I’ve just finished reading Gary Keller’s book The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. One thing I found interesting after having read the book is that, for some time, I have already been following some of the book’s most important advice without knowing it – and, in fact, while feeling guilty about doing it.
I have never been one of those people who can work toward a big, nebulous goal… it seems I can never find momentum toward fulfilling my dreams if I try to work with a big goal in mind. Instead, I allocate a time block every day to something that will help me to achieve my dreams, and then I do that thing every day, without fail – be it writing fiction, learning a foreign language, studying business, or working out every day to ensure my future health. Keller mentions that there are different types of people in this world; some people are able to get a lot of work done by setting big goals for themselves, but other people (such as myself) achieve their dreams more effectively by setting small goals – even daily goals – and working toward them every day. Basically, whatever method works for you is the correct method.
Reading Keller’s book got me thinking about the future goals I’ve been working toward, and how I should be prioritizing them. And I found that I was asking myself this question:
Once I achieve my goals, am I going to enjoy the results?
Here’s what I mean by this. Imagine you’re attending university, studying to become a chemist. Now imagine you’ve graduated university, and you’re an apprentice chemist working in a laboratory, performing chemical work – a lot of it routine. Now imagine that you’re older, still working in a lab, performing important chemical research, attending conferences, and overseeing junior chemists as they complete their work. Perhaps you have a Masters degree or a PhD. You have built yourself a fulfilling, respectable career.
This sounds great… but really imagine that you are now this “older self”, and that this is your daily job. Now ask yourself… is this really what I want? It’s something that a lot of people want, true. For some people, it is their dream job. But is it yours?
Everything you do is moving you toward something. Your actions today will result in what your life looks like tomorrow. If you’re working toward your dream job, make sure that when you imagine what your daily life looks like while working at your dream job, it’s something you really want. If your dream career is to be a writer, you should remember that working as a writer means hours of tedious work sitting by yourself in front of your computer. Having the fame and accolades of being a New York Times bestselling author is one result of becoming a successful writer, true. But sitting down and writing every day is another – and in fact, that’s the one that will take up 99% of your time. Can you imagine yourself enjoying that life?
I’ll write more about this later, but for now, I just wanted to get this concept across. If you’re not working toward doing something you want to be doing every day, it may be time to change course!