Raise Your Flag and Achieve Your Goal
In last month’s rant I gave you 3 guidelines for establishing goals in 2018. This month I am going to provide you with a framework to make it happen. It is important to understand that achieving a goal is never easy, and more often than not it is less than fun. However, it can be simple. It all begins with sacrifice.
Sacrifice: the willful forfeiture of something you value for an item or opportunity that, to you, holds greater value.
There can be no achieving of a goal without it. Fortunately, we are Americans. Sacrifice runs through our veins. American’s do it as others breath. Our founding fathers were willing to give up what they valued (their lives and prosperity) for what they valued more, the opportunity for self determination and liberty for all. From the very moment that the “Shot Heard Around the World” was fired on 18 Apr 1775, sacrifice became the bedrock upon which our great nation was built. Our storied history is steeped in those who were wiling to give it all for what they believed. From the abolitionist and suffrage movements, to the civil rights movement and the world wars in between, the fights in Asia and the current battles that preserve our freedom, Americans understand sacrifice. It wasn’t too many years ago that our grandparents were spending their afternoons gathering milkweed pods, saving rubber bands and tinfoil, and enduring the privations of food and fuel rationing in support of the war effort.
In addition to our amazing legacy of sacrifice we have the gym. Your station in life doesn’t matter when it comes to moving weight. We have discussed this previously. The bar doesn’t care who you are, what you did yesterday, or how much rest you got. It neither asks nor gives quarter. You must pay the price to lift the bar. The heavier it gets the larger the price it commands. The kind of price that can only be paid through sacrifice, and sweat equity a’int cheep.
“I am willing to sacrifice. How do I accomplish my goals?”
Step One: Honesty
The law of sacrifice demands that when picking a goal you must be honest with yourself. You must want the goal. Your spouse cant want it. Your doctor cant want it. The goal must be something you want; therefore it requires honesty. Very rarely do people select goals that they want. People often choose goals that will win them favor with their family, their friends, or their peers rather than what they most want themselves. This is because we are members of a society.
Being part of a society brings with it many benefits. Opportunities to flourish abound. Individual safety and security is drastically increased. Economic prosperity is guaranteed to those willing to work for it. Education and the humanities evolve and expand reaching ever more people. While membership indeed has its privileges it, too, comes at a price. There is the dismantling of one’s identity and individualism, the loss of personal liberties and freedoms, and the demands of conformity (self imposed or otherwise). These societal demands and expectations can weigh down upon us like wet blankets cooling our burning desire to achieve. Take stock of yourself, steel your spine, and take good hard look in the mirror. Is the person starring back at you the person you know you can be, or the person everyone else says you should be? Screw society - dream it, make it your goal, move on to the next step. The hell with what anyone else thinks.
Step Two: Make the Commitment.
(On 1 July I wrote a Rant called “Don’t be Afraid of the C word” You can read it here: https://www.theunleashed.us/single-post/2016/07/01/DON’T-BE-AFRAID-OF-THE-“C”-WORD It provides some good insight into commitment.)
The die has been cast, there is no going back; everything else must take a back seat to it. Commitment becomes your champion. It embodies the spirit of determination and dedication that drives one forward in the face of adversity. Commitment builds the discipline that is the foundation of the mental fortitude and toughness needed to stay focused even when there are countless other easier pursuits that promise to provide immediate gratification. Commitment is the virtue that makes us the one that inspires others to take action. What does it look like? The actionable personification of commitment is, when faced with a choice between pleasure and pain, choosing pain. (It is worth pointing out that, more often than not, the path towards achieving a goal is not fun.) Remember, you don't have to enjoy achieving the goal, you just have to want it.
Step Three: Create the Plan
The most critical resource for accomplishing your goal is time. Despite our best efforts to find a few more, we have only 24 hours in a day. According the Department of Labor, this is how most productive people spend their time. In a 24 hour period we spend:
7.6 hours sleeping
8.6 hours working
2.6 hours leisure and sports
1.1 hours household activities
1.1 hours eating and drinking
1.2 hours caring for others
1.8 hours driving, grooming, bathroom, etc
Your plan must carve free time out of your busy day. The 2-3 hours of leisure time is our high value target! You may be thinking, “I don’t have 2-3 hours per day where I am being leisurely.” Most would tend to agree with that. That is where your plan proves valuable. The 10 min you spent drinking a cup of coffee between loads of wash, the 15 min you spent on the pot scrolling through your phone, the 30 min of news you caught or the 1 hour “must watch” TV show, the 15 min of “me time” before the kids got up, and the 20 min after dinner just before you started wrangling up the kids to do their homework or you started prepping for the next day’s work. Each of those small chunks of dead space can be repurposed. Every time I condemned myself to completing the 10,000 KBS program I had to restructure my days. Less time had to be spent surfing the net for truck parts, episodes of survivor had to be DVR’d, more work needed to get done earlier in the day, and Sundays became fair game for training. As some readers may have found out first hand, bedtime tends to come a lot sooner when traveling the road of ten-thousand swings. The most important thing your plan will do is structure your days and your weeks so that you can buy yourself time. We may not be able to create a 26 hour day, but by creating a daily and weekly plan we can make the 24 hours we have move usable.
Step 4 - Create the Steps
Congratulations! You have carved out of your weekly schedule a few great chunks of time to focus on your goal. Here comes the exciting part, create your steps! Your possibilities are endless. The sky is the limit. Your time is your blank canvas; fill in the void with the tasks needed to get you to the finish line. Start small and get bigger. Take a macro view of your goal, and micro view of how you are going to get there. Achieve one small success upon which you can build another and ensure your steps are realistic and attainable. The most effective plans are those that are filled with not theoretical concepts and platitudes, but rather tangible, achievable, small steps. Success is contagious and highly motivating. Plan for success.
Like the Marines in WWII and the island hopping campaign in the Pacific theater, the steps you create should be congruent and complimentary and continually position you closer to achieving your goal. Our Devil Dogs moved from island to island, getting closer to being able to invade mainland Japan in order to deliver the death blow. From Gaudelcanal, to New Georgia, to Bougainville, and on to Tarawa, Betio, and Saipan, then to Guam and Tinian, and finally Iwo Jima and Okinawa; each hard fought battle was a crucial step towards achieving our goal of victory over Japan. Don’t forget to maintain your perspective. The majority of your steps are not going to be achieved easily. There is going to be pain and suffering, difficult choices to make, and others may cast aspersions of doubt. That is the reason you must check for progress.
Step 5 - Test Your Progress.
Benchmarks baby! It is all about the benchmarks. Along with your steps your plan needs to include deliberate "tests" in order to determine the amount and frequency of your progress. The number and frequency of your benchmarks is based on your goal and the duration and scope of your plan. Place them strategically along the way so that you are able to make timely adjustments to your steps without having to dramatically adjust your timeline. While every plan is unique, and there could be many good reasons to do otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to have monthly benchmarks. In addition to helping to keep you on track they serve a second important purpose. Hitting them is highly motivating and the sense of satisfaction you gain from hitting them will help keep you in the fight when you are left questioning the sanity of your goal.
18 February 1945 the Marines hit the beaches of Iwo Jima. Marine Corps brass planned on taking it by the end of the month. 2 days and a few thousand casualties later they fully realized their estimate was a bit short sighted. The Japanese were not on the island, but rather, they were in the island. Fighting out of a system of highly fortified and well camouflaged tunnels and caves the Japanese wagged a tough guerrilla warfare campaign. The Marines were in the fight of their lives. By day five our Leather Necks succeeded in cutting the island in half and made it to the base of Mt Suribachi. Captain Dave Severance, commander of Easy Company, was ordered to send a platoon to seize and occupy the crest of the mountain that dominated the island. 1st Lieutenant Schrier, Easy Company XO, volunteered to lead a 40-man combat patrol up the mountain. 8 hours later, and to the cheers and exultations of Marines and sailors across the island and those afloat off the coast, our Nation’s symbol was hoisted high. That now iconic moment was the proof of progress needed to forever turned the tide of the battle. Ensure you plan for a few Mount Suribachis of you own!
There it is, the way ahead to accomplish your goals. You may be wondering why we didn’t use the SMART framework, as discussed last month. The fact is, the SMART frame work looks great on paper, it briefs well, and makes people feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It is rather light on providing the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to accomplish the mission. We use Sacrifice, Honesty, Commitment, Create the Plan, Create the Steps, and Test your Progress to achieve our goals. The only thing left for you to do is, in the tradition of American greatness, pull the trigger.
LIVE - GET STRONG - WIN