YOU’VE GOT A DREAM, a vision, a goal! What a great thing to have the hope and inspiration to go somewhere. Most of us don’t really want to coast. Most of us want to either improve things for ourselves, make a difference in this world, or some combination of both.
The difficulty comes when the rubber meets the road. What happens when the daily grind kicks in, or it isn’t very much fun to stay focused, or we just don’t feel like it? Sometimes we back off, settle, or lose hope. We all struggle with moving things forward consistently and successfully. I am learning that real progress comes from purposeful and sometimes slow forward progress.
Here are 7 things that I am learning to help keep moving forward:
1. CHOOSE ACTION.
If you are struggling with moving things forward and find yourself stagnated, it may be time to just choose, and in choosing prefer the choice that is action. I’m learning that standing still and staying the same is the most costly decision there is. Even action that is not quite on target can produce better results than standing still, and once you are moving, it is easier to correct course. You can turn the wheels on a stationary car and nothing will happen, except you will expend effort making them turn. However, if you are in motion, a small turn in the steering will change course with very small effort.
2. SET AN EVALUATION POINT.
It is so easy to just keep plodding forward down a path that isn’t working. It could be that you have veered off course. It could be that the course of action you chose is not working. We can avoid prolonged travel down the wrong path by setting a time-based evaluation point. For instance, I will try this new marketing plan for 3 months. On July 1, I will stop, evaluate progress, and choose to continue, adjust, or stop. Having a hard evaluation point forces you to take notice and change accordingly.
3. FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS YOU NEED TO LEARN.
Business coach, Jim Palzewicz, once asked me as I was struggling to move something forward, “What is it that you need to learn?” The first time I heard this question it made me pause. Since then I have found that if I can’t get something moving or find success with something, it often means I need to learn something. And, the great thing about learning is that it brings hope. Once I have learned, through reading, gathering information from others, or just recognizing the change that needs to happen, I have hope that progress can be made again.
4. SET YOUR SIGHTS ON SOMETHING CLOSER.
Sometimes that thing we want to accomplish is just too big. Set your goals on something that will move you in the right direction. What actions can you take today, this week, this month, this quarter that will move you towards the goal. Suppose I am in debt up to my eyeballs, and my goal is to be debt free. I could wallow in my debt, or I could set a goal this month to spend 30% less than I make. That might be an achievable step in the right direction. Suppose I want to build a 10 million dollar business. The intermediate goal of 10% growth this year might be a good way to start. Focus on a short term goal that moves you toward the end-game.
5. BE WILLING TO MAKE A MISTAKE.
Many times we hold back out of fear. What if I make the wrong decision? Another mentor, Ruth Graczkowski, would often ask me if I was acting out of purpose or fear. If you are choosing a course out of purpose, you are less likely to make a mistake. And, some mistakes are providential. Do you learn more from your mistakes or from your successes? Sometimes that mistake brings learning that helps you succeed.
6. FIND SOMEONE TO HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE.
Sometimes we need someone other than ourselves to make sure we do what we say. Tell someone about your goal. Let them know that you are telling them so that they keep you accountable. It is harder to make excuses when you know you have to fess up to someone you respect or care about.
7. SET A REWARD OR CONSEQUENCE.
This strategy can be very effective. Recently I set a weight loss goal. I set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight in 10 weeks. It was an aggressive goal. My consequence was that I would stop drinking coffee for a month, if I didn’t get there. I told my wife about the goal and the consequence, so she would hold me accountable. Having a consequence made all the difference in reaching my goal. I really LIKE my coffee!
If reaching that dream, or fulfilling your purpose is eluding you, take heart! Sometimes, in the middle of the struggle forward, it is hard to see progress. However, applying yourself toward incremental forward motion will get you there! Take a step back, evaluate, and set your course again with purpose. What are you going to do today to move forward with your dream?