You can't turn around these days without smacking(or wanting to smack) someone who tells you to never lose sight of your goals. "Gotta keep your eye on the goal!" "You'll never succeed unless you stay focused on the goal!" Blah, blah, blah!
Now of course it all seems like great advice, right? And I'll be the first to say that you need to have concrete goals if you want to succeed. But I see tons of people with great goals, who give up long before they ever reach them. I could just paint with a broad brush and say it's because these people don't have what it takes or they lost sight of their goals(and for a few, that's true), but I think there's something else going on.
We know that any goals capable of any significant change are going to take some time to achieve. That's fairly obvious. Big results in life take time and effort, otherwise everyone would be millionaires on perpetual vacation, right?
So what's really going on? Us humans are entirely capable of setting long-term goals, writing them down, and visualizing them. No problem there! But we also get frustrated when we don't achieve them. We start to doubt whether the path we're on will actually reach the result we want. The setbacks along the way convince us that it's not the right time to pursue the goal. And on, and on we go. Doubt, fear, and excuses cloud our judgement along the way, and paralyze us from taking the next necessary step. We never lost sight of the goal though! We can still see it, and want it with everything we have. So what's the solution?
What we really need to focus on, instead of the end result, is the progress along the way. Instead of just setting end goals, we have to create an action plan of how we're going to get from point A to point B. I'm not just talking about a set of smaller goals(results-focused), but rather about creating a series of actions. These are actions we're going to take regardless of their results. We know when we plan that those actions will lead to our end result, but we need to have that plan in place to carry us through all the setbacks along the way.
It's no different than when I go cycling. I set a destination before I take off, and figure out what roads I'm going to take to get there. But when I'm on the road, I'm not visualizing the destination. I'm not dreaming of the triumph of reaching the top of that mountain. I'm cranking through one revolution at a time, looking for the next turn. That's it! Before I know it, I'm at my destination!
When the feelings of excitement about a goal subside, as they inevitably will, a plan will keep you putting one foot in front of the other until the feelings return, or the goal is reached. Sometimes that's all we need to focus on: putting one foot in front of the other.
As trite as it sounds, here's the bottom line. Set the goal, create the plan, and execute the plan.