Last weekend I realized how powerful adopting a goal-driven mindset can be. As I have written in my previous post on goals vs. systems, you need goals in order to drive yourself towards success. Systems are very necessary, but if you don’t have the goals to focus on, then you might not get the results you are looking for.
Doing things without goals can end up with you just going through the motions and not improving. A goal-driven mindset also has one benefit that I discovered last weekend.
I was walking home from a shop, lugging heavy jugs of water. I have recently set some very long-term goals for myself, those of reaching the top of Mt. Everest and also of getting to the fitness levels of special forces guys. While it is quite possible that I might not reach these goals, the thought of them still drives me.
The water jugs were incredibly heavy in my hands and I was having problems carrying them. Then I reminded myself of my goal of reaching Mt. Everest one day and of all the hard work required to do it. I reminded myself of the fact that I have always wanted to be a special forces type of guy (but never got around to doing). A guy who accomplishes those types of goals doesn’t give up and doesn’t take the easy way in these types of situations.
Those thoughts suddenly changed my perception of the entire situation and the loads in my hands seemed to get much lighter, as if by magic. I kept on going.
No, I am not describing some mumbo jumbo from “The Secret”, I am describing something real that has been scientifically tested. Studies have proven that by having a different perception of a situation can greatly affect the result.
This is related to the placebo effect. Thoughts have a big effect on the body and can sometimes greatly aid in any endeavor. Maybe similar things are at play as with cognitive biases and framing effects?
That’s how you achieve impossible things. When you are feeling pain, that doesn’t mean that you are going to break down right then and there. That only means that you are close to it, but still have a hidden reserve left.
You need to quickly evaluate whether you can push on and usually you still can. One part of the hidden mental processes that can help you with this are goals. They give you the motivation that is needed at some of these critical junctures, when you are about to give up.
It helps if you can visualize all the benefits that accomplishing all these goals can bring. This can then focus the positive self-talk in your head that often goes on during critical moments.
Of course visualization and self-talk are not some magic bullets that can solve every problem you have, you still need to set up a plan and execute it (so set up the systems), but they can give you an edge during some very important moments and push you over the top.
If you don’t have that goal, if you don’t have that vision of yourself and where you want to be, you might not get that extra push that is needed to get you over that breaking point. That’s why it is crucial to create a vision for yourself and set up goals to achieve that vision.
“We are engineered as goal seeking mechanisms. We are built that way. When we have no personal goal which we are interested in and which “means something” to us, we are apt to “go around in circles”, feel “lost” and find life itself “aimless” and “purposeless”. We are built to conquer our environment, solve problems, achieve goals and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile.” Maxwell Maltz