No matter where you are in your life- a student with big ambitions, a new graduate who’s entering the workforce, or a young professional who’s looking to take their career to the next level, there’s one challenge we all have: closing the gap between our current reality and our dreams.
Yet it’s entirely possible to go the distance if you do one key thing: set goals. Read on to find out how setting and tracking measurable goals can help you build the life you want to lead!
The gap between beginners and our dreams
The gap between where we are now and the dream jobs we want to land seems huge. We’re just beginners, wide-eyed and ready. How do we go after our hopes and dreams when all we have is potential? It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Do we need skills to gain experience or do we need experience to build skills? If you’re dealing with this anxious question, welcome to the club!
You are not alone, Mr. or Ms. VIP (Very Impatient Potential-ite). There’s no perfect solution and the secret is nobody really knows everything.
We want to be the best ever. We want to do impactful, meaningful work aligned with our values and ambitions. We want to follow, replicate and improve on the paths of our heroes. Amazing resources are everywhere. There’s beautiful advice from entrepreneurial go-getters, such as filmmakers Komal Minhas and Betty Xie on audacious dreaming and being patient. Still, even with an education and great advice, it can be hard to take that first step towards your goals.
The good news is that the solution to our worries is deviously simple. Forget the current distance between you and your dreams. Thinking about that pesky gap will only distract you with unnecessary worry. Instead of comparing your present self with the person you wish to become, reverse your thought process from fear-driven to confidence-driven. Think from the perspective of someone who already has their dream job: what would you have done to get there? Once you think like someone who has already achieved success, all you have to do is remember the tangible steps you took to bridge the gap. Then recreate the process. For example, what’s the first thing you would have done to get your dream job? You would have taken the most important step and applied.
“No problem can be solved on the same level of consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Thinking from a reverse perspective is helpful for a few reasons. For one thing, it is a form of positive visualization that can motivate you to work towards your goals. Secondly, by considering the many steps you need to take to get your dream job, you realize that achieving your goals didn’t happen overnight. There were false starts, mishaps and failures along the way, but you didn’t just sit at home and cry about it. You went out there, applied to possible jobs and networked using knowledge learned from the TalentEgg Incubator, your peers, and mentors. The path to success is non-linear. You knew that. You’ve already succeeded. You just haven’t realized it yet, but when you do, your dream job will be within your grasp.
“The key is to overcome your fear of what could have been. You worked on things you could change in the moment.”
Closing the gap: What weight loss taught me about goal-setting
I myself have closed the gap before. Reverse positive thinking and visualization were the two methods I used to lose 20 pounds in one summer and keep the weight off years later. Before that, I’d never been able to lose weight consistently. I’d be super gung-ho for a week or two and give up when results weren’t immediate.
It’s something we can all relate to, but in my case, I failed because I obsessed over the gap between how unfit I was and how fit I wanted to be. I beat myself up for not doing enough while getting frustrated when my efforts weren’t immediately visible. At the same time, I couldn’t stick to a health and fitness plan because I was never sure which method was the “best” one. I always second-guessed my abilities and gave up because nothing seemed to be working immediately.
Eventually, I tried again in a better frame of mind. I had nothing else to lose, so I played a game with myself, imagining what life would be like as a fitter person. I thought about the actions and characteristics I would embody as someone living a more active lifestyle. What would my habits be, and what would I do every day?
I realized that a fit person would probably eat quality foods, exercise more, worry less about fitness, and live their lives accordingly. A fit person would adjust according to their current ambitions but would actually go eat good food and then exercise. They wouldn’t spend all day on the computer researching what to do, then proceed to do nothing.
Eureka! All I had to do was live as if I was already fit. Do what a fit person would do without worrying if I was fit or not! I quit over-analyzing. I quit over-worrying and overthinking.
I started small. I exercised more, ate quality foods and limited quantities. I didn’t over-stress about the ultimate optimal super-effective way to get where I wanted. I just started walking. And most importantly, I stopped comparing myself with where I wanted to go. I put my head down and focused on the process one step at a time. Every time we invest in ourselves, put ourselves out there or work on our skills, the gap closes that much. There’s no need to focus on the gap. Focus on the next step ahead. Whenever I was lost or unsure, I’d imagine being at the finish line, and I’d recount my steps.
Then I’d keep going.