The picture above is me with some Cosplay enthusiasts in Berlin, Germany with Alexanderplatz and Berlin Cathedral in the background. They were excited that I was from the States where there is a much larger Cosplay scene. Berlin was my first real out of Country trip and I planned it out and traveled about two weeks after I got my passport in May 2009.
I’ve managed to achieve quite the spectacular life, and I’m surrounded by people doing the same. I’m forever grateful for having great parents and family, and people in my life that are understanding of me putting my life goals ahead of everything else, which sometimes means missing a family birthday party, or a friend’s wedding. Prioritizing what goals in life are important and driving myself to them has allowed me to accomplish a few unique things, including: an awesome flexible career that allows me more days off a week than days worked, a job where I can travel to amazing destinations like Maui for work, and on vacation in between which brings me anywhere from Europe to South America, while still paying for hobbies I’m passionate for, whether skydiving or learning to ‘shred the gnar’ (aka stand up on a surfboard for more then 10 seconds). So when I think about how I’ve gotten here, I’ve followed a few basic steps, and clarifying them to myself should help me do this more efficiently in the future. While most of these are done subconsciously, writing them down is never a bad idea.
Destination - how to get where you want to in life.
I feel it’s safe to say that many of us don’t like complacency. Something natural about the human drive is to want to grow, progress, and experience new things. We want to get somewhere, even if it’s just to stop, take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and then journey somewhere else. The problem is that although we are capable of achieving amazing things, a lot of times we forget to use the tools and steps we have used to achieve other things. It’s easy to lose focus, procrastinate, and stop making reasonable progress towards things we want. In other words, we stagnate. This can be true in any domain, from careers to vacations, or from level of skill in a hobby to a fitness goal.
So what is needed to achieve goals and dreams and the stuff heroes are made of?
Well, a few things. Pick a destination, clarify it’s importance to you and prioritize different goals. Figure out where you’re starting from and then plan a route on how to get there. Research what the journey is like, visualize the journey and find out what is needed to take along. Visualize the destination and what its like to be there. List and acknowledge the obstacles, excuses, and procrastinations. List what is more important than the goal and what is less important than the goal, then take action and go.
As silly as it sounds, one of the first steps is to pick a ‘destination’, and stick with it. This isn’t to say that we are only capable of achieving one thing at a time, but it’s important to clarify what things can be done together, as well as things that can’t. Picking your top ten short and long term goals is a good start. If you keep changing your mind or don’t have something specific clarified, you may have a hard time getting there, or even realizing you are there.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough.”
Exchange between the Cheshire Cat and Alice in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories" by Lewis Carroll
When you pick a destination, or multiple destinations, pick ones that can be achieved together, where progress from one can either drive or contribute towards progress of another. Those who don’t know me already will soon learn I love metaphors and comparing simple concepts to life situations such as this: If I’m in Phoenix, AZ - my hometown - and I want to travel to China, New York, and Spain, I probably shouldn’t pick a trip that goes from Phoenix to New York to China to Spain, unless I just really don’t care how efficient I am or how fast I get there (but then again, I’m a bit impatient and driven in most life goals). The smart thing would be to go to New York then Spain and save China for later.
Clarify it’s importance to you and prioritize different goals
How bad do you want it? Clarify how bad you want it. Clarify how bad you want it. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. Compare it to other goals and prioritize which is most important to you. Make a list and give all your goals a 1-5 stars on a level of importance. Then assign each goal a number, with #1 being the most important to achieve and #2 being secondary to that. If your life goal is to be a famous actor then it’s a 5 star and a #1. That means that eating organic is less important, taking vacation is less important, sleep is less important. Eat breathe and dream about your most important goals and shift all of your energy into them. Don’t be afraid to make You your biggest priority. Put yourself first. Feel free to calmly be apologetic to others when you miss a birthday or a wedding or a hangout if that gets in the way of your goal, whether financially or time-wise. Write down what is more important than your goal and what is less important than your goal. This is probably the most important thing to do. Actually, no wait, it is the most important thing, aside from picking a goal in the first place. Notice all around you people that do not have priorities straight. They want to achieve one thing yet consistently put other’s goals in front of theirs or their own less important goals in front of the five star goals.
The journey begins, but from where? Where are you starting from?
Time to take a look at where you are at and be realistic. Want to loose weight? Nathaniel Branden's "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" suggest you stand naked in front of a mirror and accept everything you are and you’re not. Is the journey going to take 1,000 steps, or 10 steps? Do you need to head east or west? Do you need money, how much? A realistic view of where you are is worth a momentary pause, acknowledgement, and then brisk footsteps onto the path ahead.
Take action now, and go.
I personally feel that starting on the journey comes before planning it out. A general direction is enough to get started. Fast action towards what you want keeps you from getting thought in an infinite thought masturbation of achieving a goal you’ll never take action on. Once on your path continue to plan the journey, and how to get to your destination. Visualize the journey ahead before going to sleep and when waking up, what is it like to make it day to day. Figure out what you need to take along, and what things are weighing you down. A rocket taking off has multiple stages, and while large, heavy fuel tanks are useful for getting off the ground, once the fuel is exhausted, they only cause wind resistance and added weight. What is it like being there? Is this what you really want? Don’t be afraid to drop a goal in a second if you realize the destination is not what you thought it was, that will only slow you down or stop you from achieving something truly amazing. If it is what you want, then use that vision to drive you harder towards your goal.
I’d love to hear about peoples success in achieving life goals and how they got there.