Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said:
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
On the surface, this might sound a bit simplistic or like quintessential rah-rah self-help speak.
But there probably aren’t many truer statements when it comes to achieving our goals and manifesting what we desire.
This Japanese proverb might be on par:
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
These two statements underscore the importance of having a well-crafted vision for everything you want to accomplish and experience in life.
This is because achieving big goals is about creating lasting, permanent change.
It’s about shifting your identity to become someone new.
As Jame Clear details in Atomic Habits, the key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first.
So instead of thinking that we are merely working towards a goal, we should think we are creating a new identity for ourselves.
Big goals require a big change. 💪🏽
And creating a big change in our lives means going through a transformation which is at the very heart of what creating a new identity is all about.
Transformation is the lasting, permanent change we are after with big goals.
Transformation equals identity change.
And when we are chasing big, audacious goals, it becomes a transformative process of layering on new attributes and habits over time which eventually shapes and locks in a new identity.
Like James Clear says, “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
Whether it’s to become an owner of a profitable business, run a marathon, climb to the top of a mountain, or write a New York Times bestseller, with every goal we are working towards becoming someone new. 🧑🚀
And we superimpose new identities as we go.
When we view our goals from this lens of identity shift, it allows us to embrace it as a journey and process of transforming into someone new rather than it being this “giant, daunting undertaking” like we normally do.
This post will delve into this idea of transforming your identity as the vehicle for achieving goals by exploring the following:
But to create this type of significant change in our lives, our goal needs to be strategically planned by defining a vision of who we want to be in the future (identity) and then creating a plan of action to get us there.
But this is where most of us get stuck: the process, because we obsess over the “how.”
For many of us, we immediately start thinking that we need a giant stroke of luck, a large sum of money to fall in our laps, or loads of time that we don’t have to make our goal a reality.
As soon as we even conceive of going after something big, we shy away from it because our mind immediately tries to figure out “how.”
This is the curse of asking “how: in which In one single breath we go from feeling inspired and motivated to perplexed and discouraged.
It’s human nature to want all the answers upfront because we crave control and want to know our goal is possible.
But this is a form of self-sabotage… because asking “how” is the biggest motivation killer when you are trying to create big change in your life.
“How” takes the wind out of the sails of any big, audacious desires. 💨
It’s the reason why most people abandon their goals before even getting started.
Because to reiterate, achieving big goals is about creating a new identity and if you’re obsessed with how you are going to get to the final result from where you are right now, you will psych yourself out.
Your rational brain wants proof that your goal is attainable and ‘realistic’ which like “how” is another dangerous word when it comes to goal setting and manifesting
And since the present-day version of yourself can’t fathom how you will make such a big transformation you will likely give-up before you even started.
Those who aren’t left paralyzed by the dreaded “how”, try to get started but struggle with knowing where to begin by focusing on the wrong things (tasks, actions, etc.) at the wrong time.
Others rush hard out the gate trying to accomplish their goal in one fell swoop as quickly as possible by taking on too much all at once which leads to diminishing returns, burnout, or once again abandoning ship.
Typically, these missteps are the result of not understanding two important nuances when it comes to goals.
Simply put, you must begin with the end in mind, which is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Author, Mike Dooley ramps this up a notch in his book Playing the Matrix by saying this:
All manifestations begin with the end in mind… the end in mind will force the details.
Passengers of Aspiration 🛥️
Here’s an analogy to understand these nuances. Think of a colossal ship that is about to embark on a voyage of epic proportions and is occupied with hundreds, maybe even thousands of passengers. Each passenger represents an aspiration you have for your life, goals, hopes, dreams, desires, and ideas for the future. And yes, the identities you wish to take on.
The ship is packed to the brim with your “passengers”, and you as the architect of this voyage know where the ship is headed and all the stops it intends to make along the way. However, what you don’t know is the details of how it will exactly get there because it will likely face turbulent weather, mechanical issues, wear and tear, lack of fuel, and a host of other unknowns while on the voyage.
All you can do is set aside what is unknown and plan your voyage according to these three questions to ensure all your “passengers of aspiration” safely reach land.
👉 On a fundamental level, these three questions become the basis for creating a life vision.
Referring to these as “goals” however doesn’t do them justice. It minimizes their magnitude of importance and power.
They are not just another passenger on your enormous ship of goals that sit among all the other passengers. They are the captain of the ship that is steering you towards your North Star. 👨🏻✈️
A life vision is the mission statement for your time on this planet that sets direction and focus and brings clarity to everything you do.
Call it your personal manifesto… the ultimate “recipe” book for your life containing all the “ingredients” that represent the ideal you; the person you want to become deep into the future.
It’s your first “level of defense” for your life. It determines what you say yes to and what you say no to — what projects you take on and what opportunities you pass on… the relationships you form and the ones you don’t.
The vision for your life is the first filter your brain uses to render and essentially create your reality.
It becomes the decision-making and intention-setting framework your mind (both conscious and unconscious) uses to guide your daily choices and actions.
However, the mistake many people make is they go their whole lives without ever creating one.
Unfortunately creating a life vision is not something we are taught in school or by our caretakers on how to do.
In actuality, many of us remain unaware it’s something we should be doing — if we’re lucky until we are well into adulthood trekking through the rat race as we plan for retirement.
And as a result our method for setting goals, but more importantly the way we live our lives becomes like building a house without a blueprint.
We take on life without any semblance of an overall vision for what we want to do and who we want to be — jumping straight to setting individual goals and making one-off plans without first really examining what we want out of life.
We then spend our days chasing our tails so to speak, doing random activities and performing arbitrary tasks trying to accomplish these goals while at times questioning the validity of what we are even doing.
The problem with this is that individual goals set in a vacuum, off in a silo are not meaningful because they are disconnected from any higher life vision and purpose.
Setting individual goals like losing 30 pounds, starting a business, getting into law school, or getting married with 2.5 kids and a dog without understanding what you truly want out of life and who you want to be, simply becomes a means to an end.
And once you reach that end you’re off to the next individual quest which more often than not is a sign you’re falling prey to the all too pervasive “I’ll be happy when” syndrome.
Before we set any big goals or make any major plans for our lives, it’s paramount that we invest the time and do a deep dive into the following questions:
These questions are the essence of every exercise and tool out there for crafting a life vision whether it’s defining your Massively Transformative Purpose, penning a personal mission statement, or going through a program like Lifebook.
Be The Artist of Your Life 👩🎨
Whichever framework you choose or however you go about doing it, the key idea to embrace is that you are an artist of your own masterpiece — the conductor of your own symphony.
And a life vision is what flavors and colors your life. It’s the soundtrack playing in the background as you go about your day doing whatever is you do. 🎶
It puts substance behind everything else you do in life; it adds context and meaning to everything: health and wellbeing, relationships, career, finances, quality of life, personal values, social life, etc.
But without one…you’re likely aiming your sights way too low. But even worse, you run the risk of being swept by somebody else’s vision, or you end up in no man’s land where life just happens to you. Yikes! 🤦♂️
Or more cleverly said from another Zig Ziglar gem:
“You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”
Once again, this is where the theme of identity becomes a critical nuance in goal-setting.
We need to define the person we want to be, what that person wants to experience and achieve, and then set goals according to that vision so we can move towards them little by little every day.
But you don’t need to know “how”.
Or have all the details figured out.
Because magic happens when you invest the time to thoroughly think about what you want out of life and declare your visions and intentions.
Just set your sights high.
Begin crafting a beautiful blueprint for yourself… that delights and fascinates.
Then chart your course. Hoist those sails.
And you’ll be howling land ahoy in no time.
Happy sailing! ⛵
Sign up for my newsletter for some inspiration, insight and the most up to date resources, masterclasses and freebies on personal growth and helping you build your business online.