Stick to your goals, but modify along the way


I will always remember the day when I finally accomplished what I couldn’t accomplish for years – placing my chin one inch above the chin-up bar.

While many may feel that this is an easy feat, I believe that there will be almost an equal number stating the exact opposite, that chin-up is not an easy exercise to do.

While there may be many techniques to increase the effectiveness of results, one of the simplest ways to see results is to simply  “mount” the chin-up bar on a regular basis (once per day is recommended), and our arm muscles eventually strengthen over time. 

Along the same vein, we should apply the same mindset on our goals. That is, we stick closely to it. Our attention should be fixated on it. This is not the same as obsession. By ‘fixated”, I meant keeping our goals close at hand.

One can write one’s goals  in a journal, paste them on a wall, use them as bookmarks or even create a fridge magnet if one is a food connoisseur. Please try these methods if they work for you. However, over the years, I realise that these techniques didn’t work out for me that well.

So, what do I do?

I apply them.

Sounds strange? It would seem so. But let me elaborate.

I realise that when you apply them in various ways, it kind of sticks with you without any form of excessive stress or mental load. Take for instance, I always advise students of the English language (or any language learners) to keep on learning new words and then use them in their writing whenever the occasions call for it or whenever it is appropriate, as the students will then “internalise” these words and they go into their long-term memory.

The way we remind ourselves of our goals is the same.

We got to find a way to make them stick. If one writes in a journal and closes the book without looking at it again, what’s the point? If one pastes them on a wall but often sits down and gaze at a window, what’s the point? Fridge magnets are the same thing. We get desensitised over time  when exposed to the same message over and over again. Just ask any consumers pertaining to advertisement bombardments. It’s information overkill.

So, one way we can bring them with us whenever we go is to first conceptualise them first into passionate and doable ideas which we can use regardless of space and time.

Say, for instance, you want to walk 50 miles by the month’s end. Most people would just find locate a safe, scenic spot and start walking without considering if it is ideal. Many sports enthusiasts will gravitate towards what they find most comfortable but what is most comfortable may not be the most optimal. Put yourself in this scenario. Do treadmills work better for you? Are you motivated by scenic areas? Is time or stamina more of a motivating factor for you? Often, what we are comfortable with falls within our comfort zones, but they may not be the most ideal situation for us.

This is the reason why new year resolutions never seem to work. Because there is no passion or enthusiasm behind them. Yes, we often need to a reason to do something (new). After all, humans are creatures of logic and rationality but that is never enough. We need to get positively motivated emotionally to really get moving and walk the talk.

We are most comfortable about what we want to do, but we are least comfortable about how to go about doing it. To put it simply, thinking about our goals is simple. Motivating ourselves continuously and actually taking the steps to accomplish them is not.

So, we have to brainstorm and conceptualise them into motivating ideas that we are passionate about before taking action. Taking this step will save us from lots of hiccups later. The foundations must be built first.

Then we need to think of a pitch for our goals.

This is a strange thing to do, isn’t it? We need to only motivate ourselves to accomplish our goas,, right? Why would others come into the picture?

This is because no man is an island and teams accomplish greater things. It is true that we can’t convince others without first convincing ourselves, which is why we need the first step. However, isn’t it also true that garnering support increases one’s motivation? Think of all the sports clubs around the world. Why engage in sports alone when there is a community behind you?

It is true that passion increases with regular motivation, and it is also true that passion intensifies with numbers. In the spirit of Seth Godin, establish and build your tribe.

Crowdsourcing is no longer a new term in this day and age, with Wikipedia being the most prominent example.  Competition among humans is gradually transforming into cooperation. In the past, our forebears compete to survive, which inspired Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest and natural selection.  Now, in the world of increasing numbers (even more so now with an interconnected planet via cyberspace), continuous competition would simply doom ourselves to ever-fragmented market segments, more sophisticated niches of educational offerings, distorted views of disillusioned, individualistic teenagers and inadvertently, a downward spiralling of a decadent society headed on a direct collision with Dystopia.

Hence, we need to get supporters for our goals. Build a team. Start a business. Whichever gets our goals moving. Only with self-motivated and passionate endeavours supported by like-minded individuals will we finally gather the continuous momentum that is required for all great aspirations to materialise.

A one man’s army is a lofty goal, applauded by many and idealised in reels and films but it almost always remains as what it is – a relatively far-fetched dream. Only with the power of groups and tribes without the fallacy of groupthink can one – or anyone – succeed in one’s endeavours in this current day and age.


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