A few days into the New Year, I was surfing the net when a video shared on the Facebook page of a blog I followed caught my attention. It was about why people begin every New Year with lots of unachievable resolutions that are inevitably postponed until the following year, such as doing sports regularly, eating healthily, losing weight, saving money, and so on. Until recently, I also made similar new-year resolutions myself and was, unfortunately, completely unsuccessful.
After watching the video, I came to understand why I never succeeded: It was because I didn’t know how to set my real goal!
So then, how should we get our targets right? What do we do wrong when setting our goals?
Our first action should be to distinguish between the goal and the things to do needed to achieve it. This is very important, because most people cannot differentiate between them, instead putting the things to do as the target. However, they are only a means to reach the target, not the target itself.
Take me for example. I wanted to practice breathing exercises and meditation, as well as start a blog and update it regularly. Before watching the video, I would strive to be disciplined for a few days, but later on, I would make up some good excuses to relax my discipline.
When I considered my targets again, I realized they were only things to do rather than a target. In fact, there was no real goal.
Everything in a to-do list should serve a clear goal and benefit us in some way, otherwise we will inevitably question why we continue doing these things regularly. So, unless we have a solid goal, we will never manage to adopt this to-do list into our daily lives.
Let’s return to my case. What was my goal?
After watching the video, fragmented thoughts from around my mind came together. Like a puzzle, these meaningless pieces took on meaning when they came together. The answer I was looking for became obvious. The scattered state of mind, which I wrote about in detail in my article What’s my life purpose?, became crystal clear.
I understood that what I really expected from my to-do list was awareness, an awareness of myself, my life, and the universe I live in. Once I identified a clear goal, consistently and continuously doing my things to do was inevitable.
Even better, I also noticed many other ways to reach my goal instead of the ones I assumed to be the best. For example, the idea to write my blog came about this way. Through writing, I could organize my thoughts and improve my awareness. Also, by sharing them on my blog, not only was I helping others, others were helping me by sharing their own comments in this environment.
You could also review the goals you’ve set yourself so far, deciding if they are real targets or to-do lists. If you see something belongs to the latter, ask yourself what the real purpose of doing that thing is. If you are honest with yourself, your answer will lead you to the true goal. After defining the true goal, you will realize many other ways to achieve it, easily adopting the most suitable ones into your lifestyle.
Let’s imagine you said, “I want to lose ten pounds of fat.” In reality, this isn’t your real goal—it’s just an item in your to-do list that leads to your real goal. So, what do you really expect from losing weight: to be more healthy, to feel better, or to boost your self-confidence?
Let’s assume you want to improve your self-confidence. The next question would be, “Why do I lack confidence?” You will discover that being overweight is not the only reason, and you will realize there are many other things to do that will increase self-confidence. You now have a real goal and a better to-do list. The only thing you need to take is ACTION!
“To want something does not mean to say, ‘I want’ but rather to take action” A. Maurois