If you ask most people walking down the street what goals they have, many of them would tell you their dreams. “I want a million dollars.” “I want to own a Porsche.” Or “I just want my family to be happy.” But if you ask them how they’ll achieve their goals, many won’t be able to tell you exactly how.
I used to want some of those things too. I thought about what I would do if all of a sudden I inherited a million dollars. A happy family was definitely a goal of mine and as for a car, I just wanted one that didn’t come with car payments. But I really had no idea how to gain those things.
I was advised when I was in high school to write down my goals and review them from time to time, but without examples and anyone showing me how to do that, I was clueless.
As I got married and started having children, there were things I dreamed about but didn’t really think those dreams would be achievable. I didn’t know it then, but I suffered with anxiety, low self-esteem, and a mentality that I was just average and that I really wasn’t good at anything. All of this had me stuck in my thinking that my life would never change.
As time went on I knew I wanted to be a better mom for my children, but still didn’t know how to do that. As a Christian, I prayed a lot and that helped me get through a lot of tough times. I started thinking about the advice I was given in high school and then started reading about goals. How do they work? How to set them? How could I make my dreams a reality?
So many goals I read or heard about seemed like they didn’t pertain to me: owning a successful company, being a world athlete, or writing a bestselling book. But as I continued my research I realized goals could be anything including being a better mom and wife. While I was, and still am, far from being perfect in those areas, goals helped me to stay calmer more often than not, be patient more often than not, and be more affectionate more often than not. I am naturally not an affectionate person, much to the chagrin of my own mother.
Goals don’t have to be something big like performing on Broadway (although I think that’s a fantastic goal) or becoming a virtuoso pianist. Because they can be big or simple, everyone can and should have something to aim for. Goals can be something simple like wanting to be more forgiving, not swearing, always showing up on time, or even attending more cultural events.
So why should you have goals? Simply put, to be a better and happier you.
While most goal information will tell you the steps of achieving those goals, I’m going to focus on other advice that can help you along your journey.
We always have a Choice
Noelle Pikus Pace is an Olympic athlete in the sport of skeleton. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s like bobsledding, except the sled is a little different and you’re on your stomach going up to 90 miles an hour – solo. In 2005, she was ranked first in the world and she looked forward to the 2006 Olympics that was going to be held in Turin, Italy. As she finished her last training run for the day, she looked to see a 1400 pound four-man bobsled coming down at sixty miles per hour, and it wasn’t slowing down. Four of her teammates were able to get off the track, but Noelle was boxed in and couldn’t get out in time before the bobsled hit her causing her to fly through the air and landing with her right heel touching the calf of her right leg. The bones of her leg were sticking out and visible. She ended up with severely broken legs and was bleeding profusely.
In the hospital, after her surgery, the surgeon came in while Noelle was crying and demanded “Why are you crying?” Noelle was speechless so the surgeon repeated “Why are you crying? You can either look back and be miserable about what just happened to you, or you can move on. Your leg is broken, and feeling sorry for yourself won’t change that.”
Noelle thought about the choices she had. Was she going to be depressed because of what happened to her? Was she going to be angry at the guys in the bobsled? (Apparently the guy that was supposed to pull the brakes had never even been in a bobsled before and he didn’t even know when to pull the brakes.) She realized we always have a choice. She chose to forgive and train as hard as she could to recover. Even if she couldn’t be part of the 2006 Olympics, she changed her goal to be part of the 2010 Olympics.
Don’t let anything or anyone get in your way.
Most of us know Lindsey Stirling as an electric violin dancer. Her sold-out concerts are performed all around the world and her YouTube videos have over a billion views, but when she was on “America’s Got Talent” she didn’t start off with dancing. She just played the violin. Most people thought she was great until she added dancing to her violin playing. Then one of the judges told her that her violin playing sounded “like a bunch of rats being strangled.” Luckily for us fans, she continued to hone her violin and dancing skills and has created some incredible music, videos, and concerts.
There are many stories of those that grew up with abusive and very discouraging parents to become world-class athletes, actresses, or business owners. They didn’t let those negative thoughts get in the way of what they knew they could achieve.
Aim for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
There are several variations of this quote, but basically it’s telling us to dream big. Not an unrealistic dream, but something that is achievable, but still a challenge to you. The key is our goals need to get us out of our comfort zone.
If you’ve never learned how to play a musical instrument and want to learn piano, that would be a challenge, but very realistic. When I taught piano lessons years ago, I remember an adult student who never took lessons before. She did better than some of my younger students.
Even if you don’t achieve the big goal you had in mind, you’ll still achieve more than if you didn’t have that goal in the first place.
Get involved in a group or find an accountability partner
Find like-minded people that also have the same interest as you. This will help motivate and inspire you. It’s like the saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
A few years ago, I had an interest in learning the Korean language and found a Korean Meetup study group. When I arrived there was only one other person there. That was fine with me because I didn’t know of anyone else that was interested in learning Korean and fortunately for me, the other person’s Korean level was much more advanced than mine so I was able to learn a lot. Eventually, the original organizer moved and I ended up being the next organizer. We grew to about 8 regulars and I absolutely loved going every week. It’s much more fun learning with others.
Be willing to change direction
Inquoris (Inky) Johnson grew up in the projects near Atlanta and lived with 13 other people in his grandparent’s small home. His dream was to become an NFL player so he could change his future and his family’s future. He trained hard, never let go of his dream, and ended up playing football for the University of Tennessee. As a junior, he was an NFL draft pick and was 10 games away from being an official NFL player. In a game against the Air Force, he made a tackle that left him with a paralyzed arm. His course in life drastically changed. After some mental anguish, OK, a lot of mental anguish, he changed his direction and became a motivational speaker.
Easy? No, but not impossible. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us in 5 years, next year, or even tomorrow. But the ability to adapt and change will get us through the hard experiences of life.
Read and Learn
Read and learn, read and learn, and read and learn some more. Our knowledge of whatever we aim for will prove valuable to us when we get closer to those goals. This can be books, articles, YouTube videos, or anything else you come across.
I’ve had stomach pains most of my life. Doctors after doctors have given me the same tests (colonoscopy, EKGs, ultrasounds, upper and lower GIs, etc.) and always came up with the same diagnosis – Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. Their solution was for me to take pain medicine whenever my stomach started hurting. The problem was that the pains would get so bad, I couldn’t function. I knew there was a reason why my stomach would hurt, but honestly, I felt like I didn’t have time to worry about me when I had a family to take care of. But of course, it was hard to take care of my family sometimes when my stomach was hurting. What a cycle!
Because I was trying to help someone else with a different problem, I came across a book about neurology. That led me into other readings and eventually what I learned was that there was an answer for me.
The short end of my story is that I found a natural health practitioner who was able to correctly diagnose me with an amazing machine she used. The diagnosis – my intestines have been inflamed so much because of the wheat, dairy, and refined sugar I was eating. As soon as I stopped eating those, I felt no more pain.
I may or may not be able to have some of those products again after a few months of detox and healing, but I at least know how to control the pain!
The point here is that reading and learning will help you to gain success in whatever you’re interested in faster than if you remain stagnant in your learning.
Continue being kind and forgiving along the way
Along our journey to becoming who we were meant to become, kindness and forgiveness are key to happiness. Just because you’ve achieved a dream or a goal, it doesn’t guarantee contentment. There are too many unhappy people that make a lot of money. Obviously, money doesn’t create happiness. But letting go of that grudge, being happy for our competitors, helping those we have the ability to help is what makes that journey worthwhile. It makes our dreams and achievements even sweeter.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I really like watching “The Amazing Race.” For anyone who watches the show, you can attest that most of us root for the nice team. They’re the ones who don’t U-turn anyone (make a team do a second task), they forgive other teams if they were mean, and you can tell they are there to have fun. They are the ones who are honestly happy while the other teams are just plain miserable.
And don’t forget to be kind and forgiving to yourself. We will make mistakes. That’s a guarantee. But remember we always have choices to make so choose to move forward.
Be that example you want others to learn from. Be that someone who overcame a hard trial. Be that someone that helped someone else with their goal along your own journey.
There will be some situations that we won’t be able to change and our goals will have to wait. But sometimes we just have to think differently in order to get what we’re aiming for.
If we follow these rules, we’ll be able to adapt to new challenges in our lives. We’ll be happier, and more successful and who wouldn’t want that?
If you’re interested in learning more about Noelle’s journey and experiences, you can read her book here. (Note, it is evident in her book that she’s a Christian, but her principles and lessons are well liked by many whether Christian or not.)
To hear our personal stories behind our posts, please subscribe!