The Words of the Portelance Family

Goals Shape the Present, not the Future

Roddy Portelance
October 8, 2011

You have a goal you've been putting off.

You want to do it someday.

You've been meaning to take real action on it, but could use more motivation.

Let it go. It's a bad goal.

If it was a great goal, you would have jumped into action already. You wouldn't wait. Nothing would stop you.

Goals are not to improve the future. The future doesn't really exist. It's only in our imagination. All that really exists is the present moment, and what you do in it.

Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment.

A bad goal makes you say, "I want to do that someday." A great goal makes you take action immediately.

A bad goal is foggy, vague, and distant.

A great goal is so clear, specific, and close you can almost touch it. (This is crucial to keep you going.)

A bad goal makes you say, "I'm not sure how to start."

With a great goal, you know exactly what needs to be done next. (Even if just a phone call.)

A bad goal makes you say, "Let me sleep on it."

A great goal makes you say, "I can't sleep! I was up until 2 doing this, then got up at 7 to do it some more."

A bad goal makes you say, "That'd be nice."

A great goal makes you say, "Oh my god! Yes! That would be amazing! I can't wait!"

A bad goal makes you say, "I'll do it as soon as I do this other stuff."

A great goal is so interesting and important that you can't be distracted.

Some goals seem great. They impress your friends ("I'm going to bike across India"), satisfy an old wish ("I want to go into space"), or are good for you ("I'm going to lose 30 pounds"). But unless it changes your actions, right now, it's not a great goal. Find another variation that excites you.

Lastly, remember that the daily actions have to be exciting, too. "Speak fluent Italian" may sound nice, but "take Italian lessons an hour a day for two years" has to excite you just as much, or you'll never stick with it. 

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