Beyond the Comfort Zone by Tom Hopkins

            The average human being has the ability to achieve almost anything.  Lack of basic capability is rarely the problem–we all have great reserves of untapped power. The problem is almost always in finding out what we want.  Before we go any further, let me define how I’m using the word “want” here.  I’m not talking about mere wishes. I’m talking about wants that gnaw at you.

            Maybe you think you don’t have any gnawing wants.  If you think that, you’re wrong. You have the wants. But, they’re bottled up where you can’t get at them. They’ll stay there, too, coming out as blind resistance to change, refusal to put out extra effort or the insistence that all your problems are the cause of others.

            What makes us bottle up all of our wants and desires? For most people, it’s the fear of failure. They’re plenty comfortable doing exactly what they’re doing today. They’re paying their bills and can have a nice two week vacation each year. But the desire for that extra special vacation is inside them waiting to be fulfilled. Their want of a nice, new car is starting to gnaw. Their children want to go to a better school than they can afford on their current income. After a while, they’re not so comfortable anymore with the way they’re living. They begin to realize that the pain of change they’ve feared has become a necessary evil to rid themselves of the pain of not having their wants fulfilled.

            The way to see yourself clear of all of this pain is in planning–setting goals. You must set goals for yourself that make you stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you really want something, something that’ll make a difference in your life, you’ll be willing to make sacrifices to get it. You’ll deliberately change yourself and grow to get what you really want. But, you won’t do any of these things for mere wishes. That’s why you must put what you think you want on paper.

            Next, your goals must be specific. Broad desires and lofty aims have no effect.  Merely wanting to be somebody or having the determination to make it big isn’t enough. Until you translate your vague wishes into concrete goals and plans, you aren’t going to make much progress.

            Your goals must also be believable. This is one of the more vital aspects of goal setting. If you don’t truly believe you can achieve a goal, you won’t pay the price for it.

            The most effective goal is an exciting challenge. If your goal doesn’t push you beyond where you’ve been before–if it doesn’t demand your best and a bit more that you didn’t realize you had in you–it isn’t going to change your ways and elevate your lifestyle.

            Set your goals right now and adjust them later if you decide you’ve aimed too high or too low. They aren’t carved in granite. So you get excited about something and after you learn more about it, decide you’ve reached too far. It’s okay to change. But don’t put off setting goals until you know more. Keep that level of excitement high.

            Set short term goals for yourself so you can feel that sense of achievement soon. Short term goals shouldn’t be longer than 90 days. If you need to see results sooner than that, set a goal for 30 days or even a week. You have to do what feels right for you. Also, set up a reward program for yourself.  It could be as simple as going to lunch at a new restaurant if you make 100 calls by a set date and time.

            Include your loved ones in your goals.  You’ll be amazed at how hard you can work when your kids know they’ll benefit from you reaching a goal.  And, when their goals are intimately involved in yours, they’ll give you support and encouragement when you need it.

            Set goals in all areas of your life. Goals aren’t just for making money.  Set them for health, exercise, and to fulfill other personal and spiritual needs.  Goal setting is too valuable a tool to reserve it only for your career achievements.

            You must set aside time to review your goals on a regular basis.  Check your progress, make adjustments and set new goals as the old ones are met.

            The whole idea of goal setting is to plan your life rather than just letting it happen.  I suggest you take charge and begin by planning 20 year goals.  First, list the personal achievements you want to accomplish.  Who and what do you want to be in 20 years?  What do you want to own?  Where, and in what kind of housing do you want to live?  Again, you’re working with goals that can be changed.  What are the status symbols you’ve always dreamed of?  What do you want for your family?

            Start thinking about the net worth you want to have 20 years down the road.  Start watching your equity position now and get ready for the future.  It only happens when you start writing down goals, working with them and causing your mind to reach out.  Take a hard look at the future and at yourself.  Say, “That’s the person I want to be in 20 years, and I’m willing and eager to pay the price to become that person.”

            Once you have your 20 year goals sketched out, cut them in half and there are your 10 years goals.  Halve them again, and you’ve got your five year goals.  Do it one more time and your 30 month goals appear before your eyes.  Then, set up your next 12 month’s goals.  Work on this one carefully.  Then, break your one year schedule of goals down to months, weeks and finally to goals for tomorrow and for each day of the coming week.

            You might be thinking that this will take a lot of time.  Think about this:  Isn’t making a success of your life worth a little time?  But let’s be honest, it’s not the time that’s troubling you.  It’s the idea of submitting to a form of discipline, even self-imposed discipline.  Think that through before you decide to turn away from this idea because if you’re not willing to accept your own discipline, you’re going to accomplish only 2% of what you could and you’re going to miss out on 98% of the good things you could have.

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