Turning Dreams Into Actionable Habits and Completed Goals

We continuously dream, we set goals and then we fail! According to a study of the University of Scranton, a staggering 92 percent of people that set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them. I’ve been there and you have been there.

Last week, I had knee surgery and – laying on the hospital bed – an old dream of mine surfaced and got stronger and stronger. After handful of painkillers and a few days “post-OP”, I’m still determined even though I am having a hard time walking without the crutches, putting me quite far from the dream.

Back in 2001, I was sitting on the beach in Northern Florida, the Ironman Triathlon challenge, one of the toughest competition sports, had just started and I looked out to hundreds of people who jumped into to the galm Gulf of Mexico to swim 2.4 miles (3.86 km), bike 112 miles (180.25 km) to finish the sunny day with a full marathon of 26.22 miles (42.20 km). I was impressed by the top contenders and their performance, naturally. What really sparked my admiration, however, were people who were not racing for the top spots, but for the fun of it, racing with themselves, to finish the long endurance race at all. People who were not in it to be faster than anyone else, but just to do it, to prove that it can be done. I wanted to be part of that vibe, but never made any plans toward it and pretty much forgot it all.

Now, on the cozy hospital bed, all drugged up, I sensed this deep longing. This is what I want to do and something that I will be working towards – once my knee gets better and it is strong enough to start my practice in the pool. It has been years since I swam more than a full kilometer out in open water. Close to 4 km sounds frightening. The truth is, I have never even tried to ride a racing bike or run a full marathon. But no more excuses. I want to do it and I have the willpower. Or do I? It could be another promise, another goal with no real result.

Of course I am well aware that there are unknown variables in the formula. Some I might not have any control over, e.g. how well the surgery exactly went. Other things could change, meaning there is a good amount of luck required to make it all happen. But what is luck? One of my favorite stoics, Seneca, is credited with saying that luck is what happens when preparation meets an opportunity.

track and field

The question is how to stay on that planned path and make your big goal happen.

There is great power in writing down your goals, sharing them and continually reporting on them.

Research by Dr. Gail Matthews, professor of psychology at the Dominican University of California, found that people are 39.5 percent more likely to achieve their goals if they wrote them down. But there’s more. Individuals who wrote down their goals and sent their progress to friends, mentors, coaches, partners etc. were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve these goals.

Writing your goals down in your notebook, blog post etc. significantly increases the odds of success in your favor, but providing ongoing updates almost doubles the chances of success.

Here I am sharing my big and challenging goal for 2018: to compete in a full Ironman Triathlon in August 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia. If you follow me for example on Instagram, you will soon be seeing posts related to this big goal. I will also keep a few of my friends updated bi-weekly on the progress. Hopefully I can even get some of them to join me.

Remember! Even if you write your goals down, don’t keep them to yourself. It sounds harsh, but it seems that the promises we make to ourselves, don’t stick and make it to a completed goal as well as the ones we share with others.

So write it down, what you are passionate about and see purpose in, share it, send updates to friends, stay determined and you will have a much higher success rate than those who keep their goals to themselves!


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