Fred Brooks, super-computer genius for IBM, wrote, “how does a project get a year behind? Answer: One day at a time.” From a guy who changed our world using nothing but ones and zeros we’d expect no less than complexity in the simplicity of such a statement. And yet all around the world is filled with dreamers missing the simple solution to their objectives—it is the focused intensity of our actions that net the greatest accomplishments.
The definition of “objectives” — something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target— demonstrates the relationship between efforts and accomplishment. It saddens me and sometimes frustrates me when I witness an individual with obtainable goals sit idly by as days turn to months and months to years.
We don’t reach our objectives through planning, or dreaming, or thinking or prepping or even outlining. Until we take the first step towards the destination, the destination remains as distant as it did before we ever considered its presence. Because “you always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Weight loss is a central topic in my life. I am the master of it because over the course of my life I have gained and lost forty pounds several times. I can lose it in three to four months. The secret is there is no secret at all, but the problem is most who wish to lose weight aim too low and take too much time. Just like the novels they never write.
Perhaps it is fear. Fear that they may fail or fear that they will just “gain it all back.” I have gained it all back—big deal. I’m in control and I lose it whenever I truly want to.
But“fear” creates half-hearted objectives that include words like “balance.” Don’t bore me with suggestions of long-term healthy eating or casual nightly walks. When I want the weight off, I want it off today. If I could commit to a balanced diet I would never have gained the weight in the first place. Balance is something to maintain a “state,” not to create a new state. That’s just basic science. In order to form something new, there must first be an imbalance and second energy must be applied—hydrogen and oxygen come together and Wha-La! You have water.
Getting to any objective is as simple as taking a step, and then another and then another. The more steps we take, and the faster we take them, the sooner we arrive at our goal. Come labor day you can either be right where you are…or you can be 30 pounds lighter looking at the first version of your book. Objectives are reached through intense action and none of those goals are blocked by your busy life—it’s just about choices, the ones you make and the ones that you don’t.
In 2002 my life had reached a sort of plateau. I was middle management with a middle income. I was divorced. I was living with my parents. I had writing dreams and little writing to show for it. I looked back and asked, “what happened?” I had been advancing so nicely and then I once again fell into the balance of status quo? I realized that my objectives weren’t defined and I wasn’t moving towards them. I was satisfying myself with thoughts of “some day” rather than “seize the day.” I forgot my old, well-served mantra of Fortune Favors the Bold.
That night I wrote my “future” in a journal. I wrote – I am a Vice President, I make six figures a year, I have a nice house and a great wife. I even went on to write the qualities I wanted in the woman I would marry…I even dared to write “dark hair and green eyes.” Each week after that, I went back to that “future” and asked, “What did I do to move closer to these things?” “What can I do this week?” “Who do I need to be?” I didn’t just make plans, I didn’t just list my objectives—I made steps to achieve them—sometimes small, sometimes large, but I always gave them energy.
Two years later I met a woman with all of the qualities I had wished for. That she happened to have dark hair and greenish eyes seems a bit like divine intervention but I never over think the gifts. A year after that I was promoted to Director and saw my first six figure paycheck…two years later I became Vice President and in that same year me and my new wife purchased a six bedroom house. Looking back it was all done…one step at a time…but always taking a step.
Having checked all those boxes, I created some new ones. Some seemed within my control like, “I am a published author.” Others were more like a hail marry because I wasn’t certain “how” it could be achieved with five kids, like “I own a Mercedes.” But putting the objectives in writing, staying focused, approaching these important things with intensity not wishful sedation, made all the difference.
I’m not lucky. I never have been. I have to work for it. But when I do, me and my perfect wife get to celebrate my third novel by driving to dinner in our Mercedes…and being able to have some cake because I lost that 30 pounds.
If I can do it, so can you. There is no obstacle in your way. In fact objectives are just like weight loss—its only the last five pounds that are difficult. So get out there and chase the dream. I promise, it’s waiting for you to catch it, but you’re gonna have to run a bit.
Obviously this post is way over the length recommended for the A to Z challenge, but it’s a topic of passion because I believe everyone’s dreams can come true.
Categories: A to Z Blog Challenge