The ONE THING you need to reach your goals

Posted May 22 2015, 9:49 am in ,

With more than twenty five years of working for multiple companies, running my own freelance business, reaching my dream of becoming a published author, and competing in various sports… I’m a huge fan of goal setting.

I also know that what works for one person as a tool to reach a given goal, doesn’t always work for someone else. TodaySome people need group motivation, some don’t. Some people need a highly specific plan of action, some are better off winging it. Some people need piles of research material to back them up every step of the way, some people just go with their gut. It all can work, depending on what your process is.

That said, there is one thing that all successful goal setters MUST HAVE in order to succeed. If you have that one thing, the rest is just logistics.

And that thing is: URGENCY.

Urgency is not about willpower. It’s not about dedication. It’s not even about motivation, although motivation comes closest to it. It’s the firmly held belief that if you do not do this ONE THING NOW that you MUST DO in order to survive/reach the top of the mountain/defeat the bad guy/finish the race… you will fail. Utterly and without question. YOU MUST DO THIS ONE THING, whatever that one thing is.

And that last part is key. Goal setting is not about doing all the things. It’s about doing one thing, right now. And to succeed, you must do that one thing with URGENCY.

You’ve probably heard a variation on the old story about the mom being told to walk on a plank over a fifty-foot drop. The mother says “no way!” until she sees that her child is on the other side, in danger. Boom—she hits that plank and gets across it in record time. Why? URGENCY.

Here’s a less life-threatening example: it’s late, but not technically time for sleep yet. You’re tired, and you’ve been working all daggone day. Intellectually, you know that you need to finish up some low-brainpower work now, so that you can do the high-brainpower work tomorrow morning, because mornings are when you do your best work. But you’d really rather knock off for the day.

You have only one choice:

  1. Knock off for the day without doing that one thing, even though it will put you a tiny bit behind tomorrow, causing you to have to a) get up early or b) put off your high-productivity work or c) maybe not ever get to the low-brainpower work, even though you know you should,

OR

  1. Do the work now and get it done.

If you are operating with a motto of URGENCY, that decision is easy.

Importantly, the above assumes that you are not sleep deprived, or sick, or clinically depressed and off your meds, or flat out exhausted due to kids/job/family life. If any of those are the case, then your urgent decision has to be to regain your health first.

In fact, there are lots of EXTREMELY VALID reasons for you not being able to respond with urgency. But know that as long as those reasons stand in the way of you going after your goals, well… then you simply won’t reach your goals as quickly (or maybe not at all.)

I know, these are harsh words. But as a younger person, I tried and failed many times to get published, to win competitive races, to get a job—or a raise—or whatever prize I had in my sights. When I consider what the difference was when I finally achieved my goals, it was pretty easy to pinpoint:

URGENCY.

So… what do you urgently want to achieve today?

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