“If you’ve ever felt a strange sense of sadness or alienation, there’s a potential way out of the confusion–just shift this feeling to a sense of purpose. It’s not all about happiness, although happiness often results from doing something you love. Instead, it’s about challenge and fulfillment, finding the perfect combination of striving and achievement that comes from accomplishing a big goal. -Chris Guillebeau”
You know the feeling. You are having an “off week”.
You don’t enjoy your job, you are lazy when you get home and you are borderline depressed.
But it’s not exactly depression.
You are still happy about some things but you just have this nagging sense of discontent and uneasiness.
I often feel this struggle while working from home. Some days are great, other days are bland and boring.
The quote above by Chris Guillebeau in “The Happiness Of Pursuit” shows an interesting method for shedding that feeling of negativity.
The book is excellent for anyone needing a little inspiration and wants to consider their unique calling in life.
Chris suggests that in order to break out of the unhappiness and discontent that comes with life, we should have a big goal ahead of us.
You should always have a goal planned each month
It really does work.
It’s basic human psychology for us to get excited about something in the near future.
If you plan a really big goal, it will be worth it, but it can take some time and you won’t get the extra benefit of lifting your spirits in the short term.
By all means, have a really big goal. But have a monthly goal as well.
Keep yourself accountable
I use a Sunset Calendar (which is going away soon), but you can use another app or Google Calendar.
Find a week each month (could be the first, middle, or last) and write down a small goal you want to acheive.
Feeling uninspired and uncreative? Here is a small list to help.
- Book a weekend trip to somewhere you have never heard of.
- Write 5 thank you cards to someone who recently impacted your life.
- Go on a hike somewhere you have never been.
- Buy a book and spend an entire weekend reading it.
- Find a documentary on a subject you know nothing about.
- Learn about a new religion that you know nothing about.
- Research volunteer organizations in your neighborhood. Find a cause you strongly agree with.
Write that down on your calendar or wherever you keep things organized.
Now go back 1 week before it’s due and set a reminder.
Do the same thing for the week before that.
Set reminders to always be working towards your goal.
Why having small goals matter
As humans we love to see results fast. When we stack wins we feel a sense of improvement. If you feel stuck in your path to personal growth and development, try to win with small, consistent goals. Incremental changes in your behavior and mood will lift your spirits and encourage you to keep striving towards your goals.
In addition, when you prove to yourself that you can reach your goals you are more willing to set bigger goals.
When was the last time you congratulated yourself on accomplishing a goal? If you are like me, chances are you haven’t spent enough time thinking about your accomplishments.
Being smart about your goals
We aren’t talking about SMART goals here, but using tools and resources to help guide us towards completing our goal.
Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.Guy Kawasaki
It’s not enough to think of a goal, or even tell someone about the goal.
At the end of the day you have to hold yourself accountable.
And we all know how challenging that can be.
Heck a small goal could be holding yourself accountable for a week.
Let’s use the waterfall method.
First let’s consider how a waterfall will help us accomplish our goals.
At the top of a waterfall is a source of water. These are all the ideas, dreams, desires, and everything else that we want to accomplish. They are sitting there in a pool waiting for something to happen.
Our desire to hold ourselves accountable and shift our discontent and unhappiness to something more purpose driven is gravity.
Once gravity starts pulling our goals from the pool of ideas, they approach the top of the waterfall.
First one drop of water goes over.
And before long there is a steady stream of water falling and creating a beautiful display of nature.
In order for us to get in a habit we need small goals to be the drops of water that create our cascading effect.
A practical example of being smart about our goals
I want to read Chris Guillebeau’s book the Happiness of Pursuit.
I want to do it in the month of June.
I see there are 263 pages in the book. There are 5 weeks in June. I need to average 50ish pages a week to complete my goal.
I created a calendar reminder for the end of the month and for each week, reminding me to read 50 pages.
Each week I will get an email reminding me of my goal (holding me accountable).
Once I knock out the first 100 pages, the waterfall will be started and I will want the rest of the pool to follow the first two weeks, thus completing the waterfall.
Your turn. Give it a try. Find a small goal, plan out the steps to get to your goal, and see if it doesn’t remove your feeling of alienation and unhappiness.