When we set goals, we identify a future state that we want to bring into existence. Whether that is a slimmer waistline, a healthier bank account, or a more fulfilling job. This vision for the future provides us hope, and the strength to overcome difficulties. But even knowing where we want to reach, often times we fall short of our stated goals. Why? What is holding us back from achieving our dreams?
The Achievement Problem
When setting goals, it is important to have a clear vision of the future. But equally as important, we have to recognize where we are right now. A goal is the way to bridge the gap between your current state and your future state. The achievement problem often arises when the bridge simply isn’t long enough to span the gap, often because our current reality is distorted. In these cases, we assume we are further ahead than we actually are, and after the first few weeks or months of effort we become discouraged. Our reality catches us to where we thought we were starting from, but you don’t feel any closer to your goal.
For example, our health is a common goal that many of us set. We plan to shed those extra 5 (or 15) pounds. And so we begin, our current state is 5 pounds heavier than our goal state. After a few weeks at the gym, sure you feel a little stronger, but the scale hasn’t moved an inch. Maybe the gym just isn’t for you? It sure is a lot of work, and for what? Where are the results?
In reality, that gym has made you stronger. And your muscles are developing, but that doesn’t immediately move the needle on the weight scale. The true current state is more complicated than a simple number. It takes into consideration movement in your daily routine, your diet, your sleep schedule. All of these factors contribute to those extra 5. And all those factors need to be considered when looking at your current state.
The Gap Analysis
To effectively plan for achievement, you need to consider all of the factors impacting your current state, and all of the limiting factors that need to be overcome to reach your desired state. The difference here is often a wider chasm to bridge than you first recognize.
Identifying where you are, where you truly are, and where you want to be is called the Gap Analysis. The objective is to list out where you are right now, and everything that is holding you back from achieving more. This won’t be easy, or comfortable, but it is necessary if you want to overcome your obstacles.
With some deeper thought, you can conduct your own gap analysis, understanding where all the obstacles are that hold you back from achievement. Once you’ve identified the obstacles, only then are you ready to develop an action plan to bring your goals to fruition.
Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving More
What is holding you back from achieving more? The obstacles that you don’t consider are often what trip you up. Spend some time performing a thorough Gap analysis, and you will have the list of challenges to overcome. Quite often simply recognizing these challenges exist is enough to build counter measures, to make small adjustments to succeed.
In our gym example, this could be a more comprehensive plan that involves an extra 30 minutes of sleep a night, a couple more glasses of water during the day, and a 30-minute walk at lunch. These minor changes build up over time, and magnify the efforts that you put in at the gym. Soon enough, those pesky 5 pounds were last years’ problem.
Where are you right now? What is the gap between your current state and your goal state? Once you know the gaps, you can more easily build the right bridge, carrying you up, over, and to the brighter world on the other side.