We can probably all agree that being able to get results and achieve success is no bad thing, after all we are exploratory creatures. We aren’t designed to rest on our laurels and be satisfied with what we have. We always want to have more and to be better. We can try to fight our nature, but it’s a constant battle to engage in.
It’s also important to be grateful for the things we have, and to enjoy the fruits of our labour and the rewards of our love, otherwise, what’s the point.
But forward momentum is part of our genetic makeup, and it’s easier to face that truth than deny it.
We currently find ourselves stuck at point A, when we want to get to point B.
Point B is the promised land. It’s the place we aspire to be, if only we could get there. There may well be many smaller intermediary goals that point towards the end destination, and like dominos we need to line them up so each can help knock down the next.
Having a goal gives us a sense of direction, otherwise we are aimless, like a rudderless boat drifting wherever the current takes us. Goals allow us to take strategic action.
The consequences of not moving forward towards goals, towards point B, can be hard to stomach. The initial frustration is later replaced by regret and both these negative emotions drain self-esteem. A disaffected person can easily become embittered and take a destructive path which aims to tear things down rather than contribute to make things better.
We can all have more by being more. To have more than you’ve got, you’ve got to be more than you are, according to self-development guru, Jim Rohn.
Most things in life are unknown to us in any meaningful way. We know just enough about things to get through our daily routines, but meaning is condensed into abstract representations which allow us to manage our interactions with them, but little more.
This condensing of meaning lightens cognitive load, and allows us to focus attention on more important things, usually in pursuit of our goals. Everything is an aid, an obstruction or irrelevant in pursuit of whatever we’re busy aiming for.
For example, if we’re driving down to the supermarket in a bit of a hurry because it’s about to close, every red light, or motorist is an obstruction acting to block our goal.
Everything that’s irrelevant to our goal is ignored or filtered out, most of the time. It doesn’t affect us and our current endeavour so we need not pay any attention to it.
The same is true with regard to the attainment of knowledge, we are motivated to learn things that interest or concern us, but everything else is ignored or filtered out of our conscious attention.
As a consequence of our limited knowledge, most things are unknown. We may know things on a superficial level, especially if we are curious, or as a result our life experiences, but there is always much more to learn, then we could ever know.
The unknown can be a scary place, it’s full of potential, made up of good and bad. The unknown is full of opportunities and possibility as well as risks and dangers. We’ll come back to the unknown shortly.
Learning new things involves finding accurate information, and as most information is not acquired from personal first-hand experience, we must find it from other reliable sources.
However, this is easier said than done, although we have more access to information than ever before, there is so much more misleading and incorrect information that has to be sorted through, to find the golden nuggets that will actually help us.
It’s all about learning what we need to move from point A to point B, and this can take a great deal of time and dedication to do. We have to do our research, find the nuggets of information we can use, put that into practice and learn through the experience of doing. It’s a process of learning, trying and failing (if we must), there isn’t really any other way to do it. Try to get better at filtering out the things that will cause you to fail, but don’t fear failure, just make sure you learn from it, and try to ensure it doesn’t put you out of the game completely.
Coming back to the unknown, any kind of meaningful change requires reaching into the unknown as we search for answers to help us move forward. If you’re not taking the actions you know you should be taking, then something is preventing you.
Fear is usually the most frequent reason people don’t chase down their goals. Fear of failure, of discomfort, of uncertainty, of embarrassment if things don’t work out as planned. Fear is even more persuasive if you lack confidence in your ability to do what’s required, or in case you find yourself out of your depth.
The unknown carries within it the monster of all monsters. It is a category of threat that holds all possible fears. But we also realise that the unknown is made up of all potential: all risks and dangers, but also all opportunities and possibilities.
The self-preservation instinct is often our guide within the unknown domain. It’s the biological reflex which causes us to freeze, take flight or fight. It’s easy to fall foul of this initial gut-reaction, which has little interest in anything other than protecting us from pain or suffering. If all you do is listen to your survival instinct, you’re certain to remain stuck at point A.
It’s useful to understand that motivation has two opposing forces: Blocking motivations like fear, but also supporting motivations that help propel us forward towards our goals.
With a shift in perspective, you can make use of the fear impulse to move you forward. Use the fear of regret to propel you towards your goals. Imagine looking back at your life as an old man or woman, having not pursued your goals or dreams. How would you feel about living a life only half lived? Regret can be a positive emotion if you harness it to support your progress.
If you’re anxious about doing something you need to do, you instinctively know that you’re lacking in some department. You have a realisation at some level that you need to learn or acquire something that you don’t currently possess. Carl Jung once said, “That which we need the most will be found where we least want to look”.
Finding inspiration within your belief system will sustain your journey towards your goals.
We weave beliefs into stories that we tell ourselves, and which subsequently guide our behaviours and actions. If your story isn’t serving you, change it for a more inspiring story.
The move from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be), is a journey, a journey of transformation. It’s like any story you’ve read in a book or watched on a screen.
You are the hero of your own story, of your own journey. Like all the great fictional heroes, you have something you need to learn in order to make yourself a better version of who you currently are. You have to find the courage to face your fears and still move forward. Solve your own problems, face your own demons, and you will be stronger for it.
Pick a goal and plot a path forward that inspires and excites you, focus on that path, learn what needs to be learned so you improve as you journey forward. Embrace the challenges and solve the problems that block your path. Each win gives you the ammunition to fight the next battle, all the while you get stronger and more competent to deal with ever bigger problems. If you can pick a goal that also solves other people’s problems, you’re probably onto a winner.