the first point.
Unsatisfaction? Let’s call it ambition
It is not easy to cope with the feeling that you were not passionate or determined enough to reach your objectives. After a few “failures”, those feelings will pile up and take the shape of utterly destructive unsatisfaction. If that’s where you are standing at the moment, be aware that you just need to take a couple of steps aside, look at it with a different angle, and it will suddenly become positively inspiring ambition.
That void you have inside does not depend on your failures, but only on the fact that you haven’t met your objectives – as of yet.
First step: give your objectives their space
As long as your goals are living only in your mind, they will keep being an abstraction, a very much volatile reality.
An important project deserves its physical space at the very least. Take a notebook, put a big label on it, with the name of the project you want to achieve, and begin by writing down all the objectives related to that project. That notebook is where your idea starts to take a physical form and moves from an abstract world into reality. It exists, and you can touch it.
Do not forget: be SMART
The quality of your objectives may very well determine the success or the failure of the project. That is why you should write them using SMART criteria.
SMART is an acronym that lists the main criteria any objectives should comply with:
- Specific. Don’t be generic, but specific when writing your goals. If your ambition is to set up your consultancy firm, one of your objectives should not be a generic “Acquire clients”, but “Identify prospects on LinkedIn using criteria X and Y”.
- Measurable. The only way to determine whether or not we are progressing with an objective is to make it measurable: “Identify at least 500 prospects on LinkedIn using criteria X and Y”.
- Achievable. Set realistic goal: trying to achieve something that you simply cannot reach will just drive you to frustration. For example, “Identify 1 million prospects on LinkedIn in 3 days using criteria X and Y” does not sound alright, does it?
- Relevant. Focus on your project and only on objectives that are meaningful to it. “Write a book about gardening” does not seem to relate to our project. If it is paramount for you to write that book, maybe it deserves its notebook and its plan, does it not?
- Time-bound. Objectives should have a deadline or a cadence: “Collect 100 prospects per day on LinkedIn using criteria X and Y”.
Pain or gain?
Together with SMART objectives, you should also define how you plan to reward yourself for meeting them.
One night at the theatre or a day at the spa: anything that can make you feel at peace with the world will make do. If you meet an important objective, you deserve to be rewarded. I know that for some people the fear of losing works better than the perspective of winning: in that case, you could bet against yourself. If you DO NOT meet an objective by the given deadline, you will donate £50 to charity (or whatever sum is not enough to ruin your balance but enough to upset you). Please do not miss to chose a good cause to bet your money on.
If you care, you share
There is one last step that you have to take to make you project failproof. Commit before other people.
Share your dream, project and objectives with people that count and whose opinion matters. They will praise you for new achievements and encourage you when the going gets tough.
Ultimately, by sharing your project, you are also committing to it before your friends and beloved. The perspective of letting them down is a powerful incentive that you don’t want to miss. Not to mention that the celebration of your accomplishment will be way more rewarding.
A penny for your thoughts
Did you already go through the same problem and used a different approach? I would love to hear your story! Please add a comment below and let’s talk about it!