Goals are essential to our happiness. Working towards a worthy goal ensures that we live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.
If so, why do we fail at most of our goals? Why do we struggle with motivation?
If our vision of the future is so compelling, if we know why we want it, if we know how to get it, then why do we struggle to do it?
I believe it all comes down to the fact that we never ask ourselves this simple question, a question that perhaps you don’t even want to think about, let alone answer.
What Price Do I Have to Pay in Order to Reach This Goal?
How much do I have to suffer in order to get what I want?
How much do I have to sacrifice? How much pain do I have to endure?
We often only want the reward, but we’re not willing to go through the trouble of deserving it. We want to reach the top of the mountain, but we’re not willing to risk the climb.
It’s a simple question, but how often do you ask it when it comes to the goals you pursue? Are you willing to suffer the consequences?
As they say, everybody wants to eat, but few are willing to hunt.
Everybody wants to find their passion, but few are willing to sacrifice in order to pursue their passions mercilessly.
Everybody wants to be rich, but few are willing to delay gratification and slowly build up multiple streams of income in order to accumulate wealth.
Everybody wants to have amazing relationships with their significant others, but few are willing to have the tough conversations, to go through the psychodrama required to build a strong relationship. And so they settle. They settle and ask themselves “What if?” for years and years and until the question loses all meaning.
We don’t get what we want because we are not willing to pay the price. We don’t even think about the struggle that is required of us. And thus our lives become a collection of “shoulds”.
“I should earn more.”
“I should care more.”
“I should go to the gym more often.”
It’s Not About Wanting It Enough
I used to think that someone who didn’t reach their goal didn’t want it enough. They just kind of wanted it.
But then I wanted something, and I still failed at it. I wanted to quit smoking. And I wanted it for a lot of valid reasons. And I was sick of feeling guilty because I couldn’t give up on this one bad habit.
It didn’t work. It just didn’t. I had a strong enough vision, I had a list of reasons why I should quit (that was all I was doing, reading about all the ways I’d be more healthy by quitting smoking). I couldn’t do it.
It was too painful, it took so much mental effort that I couldn’t focus on doing anything else but force myself to not smoke.
Wanting the benefits did not make it any less painful. Visualizing a healthier, happier me wasn’t doing the trick.
Because wanting something does not mean that we are willing to pay the price.
It took me a couple of attempts to quit smoking, because I had to make a mental list of all the struggles that I had to face, and I had to prepare myself for the mental and physical discomfort.
For instance, I knew that the first 72 hours would be hell. The first time I tried quitting, I slept most of the time, sweating and feeling dizzy. Once I knew that was the price I had to pay, it was almost effortless of me to go through those first three days without smoking.
If you find yourself never reaching your goals, maybe the issue is not that you don’t want it enough, maybe you never ask yourself, “Am I willing to suffer for it?”
That’s the hard question that matters, the question that determines whether or not you reach your goal.
How much pain are you willing to handle?
Answering this question honestly will let you know if you are going to reach your goal or not.
Falling in love with the result — the image of who you will become once you reach your goal — is easy, but falling in love with the struggle is what it takes to reach a worthwhile goal.
Turn Your Should Into a Must
Reaching a goal is not as easy as writing down a list of actionable steps.
People want an amazing physique. They know that this requires a few simple steps:
- Work out on a consistent basis.
- Be careful with what and how much you eat.
- Get enough sleep.
- Drink enough water.
It’s common sense, right?
Then why is it that so many people never reach this goal?
Because the first time you walk into a gym, and you lift some weights, you are not prepared for the pain and physical stress that you have to endure, you are not ready for the mental effort it takes to calculate and calibrate the food that you eat, or to plan your days in such a way that working out becomes a priority.
And that’s how you give up on your goal, and all you are left is a, “I should work out, but…”
The solution is simple. For every negative experience that we have to struggle with in order to reach a goal, we must come up with a strong enough reason to endure it:
- Working out is physically and mentally exhausting, but there are multiple benefits as well: increased focus, mental alertness, more energy, an increase in your self-esteem.
- Being careful with what you eat is tiresome, but doing this means that you don’t have to destroy yourself in the gym for two hours every day, and you also develop mental fortitude and discipline because of it.
We often don’t reach the top of the mountain because we’re not prepared for the pebble that gets stuck in our shoe.
The more you become aware of the struggles you can expect, the easier it is to turn your should into a must.
Wishful thinking becomes a plan of action, what should happen has to happen, because now you are mentally prepared to face and overcome any obstacles that might come your way.
Stop Daydreaming About the Victory and Focus on Enjoying the Struggle
Every worthwhile goal I ever accomplished demanded of me that I learn to enjoy the pain and struggle that are associated with it.
I am now enjoying my longest and most fulfilling relationship yet because I am willing to communicate my fears and insecurities, something that I’d often struggle to do before. I am also aware that expressing my negative emotions is worth it because I am building a stronger bond with my girlfriend.
What determines our success is not how well we deal with triumph, but how we manage to re-frame disaster to our advantage.
The quality of our lives is determined by our ability to walk through fire with a smile on our face.
Who you are is the result of the goals you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of consistently working out are the ones who are physically fit. People who enjoy the stress and uncertainty of being an entrepreneur are the ones who make it.
In order to reach your goal:
- Make a list of the struggles that you expect to have to overcome on your journey.
- For every item on the list, add a strong enough and compelling reason to make the struggle worth it.
- Now ask yourself if it’s still worth it. If you are willing to pay the price. Sometimes the answer will be no.
Our struggles, not our goals, determine our success in life. So choose goals you are willing to struggle and suffer for.