I am shocked to hear that 60% of people don’t know what’s holding them back from reaching their goals. So I decide that I will address the topic: The way you figure out what you should be doing next is that you try stuff.
You make bad choices, you try again. This is really standard advice for recent grads. But then, somewhere around age thirty, people start thinking they are above this advice. Like, this would be too slow and annoying for someone who is older than thirty.
And, in fact, that’s true. Finding out what you should be doing is a slow and annoying process because you have to try stuff. And a lot of times when we get stuck, we think philosophizing will get us out of the rut. But in fact, action gets us out. That’s right. Even for people like INTPs, who basically create theories in response to anything, even the INTPs have to take action in order to find out if they want to think at a think tank or at a university or a business.
There are ten billion blogs written by totally lost twenty-five year olds, but very few written by thirty-five-year-olds; because we often feel stupid and hopeless if we are older and lost as to how to meet goals. So, here we go. I’m going to show you my process for dealing with failure to meet a goal: I am happy when I am posting on my blog and I am unhappy when I am not posting. So I should write more.
1. Ask someone for input. Anyone, really. You have no ideas, you are stuck. And it’s easy to see other peoples’ problems. So ask someone what they see in you.
I did a coaching session with Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness. She coaches people on how to reorganize their lives to optimize for happiness. She showed me that the reason I’m not writing is because I don’t have a routine. I don’t put aside time to work every day. I just hope work time happens. And then, when it does, I only work on what’s already an emergency. (On a good day. On a bad day I am not even doing the emergencies. I am buying new dishes on eBay and sending photos of them to Melissa.)
I knew this. But I didn’t really know it because if I really knew it I’d have solved the problem before she told it to me. So I only knew it peripherally. I was hoping it wasn’t true.
2. Ask a specialist for input. Now that you have a sense of what’s wrong, ask someone who specializes in being great in that area.
So then I look at what is keeping me from sticking to a schedule. I decided that it’s that I don’t have a plan for what I am doing with my writing. So I called up Ramit Sethi, who does not charge me for coaching, but Ramit is a very transactional guy. So before I tell you what he told me, I need to tell you that he has has this course for teaching people how to negotiate salary. And really, everything he does is good because Ramit’s gift is he’s a promotional genius, and people who have that genius don’t waste it on bad product.
So he’s my go-to guy when I need someone to tell me what I should be doing to make money. He’s really good at telling me to stop selling stuff that is too cheap. This is a good time to tell you that he charges $10,000 for career coaching. I’m not kidding.
3. Everything is a grain of salt.
This is a reference to tears, for sure, since I go from not meeting my goals to hating myself to tears that I am a bad role model for my boys because they can see that I hate myself and I am ruining their childhood. See how fast that is?
But I meant, actually, salt as in take the advice with a grain of salt. After all you can only be you.
So at first I told myself that I should be charging that much. But then I realized that I would not get to talk to as many people. And I love talking to everyone I coach. They are always super-smart and interesting and fun. I think my coaching business is self-selecting: you have to be a go-getter and an innovative thinker about how you manage yourself if you decided to hire me to give you advice. And, I think I would be really bored in my homeschooling life if I didn’t get to coach people each day.
So Ramit is making a gazillion dollars and he is good at coaching me. I talked to him and I realized that I am focusing on too many things. And I should just sell one or two things and focus on my writing, because I love my writing. It’s because of Ramit that I don’t tell you to buy my books all the time. Because there’s no money in books.
Ramit teaches me how to pitch myself relentlessly.
And then I don’t do it. But he helps me know what I can do to make money and then I get past the barriers to doing what I want to do.
4. After investigation of details, revisit the initial problem.
You know what? I’m sick of telling myself I want to write more and then I don’t write. The truth is that I write every day. Who knows what I’ll write, but I do write every day. It’s not what I thought it would look like. I thought I would sit down at a desk like a normal writer, and write five pages each day.
Instead, I write when I can write. And I publish when I can publish. And it’s working out. And I know I’ll tell you that I’ll die if I don’t write. And that’s true. And I write. And I am done talking about the barrier to this goal. Because I don’t want to be one of the 60% of people who don’t know what’s holding them back from their goals.
5. Admit there are no barriers.
I do not actually believe we have barriers to reaching our goals. We have difficult paths that we are taking, that we believe will lead to our goal. Or we have stupid goals. If you have the wrong goal, your sixth sense will tell you not to start heading toward the goal—for whatever reason. But really, if you’re not going toward your goal it’s a bad goal.
So, you could reframe your goal, like I just did, so you feel like a winner. Or you can dump your goal and get another. And maybe you’ll head toward that one. Or maybe you won’t. And sooner or later, the goal will be to get a goal that gets you really moving.