A goal is where you want to go; a process is how you get there. A goal remains something you want to make happen until you create a process to achieve it. The goal is the destination, the process is the map. Without a good map you may never arrive at your destination. If you have a goal without a process you have lots of company. Many people dream of becoming a rock star, an author, or a titan of Wall St., or, on a personal level, to get healthier, lose weight, exercise, or eat better. Many of us make goals but how many of us stick with it long enough to attain our goal?
First, you can state a goal or our desire to attain it – living the life of a rock star or eating healthier – but not conceptualize of the amount of work required to achieve it. Sometimes most of the work to achieve a lifestyle is hidden below the surface. You fail to see the hours of practice required to master an instrument or the effort it takes to eat healthier. Secondly, thinking of yourself as someone that will achieve your goal rather than the person you were before you decided to pursue your goal, can change your self-image. Think of yourself as a professional musician, not as a person learning to play a song or two, or a healthy person rather than a person exercising just to lose some weight. Once you make that change, you can then ask yourself, what would a pro musician do?
The process is essential. It becomes our map of how we get from A to B. If you don’t have experience putting together a map, then seek the help of a qualified person. Find a teacher or someone who has achieved what you want to achieve and start asking questions. Then break the process down in a logical progression of steps or tasks. You want to identify things you can do daily that will give you incremental progress towards your goal. Then make the tasks into habits you can fit into your schedule 4 or 5 times a week.
Creating habits helps to remove willpower from the equation and replaces it with something as automatic as brushing your teeth. Eating healthy and buying healthy foods to keep around the house can become a habit. Only having healthy food around the house removes the temptation of binging on unhealthy snacks. If you do have an unplanned snack, it will be healthy. Once you have built good habits based on your new way of seeing yourself, you have created a positive feedback loop. You now have all the incentive you need to continue your journey and the only willpower you used was to create the habit.
Goals are really important. Big picture goals motivate us, get us out of bed, and energize us. But as the years pass and we find ourselves no further along the path that we thought we’d be traveling we can become jaded. We feel our willpower waning. We can either assign our lifelong dream to the junk pile of our life or give it the fair chance that we never really gave it by creating a map. Start to formulate a plan, with action steps, and then build those action steps into habits. Soon you’ll be on the road to realizing your dream.
Bottom Line: Without a good map it’s difficult to arrive at your destination.