Working on Wish Fulfillment: How to Reach Your Goals
Without goals, our lives are meaningless. A bold statement, true, but without a future to strive for, why even continue living. These goals don’t have to be world-shattering; don’t give up just because curing cancer isn’t on your to-do list.
Your goals can be as simple as being comfortable in your body or making enough to not worry about money or start a family. Of course, if you do want to cure cancer, don’t let anything stop you.
What we hope to accomplish defines who we are. If only it were as easy to achieve these goals as it is to desire them. You can think of at least a few things you want to achieve, so why haven’t you done it yet? Don’t feel bad if you don’t have an answer to this question; most of us don’t.
However, this is not an excuse to abandon our goals. Nothing life-changing is going to happen easily. Setting goals and working on them until they are reached can be tough, but there are many tips and techniques you can employ in your life to get that wish fulfillment you have always wanted.
Setting Your Goals
You might be able to name your goals off the top of your head, but how realistic are those? We often make the mistake of setting nebulous or vague goals; concepts we want to achieve and not measurable success. We are certain we know what we want, so we don’t stop and think about what exactly achieving that goal entails.
The first thing you need to do before wish fulfillment is clearly defining that wish. A common acronym used to help people remember how to detail their goals is SMART. Your goals should be:
“Get rich” is not a specific goal. How much do you want to make? Where will the money come from? Do you desire liquid assets, real estate or something else? Subjective and vague goals are impossible to achieve. Set your sights on something you can elaborate on. The more detail, the better.
Your goal should be something that you can definitely say you have or have not achieved. “Be a famous author” is not as measurable as “get a publishing deal with a top ten national publisher.” Without clear delineations of success, your goals will always remain somewhat distant and out of reach.
This is the time for honesty. Big dreams are OK but wish fulfillment is much better when it is possible. Achievable goals are realistic and can be reached in a reasonable amount of time. You don’t have to give up on your big goals, just start off with goals you know you can reach (more on that later).
This also plays into goals being measurable. Your goal should be a result, not a process. For example “be happy” is not so much a result as a state of being. “Learn how to make table” or eliminate three sources of stress” are results.
Ongoing goals and continuous states like “contentment” are not achievable permanently and will not give you the satisfaction of success as your definition will likely change as time goes on.
Parkinson’s law states that people will take all the allotted time given them to complete a task and frequently more. They almost never take less. You won’t rush to finish that term paper that isn’t due for another three months, but if your boss gives you a day to finish a report, you’ll bust your hump to get it done. Give yourself a time limit and force a sense of urgency on yourself (more on this later).
Visualize Your Goals
You remember things much more clearly when they are accompanied by sensory input. For example, writing down a dream moments after waking will help you remember it, even if you don’t read what you wrote.
Animals, our evolutionary ancestors included, don’t consciously remember things but associate them with sensory input. Bright insects taste bad, snake’s rattler means dangerous.
You can use this primitive brain function to your advantage. Simply thinking up goals will not keep them in your mind, ironically. Write them down and hang them in a place you will see at least once a day.
It can be a post-it, picture or even a body sized poster as long as you can see it. You want your goals to be fresh in your mind at all times so that you always know when you aren’t working toward them.
Mark Your Calendars
You can combine your visualization with a self-imposed time limit by getting high visibility calendar and marking the exact day that you want the goal achieved by. Draw a big red X or blue O or whatever color and symbol combination works. The point is to have a visual cue to remind you of your remaining time to help light a fire under you.
We talked about setting achievable goals above, but we can go even smaller. The thrill of success and sense of accomplishment are some of the best feelings in all of human existence. Leverage that fact by setting sub-goals or stepping stones on your path to achieving the main goal.
Each time you achieve a mini-goal, your momentum will build, and your confidence will rise as you know in your heart that you are successful and can continue to be so. For example, that book deal goal? Set smaller sub-goals like complete a second draft, send a final manuscript to ten publishers or sell a certain amount of copies on a self-publishing website.
Down With Fine
We are all guilty of it. Someone asks how you are doing or how the job hunt is going or something like that, and you reply “fine.” Fine used to mean something of high quality, but it has evolved in recent decades to mean something different. Something that is not good for you.
Fine has come to mean “not bad,” or “could be worse.” It is not good enough for your dreams. At best it is a recognition of the status quo, which you are trying to shatter. After all, what are goals besides the result of breaking the cycle? At worst, fine is a lie that you tell yourself that things are going good enough. If you haven’t reached your goals, things are not fine.
At least when it comes to your goals and wish fulfillment, abolish the word fine from your vocabulary. The work towards your goals is either going great, and progress is being made, or you have hit a snag and things are not going well. Don’t be afraid of a little negativity.
Too much negativity is bad, but removing negativity completely is just as bad. Without recognition that you aren’t where you need to be, you won’t be motivated to get out of that slump or break through a barrier. If things are “fine,” you can just keep on keeping on without a change to your direction or effort. Change, however, is what you are seeking.
Plan for Your Failures and Face your Fears
Speaking of negativity, you should spend time thinking about what will likely go wrong when striving to achieve your goals. Think about obstacles to your success that might crop up and setbacks that may plague you. This exercise is not intended to scare you, but rather prepare you for the eventuality of difficulty.
Only the most fortunate of us achieve our goals without a hitch. Setbacks can and will happen, but it is how we deal with them that makes us who we are. Anyone can enjoy success, that is the easy part.
The real work with reaching goals comes when things are at their worst. Better to be prepared and have a plan to deal with these difficulties than being shocked and defeated by them later.
Also, try and make a list of your fears to go along with your goals. Knowing what you are afraid of can give insight into what is holding you back and can help you predict problems in the future. No one is without fear, and only a fool believes nothing could go wrong. You might not eliminate your fears, but you don’t have to. Face them, and mitigate their effect on you.
Change the Game
Too many of us view the world as something that happens to us. They believe themselves to be a passenger; an extra in the movie of life. This is convenient, because it allows us to blame misfortune and failure on the fickleness of chance and circumstances beyond our control. But it also holds us back.
If you believe that the world is beyond your control, failure is not your fault, but success is also out of your reach. If you do not control your fate, how can you ever make your wishes come true? View the world and your circumstance in it as something you control. Your failures will be yours, but you will also have the power to make your dreams a reality.
Don’t wallow in self blame, however, just realize that you could have done things differently and adjust for the future. Owning your mistakes helps you fix them, denying responsibility leaves you open to them again later on.