Goals can quickly turn from friends to foes.  The moment you fall behind in achieving them they become like shame-inducing, cruel demons nagging you for losing step with your plan.  As long as you keep your original intended pace a goal will help you accomplish and achieve, but almost every goal will have setbacks along the way.  These setbacks generally become the off-ramps where people give up on ever having that degree, weighing that weight, or running that fast.

So how do you experience setbacks without using it as an excuse to abandon the goal?

In my journey I’ve learned that rather than focusing on goals and creating an (often unrealistic) action plan to create the steps need to get there, I need to focus on the action.  Here’s what I mean.  Unless a goal can be achieved in one day (which many of our new year’s resolution type goals cannot) we feel dissatisfied by the hard work of the process in getting there.  We don’t love the action, so it becomes more like a chore than a joyful journey.

Instead focusing on the lofty goal of losing 50 pounds, focus on the daily actions of doing what you someone who weights 50 pounds less than you does.  If that person loves to work out, you should make it a daily action to work out.  Don’t worry about how much that person does; you’ll get there.  All you can do is what you can today.  Just work out, even for 5 minutes every day, day after day after day.

Instead of focusing on the lofty goal of reading 20 books this year, focus on the daily action of someone who reads that much.  They read, so you should read.  One chapter, one page, one paragraph–it doesn’t matter as long as you read. You’ll work your way up to number of pages required to read that many books as you fall in deeper love with reading.  That really what you’re doing.  You’re learning to love reading.

We love what we do, and we do what we love.  The reason you weren’t a reader or a runner before was because you didn’t love to do it.  So to achieve your big goals, learn to the love the actions needed to achieve them.  We don’t often fall in love overnight.  It will take time.  Give yourself that time, and you’ll be surprised when one day you’ll wake up looking forward to your running time, your salad for lunch, your reading time instead of sitcoms, and your life of achieved dreams.

When you focus on loving the actions needed to achieve your goals, the setbacks in getting where you want won’t derail you.  You’ll love the actions of someone who lives those goals so much that you won’t be able to prevent yourself from achieving them.

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