I recently got done reevaluating my goals and visions for this year. For those of you who have met me, you know that my goals and dreams are very ambitious. At any given time, I can have up to five business ideas that I’m either working on or that are stuck in my mind. It’s these goals that keep me motivated and excited about the future. Having something to look forward to is extremely important for having a great life.
The problem was that my goals and my actions did not align. I talked the talk, but I did not walk the walk. My family and friends would tell me how impressive it was that I already knew what I wanted to do in life, but at the end of the day I was no closer to achieving those goals than at the beginning of the day. My dreams told me I was going to be a millionaire very quickly, but my actions told me I would be lucky to make $2,000 a month.
What is your biggest goal in life? Do you have one off the top of your head? And what are you doing TODAY to get you closer to that goal? Until recently I didn’t understand the importance of doing daily work that draws you closer to your goals. Looking back, all my goals had one thing in common: someday. “Someday I’m going to be a millionaire,” or “Someday I’m going to start my own company.” In reality, “Someday” is just another way to say “Never.”
Why do we try to justify our inaction? Why do we give ourselves more time to supposedly prepare before starting to work on our goals? If it really is our biggest goal, we should be excited to wake up in the morning and go to work on our dreams. We should lay awake at night thinking about what we can do to accomplish our goals, and not be able to sleep because we are so excited.
Here’s the thing, most of us with goals are doing just that. Most of us create plans that seem invincible at night, but in the morning somehow aren’t good enough. We focus too much on creating a fail-proof plan (how many times have you heard that phrase?). We try as we might to avoid failing, to the point that we view not taking any action at all in a more favorable light than trying and failing. Failure only comes when we stop failing, because that means we’ve stopped trying. Stop trying to create something fool-proof. Create something that’s just good enough. As Barry Schwartz says, “Good enough is almost always good enough.”
“Someday” is a disease. “Someday” will literally kill all your hopes and dreams if you don’t fight it. When we get a physical disease, we take action to beat it, to win. If we get cancer, many times we will put ourselves through extremely brutal chemotherapy to fight back. We are willing to make ourselves uncomfortable because we know that if we don’t, we may die. We fight so hard just to be able to survive and be alive because we know that it beats the alternative. How is it, then, that when we have the option of something we literally lose sleep over because we’re so excited, we always choose the alternative that we don’t want?
Maybe another way to look at the last example is to think of it as fear of the unknown. Someone who is terminally ill has been alive, so they fight extremely hard to remain alive and avoid death because it’s an unknown. Nobody has ever died and lived to tell about it. There is no scientific information or experience on what happens after we die. Even if you believe in a higher power, as I do, I would bet that you are a little scared of death because you don’t know what is next.
Chasing your dreams is scary because you have to leave the life you know and are comfortable with in order to pursue an outcome that isn’t a sure thing and most definitely isn’t a comfortable process. I get that because I’ve been in the idea stage of my goals for most of my life. But do you think you’ll be lying on your deathbed and telling yourself, “I’m so happy I was able to stay comfortable and avoided any difficulties in my life”? You already know the answer. If you died today, would you be able to tell yourself you gave 100% effort in chasing your goals?
We are not willing to act YET because we assume that we have infinite time on earth and that we can procrastinate. “Someday” may never come. We may tragically die tomorrow. Once we come to terms with the fact that our time is extremely limited we become more willing to do things that put us out of our comfort zones. We know that this is our only chance. There’s a reason that most people only start completing their Bucket List after something happens to remind them of their mortality, whether it be a terminal disease, a death of a loved one, etc.
The sooner we understand that we have very limited time on earth the sooner we can start progressing towards our goals. Many of us, myself very much included, are procrastinators. We wait until the last minute before we get to work. In our lives, we don’t know when the last minute will be. Stop putting off chasing your goals. Start doing daily tasks that get you closer than when you started the day. Don’t let “Someday” control you anymore. If you’re not careful, you can “Someday” yourself out of a life.