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  • Cameron M. Clark

Goals: 'Recipes' for Success

Whether we write them down or not, we all have to-do lists… or at least collections of tasks that tend to gnaw at us until we finally find the time and motivation to push all else aside, and focus our attention on crossing these things off our list. Or as is sometimes the case, we never find the time or motivation to even get started. Why is that?

Goals come in all shapes and sizes. They can be large (e.g. organize the garage) or small (e.g. go grocery shopping); they can be general (e.g. clean the house) or specific (e.g. sweep the kitchen), and they can be novel (e.g. learn to salsa dance), or familiar (e.g. contacting your friends or family more often).

One major hurdle that can stand between us and our goals is not even knowing where to get started. This is particularly true with goals that are large, general, and novel. Some good examples here might be 1) organizing a pile of photographs from previous vacations; 2) managing your contacts and calendar system; or 3) learning a new musical instrument or language.

They key to accomplishing goals like these, is to break them down into much more manageable sub-goals – just like recipes do for food. If you ask me to make a risotto, I can’t honestly say I’d know where get started. Looking at a recipe though, I can certainly manage the first step:

Step #1: In a saucepan, warm chicken broth over low heat.

No problem, right? On to step #2

Step #2: Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

Again - no problem. If I were to keep following the recipe simple step by simple step, I’d be able to accomplish this novel goal of making a delicious risotto.

Give this system a try with the larger goals you are struggling to get started on. Write them down, turn them into ‘recipes’ consisting of simple sub-goals, and get cooking! If you are still having difficulty getting started on a sub-goal, break it down further into even smaller sub-goals.

As bestselling author James Clear writes:

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”

PS – click here for a delicious risotto recipe


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