Sometimes we humans have a tendency to put things off or to procrastinate and over think a situation so much that we put it in the “too hard basket”.
The easy way out or no action is chosen over the harder but usually more rewarding and important path in life. This can be true of many things in life, from building an edible garden, reducing your energy usage, or to changing your lifestyle to a more sustainable one.
However, all the motivation, information, and inspiration in the world will sometimes not help move our sorry behinds off the couch on towards our desired action unless we do actually something about it. Once in this mindset or behavioural norm, our dreams and goals seem so far away and unreachable.
So what can you do about it? How do you turn it around and reach your goals?
While you ponder those two questions, let me share a little secret with you.
I have been in this place too!
Every night after work, and each weekend, I would just veg out. Not wanting to think too hard or do anything to improve myself and no life direction. It doesn’t feel like a nice place to linger very long, and can be soul destroying if allowed to fester.
This is how I behaved when I was stuck in the consumer culture, and just before my green epiphany. Dreams and goals would come and go, not being started, or if they did, not completed to my satisfaction.
Even now, on the rare occasion, I can sense that I am slowly creeping towards the too hard basket. Don’t let your too hard basket fill up. It feels yucky.
So how do I snap out of it and read my goals each and every time?
Okay, it’s time to share my other secrets. How to empty that basket!
Turn Dreams into Reality
The first secret is once you have your goal in mind, grab a pencil and paper and write it down. In this way it becomes real, something you can touch. It feels more real that it was as a thought. You have taken it from your mind and given it a life of its own.
I do this action every time that I have something important that I want to achieve in my life.
Now that your goal exists, you need to take the next step the make sure it doesn’t wither and die.
Share Your Goal
You now have your goal on paper, so you can share it.
Tell a friend or family members about your goal, listen to their opinions, but whatever you do, just take their feedback on-board.
Take the good with the bad. If negative comments come your way, then thank the person for them and ignore these (not the person). Yes, sounds harsh but the reality of it is that this is your goal. You have dreamt about it for ages, you know it is time for a change, so use the negativity or criticism to give you strength and purpose.
If the negativity has some validity to it, then incorporate it into the next step. Show them that you can do it, whatever that may be. This is what you need to do to move forward.
If I have listened to every negative bit of feedback I have received over the years, I would never had reached any of my lofty goals and would still be laying on the couch in front of the idiot box day after day! Don’t let negativity get to you and drag you down. It is simply not worth it. Rise above it.
Lets flesh out your goal more by making it SMART. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely (time based). Here is an good example of a goal I achieved and what I wrote.
“I am going to build a backyard clay oven from recycled materials over the course of eight weekends, by 31st November 2011”.
Notice how it is specific (I and backyard clay oven), measurable (8 weekends), attainable (cheap materials), realistic (time period is do-able), and time based (you have set a completion date).
Flesh It Out
Grab your pencil and paper again, and break down your goal into steps from start to finish. Think of all the things you will need along the way. These would be materials, skills, help in the form of willing helpers, and of course capital if you have to purchase some of the materials. If you don’t have all the necessary skills, then find someone who does, or do some research. Library books are free as is the resources of the world wide web. YouTube videos are especially useful to understand concepts that are unfamiliar to you.
However, one can come unstuck at this point with information overload and once again put your goal in the too hard basket. This is why the Timely aspect of your goal is so important. It gives you a sense of urgency, because you announced your goal to the world, didn’t you? Don’t spend more than a month doing research or your goal will turn into a dream again. No point in going backwards, is there?
Ready, Set, Go
You have written it down, made it SMART, told people you care about, fleshed out the steps, so what are you waiting for?
Don’t forget to measure your progress as you proceed along the way. Self checking is important to stay on the path to attaining your goal. If you need help, then ask for it. People will always lend a hand towards a worthy goal.
I find that if I take pictures as I go along and post them on my blog, it helps to spur me on to completion. If you need to, start a blog of your own if that helps to document it, especially if it is a really big goal and will take some time. Make it real for yourself and others. You will find that it takes on a life of its own, which urges you to finish it.
Here is an example of what I wrote when I began to build my backyard clay oven. By sharing it with all of you at the time, it kept me motivated to complete it.
Once you achieve your goal/project/task, then be proud of what your have accomplished. Be very proud. You worked hard, and took the time, energy, and effort to do something really worthwhile. Feels great, doesn’t it? So celebrate with friends and family. This also helps to reinforce your sense of self-worth.
And while you are celebrating, why not formulate your next goal. No time like the present If you can do it once, you will have no problem doing it again, and again. The world is your oyster!
You will find that if you follow these simple little secrets, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Just think, all you need to start is a pencil and paper! This is how I have achieved all of my goals so far. It works.
So get to it. Believe in yourself. You can do it!