“We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”(Robert Brault)
Day after day, we talk to others about the big goals we want to achieve in life – to lose 20 pounds, write a book, go back to school, travel the world, or buy a new house. The list goes on.
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves talking about the same goals year after year (I’ve been talking about completing a triathalon for years and have some fabulous excuses for anyone who cares to listen).
So what’s getting in the way? Most of our goals are completely within our reach, so why aren’t we achieving them?
Simple. Because we are choosing to make them SECONDARY to a more important (and likely short-term) PRIMARY goal by the daily choices we make.
Let me say that another way. Big goals don’t just happen. They are attained through a culmination of small actions we take towards them each day.
Case in point – if we take action and write for an hour each day, our book will likely get written. If we make the choice to swim/run/bike for 30 minutes each day, we’ll acquire the skills needed to finish a triathalon.
The daily choices we make culminate to create what we actually achieve in life, andthese choices are always in service of our primary goals. So, while you may believe that saving money for a new home is your PRIMARY goal, if you continue to give in to impulse buys and dine out most nights instead of preparing economical meals at home, short-term comfort may be your true primary goal.
When in doubt about which goal you are choosing to serve, just take a look at your actions.
Yes, it’s a choice. And the truth can be hard to swallow, but when we look at our actions, we can’t deny that we are always acting in service to our primary goal (that which is most important to us). It’s our actions, not our thoughts that make our goals a reality.
So, what are those goals we subconsciously make primary that get in the way of what we REALLY want? While sometimes it’s another important goal, often it is immediate gratification, comfort, putting others’ needs before our own, or an unconscious fear of failure.
Humans are master rationalizers and also addicted to instant gratification, so even when we feel in our bones that something is very important to us, we can easily talk ourselves into serving a lesser goal in the moment.
After a long day at work, it’s feels logical to rationalize that skipping one workout won’t hurt. We make short-term comfort the primary goal, thereby pushing fitness to a secondary goal through our choice to plop on the couch and watch TV or go to Happy Hour (and yes, I’m speaking from experience).
Though hard to accept, once we understand what’s getting in the way of achieving what we really want, we have the power to change it. Here’s how:
Each time we face a decision point about how to spend our time, we can pause and ask ourselves if the action we are about to choose will take us closer to what we REALLY want or move us away from it.
Try it out and leave a helpful comment about how you stay motivated to serve your primary goals.