Have you ever had a discussion with a totally unlikely source that ended up challenging you to go for more? That’s what happened to me last week and it led to this post.

Here’s where it all started…

There’s a huge mango tree outside my flat that houses different species of birds, with the most being crows. Once in a while these crows get agitated and fly in circles while making lots of noise.

Last week, my househelp and I watched such a spectacle and as we watched the crows, she turned to me and said, “You know something Mama A? When each bird wakes up in the morning it knows what it’s going to do for that day. It doesn’t just wake up and then start thinking about what it should do. And did you know that when an eagle is flying and it sees a meal, it immediately flies to the meal without hesitating?”

I was silent for some time as I ruminated on the wisdom in her comments and how applicable these thoughts were to goal setting.

Her comments reminded me of a National Geographic documentary I’d watched where the commentator noted that most of the time, cheetahs don’t catch their prey. However, once a cheetah sets its sight on an animal, it will chase that specific animal and ignore others that are close by. It focuses on catching this one meal.

I also remembered Michael Masterson’s book The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life where he sums up what he calls the “three habits of highly successful crackheads”. These habits are:

  1. Junkies work longer hours than employed people: They work up to 18-20 hours a day or as long as they are awake.
  2. They have single-minded purpose: 90% of their conscious time is focused on getting funds for their next fix. They have no other interests and never divert from this one goal.
  3. Their addiction is stronger than most people’s ambition to succeed: They will do whatever it takes (legal and illegal) to achieve their goal.
  4. They make more money than some educated and employed people: Michael quotes a Washington Post article that estimated that junkies make $300 to $400 a day just to take care of their habit.

Birds, cheetahs and junkies…oh my!

While we’re not crackheads, there’s a lot we can learn from my househelp, National Geographic and Masterson. From their observations, we can conclude that to achieve your goals, you must:

#1: Know what your goal looks like when it is achieved

Each bird or cheetah knows what its meal is and when it sees something that resembles the meal, it chases the meal. If it realizes that this is not a meal, it will immediately abandon the chase and move on.

It’s easier to work on a goal and seek ways to achieve it when you know what you’re working towards. Otherwise, you’ll just be shooting in the dark and hoping to hit your target; or you’ll be busy chasing the wrong things.

#2: Plan your path to success

Just as the bird doesn’t fly around aimlessly or cheetahs hop from one animal to another, you too need a plan. What is it that you need to do each day, week, month, quarter, and year to achieve your goal?

When you look at nature, you’ll see that each animal has specific things they do each season. While these things are instinctive to animals, humans have to create the plan and work on it until it becomes instinctive.

#3: Be absolutely, 100% committed to achieving this goal no matter what

You commit to doing everything morally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and legally possible; while at the same time making any necessary sacrifices to succeed. For example, all wild animals move when they realize that food is no longer easily available in their area.

Are you willing to do the same and move out of your comfort zone to explore new ways of thinking and doing things? Are you ready to work long and hard for your goal? Are you ready to put laser-sharp focus on this goal and ignore all the other shiny new things that creep up along the way? Can you be like the cheetah and chase this antelope until you get it? And if you meet disappointment, are you willing to go back to the start, re-strategize and move once again?

Your next step

The eagle, cheetah and junkie eventually succeed because:

  • They have single-minded purpose.
  • They never give up.
  • They keep learning from their mistakes and making corrections every time.

Isn’t it time you did the same with your goals?

Isn’t it time that you made a decision to work on the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your life when you achieve it?

Isn’t it time that you committed to working on this one thing until you achieve it?

Isn’t it time that you stopped fearing failure and decided to learn from any challenges you meet?

And having made these commitments, can you start working on the goal now instead of waiting for the New Year?

As Masterson notes in his book, we all have the same power as junkies and we don’t even have to take drugs to activate this power. We all have a burning desire inside and if we feed and fan this desire, it will grow and either overtake us or help us achieve our goals.

You already have the power and ability to achieve anything that you desire, but you have to be willing to put some extra effort to succeed.

What will you do different this time to make sure that you achieve your goals?

I’d love to hear if this article has given you some ideas that you can implement. Share what’s on your mind in the comments.


Did you miss the last 2 posts on goal setting? Check them out here:

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

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