The path to achieving goals is a journey. As much as I'd love to set out with a clear goal and a predetermined process to get me there, what I've learned from, well, basically every goal I've set out to achieve, is that the path to achieving goals will have many twists and turns along the way.
Whether we are talking about big goals, like growing a business, or smaller goals, like implementing an email campaign. Whether we are working on personal goals, like reducing stress or improving our finances, or professional goals, like getting a certification or putting a new system in place -
Achieving goals is not a straight line or step-by-step process. It is a journey.
This lesson/realization/mindset-shift has been deeply supportive on my entrepreneurial journey and I offer it to you, hoping it might feel supportive to you, as well.
The big ah-ha from my entrepreneurial journey
And as I reflected on both the bigger picture of my entrepreneurial journey and the experiences I’ve had working toward other goals and supporting people with their goals - I realized - we often set out to follow a program, a process, a “tried and true” plan to achieve something we desire, but our actual experience rarely reflects that explicit path.
Instead, it looks more like a journey - with highs and lows, starts and stops, things that come quickly, and things that don’t come at all. We encounter smooth roads and plenty of potholes and detours.
When we approach a goal only motivated by forward progress toward measurable milestones, it doesn’t take long before we start to experience frustration, disappointment, doubt, discouragement, (fill in the blank) when things don’t go as expected.
Approaching achieving goals as a journey
When, however, we lean deeply into the idea that goal achievement is a journey with a wide variety of wins and challenges, we can experience more well-being and higher motivation (and therefore, our likelihood of success) because we:
- Recognize that the challenges, wins, and emotional experiences accompanying them are typical and expected. This means we can allow ourselves to be with our experiences (in other words, feel our feelings ).
- Approach the journey with wonder, curiosity, and creativity because it is one big experiment with learning opportunities at every turn.
- Make quicker decisions because, instead of believing there’s one perfect next step, we know that whatever next step we take will lead us toward another next step, and the sooner we get going, the sooner we’ll see where the path leads.
- Reflect on each step of the journey to help us see the next step a little clearer, and approach the path with flexibility to create more ease along the way.
- Make a plan and take intentional steps (which I highly recommend) while also knowing there will be unexpected twists and turns that we can’t plan for ahead of time, so again, cue flexibility.
- Tune into our own inner knowing to make the decisions that feel best aligned with our skills, preferences, and personality.
Strategies to approach a goal as a journey
If that sounds like something you’d like to experience, I have a few steps/strategies I’ve learned along my entrepreneurial journey. Try them on and see how they fit you:
- Check in with your emotional wellbeing daily, especially when things aren't going as planned.
- Reflect on your journey with curiosity rather than judgment - looking back is a great way to gain insight on the way forward and can help us build grace and self-compassion.
- Let the outcomes of actions be information for the way forward, not evidence that it’s “not working.”
- Keep your vision front and center, and let that energize you and give insight into what you will try next.
- If something you try doesn’t yield the results you were hoping for, see if there are smaller bits that did work that you want to keep (I think this is where one might say, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”)
- Take action as if you’ll get the desired results. If you do - yay! If you don’t, you’ll know that the action needs adjusting.
- Trust your inner knowing about when to adjust and when to stay the course a little longer.
This insight really shaped up for me through my entrepreneurial journey and the work I do with my clients, but, as I look back over my life, I can see it was true all along.
So, regardless of what goal is currently feeling front and center for you, give some of these ideas a whirl and see what feels true/relevant/resonant for you.
Cheers to you and your beautiful, messy, unpredictable, exciting journey!