At our family reunion last year, my nephew did something he had never attempted before. By the time we had all sat down for brunch, my nephew had run a full marathon. Without any advanced planning, he had gotten up at 4:00 in the morning to run 26.2 miles. How was he able to accomplish this amazing feat of endurance? He had already been working on the disciplines he needed to complete that run.
My nephew is an athlete. He is a competitive weightlifter, fitness instructor and wellness coach. Without ever having the goal of running a marathon before, he was prepared to on that day because of his knowledge and experience.
You do not need to have a goal in mind to start working towards it. In fact, you’ll be in a much better position for reaching your goals, if you have already been working towards them. There are certain elements in goal attainment that are essential, both before and after you determine what you want.
In adapting James Allen’s classic book, As a Man Thinketh, I came to appreciate how this book provides a complete blueprint for success in any endeavor; whether worldly, spiritual, physical, or intellectual. And while many of this work’s tenets are familiar and have been expounded on in other writings since its original publication in 1902, a specifically unique aspect of As a Man Thinketh is how James Allen addresses what to do if you do not yet have a goal.
What Mr. Allen addresses is not the work of finding your passion and determining your goals. His recommendations are about taking action toward your goal, even if you are, “not prepared for the apprehension of a great purpose.”
5 Things You Can Work on Regardless of Your Goal
Like conditioning your body for fitness, the attributes for success can be developed through training; building strength upon strength until the day you reach the starting line. Continued development of these skills will then lead you toward anything you set your mind to accomplish. The following are based on James Allen’s original work that I had the joy of adapting in Think What You Want:
- Tend Your Thoughts – The guiding principle of As a Man Thinketh is built upon the belief that whatever we become and whatever we do, or do not accomplish depends entirely on the evolution of our thoughts. Our primary responsibility begins with nurturing only those thoughts that benefit us and our aspirations. Dissuade unwanted influences from polluting your mind.
- Damn Circumstances – Our next responsibility is to, not just our actions, but our circumstances. The more you accept your role in getting you into a situation, the better you will be able to find your way out. Reaching your goal requires that you find or create circumstances in which you will succeed.
- Act Accordingly – In physics, attraction is a result of motion—bodies moving together in the same direction attract. In order to attract more of what you need to reach your goals, you must align your thoughts with your actions. It is like texting and driving. You are a far better driver with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel than you are having either one of them on your phone.
- Enhance Performance – If you have a goal, then you are, hopefully, doing whatever you can to the best of your ability to reach it. That same work ethic is essential whether or not you know what your goals are. Whatever work or activities you’re engaged in, focus your thoughts on performing them brilliantly—no matter how insignificant they may appear.
- Invest – Whether it is time, money or relationships, invest all the resources you can into yourself and your development. The more you learn and experience the stronger you will grow and the faster you will reach your goal.
There Is No Time Like The Present
These disciplines aren’t just preparatory activities. They are foundation building and more importantly—momentum generating. The hardest law of physics to overcome is inertia; which is the principle that states, “Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest, bodies in motion stay in motion.”
An amazing thing happens when you start working on your goals. You discover more about them, about you and about what you need to do to get there. If you wait until you have your goals in mind or until you know your “why” or any other qualifier, you will only be missing opportunities. Renowned British musicologist Ernest Newman once said, “The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working. Beethoven, Wagner, Bach, and Mozart settled down day after day to the job in hand. They didn’t waste time waiting for inspiration.”
It is great to know what you want. But don’t let it stop you if you don’t. Get to work. You will find out what you need (and why) as you go.
Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Bruce Whitney (bruceleewhitney.com) draws from twenty years of experience in Change Management and the practice of Transformative Learning to help people improve their businesses and their lives. Mr. Whitney’s recent book, Think What You Want, is the first in the Champion Changeability series.