A few days ago I had a great chat with a good friend of mine. We talked about how each of us is feeling and what challenges we are currently going through. We hat a really beautiful exchange. We also talked about the things that help each of us in our life, to make our life better. I told him about one thing that I was doing, which I hadn’t thought so much about. Yet he was quite inspired and said: “That’s really cool what you are doing. It’s great this is giving you results!” This got me thinking… On second thought I realised it is a really powerful strategy which I want to share with you today.
It’s very simple. I have a little notebook (hand-sized) and I take three minutes on my commute to work in the morning to write down the following things. On the top I write the current date and then I write: “I am so happy and grateful, now that…” And then I begin describing goals in my life as if I had already achieved them. I describe in present tense the fulfillment of my goals in the areas that are most important to me. Especially in areas where I am struggling at the moment.
Most people do have goals in their life. It is also common knowledge that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. Many people have written down their goals at some point, or they are writing New Years Resolutions. But if we do this and then put that vision for our life in a drawer, we are actually missing the biggest benefit clarifying our goals can give us! What is really going to help you is: if you keep repeating and clarifying the vision you hold for your life. This does a lot of things at once:
- If you keep repeating it you can move your goals from the realm of “impossible” to the realm of “possible”. Most of the goals that really inspire us seem quite “out there” when we set them. That’s exactly why they are inspiring to us. If you keep writing and clarifying your goal every day: you write it in the present tense, you feel how actually achieving your goal feels- this slowly moves it from the realm of “impossible” to the realm of “possible”. As you write it down it the specifics of what you want also will become clearer and this helps you to achieve it.
- “If you can hold it in your mind – you can hold it in your hand.” You do this by again and again clarifying and repeating your vision to yourself. Thus the vision you are having of your life stays active in your mind. You are going to start breathing and living that vision. It is going to be with you throughout your days. If you write your goals down once a year and then put them aside, your resolve is going to get lost in the external demands of your life as well as your old habits. You are going to eventually forget about it. But if you repeat it every day again and again and again you are going to develop an inner compass. You are going to feel if an action you are about to take is leading you in the direction of your goals or not. If you don’t have an inner compass then you are most likely going to live reactively – deciding on the spur of the moment. If your goal and direction is clear then you will be able to confidently engage in activities that are challenging, out of your comfort zone. You will know that they are the “right thing” to do and will move you closer to eventually realising your goal. You are living “from the inside out” instead of “from the outside in”. It will be easier to drop activities that offer immediate gratification, yet might not be leading you anywhere or offer you any long-term benefit. Writing down your goals every day really strengthens this compass and you will find yourself acting more and more in alignment with your goals, which moves you closer to their realisation.
- It is extremely motivating and inspiring to write down your goals in the present tense, clarify them and feel into how it feels to actually accomplish them. This is especially important if you are going through a difficult time in your life. I’ve done this exercise especially during times in my life when I have been feeling down or one area of my life felt like a complete disaster. I would sit down and I would write the vision for how I want this area of my life to be. That is really inspiring! If you are going through a fog all day and you are feeling like your life is totally not where you want it to be in some area. Or you feel discouraged and don’t know how to improve things and then you may even stop thinking about what you actually want, because of being discouraged and focused on the negative. When you start writing and you make an effort to write down what you actually want then you start getting new ideas and you can actually see a glimpse of how your life could be in that area. This is going to inspire and uplift you greatly. Especially during difficult times in your life.
This totally helped me and continues doing so. I really want to encourage you to do this. It’s only three minutes. But remember that the power with this exercise lies with the consistency. So if you decide to do it for 30 days for example, I suggest you take a calendar and mark each completed day. You can also simply draw 20 or 30 little boxes on a piece of paper and tick them off. Measuring it helps you to get a streak going and will motivate you. If you do this exercise consistently then it is going to give you results. If you only do it here and there then it’s going to be like a New Years Resolution. You’re not going to get the full benefit you get from doing it consistently. 30 days times three minutes – that’s 90 minutes for a whole month. That’s almost nothing. A lot of people spend a lot more time watching TV or doing other things that don’t really yield a substantial long-term benefit. I think that there are things in our life that are absolutely meaningful, that can have a huge impact on our life and on the lives of people that we touch. There are things that are pleasant, that might bring joy and make us happy for the moment, but they don’t have that much of an impact (or even none). I love to focus on the things that really have an impact and that bring us closer to our vision of how we actually want our life to be.
This exercise is an exercise that can give you a lot of inspiration and motivation in the short term, but even more importantly: it is going to get you closer to your vision and have a long-term impact. You can take the goals in your life from the impossible to the possible, develop a compass for what actions lead you towards your goals and which don’t – thus you will increasingly act in alignment with your goals. You’re going to continually clarify them and feel inspired and motivated doing this. By doing these things you will move closer and closer and finally achieve your goals.
Edit on March 24th 2019
After writing out my goals for about three months every day in the way I outlined above I noticed that certain themes were repeating over and over. So in order to save time, but also keep conditioning and reminding myself of what matters most to me I recorded these statements (it’s about 4 minutes long). I now listen to these every morning as part of my morning routine. Now if there are things I want to work on currently I still write them down in a similar way. I can absolutely recommend this. Hearing your own voice talking about your top priorities and reminding yourself of them every day is very helpful in staying on track. This whole process has been very helpful in gaining more clarity regarding my goals and how I want to spend my life over the last months.