Too often, we choose a big goal and then lose heart long before it’s been accomplished. We hit a wall. We get blind-sided by challenges along the way. It all just becomes ‘too hard’ and we give up.
This may be a personal goal, or something ambitious for work. Perhaps you want to take on an administrative assistant for the first time, or redirect your whole book of business to focus on HNW clients.
There has been much valuable discussion about knowing your ‘Why’ before embarking on a large goal. This really is essential in helping us stay the course. Knowing the deeper reasons you have for doing something is like money in the bank – or fuel in your tank.
But even then, our own inner gremlins will work to sabotage us when we least expect it. We may really want something and know why, but feel we don’t deserve it. Or perhaps we can’t bring ourselves to believe we can do it. We need more short-term gratification than the long-term goal can serve up. Instead of bemoaning this human trait, let’s work with it!
This is where taking your joy in bites comes to the rescue.
I have a goal of becoming fluently bilingual.
That is a long-term project, to be sure. I took French in school, like all of us did. A decade or so later, I went to Quebec for six months to study French as a second language, and did make some good headway then. That was twenty-five years ago.
I came back to Toronto, only ever held English-speaking jobs, and, other than reading children’s books in French at bed time, I haven’t done much to nurture my language skills. This has always nagged at me. My deeply personal goal to become bilingual (my mother’s first language was French but we weren’t raised bilingual) still feels important to this day.
Lately, I’ve gotten serious about my bucket list. About living what I say is important to me, instead of putting it off for some future date.
Alors, bonjours Francais!
The desire to parle francais has never left, so I know this is a ‘want’ not a ‘should’. That’s important. Just think about your last attempt to lose weight or quit that nasty habit and you will agree that ‘wants’ always have a far better chance of being realized than personal ‘shoulds’.
Since I decided I was committed, I did two things to stoke my passion.
I went back to the beginning.
When I was a teenager, I got my hands on an Atlas in French. I remember looking at the front pages where it showed all of the countries that spoke French. I was so excited! Wow, I thought, look at the millions more people I could talk to if I spoke French! Suddenly, the whole world opened up to me and I could have the key to unlock it.
This memory, with its inherent joy of discovery, is still alive and potent in my memory. Tapping into it gets me excited all over again.
Also, I feel sexy and connected and expressive and free when I speak French! In a way, I feel that I access another part of my personality when I speak French. That feels like adventure to me! Expansion!
I broke the joy down into bite-sized chunks.
Trying to ‘eat the whole elephant’, so to speak, is too much to do at once. And if I only feel like I’ve achieved my goal when I’m officially bilingual, then I may give up. I’m also robbing myself of all the little rushes of pleasure that come with learning a language. I decided to list all the things I want to be able to do in French.
- Socialize in French
- Read and understand the news in French
- Listen to and understand the news in French
- Be able to switch easily between English and French
- Travel comfortably in French-speaking countries
- Way-find in French
- Shop and conduct business in French
- Expertly order food in French
- Read and understand official documents in French
- Understand songs in French
- Coach and facilitate in French
- Work in French!
Breaking down the big become bilingual goal into all these smaller activities acted like lighter fluid on my old dream. I would be thrilled to be able to do any one of these things! I experienced a rush of motivation and suddenly, ideas and solutions came flooding in.
Here’s a favourite quote of mine that captures what is happening in real-time:
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The very next day there was an article in the news about free online universities and courses. I had a quick scan and found this wonderful site called Lingvist. There’s also an app for your phone. It’s a fun, almost game-like way to quickly power up your vocabulary. It was developed with an algorithm that customizes what it feeds you based on your skill level, and you can click to see your progress. I’m practicing on the site every day, and every day I’m experiencing JOY!
I remembered that I could practice reading the news in French every day, and quickly found the radiocanada website. No waiting necessary. I stumbled through an article on the E1 race in Montreal, looked up a few of the words and read it again. Got it. Joy!
To-Do’s, solutions and next steps popped into my head for almost every one of the smaller chunk goals.
When one of your cherished goals seems like climbing a huge mountain, go deeper than just the satisfaction of checking something off your To Do list. Take your joy in bites. Find the excitement in reaching smaller milestones. Then every step in the process will keep propelling you forward – and you’ll enjoy the whole journey of getting there.
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.