Think about it. From the time we can walk & talk, we’re basically programmed to ask the question: “When will I achieve my goal?”
When we are kids, we are told that if we clean our room and take out the trash every day, we will get our allowance at the end of the week.
When we are in high school, we are told that if we do this homework, study that lesson, and show up to class, we will get a good grade at the end of the semester.
When we are in college, we are told that if we take this many units and get this grade, we will get a college degree in four years.
And guess what, they were telling the truth!
The problem is… the real world doesn’t work like that.
When Will I Achieve My Goal?
I get asked this question all the time by the people who follow me online. And the only reason I know the answer is because I used to ask the question myself.
In fact, I used to start my goal planning with this question in mind.
I’d say to myself, “Okay, I want to achieve my goal in three months so I’m going to do X, Y, and Z. Then, in three months, I’ll be sexy, rich, and successful!”
So, I'd do X, Y, and Z...
And almost without fail, three months would pass and at best I’d be a little bit sexier, a tiny bit richer, and minutely more successful. Which, as I'm sure you can relate, led to me being a whole lot more discouraged.
I didn’t understand it at first.
I thought I was doing everything right.
Checking off the boxes, following the prescribed “curriculums”… but I still hadn’t achieved my goal.
Truth be told, this hit me really hard for the exact reason I explained in the intro.
When I was a kid, I did my chores every day and got my allowance at the end of the week. In high school, I did my homework and studied, and got good grades every semester. In college, I took the right number of units and passed my classes, and got my college degree in four years (when I was just 20 years old)!
So, why wasn’t I meeting my scheduled timeline now that I was in the real world?!
The Real World Isn't Structured
Growing up and in school, life is as structured as it will ever get. If you do X and Y, then you get Z. It’s a simple math equation.
But when you get to the real world, the equation is crazy complex.
a + b = c
The Real World:
In the real world, there are far more variables at play, and most of them are out of your control. Take exercise, for instance (and, by the way, this is especially true after you hit your thirties)…
Two people can do the same exact exercise and eat the same exact food and end up with completely different results. Even if you compare two men with the same height and build and physical abilities, they’ll still get different results!
That’s because their bodies are incredibly complex machines with variations down to the genes in their DNA.
I’ll stop with the academic analogies now but hopefully, you get the point: Stop trying to figure out when you will achieve your goal. There are just too many variables to work with.
Instead of trying to determine the exact timeline, try to identify the variables (aka HABITS) you can control. Understand that if you do them, then you'll get what you're looking for (or maybe even better than you're looking for), whenever it's supposed to happen.
The Variables You Can Control
When the real world slapped me in the face, I took a closer look at what I did growing up. And I had a EUREKA moment. A total eyes-popping, hands-in-the-air, why-didn’t-I-ever-realize-this-before-moment…
I realized that I had been focusing on the end result, not the process.
I had been focusing on the fact that I got my allowance every seven days, good grades every semester, and a college degree in four years.
This makes sense because growing up, the exact date the outcome/reward is supposed to happen is laid out in front of us clear as day.
If you focused on the daily tasks (i.e. the process), then you knew what the exact result would be on such and such a date.
Therefore growing up, the focus is on both the tasks AND the end-date, with an especially significant focus on the end date because it's pre-determined for us.
But real life doesn't work that way.
In the real world, when we're starting a business or beginning our fitness journey, we create arbitrary dates by which certain things are supposed to happen. Then, when the big outcome doesn't come by that date, we get discouraged and move one (as opposed to continuing to take the actions we know we're supposed to take).
Growing up, your parents and your teachers set the "when will it happen by" date.
In life, the "when will it happen by" date isn't so cut and dry.
Therefore, when it comes to setting new goals for myself, there are always two things I remember:
This means that my job is to focus on consistent action, and trust that when it's time...
IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN IT'S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.
Maybe it hasn't happened because I haven't learned a key lesson yet. And when I learn that lesson, success will come flooding toward me like a tsunami.
Maybe it hasn't happened yet because Google changed their algorithm 3 months ago, and what worked last year isn't working the same this year. But if I keep on the path for 3 more months, my hard work will tip Google's new rules back in my favor.
Maybe it hasn't happened yet because God, or the Universe, or whoever you believe in, is lining things up for you, and if you just practice a little bit of patience, you'll have more than you wanted in the first place.
My point is that to achieve your goals, YOU need focus on controlling what YOU can control.
The main things YOU can control are the daily actions you take (i.e. your HABITS), and HOW you are behaving while waiting on the things you can't control (i.e. patience).
The Questions You Should Be Asking
Have you figured out what questions you should be asking yet? Have you figured out where your focus should be?
Here are two questions I love focusing on as opposed to worrying about when my goal will maniacally appear.
Let's say, for example, you want a #1 YouTube channel. Then, regardless of the fact that you only have 12 subscribers today (one of whom is your mom), the HABIT of posting content multiple times a week needs to be so strong that it feels weird to NOT post 3 new videos a week.
Furthermore, HOW you're posting videos matters too. So look at what the best in the industry are doing and each day, try to get better at making more quality videos with awesome descriptions, powerful graphics, and answers to specific questions your audience wants.
Let's say, for example, you goal is to get physically fit. Then you need to get to the point where the habit of working out is so ingrained in you, that EVEN when you're out of town and it's raining, you STILL find a way to get in 30 minutes of exercise.
In addition to that, when you focus on your technique (HOW you work out), then you're squeezing better results into the same amount of time.
I remember when I was struggling to gain weight. One of the secrets to making my muscles grow faster was to really focus on controlling the dumbbell, and really squeezing my muscle at the point of contraction. Two very simple things, but by focusing on HOW I was working out (in addition to THAT I was working out consistently), I started getting results that much faster!
Understanding this concept of focusing on the habits and the process is CRITICAL to your success. So, I encourage you to read another blog I’ve written on the subject: The Goal is NEVER the Goal.