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Setting goals helps you experience happiness, strive for something greater, and can add to your fulfillment. But setting goals can also make you miserable, fill you with darkness, and sabotage your life. 

Why does this happen? 

When you set goals that are too big, you lose sight of all the small joys in your life right now. The more overwhelming your goals are, the more you feel like a failure. And even if you reach your goals, you realize you’re still not happy. Because reaching your goals makes you happy for 90 seconds. That’s it.

The solution? 

Using goals as your “north star.” They help guide your actions, but you don't have to sacrifice your happiness in the moment. 

In this episode, you’ll discover a new approach to setting goals that boosts your happiness and likelihood you’ll achieve them. 

Listen to the episode now and see how “BS Goals” can transform your life. 

Show highlights include:

  • How to rewire your brain around goals so they don’t fill you with misery if you fall short (1:17) 
  • The “Lower Your Gaze” trick that transforms your biggest goals into easy, actionable steps (2:20) 
  • Why setting small, attainable goals helps you reach your big, overwhelming goals faster (4:44) 
  • The “First Step” strategy for keeping your motivation tank full when attacking your goals (6:48) 
  • The “BS Goals” system for conquering your goals (without sacrificing your happiness along the way) (10:35) 
  • How hyperfocusing on distant goals makes your life dark and gloomy in the present (even if these are big, life-altering goals) (16:18) 

If you want to radically change how much control you have over your emotions in as little as 20 days, you can go to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and sign up for the Choose Your Own Emotion course. 

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/ and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, Is That Even Possible?: The Nuts and Bolts of Energy Healing for the Curious, Wary, and Totally Bewildered, you can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/That-Even-Possible-Healing-Bewildered/dp/1512336041

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F-word here: Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same—and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.

Bob: All right, welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast. Last time we talked about following. It was a good Bible story. Today I want to change gears and talk about something. That one was around really setting yourself free to go after the thing that you care most about. This time I want to talk about goals. This is a little more down to earth, a little more practical, in some ways, because it's everywhere. Do you know people who have goals? Do you have goals? [01:01.8]

It's all over the place and there are a lot of churches out there that push it. There are a lot of self-help books that push goals. Often, have you noticed that goals sometimes are inspiring and then sometimes are depressing, and then sometimes they're in between and sometimes they're not great? What I'd like to do is give you a way of thinking about goals that will free you from a lot of the pain of goals and allow you to step forward.

Years ago, there's a mountain in the middle of the kind of Phoenix area called Camelback Mountain and it's a pretty popular one with hikers. It takes 45 minutes or so to hike up, for me, but some people run up and down it twice in a day. I'm not that kind of person or haven't been, but it's nice, because when you get up to the top, you can look around and you can actually see the sprawl of the city from inside the city and not from the distance, so it's kind of a cool little thing. [01:53.3]

I got up to the top of Camelback Mountain one fine morning. I think it was in the spring and before I got super-hot, and I was looking out around and there are mountains kind of all around the area in the Phoenix area, if you haven't been there. There are the White Mountains off to the southeast. There's obviously a mountain in the middle of town, right? There are some mountains off to the straight up south and South Mountain, and so there are mountains kind of all around that arena.

I was looking off and I realized, I looked over and I realized, Oh my gosh, those are the White Mountains. Wow. If I wanted to go there from here, it would be impossible because I could not make a straight shot there. I couldn't take a straight line. I would have to be able to walk on air. I can't make that leap from here. It's too far away. It just felt like a fantasy. I'm like, It's cool, but that's cool.

I low and I saw down to the foothills of the White Mountains. They're quite a few miles off away from the city. I don't know, it's 50 miles away or something like that, so it's some distance and I couldn't see much. It’s vague, and I was like, Ah, I don't know, I could maybe make it there, but I don't know how far that is. I don't know what kind of provisions I'd need. I don't know if there are rattlesnakes I'd have to fight off or bandits or … I-I-I don't know. [03:11.7]

Then I lowered my gaze further and then I saw the edge of town and I was like, That one, I could probably make it. It would probably take me all day. It'd be definitely quite a few hours of walking, but I could probably make it there. I don't know how far it is really and I'd probably need some water and provisions and stuff.

But there was a feeling changing in me as I lowered my gaze down and that feeling continued to build inside me. I was like, Okay, cool. I looked down to the base of Camelback and I could see the cars there and stuff and they were small, but I was like, Oh, I definitely know I could make it there. It's an hour or 45 minutes from where I was looking, or something like that, and so I could definitely make it there, no big deal.
I looked down further and I saw the next peak down and I was like, Oh, hey. yeah, that's a 10-minute walk or something, I could definitely make that. Then I looked down further and I saw a rock right in front of me and I was like, Oh, that's easy and I actually went there. [04:04.2]

Of all of the different places that I rested my gaze, only one of them inspired action. All of the others inspired a feeling in me, first from fantasy, then to kind of mild fantasy, not as exciting because you would see the foothills of the mountain instead of the mountain itself, and then to possibility and then to bigger possibility and to then to certain possibility, then to actual action.

It had to do with where my gaze was set. It didn't have anything to do with the nature of the goal. My action came as a direct result of perceiving something that was possible for me to do in that moment.

You see, too often, when I was younger, I would set these big goals because everybody told me I needed to have a goal and so I'd make up these big things, how we're going to change the world, other than the fact that you do change the world, literally, every time you take a breath or toot or something. [05:00.0]

When we're talking about changing the world, what we really mean is some big, massive endeavor that's vague is all heck, and so it feels like it's super-inspiring, but I don't know what to do, so I don't do anything and I just kind of sit here dreaming about it.

It wasn't specific enough, but it felt huge and I never went anywhere with these goals, and often I was looking so far off into the distance, even when it's like, Yeah, I could get to the edge of town, but how? It’s a long distance. I don't know if I really want to do that. I would set these goals that were so big that they were disheartening because they had 20 steps in it, and when I would get excited about these goals, it felt I had to go from Step 1 to 20 immediately and that's impossible. By very definition, Step 20 comes after 19 other steps, and yet if I made the goal in such a way that it felt like that was supposed to be Step 1, I was immediately disheartened and I couldn't do it.

See, look around you right now. Where are you in relation to the door? Now, maybe you're in the car listening to this, so the door is next to you. But if I said in one step, you need to be outside of the car on the pavement or, if you're in a room, in one step, you need to be outside of that room in the hallway, how many of you would actually be able to do that in one step? [06:14.8]

That means get off your butt now. Walk to the door if you're not in a car. Unbuckle. Open the door. Get out. You don't have to close the door necessarily, and then stand on the pavement. You might have to stop the car. There are a number of steps, and if I say, right now, you're supposed to do this right now, be on the pavement, then you have to pull some kind of Harry Potter move out of your hat to make that happen. Not going to happen. You would just blow it off. It's like, yeah, whatever.

But how often do you do that with your goals? You set goals for yourself that are so freaking big—and by “big”, I mean anything that's requiring you to do more than Step 1. You set goals for yourself that are so freaking big that it's impossible to do it, and so that you end up wondering why you never get them done or why it takes forever because you're constantly having to overcome this lack of motivation. [07:07.3]

Motivation is a function of seeing things that can be done and doing them. You're automatically motivated when you can just see it's right there. It's only when it's not in front of you that you lose all motivation. Because your body and brain are smarter than you give them credit for, they know it's not possible to do it in one step. Okay?

The first thing I want you to note about is that, when you set up your goals, they need to be different than your steps. You need to recognize that the goal is going to be a direction that you want to travel. For instance, if I didn't want to go toward the White Mountains, then the step in that direction wouldn't make any sense. If I wanted to go toward the South Mountain, then stepping to the rock in front of me on the way, on the way to the White Mountains, would've been a completely wrong move. Only in having a direction that I want to travel does the first step become clear. [08:01.8]

Winston Churchill sort of said, I heard once or several times, that plans are useless, but the act of planning is invaluable. See, your plans, almost invariably, you take one step and then they all fall apart and you have to adapt and change and whatnot. This is what the Navy SEALS do with their OODA loop, “observe, orient, decide, act.”

Once you've taken the action, then look again. All right, now what's next? Reorient toward the goal. Then decide what you're going to do first step, Step 1, and then take Step 1, cool, and then make sure you're still pointed in the right direction. Go, go, go, and you fail your way to success they say, because everything falls apart, because you can't plan for everything.

If you take the end goal, not as your goal that you're working toward, but simply as the direction you're traveling, then each step along the way can become a goal achieved, an experience that you enjoy, and now you get to have joy on the journey of your choice, instead of “I only get to have joy when I achieve my goals.” [09:03.0]

Your goal is just the direction you're traveling—just that—and the steps that you take, even the goals that you make, need to be more specific than change the world, if you can make them more specific. That one, you can, for sure. For instance, I would go to church and someone would be like, We need to be nice to our neighbors. Can you commit here to being nice?

When I was younger, I'd be like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I'd always felt like, Okay, yeah, but then I'd go around not doing anything, until I got to the point where I was like, I can't commit to being nice because I don't know what you mean by it.

Do you mean every person that is around, I am supposed to go up to them and have deep conversations with them and listen to what they have to say, even if it's pointless, meaningless or not related to what it is that I have to get done in life? I can't commit to that. I don't even know if that's wise.

But if you're saying, Hey, will you go home and shovel your neighbor’s walk today, that I can commit to because I’ve got the time and I’ve got the shovel and she needs help. That's easy enough. [10:00.8]

If you or someone you know is looking to drop the F-bomb of “Freedom” in their life—whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles—but they just don’t know how or want some help doing it, head on over to TheFreedomSpecialist.com/FeelBetterNow and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call, so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for.

I realized that what I needed to do was to be more clear on how I defined what the goals were and what direction I was traveling. I call this little thing “BS3”—meaning “BS x S x S”. I like it because then I get to use the phrase BS. These are all BS goals, and it's so much BS that it's cubed, okay.

Big. It's got to be big enough that it means something to you. If you want to go in a direction, why would you go in a direction that's not meaningful for you? So, it’s got to be big enough that it actually means something for you, if you want some level of excitement or motivation. [11:09.2]

Now, that big enough can be just intrigue, just curiosity. That's it. There's an incredible story about a man named Nandana Yogi. He wasn't a Yogi actually. He was a great Sage who lived in India, but at the time of the story, he wasn't. He was just a peasant, kind of an indenture servant slave to this landlord who constantly had him going all the time.

But from the time of his youth, this farmer had been so intrigued about Shiva himself as a god figure, wanted to know who this god was desperately, was just intrigued by it. There was a temple nearby and he wanted to just go see this temple.

Any number of times, he went up to the landowner and he told him, he asked him for the day so that he could do that, and the landowner was like, No, no, no, you can't do this. You've got these things to plant, these things to weed, this to water, these things to take care of, your family and all. There's too much stuff to do. You can't do it. [12:03.5]

Any number of times he asks and every single time he gets rejected, but still this intrigue lives inside of him, this desire to go and it's just that. “I just want to go see the temple.” That's it. It's a pretty simple task, maybe insurmountable given all the things, but one day. It's just reverberating in him, a different kind of energy, a different kind of dignity, a different kind of resolve that says, “This is something I just have to do.”

He goes and asks and, for some reason, because the landowner sees him in this way, he sort of caves, and he says, “Look, I will finish all the chores, all the stuff I have to do before I have to go, and then I’ll come right back. It'll just be a day's trip.” The landowner is like, Fine, you go, but then he realizes what he has done and he is like, But before you go, you need to plow all the 40 acres. It does have to be done before you head off.
The farmer isn't dumb enough to even try plowing all 40 acres by himself, all night long. He just goes sitting in this intrigue. His whole life, he had heard that the gods could work miracles in the lives of people and all this other stuff and he's just reverberating in this new resolve that he has that “Tomorrow, I'm going to go to the temple and I'm going to see this thing.” [13:10.7]

He wakes up in the morning and there's a big hullabaloo bullet because all 40 acres had been plowed. They said that Shiva had done it in the night. All of them had been plowed where none of them had been plowed before. People were bowing down to him, giving him a staff, giving him things, telling him to go. The landowner came and talked to him, and brought his family and said, “Go, go, you must go.”

He goes to the temple and there's a big statue in front of it of a bull they often have. It’s Nandi. It's in the way. He can't see inside the temple. Now, he's of a certain caste. He's not allowed to enter a Brahmin temple. He just wants to see what's inside. It's just an intrigue. He doesn't know the next step.

As the story goes, the entire huge figurine statue moves over. This is many tons of weight moves and he sees it, and to this day, nobody knows his name. They just called him the tiller, right, or Nandana is what he was called. But his resolve wasn't anything spectacular. It wasn't like he had some divine mission or purpose. Just an intrigue. [14:12.4]

That can be your goal. It doesn't have to be super-mega-defined necessarily, but it needs to be something that really grabs your mind, if it's going to motivate any kind of action, any kind of change.

Now, what are the other three? Big enough that it means something to you. Small enough that you'll actually do it. When you're determining what the next step is, it has to be small enough that you'll actually do it. It means it has to just be Step 1. If it's Step 2, then you haven't figured out your plans well enough to know Step 1, and many, many times your goals, they come to naught because you are trying to do more steps than you need to.

Break it down. I’ve got to write this email. If that feels too daunting, okay, I have to open my computer. Okay, that's the next step. Now, what's the next smallest step I can do? Make them tiny if you need to, but just the next step. That's the second one. [15:01.0]

The third: simple enough that you don't have to rely on somebody else to do it. If I need an assistant to send an email, I can't do that for them. Not that I have an assistant, but if I needed one, I can't do that for them. Instead, I can say, I can remind my assistant to do the email. That would be a simple enough step because that doesn't depend on anyone else. I can only do what I can do. If you try to take on other people's tasks, you will be emotionally spent your whole life, stressed out, frustrated, the works.

There's a great book that kind of highlights that called The Courage to Be Disliked about kind of the psychology of Alfred Adler. Incredible, and one of the things that really clearly in that particular book he highlights around creating problems for people is that we take on the responsibilities that are not our own. You can only do what you can do. Keep it simple.

The last one specific enough, so that you know you are done when it's done. Otherwise, it'll just sit there in the back of your mind, like, I don't know if I finished it and stuff. If you had something this before or you promised to do something and you didn't get it done, and so it sits there, or you promised to do something and you think you did it, but you're not sure, and so then you sit there, mulling it over. You want to be done with it so you can go back and be like, Cool, now what's the next Step 1? All right? [16:16.0]

Last visual. A while ago, I was on a flight to L.A. to go do some training and I noticed this funny thing with the camera. I've noticed it before. I've noticed it in artworks and other types of things.

When I’d point my phone camera out the window, because the sun was rising and I wanted to get a picture, everything inside of the cabin on the camera got super dark, like black, but I could see very clearly out in the distance. Everything around me got dark, but I could see clearly out in the distance.

But when I focused the camera or I changed the white balance, so it focused inside of the cabin, I couldn't see anything but kind of a bright light out in the distance, but everything around me was a lot brighter. [16:58.2]

I started thinking about this in terms of goals and I realized that I did that a lot. I was so focused on the distant goal that my present circumstances always felt dark and dingy, and unhappy and miserable. How often have you put accidentally your happiness as something that depends upon you achieving something, and if you don't get it, your happiness can't be there?

How often have you used unhappiness and stress and worry to manipulate yourself into going to doing the goal so that you can be happy, and when you get there, you figure out it's empty because that thing doesn't bring happiness after all, so now you're not as happy as you thought you would be, and so now you're stuck again and you’ve got to go chase something else?

When you're so busy focusing on the distant goal, getting all of its details in the picture, that's helpful to know where you're going, but if you live your life that way, everything around you will be dark. [17:54.3]

If, however, you know the direction you want to travel—from time to time, you look out that window, you get some clarity on it—but then you focus your attention on the step in front of you, your immediate surroundings, that goal will be nothing but a bright light. It'll be such a shining bright light, so much brighter than when you're staring at it, and everything around you will also be brighter. That's the way eyes focus. Your eyes are a function of your mind. They're related.

When you're setting goals, think about it more in terms of the direction you'd travel. Not because that's where your happiness lives, but just the intrigue, just because that's something you'd to experience. Of all the possible things on the planet that you could experience, that is one of them and that one seems to be calling you right now. Let that be the direction you want to travel. Then lower your gaze from the top of that mountain until you finally see the step that almost does itself. Because it's so close to you, it's easy and simple, just like I did on Camelback Mountain that day. [18:55.6]

Living this way, for me, maybe it's not for everyone, but living this way, for me, has brought me so much hope, so much joy, so much happiness, so much peace and calm in my day-to-day affairs, because I'm not so busy fretting about being somewhere that I'm not, about being something that I'm not. I get to enjoy being what I am, being who I am, being, where I am, doing what I'm doing, also walking in the direction of what seems to me to be the most inspiring possibility for life.

You got it? As we wrap up, go look at your goals again. Where can you make them BS3 goals? Big, small, simple, specific. How can you determine what step one is, so that you can take it because it's so simple and clear that it almost does itself? And how can you keep yourself present to your own situation, always focusing on Sep 1, so that your goals are that much brighter and your current circumstances are filled with joy? [20:02.8]

And that's it for today's “Alive and Free Podcast.” If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from—and while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus, it's just nice to be nice.

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