How to Be Self-Consistent in Your Life, Achieve Your Goals, and Realize Your Dreams

Are Your Actions Consistent with Your Desires?

I am not a complicated person. I don't have a lot of layers to my personality. So when I see self-contradictory behavior in other people, I have to say that I just don't get it.

I see this kind of contradictory behavior every single day: people whose body language completely contradicts what they're saying. "Oh, I've always wanted to visit France," people tell me when I invite them to go with me on one of my infrequent trips. But before they know the date, or the cost, as soon as I say it, the person I am talking to, in the process of saying she or he wants to go, is already shaking her or his head side to side, meaning "No." I see it in my job as a classical music teacher, where my students make the big breakthrough they have been working so hard towards for months, and then mysteriously choose to quit the next week, before they can realize any reward for their efforts. I see it in the people I do business with, when they talk about some project they want to accomplish, and I give them the key to doing it (because I have already done it in my own business): they're really excited when I tell them, and the next time I see them, they do their best to avoid me. I have to confess: it is mystifying to me why people put so much effort into something they say they is their goal, and then when they have the opportunity to realize their desires, they sabotage all their efforts.

It is time to ask yourself: Could this be the reason that you are not achieving your stated goals?

Are You Working on Achieving Your Goals?

I strive to reach my goals, and

  • I always succeed.
  • I usually succeed.
  • I sometimes succeed.
  • I have real trouble succeeding.
  • something always comes up that prevents me from reaching it.
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What Are You Afraid Of?

Practically everyone I meet in my daily life tells me: "It's amazing how much you have accomplished!" and they want to know my secret. The secret is simple: there is no secret. I set a goal, I plan out what I will need to get there, and I start working towards my goal. That's really all there is!

Okay, perhaps it is not quite that simple, but really it is pretty simple. Say, for example, that I have the goal to vacation in Paris. First, I would familiarize myself with what it takes to get into the country: a passport. So my first goal is to get a passport. Then I will figure out where to stay, and how much that costs, and what I want to see, and the schedule for seeing everything. I'll figure out the cost of lodging, food, transportation by various means, souvenirs or books I want to bring back, and last but not least, the airfare. Then I'll add up all the costs, and I'll have a goal to save towards.

If my goal is a year away, and I need to save $1,200 for it, that means I'll have to save about $25.00 per week. I set up an account on my computer where I can earmark funds for the vacation, add in what I already have in savings, and figure out how to save the rest--even if I start with nothing, I need to save or earn $25.00 per week--a really easily achievable figure. I can use that year to practice my French by checking out materials from the library while I'm at it--and when I get back from vacation, maybe I can even pick up some extra money tutoring French, and apply it to my next vacation!

Are You Happy in Your Job?

I love my job, which I've been in for over twenty-five years, and still love just as much as the day I started. I had to work for many years to get this job, and that meant making a lot of sacrifices--but at the end, I don't regret a single minute of the hard work and the things I had to deny myself in order to get where I am today. And every day I meet people who jump from job to job, from career to career, because they can't or won't take the time to figure out what they really want to do.

Apparently it can be a scary thing, to achieve your goals. Many people tell me that they think they'll have nothing to live for once they do achieve them. But that is ridiculous--think about all the goals you have already achieved. After all, you did not just give up when you achieved your goal of learning to read, or getting your first job, or any of the other goals you have achieved. There's always something else that comes along to give your life meaning!

If you are a natural-born entrepreneur, it's even more important to have meaning in your business. Entrepreneurship should not be about making money; entrepreneurs should change the world by means of their business. If you don't have a clear vision for your business, it's vital that you understand what will motivate you enough to succeed. Money by itself is not enough, because when you get close to or reach that amount of money, you will slack off. Instead, with all the hype about a vision for your business, you really do need one to keep motivated.

Are You Happy in Your Relationships?

If your relationships are not happy, it's time to reform them. It's not enough to say, "I wish I could get along with so-and-so." You can get along with anyone, if you take the time to figure out what you must do to get along with them.

A warning: not all relationships are healthy for you. Some relationships we are required to keep up anyway, such as an ex-spouse where children are involved. Others you may find are not worth the effort or do not work for you. The question is, will you spend the time and energy to keep up and improve that relationship, or will you invest your energies in relationships that will give your life meaning? My business advisor routinely tells me that every year on my birthday I should give myself a present: fire the one customer, supplier, friend, or whoever is giving me the most trouble that year. It's good advice, because once a year I am forced to evaluate all my relationships and terminate or modify the one relationship that is the most counterproductive.

This holds true not just for romantic and family relationships, but for customers, suppliers, employers, employees, and every person we deal with every day. Want a better relationship with your parking attendant? Try a number of different strategies, find what she or he responds positively to, and continue to invest in that relationship. You can't change that grumpy security guard, but you can be pleasant and polite on a consistent basis. It's a known fact that no-one can indefinitely resist a campaign of determined cheerfulness!

Are You Happy with Your Finances?

If not, don't delay. Figure out what your financial goals are, and what you need to do to achieve those goals. If you need to save money, every time you start to buy something, ask yourself: "Which is more important, this purchase, or achieving my goal?" If your goal is truly important to you, you'll find that you'll be buying a lot less and achieving your goal much sooner than you imagined! And it will pay off in other ways, too, because you'll have less stress and feel a sense of real accomplishment as you increase your financial security.

Are You Happy with Your Health?

If you're not happy with your health, there's no better time to change it than right now. Again, defining your goal is important--your goal may not be to lose twenty pounds, as you might think. Your real goal, the one that will motivate you, might be to feel good each morning when you wake up. Those are entirely different goals, and they will have different solutions. So think carefully about what it is you really want, and work to achieve your true desire. Study the research, and decide what you want to achieve.

Are You Happy with Your Home Environment?

Plenty of people are unhappy with their houses or apartments. The rooms are laid out wrong, or the furniture doesn't fit, or it's hard to keep clean, or something. The trick is to find out what your goals are for your living space, and then determine how you can meet those goals. It may involve a radical rearrangement and quite a lot of work, but your home should be something you're happy to come home to, not something you dread!

If you need real help to achieve your goals, call an interior designer. They can help with space planning, rearranging your space and furniture to make your home more functional, and pull everything together at very little cost. (My experience with an interior designer cost me $200 to make my house much more functional!) You may also want to add some houseplants to filter the air, or other small changes that will become apparent to you once you begin working on achieving your goals for your home. Perhaps you're unhappy with your home environment because it seems to be consuming too many resources--that's a sustainability issue, and may be tied into your health, which you can improve by using more natural products.

Another good investment may be to hire a professional organizer. A good organizer will not just blindly tell you to get rid of stuff, but instead will help you discover what is not working for you and help you to understand how to use your space better to achieve your goals. While it is true that you may end up wanting to get rid of some things, it's really more about efficiency and using your time and space wisely than simply chucking things out.

Are You Happy with Your Capital?

By this, I don't mean just your financial capital--I mean your human capital, that is, the things you know how to do; your social capital, who you know; and your cultural capital, what facts you know. Many people feel intimidated around others because they feel they don't have enough education, or culture, or don't know the right people. Improving your different kinds of capital is an easily achievable goal, and may just involve joining a group (even a group for beginners), reading a book, or getting out and meeting people. Whatever your goal is to increase these kinds of capital, again, figure out what you really want, and break it down into achievable steps!

Are You Ready?

I am going to work on achieving one or more goals

  • Yes
  • No
  • I'm still thinking
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Find Your Goal, and Get It!

Whatever it is that is keeping you from being perfectly happy, you can figure out what it is, and start working towards achieving your true goals in life. We all have the ability to be happy, and we can be, in every area of our lives. So the next time you find yourself saying, "I've always wanted to do that," pay attention. Are you nodding your head eagerly or shaking it to say "no"? If your body is saying no, that is a signal that you may be lying to yourself. You need to find out: what is it you really want?

I hope that each of you will find out what it is you truly want in life, and achieve it. Don't be afraid of success and happiness; there's no measuring cup in your life for joy! Give yourself permission to work for what you want, and see how far and how fast you can go!

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