How to be a Goal-Getter: Free Preview

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Lesson 6 – Conquering Your Big Goal Saboteurs

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Big Goal Saboteurs

Nobody intends to give up on their goals halfway through, but sometimes that’s what happens. Often, this loss of commitment to completing goals can be attributed to one or more Big Goal Saboteurs—mental traps that work against you as you try to succeed. These Goal Saboteurs come in many different forms, and although one person may be plagued by multiple Goal Saboteurs, not every Saboteur will apply to everyone. In fact, some people may recognize just one or two Saboteurs, while others may recognize them all. 

Here are the Big Goal Saboteurs:

  • The Overzealous Saboteur: Even though we intuitively know that we can’t possibly complete all of our goals at once, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. We set our sights on what we stand to gain by completing our goals without first considering how difficult it would be to do them all at once. This causes us to stretch ourselves thin until we throw our hands up and decide that this whole endeavor was a mistake. This ends up sabotaging our plans and making our goals feel unachievable.
  • The Overwhelmed Saboteur: It can be hard to determine what to achieve next in life. We tend to have so much opportunity that we can feel paralyzed by the wealth of possibilities. This causes us to second-guess ourselves and make half-hearted attempts at each of our multiple goals, or else not aim for anything at all. This, in turn, can cause the rocking chair syndrome, wherein we thrash back and forth, and yet go nowhere at all. The end result is a feeling of guilt due to our perceived stagnation from our lack of forward progress.
  • The Fickle Saboteur: Many worthwhile goals have trade-offs. We sometimes need to be willing to give something up before we can achieve our goals, and the Fickle Saboteur prevents us from doing this. Often, the thing we’ll need to sacrifice is something like our comfort or our money, though it can be anything. But in order to have good things in life, we must usually decide which things we don’t need to have, and then we must be unwavering in our decisions.
  • The Perfectionist Saboteur: We try to optimize which Big Goal is the best one to work on now, but rarely is that 100% clear. There are many factors that go into picking a Big Goal, such as what currently interests us, how much time we have available, what resources we have at our disposal, and how emotionally engaged we are in our goals. But the Perfectionist Saboteur will spend an endless amount of time tricking us into believing that there is only one perfect goal, and if we could just find it, then everything would be perfect. It’s important to keep in mind that working towards a Big Goal can reveal which goal to work on next, or even that you would rather work on something else right now. And that’s okay! 
  • The Insecure Saboteur: Our Big Goals often require skills we don’t yet wield. As a result, we can easily feel discouraged, like we don’t deserve to accomplish our goals anyway, or like we aren’t good enough to achieve what we hope to in life. We abandon our goals because we are convinced that we can’t learn the new skills we need, or that we won’t excel at them, and everyone will see that we just aren’t good enough. But this is a destructive and false mindset that only hinders our self-improvement.
  • The Impatient Saboteur: Achieving a Big Goal takes time, but the Impatient Saboteur doesn’t have enough time to waste to just sit by and wait for results. This Saboteur convinces us that because the results we’re looking for haven’t come as quickly as we’d hoped, we should just quit immediately and move on to other things. The Impatient Saboteur can be particularly insidious because it can feel perfectly sensible in the moment to shift our focus away from our Big Goal, but if we repeatedly fall for this trap, then we will never accomplish what we want to in life.
  • The Cowardly Saboteur: Any goal you embark on has a risk of failure, but the Cowardly Saboteur convinces you that simply because this risk exists, you shouldn’t even try to accomplish your goals. After all, “if you don’t try, then you can’t fail”…and failure could bring embarrassment, disappointment, shame, regret, anger, or sadness. It seems safer to just keep everything as it is than to try to achieve something new. But in order for anyone to get what they want in life, they’ll need to realize that the risk of failure is worth the fulfillment of meeting their goals and reaching their full potential.

To Do:

  1. Review the list of common Goal Saboteurs and reflect upon which Saboteurs have sabotaged your commitment to your goals in the past.
  2. Make a prediction about which Saboteurs may try to disrupt your progress on your next Big Goal. Then, brainstorm ways that you might be able to combat these Saboteurs.

Lesson 8 – Making Your Past, Present, and Future Selves Work in Harmony

“There are very few men—and they are the exceptions—who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.”

Your Past, Present, and Future Selves

The person you were in the past—the one who committed you to this Big Goal—is a completely different person from the person you are today or the person you will be tomorrow. Likewise, the person inside of you who doubts your abilities is not the same person as the one who’s dutifully making progress toward your Big Goal. So why would you weigh what they have to say equally? Would you let a near-stranger derail you from accomplishing your most important goals? No!

While working toward your Big Goal, you can picture your life as having three distinct time zones—your past, your present, and your future—with each of these time zones having a unique version of yourself—your past self, your present self, and your future self. There is scholarly research suggesting that your brain discounts rewards you might receive in the future in favor of rewards you could receive now, from which we could infer that our brain sees the present self and the future self as different people. These different time zone identities are distinct and disconnected from one another:

  • The past self is the ‘you’ that you were every day before today. Your past self may feel easy to dismiss because they have already “passed on,” so to speak; and yet your past self is also responsible for every single decision that has brought you to the current moment. It’s very important that you don’t lose sight of the connection between your past self’s commitments and your present self’s obligations. Thank your past self for their contributions—it is because of everything your past self has done that you have the advantages you have today!
  • The present self is the ‘you’ that you are right now. Your present self may regret the fact that your past self has committed you to such a difficult goal or resent having to prioritize that goal over more fun activities. But your present self also has the power to follow through on your past self’s commitments, as well as to set your future self on a path to success. If your present self fails to consider the needs of your future self, you risk undermining your future self’s happiness by placing enjoyable but momentary pleasures above your Big Goal today. Your present self can choose to place your future self in a jam by failing to do their share of the hard work. Conversely, your present self can help your future self achieve success by doing as much of the tough stuff now as possible.
  • The future self is the ‘you’ that you will be one week, one month, one year, or thirty years from now. Your future self is on the receiving end of your present self’s decisions and depends on your past and present selves to make wise choices that keep their well-being in mind. If both your past self and your present self have done their work, then your future self will be well-situated to have a good life and reach their full potential. But if your past self has shirked their responsibilities, and your present self has procrastinated, then your future self will have a much tougher time making the life you want a reality. Your future self relies on your present and past selves to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve success.

Heaven and Hell Statements

Binding your past, present, and future selves together to push them all toward the same goal will require you to recognize that all three selves have a number of goals and fears in common. We can solidify this concept in our minds by writing out a Heaven and Hell Statement

The Heaven part of a Heaven and Hell Statement is a description of where you want to be in life. This is a situation in which you’ve achieved all of your goals in life, formed plenty of fulfilling relationships, and are living comfortably and happily. Keeping a reminder of what you stand to gain by accomplishing your goals will help motivate you whenever you’re feeling low.

The Hell part of a Heaven and Hell Statement is a description of where you don’t want to be in life. This should be a situation in which you don’t achieve your goals, your relationships are broken, and you are living far below your worth. This is also known as “rock bottom.” If you can crystalize what this would feel like in your life, then even when times get tough, you’ll be able to remember what you stand to lose by failing and instead, you’ll push through.

Moving Up The Pyramid

In order to increase the odds of you reaching the top of the pyramid, it requires developing trust which is created through familiarity, honesty, and integrity

Familiarity: How often do you contact this person? Does this person see you on a regular basis? By taking time out of your day to regularly meet with this person, you’re demonstrating to them you find value in the relationship.

Honesty: Have you been open to this person? You need to be a little vulnerable to this person and share bits about yourself to show the person you are willing to open yourself up to them. If they see that you’re genuine, odds are they will open themselves up to you too.

Integrity: Has this person asked you to do something? If so, you need to make sure you follow through. Has the person asked you to hold a secret? You will need to hold onto this secret to prove your loyalty to this person.

It takes time to develop that and if you rush to climb the pyramid you will fall off. If you want a real example of this, think of the time you met with someone and within the first 10 minutes, they shared all of their innermost secrets. Ya, creepy.

To Do:

  1. Identify times in your life when you noticed a disconnect between your past, present, and future selves.
  2. Create a Heaven and Hell Statement to look back at whenever you need some help getting energized to work on your Big Goal.


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Meet Your Instructor

Jordan Thibodeau

Jordan has spent over a decade forging relationships with CEOs, authors, and entrepreneurs through his professional work on Google’s Mergers and Acquisitions Team, and Google’s Talks Program - a TED-like series recorded for offices worldwide. Jordan’s also the community manager and founder of the Silicon Valley Investor’s Club (SVIC).

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