What do you want out of life? Seriously. When you think about where you are now, what’s missing? If you could design your perfect life, what would it look like?
I’ve never been particularly good at goal setting. I think it’s because when I start thinking in terms of my goals, I get swept up in the big picture, heart’s desire type of stuff like owning a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills, spending long luxurious vacations in the South of France, starring in a brilliant film that makes a splash at Sundance, and turning this blog into a best-selling book. Just to name a few.
And while all of these achievements are enough to get my blood going, the problem is, they feel so far away from the reality of my life, it’s easy to continue to relegate them to fantasy land and wistfully think ‘what if?’ Any motivational expert or life coach (or whatever you call those people) that’s worth their salt will tell you that this type of thinking isn’t the right way to go about getting what you want out of life. While these grandiose things may in fact be attainable, the real trick to achieving your goals is breaking the big picture things down into small, more easily attainable pieces. And doing this requires hard work. It requires getting specific, discipline and focus.
For example, while turning this blog into a book that winds up on the New York Times Best-Seller List may be a (lofty) goal of mine, it doesn’t just happen overnight. First of all, it requires me publishing a blog post more than once a month! It requires that I have the discipline to show up to write every single day. It requires that I explore all different types of topics until I find the exact right tone and voice that is best suited for me. It requires that I write lots of bad posts and mediocre posts and get them out of my system. It requires that I put my work out there as much as possible, try to get guest post opportunities on other blogs with a bigger following than mine, and risk lots of rejection along the way. It requires TONS of work to pull together enough content that it will actually resemble a book, and then spending lots of time editing that book to make sure it’s as good as it can be. And once all of that work is done and I have something that I think I can be proud of, then comes the process of trying to get published. And once published, there is always the possibility that the book will suck, that no one will read it, and that I’ll be back at square one.
See why daydreaming is so much easier? Hard work sucks. And there’s no guarantee that through this hard work, I’ll ever end up attaining the lofty goal that I’ve set for myself. How depressing.
But here’s something that’s not depressing. If, instead of just talking about what you want, you start taking focused action, you’ll get stuff done. The girl who’s out there making half a dozen short films a year may be no closer to Sundance than I am, but she’s getting stuff done. She’s learning. She’s making bad films so that she can make better ones. She’s meeting people she wants to collaborate with down the line. She may never get to Sundance. I may never get there. I may never turn this blog into a book. But by showing up and doing the work, I may wind up someplace else really cool. Someplace I never thought I wanted to be, but someplace I was meant to be nonetheless.
Think about what you really want out of life. Then make a list of all the tiny, little things you could start doing today to help you get there. And then one item at a time, one day at a time, start tackling that list. Show up, do the work. And prepare to be surprised.