Today I received this email from Lisa Nichols, author of Abundance Now and Funder of Motivating The Masses. I found this letter really great. In fact nobody could say it any better:
What would it take to for you to be totally satisfied with your current circumstances? Have you even asked yourself that question? If not, maybe now is the time. If something is troubling you, look at your present situation and define it. Are you making the money you should? If not, why not? Are your children more like houseguests than family? Maybe you want to achieve more, work less, be happier, or have less stress.
Whatever your situation, you can’t change anything until you identify the problem and define a solution. Of course, the ultimate solution won’t come about by itself. So you must outline the steps necessary to achieve your solution. And being crystal clear about what you want is the keystone to setting goals and ultimately achieving solutions to your desires or your problems.
Some goals can be very simple, indeed! They can be as easily definable as a new car, a remodeled kitchen, more time with the kids, or even more income with less work. Other goals can be a bit hazier. You might wish for a new job or at least a promotion. Personal relationships can go stale. How to improve them can be difficult to define. Less work and more money is always nice.
Whatever your ultimate desired outcomes may be, they have to be definable and the goals must be quantifiable. How much, by when? Defining a new car, for example, is easy. Once you choose one from the current literature out there, you’re set! The goals to its ownership can be as simple as setting up a routine savings plan.
Something such as spending a little more time with your family, on the other hand, might not be as straightforward. You’ll have to think about not only how to make the time, but what activities you’ll pursue during that time. Coordinating schedules and making sure everyone is available can be frustrating. Getting a commitment can be even worse. Whatever your desired goal, it must be crystal clear before you can take your first step—or you will just be wasting effort.
Use all five senses when you visualize goals.
When you visualize your end result, take the time to really see it. You have five senses. Make use of them all. This will help reinforce your motivation. As you walk up to your new car, watch yourself approach in the reflection of the gleaming paint. See yourself sitting behind the wheel. Touch the soft leather. Smell that new-car smell. Roll up all the windows and take in the beautiful sound of your favorite music as it comes at you from all sides.
For that afternoon set aside to play ball with your kids, visualize home plate while you consider your next pitch. See your child choke up on the bat as he intently watches your every move. Feel the ball in your mitt as you finger it for just the right grip. Listen to the fans on the sidelines heckle and cheer. Keep all these images in mind to motivate you to do whatever is required.
As in any new venture, starting slow is a virtue. Before you build your dream castle, maybe you could install a bit of new trim in the bathroom. Don’t be afraid to make a few false starts. This will be like new music and learning a few new dance steps. Once you have gone through the process a few times it will become easier. If things don’t work out as you planned, ask yourself why. Analyze what happened and what you could have done to prevent it. Remember these lessons on your next attempt.
Just visualizing an outcome isn’t enough, though. It’s important to know that your goals are achievable and that you understand fully what the costs will be. Being the first person to walk on Mars is an admirable goal. But is it achievable? To determine if a goal is reasonable requires that we take a tally of our personal resources. What would it take to walk on Mars? For one thing, we would have to be highly trained in the sciences; be a skilled pilot; understand the mechanics of interplanetary travel; and much more. Do you have time for all of that? I didn’t think so.
But consider that new addition to your house or running a marathon? While each will take some thought and planning, both are certainly reasonable if you’re willing to pay the costs. Before you commit to any goal, you must be prepared to meet the time and financial requirements. Be sure you know what these are. Running five and ten miles every day for a year is a big commitment in time and energy. Adding a new addition to your house may require much less effort. However, financially, it may be more than you can afford without reprioritizing your expenses.
We often hear that the longest journey begins with just a single step. The final goal is but a series of smaller achievements. You must be as clear and concise about your steps along the way as you are about the final goal itself. Let’s remodel that old kitchen, shall we? We need to be as specific as possible. What is it that needs an upgrade? How much is your budget? Don’t say, “about” or “around.” Know exactly how much you can afford and don’t spend more.
What color scheme do you see in your new surroundings? Don’t say, “tan” or “beige.” Do you want light mahogany or dark? Are counter tops marble or granite? Name the type of stone as well as the kind of edges. Name the door hardware and know exactly how many pieces will be required. Are new appliances in order? What brand? Understand the features and benefits of all your choices. Obviously plenty of research is in order. You’ll need plenty of time on the Internet as well as visits to the local stores to compare prices and brands. Then there are those dreaded contractors. How will you choose? Finally, you must give up cooking for a time while your new vision is installed. These may seem obvious, but each one must be accomplished, and in a particular order, before your dream can become a reality.
There is rarely such a thing as a “new” problem. And if experience is the best teacher, then searching for advice from someone who has traveled your desired path is in order. When you begin, look for guidance and advice. Be open minded. Listen to their history lessons. They can guide you away from the hidden falls and snares.
Once you have clarified your ultimate wishes and set goals to those ends, make a firm commitment. Never say, “one day” or “next year.” Someday never arrives and next year is always a year away. Set your timeline and stick to it. Be firm with yourself. Demand of yourself that your new kitchen is going to be ready for Christmas, then allocate your time accordingly. Tell your friends and invite them to see your new space. Nothing will motivate you more than losing prestige if it is not ready on time.
Review your goals frequently. Assess your progress. Adjust as necessary but never take your eye off the final goal, which is to enjoy your achievements to the fullest. Between the time you commit and finally achieve will be a new experience. Achieving your goals is a journey, not just a destination. Enjoy the trip. Each time you meet a goal along the way, take time to celebrate.
Show your friends the beauty of the new counter tops you chose. Take photos during the time you spend with the kids and make a slide show. Make a graph, like a thermometer, to show the progress of your savings plan. Be sure and put the picture of your new car at the top. But most importantly, take full pride in your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes.
To your abundant life,
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