On Wednesday, I went for a run for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was so hot and sticky outside (hello, Houston!) that the air almost felt solid. I was drenched in sweat. It was awful.
We've all been there: trying to do something "good for us" and hating every minute of it. And if we're honest about it, that can be enough to make us give up on whatever goal we've set. I can't tell you how many times I have tried and failed to break a bad habit or start a new good one. Or how about goals we set that - once reached - fall flat and leave us feeling unsatisfied?
The good news is there is a very simple approach to interrupt this pattern, successfully reach your goals, and find happiness in your life.
Most people only focus on setting end goals. End goals are goals that, once you achieve them, they're done. It could be getting a job, losing weight, cutting back on alcohol, or a myriad of other things. Everyone has done this before. But end goals that are not grounded in aim goals have a low probability of lasting success. And when we do succeed, it just doesn't feel as satisfying as we thought it would.
Aim goals are where we're heading in life. They represent our "big picture" and come from who we are as human beings. End goals, on the other hand, are merely checkpoints along the way. Setting end goals without aim goals is like planning random stops on a road trip to nowhere.
As an example, my aim goal in the area of health and fitness is to live a long, healthy life and be able to do what I want, live where I want, and take care of myself when I'm old. Everything I do right now to improve my health and fitness - like nutrition, exercise, and stress management - flows from that ultimate aim goal. That aim goal is why I get out of bed and put on my running shoes instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. My entire lifestyle connects to that aim goal of being able to walk and communicate and wipe my own rear end when I'm in the last years of my life. That's how I stay motivated day after day and year after year.
Success happens when end goals come from aim goals. Successful people have an aim goal in each major area of life: health and fitness, family, career and finance, personal development, and spirituality. To set an aim goal, ask yourself what success in each area means to you and why you want that. Then, set an active end goal in each area to work on right now.
Studies show that multitasking produces worse results, so stick with one end goal at a time in each major life area.
By starting with aim goals that help you get clear on where you're going in life and what your big picture looks like, you set yourself up for success. Not only are your chances of success much higher, but your satisfaction as well. When you have aim goals, you set end goals that actually bring you happiness.
And like any good road trip, don't cling too hard to the path. The way that you get to the goal may not look like what you thought. You can achieve goals in ways that you never imagined, so allow for flexibility in the journey.