Look back on your life. How many projects have you started that never came to fruition?
You’ve probably long since forgotten many of them. Heck, I have a folder on my computer filled with unfinished books and manifestos. I’m the king of not following through on things that I get started.
And every single time that I quit something, it’s because I reach a point where there is a gap between what I’ve accomplished so far and what I want to achieve in the end.
In this post, I’m going to talk about how focusing on your end goal can blind you to what’s really important, and how to leverage the resources that you have right now to help you reach those goals faster than you’ve ever thought possible.
First, let’s talk about what it takes to make a dream come true.
Results are born out of a two part formula:
- Knowing exactly what you want the end result to look like, in vivid detail.
- Leveraging what you have right now to help you get there.
People fail when they forget one or the other. Either they forget to create a crystal clear picture of the end result, or they forget to leverage what they have here and now in order to get there.
I’ve written at length the importance of knowing what you want to get out of life. In the words of the great Lewis Carroll:
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
But knowing what you want to get out of life is just one part of the equation. Second, you need to know how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
You’ll never have a complete plan, for the best laid plans will change the moment that you put them into action. Success, instead, is a product of knowing the very next step and leveraging the resources that you have today in order to get there.
Let me give you a real life example of what I’m talking about.
Yesterday afternoon, I was having a discussion with a new friend.
Diane [name changed to protect the innocent] has a dream to transform her late grandmother’s home into a retreat center at which she plans to help change people’s lives through classes in personal and spiritual development.
The way she talks about the dream gets you wrapped up in the scene. She can describe–in vivid detail–every section of the house, from the hardwood floors to the colors of the walls. She sees people sharing stories around a campfire in the back yard, with classes taught indoors and goats and chickens running around the property.
This is perfect, because falling in love with the scene is the first step in making your dreams a reality.
But something was holding her back.
As with any life goal, a host of barriers stand in Diane’s way. Left unchecked, these barriers can be daunting.
For Diane, she would have to fix up the house, paint the rooms, find the goats and chickens, develop the classes, find people to attend… And that’s just the beginning.
When you break down a major project, you start to see many of the steps that you’re going to have to accomplish to make it a reality. This is paralyzing.
Seriously… How many projects have you created and abandoned because you thought, “Well, I have no idea how I’m going to make that happen.” My list is a mile long.
The same thing was going on with Diane. She has this burning desire to make something happen, but she can’t see a way to break the project into chunks.
Victory is born out of leveraging what you have today to propel you to where you want to be tomorrow.
Let me be really clear about something… While it’s imperative to have a detailed idea of what you want to accomplish, you will not accomplish it in one step. Like I shared last week, living your ideal life is a long series of tiny steps in the right direction.
And so the magic starts when you identify what you can do today to live out some part of that dream.
The single most important element in any project is to take the first step, and stressing over everything that needs to be done isn’t going to help make that happen.
Let go of the big picture to focus on what you can do now.
In my talks with Diane, I quickly learned that she was blinded by her vision for her grandmother’s house. She was focused on the end result of her labor. She focused on all of the work that needed to be done on the house in order to prepare a retreat center.
She lost sight of the fact that the true purpose for creating the house was to help other people by teaching them how to live happier, healthier lives.
So I advised Diane to take a first step and start living her passion today by starting to organize her classes now. Remember, your passion isn’t something that you do or make, it’s a game of crafting an experience for other human beings.
That tiny nudge was enough to shift her perspective.
Suddenly, the house was no longer a roadblock. She realized that she could do what she loved to do–teach people how to live healthier lives–even without the house.
Immediately, opportunities came to mind. She thought of people who could lead the classes. She thought of opportunities to find people who would like to attend. In an instant, she was on fire.
As she lives her passion, she will gather the resources to make her retreat center a reality. She will find people who will want to join her in achieving her goal, attracting into her life the people who believe in her mission and who will go out of their way to help her grow.
As long as you’re moving in the right direction and impacting people along the way, you’ll be living your dream with each and every step of the journey.
Success starts with leveraging the resources that you have now.
If you pursue success by striving for that which you don’t have, you will always be one step behind.
If you look around you, however, at that which you do have, and you apply your resources reaching your goal, you will find yourself moving in the right direction.
In Diane’s case, she was looking at the problem backwards–first, renovate the house, then start teaching classes. The end goal–that dream of opening a retreat center–was a roadblock that was holding her back from living her true purpose.
If you find yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon with no way across, take a look around. You never know who is standing by to help you build a bridge.