I’ll tell you a painful fact, and this is the truth.
Some of us are dreamers.
We like to think we have goals, but we have mere dreams (or daydreams). We spend time elaborately describing the future we want—to ourselves and to others—and are so captured by this future that we take no meaningful action in the present.
And so that future never comes. And we feel frustrated.
Many of us have listened to motivational speeches and read motivational books that say: Create a goal, focus on the goal and work towards it. We passionately write down our incredible goals and begin to think about them dreamily every day.
People around us can see that we are not working towards this goal, but we keep talking and talking and talking about this goal. In the end we achieve nothing.
Still don’t get it? Here’s an example:
Profile of a Dreamer
A dreamer attends a motivational program/seminar/sermon or reads a motivational book and gets fired up to create a change in his life. He decides that he wants to become the next Dangote. He writes this goal down, “I want to become the next Dangote”, and probably pastes it somewhere he can see every day, so he can keep his focus.
He’s passionate about his goal and can’t wait to speak to others about it. He tells his significant other about his brand new goal, and she is excited and wants to support him. Everything seems bright and ready to go.
But one week later, he is still talking.
Two weeks later, he is still talking.
Four weeks later, he is still just talking.
Six weeks later, he gets frustrated that he has made no progress and believes that he needs a better motivational book, because the previous one—according to him—does not work.
He gets a new book or seminar, and the same thing happens again.
And this cycle continues.
Until he becomes depressed, and says the speakers are frauds who lie to get money from people.
What Mistake Did He make?
The motivational speeches/books are not the problem, but they are definitely not the solution. Motivational speakers are like traffic wardens—they show the way, but they can’t take you to your destination. That part is your responsibility.
The main summary of everything a motivational speaker will tell you to do in order to succeed is:
Create a goal and write it down
Work towards your goal with passion
Keep being focused on your goal until you achieve it
This is entirely correct. But, there’s a problem.
Many of us do the creating a goal part—it’s not that hard. We are also very passionate about our goals. But many of us forget the most important thing.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of achieving anything at all, strategic work is the path that leads there.
Let me illustrate:
When you first want to achieve a goal, we can say that you are at A and you want to get to Z. But to get to Z, you must first go through B, then C, then D, then E, until you get to Z. This is plain logic. This means that from A, you first focus on how you’re going to get to B. When you reach B, then you can begin thinking about C.
But for many people, who are truly passionate about their goals, they are at A and they focus almost entirely on Z. This doesn’t make sense.
Let’s say you want to get to work early. Do you first focus on getting to work early? No.
You first focus on waking up early.
Then you focus on bathing and brushing in the shortest possible time.
Then you focus on eating your breakfast as fast as humanly possible.
Then you focus on getting to the bus stop and getting on the first bus you see.
After you have done all this, then you can get to work on time—but only after.
This is the only practically possible way to achieve any goal.
How Can You Apply This
First, tell yourself the truth. Have you been working strategically towards your goal, or have you been dreaming about it?
Think about this for 15 seconds.
No, really think about it.
Understand that the only way we can change anything in our lives is by first telling ourselves the truth. Do this before reading any further.
Second, think through your goal. Who are your role models that have achieved this goal already? What process did they take to get there? You need this in detail. Take the time to get this information for at least 3 or 4 people.
Third, get a piece of paper, a book or an excel sheet. If you did the second step in detail, you will notice a pattern in the success paths of the 3 or 4 people you studied. Use this pattern to construct a plan that can get you to your goal. Your plan should be good, but not necessarily perfect—you’ll modify it as you go along.
Fourth, get to work ASAP. This is the point where more than 50% of people mentally stop. The goal, the passion and the planning are so romantic—but the work isn’t. Work does two major things: 1) The more you work on your craft, the better you get at it, and 2) It is the only thing that moves you towards your goal. Sitting and thinking makes you a poor philosopher.