How To Get Any Goal
Set any goals recently? Most people don’t. Most of us know that we should set goals, but few people ever do. We’ve all heard the same stories about people with written goals being worth ten times more than the people without written goals. At the same time, most people know the importance of goals, but few people ever set them and achieve them with any amount of regularity.
That’s Not Really True
In reality, it’s impossible to not get goals. Now we say, get as opposed to set because most of the goals we get aren’t really set, at least not by our conscious minds. But as human mind-body systems, we are always getting goals. It’s just that most of those are unconscious. But in this article, we’ll learn to take that natural, unconscious process and bring it up to the conscious level. And we’ll do so in a way that makes setting goals a lot easier than they may have been in the past.
Goal Getting Examples
Just sitting or standing there reading this, your body is achieving plenty of subconsciously set mini-goals. For example, every time you shift in your seat, you do so for a reason. Your body is always calculating the energy you spend and your comfort level. When your position starts to become too uncomfortable, your body shift slightly, spending a little bit of calorie-energy to achieve a more pleasant posture, from an energy-balance-comfort level.
All Goals Must Be Profitable
We don’t mean money-profitable, but unless you (or your subconscious) believes you’ll be better off after any action, it won’t take action. Most of the subconsciously driven behaviors are easy and of very short duration, so the decision is pretty easy. The longer the time frame, and the more uncertainty, the more your conscious mind gets involved.
At any give time, you are in your present state, and you are contemplating one or many potential future states. And in both your present state and in any of the potential future states, the are two sides. The good stuff, and the bad stuff. Any time you believe that you will benefit from moving from the present state to a future state, you’ll act and make it happen.
In the present state, you have good stuff, and bad stuff. You can calculate the total value of your present state by adding the good stuff and subtracting the bad stuff. Let’s say you’re hungry, and you’re thinking of getting something to eat. You are hungry, which is bad, let’s call it 6 on a scale of 1-10. But you have some food in the fridge, but it’s not that good. When you think about eating the food in the fridge, you get a positive feeling of 4 on a scale of 1-10. So your total net present state, when thinking of food, is -2, or two net bad points.
The future state also contains bad stuff and good stuff. Let’s say you imagine walking down to 7-11 and buying some frozen burritos. It’s not that hot out, and it’s not that long of walk. The energy expenditure, as well as the financial cost are a -4 on scale of 1-10. But when you think of how good the burritos will taste, they are a +7. So the total expected future state is at a +3 when you think about food.
Since your present state (with regard to food) is -2, and your expected future state is +3, that means by walking to 7-11 and back will give you an increase of five points. In this oversimplified example, making the decision to walk to 7-11 and get some burritos (after you check your fridge) is an easy decision.
All Goals Contain Four Quadrants
All goals contain these four ideas. Good things and bad things about the present, when you think in terms of your goal. Expected good things about your future, as you think about your goal. But the problem is that all four of these things are rarely considered when we set goals.
Common Goal Setting Process
One of the most common goals are New Year’s Resolutions. They usually crash and burn after a couple of weeks. Let’s see why. There you are, partying away on New Year’s eve with your buddies. The clock strikes midnight, everybody has sex with everybody, you pass around a big blunt and slip into happy New Year’s unconsciousness. The next morning you stumble home, and look at yourself in the mirror:
“Holy shit dude! I’m fat as fuck! That’s it, I’m hitting the gym. This year I’m really going to do it. I’m losing ten pounds.”
So you set your goal to lose ten pounds. A couple days later you sign up at your local gym. The first couple weeks, you go every other day. The third week, you go twice. The fourth week, well, work has been busy and you’ve got more important things to do. What happened?
Four Quadrant Review
Let’s look this common goal from the viewpoint of the four quadrants. The present negatives were obvious. You looked at yourself naked in the mirror and were embarrassed. The future positive was the opposite of the present negative. This is as far as most people get. Most folks never take the time to consider the present positives, which may be left behind, or the potential future negatives. Let’s look at each.
Let’s face it. Eating feels good. Get yelled at by your boss? Pizza and a sick pack for dinner. Got ghosted by your girl? Pizza and a six pack. Eating provides comfort. Eating relieves stress. Eating junk food is also quick and easy. Hit the drive through on the way home and you’re good. Eating junk food provides you with real, emotional and instant benefits. It’s efficient (from a short term perspective).
For most goals like weight loss, the future negatives are the opposite of the present positives. Going to the gym doesn’t provide any pleasure. It’s time consuming. You miss your favorite TV shows. It’s pretty boring. None of the girls will talk to you.
Lopsided Increases With Time
When you set the goal while looking at yourself in the mirror, it was easy. The present negative was real and present. When you imagined the opposite (the future positive) it was easy. You don’t want what you have (present negative) and you want what you don’t have (future positive).
But the further you move into the future, it got harder and harder. The future positives got smaller and smaller, while the future negatives got bigger and bigger. The present positives got smaller and smaller, while the present negatives got bigger and bigger. Eventually, the future negatives, combined with the lack of present positives became so big that your previous state became preferable.
Also consider that the initial motivation (you looking in the mirror, which was all present negatives and imagined future positives) got weaker and weaker as it became a distant memory.
Easier Goal Setting
Most goals are set in the heat of the moment, without much consideration, which is precisely why they fail. Simply writing down your goals isn’t a magic trick that will make them come true without any effort on your part. But we will go over some very powerful writing techniques that if done daily, will make your goal, and any subsequent goal, much easier than they have been in the past.
Identify All Quadrants
The present negatives and future positives are easy. What’s not so easy is figuring out all the present positives that you want to keep, and the future negatives that might pop up. For some goals like losing weight, these are pretty easy. But for more complicated goals, we’ll need to get creative.
Best Guess To Start
To begin with, start to write down all the potential present positives you might not want to leave behind. You can do this with some sentence completion exercises. For example, consider the following sentence stems:
What I’ll miss most when I get my goal is…
What I might not be able to let go of when I get my goal is…
Consider your current life and think of all the things you enjoy. Take some time to write down all the things you might have trouble leaving behind. This is just to start, so you only need to get an approximate idea.
Anticipating Future Negatives
Once you’ve gotten an idea of some present positives, do the same thing with any future negatives. Again, we’ll use some sentence completion exercises to get the ball rolling.
One thing I might not like about getting my goal is…
One of the bad things about getting my goal is….
And write down the first ten or twenty things that pop in your head. One or two of them will “seem” truer than the others. Once you’ve got these two figured out, you’ll be in good shape. But there’s one more consideration that the goal setting courses tend to miss.
The Future Is Always Uncertain
One thing that is rarely talked about in any goal setting course is the uncertainty of the future. No matter how well you form your goal, you won’t really get an accurate representation of the future negatives, or the present positives, until you start to move into the future. The truth is that if we humans could predict the future at all, life would be much different.
Continuous Goal Calibration
Consider that the more rewarding the success of your goal you will be, the more you’ll need to continually calibrate your understanding of the four quadrants. Even if you spend a couple weeks and tons of energy defining the four quadrants as much as you can, all that will change once you start moving into the future.
For example, if you knew exercising wouldn’t be pleasant and you did tons of brainstorming to come up with ways you would enjoy it more, add in some relaxation in the sauna after your workout, for example, you’ll never really appreciate those future negatives until you feel them. The truth about our ability to predict the future is we suck at it. The things we think will be horrible aren’t so bad. The things we think won’t be so bad sometimes turn out to be horrible.
How To Calibrate Daily
To continuously update your four quadrants, simply journal on them every day. This may seem like a lot of work, but once you get the process down, creating and achieving goals (something very few people can do) will be easy. Once you’ve started moving forward, journal on the following topics:
Things That Are Harder Than I Expected
Write down all the things you’re doing daily are more difficult than you’d anticipated. This could be anything from, “things are more boring than I thought,” to “things take way more energy than I thought.” Once you’ve got some things down, then brainstorm ways to make them easier. This is when it becomes fun. For example, say you found that doing the things to get to your goal are more boring than you anticipated. Write down the following sentence stem:
I can make things more enjoyable by…
And write down as many answers as you can. The only rule when brainstorming is to never, ever, censor yourself. Write down any goofy and silly thoughts that come to mind, even if they don’t make sense. Write down at least ten, twenty if you can. Even if you don’t come up with anything that makes sense, you will have started the creative process. The next day, when you are doing whatever boring thing you need to do, your creative subconscious will be working overtime to come up with a creative solution.
Things That I Didn’t Realize I’d Miss
Similar to unexpected future negatives, you might find some present positives that you hadn’t acknowledged. Treat these the same way as the unexpected future negatives. First write down (using the sentence stem: What I didn’t expect to leave behind is…) until you’ve got a few. Now just repeat the brainstorming process by using the following stem:
One way I could bring X with me is…
Where X is the thing you didn’t realize you were leaving behind. Again, don’t worry about finding the answer, just focus on the creative brainstorming process. Once you do it once or twice (even if you don’t find an answer) whenever you think about leaving X behind, your creative imagination will get to work coming up with ways to keep it, and still get your goal.
Building A Burning Desire
A big enough future positive will take care of everything else. It will make leaving behind any present positives inconsequential. It will make any future negatives inconsequential. Consider this imaginary experiment to see what this means. Imagine you have to use the restroom, and you’ve REALLY got to go. The only restroom between where you are, and your house is a restaurant. The restroom is way in back. If you don’t use the restroom, you’ll risk not making it.
But the problem is that you have to walk through the backroom filled with all of your enemies. Let’s assume they won’t physically harm you, but they’ll take pictures of you, shout obscenities at you, put you all over social media to make fun of your clothes, etc. (Imagine the worst possible group of people).
If the only benefit was to relieve yourself, most of us wouldn’t risk it. This is what happens we have obstacles that are bigger in strength than our goal. What a burning desire does is make the size of the benefit-energy much bigger than any obstacle.
In this example, imagine a genie popped up and told you that in that restroom (unbeknownst to the rowdy crowd) was a magic ring. This magic ring would make anybody fall in love with you. This magic ring would give you unlimited financial luck. This magic ring would give you perfect health, no matter what you did. This magic ring would give you world class skills in any sport, any musical instrument, and any subject. Now how do you feel about walking past that rowdy crowd?
Just A Metaphor!
Of course there are no such things as magic rings. But you can build up your desire to get your goal until it is so big in strength that doing all of this other stuff is easy. The way you do this is with another brainstorming process. Start off with the sentence stem:
When I get my goal, I’ll be able to…
And write down whatever comes to mind, whether it’s realistic or not. Even something simple as losing weight will be much more compelling if you spend ten minutes every night brainstorming all the possible benefits.
Journal Three Daily Topics
Once you get started, so long as you spend a few minutes on these three ideas, you should have no trouble moving consistently into your future. The first is to look for any unexpected future negatives, and then to brainstorm ways to make them less negative. The second is to look for any unexpected present positives that you might not want to leave behind, and brainstorm ways to bring them with you in a way that will allow you to move forward. The third is to brainstorm all the benefits you’ll get when you get your goal.
How Much Time?
Suppose you had a vague idea of a goal. If you spend a week defining all four quadrants, as well as making your goal as well formed as you can, then get started. So long as you start slowly, and use these three daily journaling ideas as you move forward, just keep moving forward.
You’ll find the real secret if setting and going after goals is there is nothing quite like it. Continued forward progress toward something that is important to you will create a genuine sense of happiness, one that people rarely feel, since few people set and work toward meaningful goals.
What If I Don’t Know How?
Suppose you’ve got a good idea for a goal, but you have no idea how to make it happen? Never fear, dear reader, your mind is way more creative that you give it credit for. You can use the same daily journaling process. Even if you have a vaguely defined goal, this will work wonders. Write down three things at the end of every day.
What I Did
Write down anything you did that you specifically did to try and get closer to your goal. Even if it seems silly, like watching a YouTube video related to your goal, write it down. (Or if you read a particularly helpful post on goal setting and felt compelled to share this on social media!) What’s more important than the actual thing you did is creating this process.
Next, write down what happened as a result of what you did. If nothing happened, that’s fine. Write it down. If you learned something, write that down.
What I Could Do Tomorrow
Next, write down anything you could conceivably do the next day toward your goal, no matter how vague it is. If you do these three things every day, soon thinking about doing things differently, to get different results will be a habit. If what you did worked, just choose to do more of the same. If what you did didn’t work, think of something a little bit different.
Why This Works
Most people think the same thoughts every day, and get the same results. Curiously, at the same time, they wish something different would happen. But if you think and do the same things every day, you’ll get the same results, and nothing will ever change. But if you start to train yourself to think and try different things, and then measure the results, you’ll break out of that trap.
By training yourself to think and behave differently, you will soon feel in control of your future. You’ll train yourself to look at every day with a curious sense of, “What if?” that few people ever experience. Once you get to this point, you’ll really believe (not just wish or hope or pretend) that anything is within your reach.
Mind Persuasion has plenty of books and courses to help you turn your life into a powerful engine of consistent success.