Study a thing enough and patterns emerge. Over the course of a decade watching people set goals, I’ve reached the point where I believe I can now determine which goals will see the light of day, and which will die of malnourishment, to within a very small margin of error.
There is a single, learnable dynamic that determines the difference, and it has very little to do with ‘picturing the goal in your mind,’ or ‘attracting it to you’ on the wings of some vague cosmic magnetism.
Do this one thing right and you are very likely to get to where you want to be. Do it wrong and your chances of success are almost nil.
Let’s begin with the storm:
The Storm Inside Your Mind:
Think of it as an ancient sandstorm, billowing within your mind. Full of lightning flashes and roaring winds, it has energy and tension, and as wave after wave builds, all this force is desperate to go somewhere.
This is your desire to achieve, your will-to-action, your hunger to become. And it’s a messy force, informed in equal parts by love, greed, art, skill, ambition, lust, joy, free dreaming, focused learning, and grinding discontent; it is the tumultuous amalgamation of everything that spurs you on and awakens your desire to prove yourself.
It is a useful energy.
Channel it well, and it will propel you. Channel it incorrectly, and the storm will subside, amounting to nothing but noise and missed opportunity.
The Wrong Channel:
Failed goals all have this one thing in common: They are delayed. Delay a goal by any measurable period of time, be it as little as a week, or even a single day, and that delay will become the death of the goal. Why? Because in making the decision to delay, you dissipate the energy in your storm.
The goals that are acted upon immediately tend to succeed. They have all the impetus of your inner rage behind them.
Self-Delusion Through Delayed Decisions:
The most recent example of self-deluding goal sabotage that I’ve seen is a case that repeats itself endlessly around the world every year, to the point of being an awful cliché.
A friend of mine has been speaking about losing weight. Desperately unhappy with her scenario, she makes the mistake of ‘perpetually making a decision.’ The act of making the decision dissipates her mental storm, and for the next week, she does nothing constructive, happy that she has ‘made her decision.’
Her act of decision-making feels, to her, like addressing the problem. It feels like control, and that is sufficient to relieve the cognitive dissonance, even though nothing has been achieved.
Over the course of the last year, I have watched her ‘make the decision to buy a treadmill,’ an act that bought her two weeks without exercise, then actually buy the treadmill, which set her mind at ease for another month. She has yet to use the treadmill, but buying it was a comforting call; a storm-dissipater, if you will.
She has also made the decision to join weight-watchers (next week, definitely!), and to go on an exercise boot camp (starting next month, because she’s awfully busy).
Decide, decide, decide; delay, delay, delay. She is the ultimate self-deluder, and it is frighteningly common human behaviour.
I did a quick count. Over the year in which she has been ‘deciding to start exercising,’ I have been to gym 215 times. Imagine the progress she could have made in 215 gym trips. The difference is that I don’t make future decisions. I simply go now.
I’ve seen the exact same principle at play when people decide to write a book. They often spend years deciding to write a book. When I get an idea for a book, I start writing the opening chapters that day. I go now. And that makes all the difference.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that every book I have successfully written to completion has been initiated the very day I made the call to write it. Conversely, I have had a few ideas for books that I did not start writing on the day, and I have serious doubts that they will ever get written. They already seem to have lost the backing of the storm.
Channel it Now:
Let’s say that your goal is to study for a degree. Thinking about doing so will be the death of your goal. Do this instead: Execute today. Go online and find out about the courses. Call the institute and request the forms. Fill in the forms and return them. Done! You are now obliged to your goal and it has a superb chance of manifesting.
Put it off until next week, next semester, next year, and I can almost guarantee that it will never happen. Your storm will subside and settle into a useless calm. You will find reasons, justifications, rationalizations. You will promise yourself that a future version of yourself will deliver, and thus transfer responsibility to a person who will be even less interested in acting than the you of today.
By delaying, you dissipate your storm. By acting now, you channel it.
Storms are powerful, but judge them quickly. If you deem their outcome worthy, then don’t over-think. Do. Don’t delay the decision. Initiate it. A mental storm is a rare, magical, beautiful thing. Its turbulence is life-force. Ride it immediately. Channel its wrath.
Delay is death for your dreams. Raise your storm and do it today.
Douglas Kruger is a 5x winner of the SA Championships for Public Speaking and the author of the new book, ‘Own Your Industry – How to Position Yourself as an Expert,’ published by Penguin Books. Based in Johannesburg, he speaks and trains all over the African continent, helping to grow businesses and guide entrepreneurs with his entertaining presentations. See him in action at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Follow on Linked In or Twitter: @douglaskruger