When you’re trying to accomplish a goal, oftentimes, your own frustration with not having accomplished a goal can get in your way. We can be so desperate to get to our goal that we want to have the quickest way forward.
Here’s the problem with that: we imagine our strategy for getting to our goal. If imagining a goal was enough to get there, then life would be super easy, right? But achieving anything is not that simple. Our imagined approach is not enough to achieve the results we want.
Remember this quote from Thomas Edison?:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If imagining his light-bulb were enough, he would have created it immediately. The same for any of the goals you strive for. So… so what?
You need to be clear with yourself: any of the ideas you come up with to accomplish ANYTHING are just that – ideas. Your strategy is not infallible, you could be totally wrong.
The point is, when you’re desperate, you want your ideas to work. Those ideas are the best shot you have, after all! But no matter what path you’ve imagined for yourself, if you stay fixated on your imagined path, then you’ll ignore your intuition, calling you in a new direction.
Turn Failure into Success
Now I’m not saying you will succeed if you hang on every word I’m about to say. Goodness knows my life is full of problems I still have no idea how to solve, and which bother me. But after working through the conflict I had between Desperation and Idea-Creation today, I know of one thing that can calm down the impulse to suffer from failure:
Oh yeah big surprise because of my title, right? The point is that when you run into a dead end, curiosity is that voice that says, “OK, what’s another way?” Success (aka when you accomplish a goal) doesn’t just happen when you have the right strategy. Sometimes you could have the wrong strategy entirely! But when you set out towards your goal, first you go towards your first idea for achieving it.
You could be told by a vague sense of moving in the wrong direction, or by coming face-to-face with a brick wall, but what will you do when you start to lose confidence in your idea? Stomp your feet, and get aggitated, spend time thrashing about in your longing for a goal? I’m not demeaning those feelings – it can remind you why you started off in the first place. But remember: your curiosity allows you to move forward.
What do I mean by curiosity? I mean, when you get a feeling that a different direction, or new idea might better serve you, and you wish to explore it. That’s curiosity. You don’t always have to wait until you’re screaming in frustration – oftentimes a slight feeling of agitation or boredom can tell you “It’s just not working”. During those times, curiosity will most likely pipe in and ask you “well, what else might work?”
Just remember: Don’t let your frustration for not having accomplished a goal shut down your willingness to explore new options for achieving it. Yeah, it might take longer than anticipated, but none of us really know how long it will take to accomplish our goals in the first place! We can make good guesses, but none of us really know.
Exercise for Reevaluating a Goal
So, let’s try it out! No use reading a well-meaning article without something to show for it, right? The following exercise aims to help you look at the steps you’ve imagined for achieving a goal, and opening yourself up to considering other options that might serve you better.
- Think of a goal that you’ve been having a difficult time with recently. It could be to solve a problem, or accomplish a dream. Preferably something that frustrates you. Write down the goal at the top of the page.
- Next, list out all the steps you need to take towards your goal, in approximate order.
- Put a big arrow pointing towards that list and write “These are imaginary” in big letters. : )
- Next, go through the list and rate each item on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being “I feel like this idea is working perfectly”, 1 being “This idea has failed to produce ANY results”.
- For the ones that don’t seem to be producing the results you want, think over what other options there might be, and write these down next to you list or wherever it’ll fit. Writing down “I don’t know” also works : )
Hopefully now your curiosity has the fuel it needs to start exploring some new directions in achieving your goal. If not, maybe you need to revalute why you’re seeking that goal in the first place, and if you want to modify or drop it entirely. It’s up to you!
So for all you goal-seekers out there, I hope this helps to get you out of any slumps you might be experiencing, and onward towards what you long for. Bye for now,
The Utility and Fun of Not Knowing
What do you Truly Long for? Separating Goals and Purpose
Interesting post. I think we can all relate since we have all struggled with this. Curiosity, along with some determination can get us past any problem, as long as we don’t give up.
Yar, good point – really it’s about determination with flexibility, rather than determination alone. Although you might argue that flexibility is part of determination : )