I have a couple of friends that I’ve known for years. Jeff and Paul are both millennials and each have a unique worldview. When I talk with them, I can usually see the future play out. Jeff is a positive guy. He tends to have an optimistic view of life and always has some type of exciting project going on. I enjoy talking with him because he is helpful and insightful. He is doing many of the things I’d like to do in the future.
Paul, on the other hand, is a nice guy, but when I sit down with him, his life seems somewhat tragic. He has a reasonably good job, but he is caught up in a cycle of negativity. Things are always going bad on the job. Life’s not fair. It’s always someone else’s fault. Yet as rotten as things are, he doesn’t really want to change. Month after month things stay the same. I’ve often wondered why he doesn’t change jobs, but he continues slogging through his daily routine, frustrated with the status quo.
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to figure out where these guys will be a year or two from now.
It really comes down to a simple fact…
Jeff has set some goals in writing, and is actively pursuing them.
Paul has no concrete goals and is somehow hoping that life will get better.
It’s really easy to see what the future holds…
It really comes down to the pictures below…
Jeff has created a succession of attainable goals, year after year, with ladder rungs spaced so he is able to climb them. Paul’s ladder has a broken rung. It’s not his fault, and certainly not fair, but he is stuck. He can’t go up, so he stays where he is, instead of fixing things or finding another ladder.
I’ve been on a ladder like Paul’s many times in my life. The broken rung is certainly an obstacle. Many times I’ve stayed way too long on a rung unable to climb further, because of pride or anger. It’s only when I’ve repaired the rung, or found a different ladder altogether that I’ve been able to move forward.
A dictionary definition of Success is listed as completing a worthwhile plan or goal.
While setting goals is the first step towards success, it’s not always clear sailing. To create a legacy of success, it’s helpful to look at some of the common pitfalls.
The Ladder to Success
1. Multiple Goals: As we can see from the ladder on the left above, having multiple goals in the same area of life, at the same time, can quickly derail us. We can make initial progress, but soon competing demands will break the ladder apart. It’s best to say no to one and focus on the other. Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, is a helpful guide on the subject.
2. Gap In Knowledge or Skills: Looking at the ladder on the right above, we can see a major goal that has gaps. These are usually spaces in our knowledge or skills and require that we learn something new or bring someone else in with the experience and knowledge that we need. The solution is to spend time and money on a solution or find a different ladder. Goals with huge gaps that are unattainable often lead to frustration and ultimately… failure.
3. Enjoy the Journey: While setting goals is a major key to success, it’s easy to get burnt or stressed out if we constantly focus on the top step all the time. The secret to goal setting, is to realize it is a journey and focus on one rung at a time. Breaking a large goal up into action steps and then focusing on that single step will free us to concentrate on a single task, and be able to successfully complete smaller milestones along the way.
Goal Setting Solutions
To set goals for yourself, you might find my goal setting toolkit to be helpful. You can easily plan out short and long term goals and keep them top of mind.
If you really want to create a legacy of success, I recommend Michael Hyatt’s extensive Best Year Ever Course. It might be easier than you think to turn things around. Especially after you watch his video outlining the 5 characteristics of those who get what they want.
Overall: Don’t let a broken rung, negative attitude or wobbly ladder stop you on your journey to success.
Check out Jeff’s website for some of his positive insights.