I like to think of goals as Point B—that place you want to get to from here (Point A). And, obviously, you want to find the path that gets you from Point A to Point B the most quickly. This idea is simple enough, but it can be surprisingly hard to execute.
We all struggle to get to Point B. And staying focused on it without losing hope that we can ever get there is tough—it’s far too easy to become distracted and to beat ourselves up for not making progress. But when I was a young Marine Corps Officer Candidate, I learned a great tip that has proven to be the only tip I’ve ever needed to reach my goals.
Every morning, I went to the Berkeley Marine Corps Officer Selection Office to workout with the other candidates. These workouts were led by a Master Sergeant with 22 years in uniform and 5 tours of duty under his belt. His biceps were so large the Marine Corps made special shirts for him, and his smile was even bigger. Every day after physical training, the Master Sergeant would ask us one question about the rest of our day: “What are you going to do to make your life better today?”
I answered this question countless times during my 14 months of officer candidacy, and it slowly dawned on me that the most important word in that question was all the way at the end of the sentence: today.
The Master Sergeant didn’t ask us what we did yesterday, or so far that day—that was the past, and didn’t matter anymore. And he didn’t want us to make promises or predictions about distant days in the future, either. He cared about how we were going to use that day—today—to reach our goals.
We knew we would be seeing him again tomorrow, so it was clear that we couldn’t get away with the same answer for long. But he never judged the answer as long as we were being realistic about what were we going to do to make the world a little better between that moment and when our heads hit our pillows.
I took that lesson to my clients as my slogan, “Have the courage to aim low, but often.”
Many of us tell ourselves that our Point B is “six pack abs,” “to weigh what I did in college,” or even “lose 30 pounds.” These are Big Goals that take months and years to accomplish. So big, in fact, that it’s easy to get tripped up trying to plan, strategize, out think, and power through. But all you really need to do to make progress TODAY is to remember that you can. You can make your life better today by making choices that eventually add up to that Big Goal.
There are many goal-achievement tips out there, and none of them are wrong. This one is just easier.
So what can you do to get closer to your goal today? Share in the comments below!