Setting goals is a pretty fun activity, it is all about possibility and dreams. Achieving our goals, however, can be tough, especially when we lose sight of progress. If we reach for great goals, there will be obstacles that we need to overcome. And there is one big mental trap that we can run into that can keep us from believing in and reaching for our goals. Business coach Dan Sullivan calls it „the gap“.
When we look at what we have achieved, we most often look through the filter of what we wanted to achieve. The result is that we look at our huge list of goals and to-dos and see what we did not do. We measure against our ideal and see where we fall short. This is very frustrating.
If you measure against your ideal, you will:
- See how far away you are from your goals.
- Focus on the gap from where you want to be and where you are.
- Get the feeling that your actions make no difference. Lose hope and invest less energy in realizing your goals, or even quit them altogether.
- Since our goals evolve as we do, there will always be a gap between where we are and where we want to be, we will never reach it.
This should make clear that a sense of progress and motivation to continue will not come by measuring how far we are away from our goal. Luckily there is another quite simply way, that seems a bit counterintuitive at first. Why not measure what you did achieve?
When you measure your progress, you will:
- See where you come from and what you have already achieved.
- Feel a sense of progress.
- Find reasons to celebrate.
- Have more confidence that your actions make a difference and that growth is possible.
- And thus invest more energy towards reaching your goals.
- See, that is empowering and uplifting.
What are goals there for, if they are not for measuring? Goals are not there to tear you down but to inspire you. There are they to give you a direction to strive towards. This is why the should always be bigger than what you have achieved in the past. They should be compelling and give you a reason to grow.
When you make your future bigger than your past you will:
- Believe that life has more to offer.
- It will make more sense to invest your energy.
- Do more for your goals.
- Be more likely to achieve your goals.
This is a shift in mindset, that often goes counter mainstream culture and our inner tendency. This is why we need to practice it. There is a simple written exercise that I have learned from Dan Sullivan and recommend to do every night:
Each night before you go to bed, write down at least 3 wins that you had that day. It can be small things like making your bed or having that nice cup of coffee or big things. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you focus on your progress and what was right about your day. Then write down 3 wins you want to have tomorrow. Test it for three days. If you like the sense of progress you get, I encourage you to make this a daily habit.
What wins did you have today?
What 3 wins do you want to have tomorrow?