What’s the hardest part of achieving any goal? Most people will tell that it’s getting started! I once heard the great Les Brown say that you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start in order to be great. Nothing could be closer to the truth. Earlier this year, I was the opening speaker for the College Ready program at South Piedmont Community College. The College Ready program is a 4-week college prep course for under-skilled/unemployed adults returning to college. This event was exciting for me because I got a chance to inspire an often overlooked student population—non-traditional students. It was a two way street because I also was inspired. I was inspired because I know it takes a great deal of courage to do something that you’ve never done before. Here were some of the highlights of my presentation.
In getting started with any goal I believe that there are three things that you must do:
#1 Have a compelling reason
We are all motivated to act by something or someone. If you’ve ever procrastinated (don’t worry you’re not alone), you know what I’m talking about. Habitually we procrastinate because we really don’t want to do whatever it is that we must do. On the other hand, when we are motivated we are so energized to get started. What’s the difference? I believe the difference is your compelling reason for doing it. If you are planning to do something that makes you feel good, you fully understand why you are doing it. Whenever you decide to commit yourself to a goal, especially a long term goal, you have to have a compelling reason under your belt. As you move forward, your compelling reason will help you persist through the tough times.
#2 Do it poorly
It’s not always about style points. Sometimes it’s just being out there. As a four time marathon runner, I remember having days that I didn’t want to train. Subsequently, what got me up and running was lowering my standards for that day. For instance, instead of mentally committing to five miles I would commit to two miles. However, once I got underway, I usually ran an extra mile or even the entire distance. One thing was for sure, it was the mental adjustment in the beginning that inspired me to take action. In other words, I convinced myself that doing a little something was better than nothing at all. I think the reason that most people don’t go after their goals is because mentally they psych themselves out before they give themselves a real chance. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you gain mastery.
#3 Visualize the end
Okay, so I know you’ve heard this one before. The reason why you’ve heard this on so many occasions is because it actually works—if you stick to it. As humans, we all visualize. The difference in achieving and not accomplishing a goal is learning to couple patience with visualization. Nothing that we truly desire will happen overnight. Most goals, dreams, and aspirations take time. Visualization keeps you focused on achieving your goal as time goes by. So go ahead visualize, think about how it will look, smell, taste, sound, and most importantly how it will feel. Your dreams are closer than you think; in order to get connected, stay connected you just have to be willing to get started.
Get connected. Stay connected. Graduate.