The Importance of Knowing the ‘How’ to Achieving a Goal

Street sign that says Success

Recently some friends were talking about goals and the key to achieving them. They were really focused on the importance of will power, which is a common aspect for people to focus on. People often say that if you can’t lose weight or achieve other goals it’s due to a lack of willpower, you didn’t want the results badly enough. I pointed out to my friends that I disagree with this assessment and cited my personal experience, while anecdotal, as my evidence.

Street sign that says SuccessI had wanted to lose weight and get fit for a long time. I exercised regularly and for the most part ate healthy foods (no pop, no fast-food, etc.), but I couldn’t take off the weight. It wasn’t until I mentioned to my doctor that I was always hungry that she recommended I start using a micro-nutrient app and eat more protein during day, saving the bulk of my carbs for in the evening. Then my wife recommended that I try intervals for my workouts. Once I did these things, once I had some idea of how to deal with being always hungry and making my workouts more effective, the weight started to melt away. My desire to lose weight had been strong, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. The “how” is as important as the “why”.

This was also true about twelve years ago when I wanted to “get organized”. I wanted it badly. I was doing a masters degree, working full-time, and trying not to ignore my wife. I needed to be able to stay on top of school, work, personal life, paying bills, etc. It wasn’t until I stumbled across David Allen’s Getting Things Done that I found my “how”.

Yes, you need to have good reasons for achieving your goals, and the harder the goal, the stronger the reason will need to be, but the reason will only get you so far. Focusing on the important of willpower, makes those who don’t achieve their goals sound “weak”. Somebody can have all of the desire in the world, but not know the “how”, or the “how” might not actually exist (there are limitations in the world, some based upon physical abilities, some are systemic barriers, etc.).

Finding your “how”, and it has to be your “how” not mine or anyone else’s, is as equally important as establishing your “why”. You can want something intensely, you can have strong desire and willpower, but if you don’t know how to achieve your goals, you’re unlikely to get there. Here are some ideas for finding your “how”:

Ask experts or those who have had their own experiences with that goal (e.g. when I asked my doctor about dealing with my hunger)

Read / watch videos / listen to podcasts by experts or those who have had that experience (e.g. when I read David Allen’s book)

Test out potential “how” and give it a fair bit of time (do some research first to make sure it’s actually healthy, safe, and not a “get-rich-quick” scheme or “miracle” diet that is neither healthy or sustainable)

Be patient with yourself, much push yourself beyond what you’ve done in the past.

I started writing this blog and consulting to share what’s worked for me and to help other people find what might work for them. I don’t think it’s the tools that I use that are what I want people to get out of reading these posts or speaking with me, it’s the how I went about finding what works for me and what the results have been (inspiration can really help). See, again, the “how” is a key component.

If you want to speak with me about finding your “how”, contact me through this form.

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