Like many people, Angel and I spent years struggling to make even the slightest bit of progress on the goals we had set for ourselves.
We started new workout programs with incredible optimism at least a couple dozen times. We threw away all the junk food in our house more times than I can even remember. We tried waking up earlier, meditating, reading more often, writing a book, getting out of debt, running a business, and more…
But, for the longest time, we failed on all fronts.
We’d get started with a new goal, and then we’d get derailed.
And boy did we feel horrible!
We often felt like losers … like no matter how hard we tried, our goals were out of reach! And we’d berate ourselves constantly for not being stronger, smarter, and more disciplined.
But what Angel and I didn’t realize, until we started successfully achieving our goals a few years later, is that it was never a matter of us not having enough strength, intelligence, or discipline. It was a matter of us focusing on our goals in an ineffective way.
In fact, believe it or not, we were actually focusing on our goals too much.
Yes, you read that right. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the truth.
Watch this quick video Angel and I recorded for you, and let us explain what we started focusing on instead…
A Rule for Making Your Goals Happen Faster
Now that you’ve watched the video, and you have a better understanding of what rituals are and why they’re so incredibly important, it’s time to memorize and live by a simple rule…
Goals don’t make positive changes happen, daily rituals do.
Seriously, meditate on that for a moment.
Because too often we obsess ourselves with a goal – an end result – but are completely unfocused when it comes to the ritual – the recurring steps – that ultimately make the goal happen. And so the weight of this unrealized goal sits heavy on our shoulders, and it slows us down to a crawl.
Does that sound at all familiar?
If so, it’s time to shift your focus AWAY from your goals. Think about this…
If you completely ignored one of your goals for the next few weeks and instead focused solely on the daily rituals that reinforce this goal, would you still get positive results?
For example, if you were trying to lose weight and you ignored your goal to lose 25 pounds, and instead focused only on eating healthy and exercising each day, would you still get results?
YES, you would! Gradually, you would get closer and closer to your goal without even thinking about it.
The bottom line is that nothing will change in your life unless you make daily rituals that reinforce what you hope to achieve. Believe me, over the past decade Angel and I have successfully worked with thousands of course students and live event attendees from around the world who were struggling to achieve things, so this strategy is well tested. We’ve tried weekly action steps with people, tasks they do in semi-flexible increments, big monthly milestones, and dozens of other variations and combinations of strategies. None of them work well in the long run except daily rituals.
If you’re not willing to make it a daily ritual, you don’t really want to change your life as much as you say you do – you don’t really want to achieve that “important” goal. You only like the idea of learning to be fit/writing a book/building a business/selling your art/etc. You don’t actually want to do it, every day.
But if you DO want it as much as you say you do, here are some…
Good Reminders for Building Goal-Achieving Rituals
- Accepting some level of discomfort is necessary. – Starting a new daily ritual forces us to change our routine in some way, and this change, by its nature, is somewhat uncomfortable. But most of us don’t want to be uncomfortable, so we run from the possibility of discomfort constantly. The obvious problem with this is that, by running from discomfort, we are constrained to partake in only the activities and opportunities within our comfort zones. And since our comfort zones are relativity small, we miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in a debilitating cycle with our goals. We keep doing what we’ve always done, and thus we keep getting the results we’ve always gotten. And our true potential falls by the wayside.
- Small rituals are easier to start and maintain. – Making a big change all at once not only requires lots of grit and determination, but also lots of time and energy. And if you already have a reasonably busy schedule, you’ll find it hard to fit a new daily ritual into the mix. You might do it once or twice – exercise for an hour, for example – but then the new ritual gets put on hold because you feel like you don’t have enough time. That’s why a small change – perhaps a small ritual that consists of just 10 sit-ups every morning when you get out of bed – is much easier to start and maintain. The bottom line is that enthusiasm always wanes a couple days after you start a new ritual, but it’s 100% easier to keep it going when the ritual is small. And keeping it going is what matters.
- Ultimately, you want to expand your idea of “normal.” – As human beings we get comfortable with a certain set of conditions, and if we deviate from these conditions too quickly we tend to get overwhelmingly uncomfortable. Quitting your day job and building a business requires you to figure out your finances, design and test products and services, write marketing material, set up a website, design sales funnels, etc. … all of this can be very daunting at the beginning. But if building this business is a goal you truly want to achieve, you have to do these things, and you have to start before you feel “ready.” The key, again, is leveraging daily rituals to ease into these uncomfortable requirements. Start with figuring our your finances – paying off debt, saving up a year’s worth of living expenses, etc. Then, once you’re comfortable in that area, decide on a product or service idea (daily market research), then set up your website (in small daily steps), write some marketing copy (again, in small daily steps), learn about Facebook marketing, run some ads on Facebook to test the marketability of your product or service, etc. Ease into each part of your new business and all it’s requirements gradually become part of the conditions that you’re familiar with – your new and expanded “normal.”
- Renewing your trust in yourself is imperative. – What Angel and I lacked before we learned to build goal-achieving daily rituals was the trust that we were actually capable of achieving our goals. We had failed so many times in the past, and had grown so discouraged in ourselves, that we started choosing procrastination over future attempts to fulfill the goal-oriented promises we made to ourselves. In essence, we lost trust in both our abilities and ourselves. It’s kinda like another person constantly lying to you – eventually you stop trusting them. The same holds true with the promises you make to yourself that always end in disappointment – eventually you stop trusting yourself. And the solution in most cases is the same too – you have to renew your trust gradually, with small promises, small steps (your daily rituals), and small victories. This takes time, but it happens pretty fast if you stick to it. And it’s arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
- Small, incremental changes add up to huge changes pretty quickly. – The concept of taking it one step at a time might seem ridiculously obvious, but at some point we all get caught up in the moment and find ourselves yearning for instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now! And this yearning often tricks us into biting off more than we can chew. Angel and I have seen this transpire hundreds of times over the years – a coaching client/course student wants to achieve a big goal (or ten) all at once, and can’t choose just one or two daily rituals to focus on, so nothing worthwhile ever gets done. Let this be your reminder. Remind yourself that you can’t lift a thousand pounds all at once, yet you can easily lift one pound a thousand times. Small, repeated, incremental efforts will get you there. It doesn’t happen in an instant, but it does happen a lot faster than not getting there at all.
(Note: Angel and I build small, daily, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from YOU.
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