Chances are good that you’ve heard the phrase “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” An entertaining thought and a fun quote attributed to many, including the late, great Norman Vincent Peale. (Author one of my early favorites; see The Power of Positive Thinking.)
While I like the quote, the thought helps to shed light upon an important idea for anyone striving to achieve their goals: where exactly to put your attention, to focus, shoot or aim. And, if you happened to read this past article or my latest book, The Pressure Paradox, then you already know the answer.
The answer is actually a bit paradoxical in nature: The achiever should be putting her attention and energy on both the near and the far. That is, the goal represents the destination and at the same time provides the juice, the energy and motivation needed to keep moving forward. Yet, 95% of the time (perhaps more), the attention and energy is directed upon the now — the daily behaviors, the habits that are near.
In fact, in The Habit Factor I underscore the importance of beginning — getting started and keeping a close focus on the here and now — with this fantastic statement from Jiddu Krishnamurti:
“To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one.”
Without an intense focus on the daily corresponding behaviors, your habits, that vision isn’t likely to be achieved.
For instance, the vision of landing on the moon (the goal) creates powerful emotions that, when channeled properly, can drive the energies and behaviors in the now. Once the vision is clearly established, the majority of the energy must then be directed toward the actions in the present to help any person (or a team) realize their vision.
The student who has the vision of going to the great college should be encouraged to aim for that college — to retain that vision and believe it is possible. In fact, the hope is they become so excited about the possibility that they then immediately direct their energy upon the tasks at hand, such as developing the study habits that will help to make their college dream a reality.
The athlete who wants to play a sport for their favorite university must also align her habits — the more the better — to ensure they support her goal. For instance, it’s not likely to be enough to just work out and practice hard if you have poor dietary habits. The idea is to craft as many habits as possible that are in alignment with the goal, helping to ensure its outcome.
When it comes to habit alignment, the core four areas of focus are:
So here’s a few question for you:
Is your vision clear? Can you see the goal and outcome vividly?
Do your daily behaviors — your existing habits — align with that goal? What new habits are you looking to align, and do they address all four quadrants?
This is not entirely what I had in mind at first when I heard of The Archer’s Paradox, but it applies nonetheless and it’s a terrific, educational video. Consider what happens when the arrow leaves the archer’s bow: Where is it directed, and how does it ultimately make it to its intended destination?