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Guide // How to Make "Easy" Progress on Hard Goals

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I was just taking a breath! It’s actually perfectly appropriate for today’s topic. That’s a little confusing. What I mean is: It’s still hard for me to do Facebook Lives! It’s still hard for me to show up with you each week and be broadcasting live even if no one happens to be watching. This is a hard thing to do. 

Which is perfectly appropriate for what we are talking about today! That is this whole idea of wanting hard goals to be easy. I actually am excited because I created a guide that goes with today’s chat. So if you are interested, if what I’m sharing about in the next bit resonates with you, then you can go ahead and get this lovely guide that I have created that will help you figure out how to choose the right “hard” goal. 

Pardon me one second. I’m just going to turn off the sound. I’m doing multiple things right now, because I’m also doing Time to Win, which is a thing I do for Mappers who want to have dedicated time to take action on their goals. So anyhow, we’re full service here at Map Your Progress. It’s all about helping you really take whatever hard goal it is that you have, like the big thing that you want to accomplish and break it down into next right steps, into actions that you can take, that actually allow you to accomplish the hard thing.

So, anyhow: I’m feeling a little discombobulated, but that’s OK. We’re going to carry on.

One of the things that comes up a lot, I think in discussions about goals. I certainly see this in quite a bit of marketing. This idea of making this all very easy. That if we want to go after big, difficult to accomplish goals, tools are marketed that, “oh, this makes it easy!” Even just in the title of this chat, about making “easy” progress on hard goals, that idea is one that’s very attractive! And it’s used all the time.

What I’ve discovered for myself is that there’s a different way to look at it, that I think is much more useful, so that’s what I’m going to chat with you about today. When I think of how Map Your Progress started, which started a couple years ago when I wanted to pay off $26,000 in credit card debt, which for me, was a very hard goal. 

That was something very difficult for me to do, and so I created some artwork, I actually don’t have it readily available, but anyhow. It looks—nope! It looks a little bit like the one behind me, where you see all these swirls that represent different actions that can be taken. 

So I’d created this similar piece of artwork, that was made up of swirls, each swirl represented $100 of debt that I would pay off toward that larger, harder goal of paying off my credit cards. 

I found that using that technique made it a lot easier for me to accomplish this big, hard goal. What I’ve learned is that, working with all kinds of folks, all over the globe, on differently types of big goals, hard goals that are difficult to do, is that: As much as we think we want goals to be easy, we don’t get excited about easy.

We don’t get excited about easy goals, I should say. We get excited about the idea that hard goals might be easy, but it’s the hard goals that are interesting to us. Those are the ones that we find inspiring, and many of you have reached out and said that you were inspired by my story and by me paying off the credit card debt, which is wonderful.

In talking to others about what inspires them, there are certain things that commonly come up. Ideas of doing things that are difficult, that we don’t know for sure if we can do, that we might fail at, that are going to take some time. So, really, what we get excited about are the goals that are hard. 

What happens, I think, is that we don’t quite know how to choose the “right” hard goal, because sometimes goals are hard because we don’t want to do them. And we are not interested in doing the difficult actions that it takes to get there. I think sometimes it’s hard because we really, really want that thing. So we have to be brave. We have to go outside of our comfort zone. So it’s a different kind of hard. It’s different kind of challenge. 

That’s actually one of the reasons I created this guide that you can grab to go along with this chat. Because I really walk you through—I actually have part of it here. This is probably going to be backwards, but I walk you through a list of traditionally hard goals and help you figure out which ones would be worth your while. There’s questions, there’s like things you can do. It’s a whole thing! That you can get as my gift to you.

That will allow you to look at what hard goal would be worth you going after in the first place. OK? That’s the first point to make: We think we want it be easy, but actually we really do want the hard goal. I think more than we want it to be easy, we want it to be simple. We want to believe that it’s something that we actually can do. And that we have enough faith in ourself that we can take the actions and reach whatever that goal is. 

With that in mind, kind of brought it up a second ago, this idea of why things are hard. I can think about times in my life where I had been going after very difficult goals or trying to do very difficult things. I can think of a time when I was 12 years old and I was swimming in a U.S. swim league swim team. Basically, it’s a league of teams where people who are really serious about swimming in college or going for the Olympics, it’s that level of training. 

That was something that I had done because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do and it was absolutely brutal and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It was hard because I didn’t really want that goal. I thought that I wanted it. I thought that the esteem of maybe becoming a national level swimmer, that that would be something I’d want. But, no. It actually wasn’t! 

When I would show up to these workouts, there were like 9 workouts a week, and it was incredibly difficult physically. I would look around and I would see those next to me, and I’d wonder, “how are you doing this? Why are we here? This is terrible.” It’s like 5 in the morning, it’s cold, and we are literally running in the dark, up a hill, and I would just wonder, “how is it that they can be into this and that they keep showing up and they seem to want to be here.”

I think the difference is that for my teammates who really were serious about going to Nationals, about making the Olympics. It’s an incredibly hard goal, but that was something that was really important to them. And it was worthwhile. It was not my goal. So for me, it was just miserable. It was hard. It was a grind. It was difficult. And I just wanted out. 

So I think, sometimes when we’re not going after the “right” hard goal, and we’re looking at something that is difficult but is just not something that we’re truly interested in, or that we really believe in, then we don’t end up getting very far. We don’t end up reaching that goal because it’s not something that really matters. 

And yet when a goal does really matter, and it is something that’s still just as difficult, but important, then we’re looking at a different type of hard. One that requires us to show up and to go outside of what is known, to go beyond our comfort zone. To be brave. In a lot of cases, that means to be seen for who we really are, to share our ideas. I mean, there’s maybe sharing our feelings. There’s different levels of “oh, this is really hard.” 

So for me, now flash forward twenty something years, whatever. Building this business, coming on these chats and doing Facebook Lives—this is hard! It really is. It’s something that is very difficult. And yet. I show up every day, I think about this all day long, because this is the most meaningful thing to me. This is what I want to do with my life. This is how I want to be here, with you, serving you, helping you get what it is that really matters to you.

So it’s not like me, running up a hill, in the pitch-black at 5 in the morning, it’s me showing up even when I feel vulnerable, even when I don’t feel like I have it together, or any number of the other human experiences. But it’s a hard that is worth going after. 

Oh, hey Anne! It’s so good to see you. Nice to see you! 

So there’s different types of hard, right? I think it’s important to distinguish that, because when we look at committing to goal, when we look at possibly using a Progress Map to go after a larger picture goal, they represent hard goals. They represent things that are not easy to do. And they’re made up of these little swirls, because each swirl represents that action, that next right step that you can take. A next right step is always the one that you can do. 

So it may be easy for you, or it may just be easier, but it’s something that you have confidence in, that you know for sure that you can do. You can actually take that step. That, I think is how we get the hard goals, in a way that is easier, if not, at times, easy. 

So the first thing is to choose that goal that is worth it in the first place. For you to put the time and effort and energy behind. As some of you know, I actually have another tool on mapyourprogress.com called the Human Light Types, which is a tool designed to help you narrow in on your purpose, what it is that you want to give in the world. What all of your goals lead to. So that is something that you can grab on mapyourprogress.com. Take it in combination with the guide that I’ve created for you to help you choose the right “hard” goal. That will get you on your way. 

Then the next thing that I want to mention: Once you’ve figured out what hard goal it is that you want to choose, that would be most meaningful and worth your time, then Clever Brain gets pretty fired up. Clever Brain is what I call that part of our brain that runs on perceived fear, that is this internal propaganda, that is constantly sourcing thoughts that get in the way and distract you from what it is that you’re really here to do.

Clever Brain loves this idea of wanting hard goals to be easy. Because it can keep you in this kind of circular distracted state, where it’s like, “oh, I really want to do that thing, that thing that’s really difficult, but only if it’s easy. It’s difficult, but I’m only going to do it if it’s easy. But I really want it, because it’s difficult, but only if it’s easy.” You know, it gets weird quickly. And confusing. And that’s the whole point.

Because when you’re in those thoughts, when you’re looking at something that you want, but you’re Clever Brain is convincing you that it’s not something that you can do, that it’s too difficult, that it’s not worth it, then you get stuck. Or you don’t even start at all. It gets to just be a mess that keeps you from taking any action and keeps you from going forth. 

So it kind of projects this idea of what it’s going to be like, “it’s going to be sooo hard!” But you just want it to be easy. And until you actually take those steps, and get into it, and start experiencing it, vs looking at it from Clever Brain’s projection, then you don’t actually know. 

So there’s an experiment that I have in this guide, that you can get as my gift to you. That helps you start to break down what those actions are, what they truly are, for you to be able to reach you hard goal. And to do it in a way that is much easier. 

Because they other thing is that, to reach those hard goals, even when you break it down into your next right steps, even when you break it down to things that are easier, you are still a human being and you will have the experience, perhaps many times, of going after something that is challenging for you. Going outside your comfort zone. Feeling not ready for it. Feeling like you’d rather be doing something else. Feeling like, “please, just give me some Hulu and some popcorn and leave me alone.” Those are things that humans experience. 

So when you start to get into those moments, where going after your hard goal feels HARD. Even your next right step might feel hard. In which case, you back it up and you go for a smaller next right step. Nonetheless, you’ll have those experiences where it’s just hard! It can be challenging, if not at times painful. 

So in those moments, the key to be able to make progress anyhow, no matter what is going on, is to know how to care for yourself, and be with yourself, when you are doing hard things. I actually call that “becoming the person that you most need.” What I mean is that in this experience of going after your hard goal, on the adventure, taking the actions, the next right steps—you are the only person that really knows what it’s like for you. 

You’re the only person that can hear your Clever Brain, you’re the only person that can feel all of your feelings, and really understand what’s going on. No matter what you might present to the outside world, you are the only one that knows what it is that you really need. In any given situation. So as you taking those next right steps, as you are using the Progress Maps to track your progress and going after these hard goals, the thing that makes—I think—the thing that makes the biggest difference is knowing how to be good to yourself through that process. 

Because there’s not shortcuts, usually. You have to show up and do the work, take the action, spend the time, whatever that is. Knowing how to be good company for yourself, knowing how to recognize when you need rest, or you need a drink, or you need a friend. Whatever it is that you need to be able to continue, to go forth and take that next right step. 

Or even just enjoy the process of the next right steps that are you taking, really, really important to be aware of how you are treating yourself. How you are caring for yourself. How you are basically hosting a party that is a party of one! That is just you. And you are in it, 24/7. So I’d love for you to keep those things in mind.

As you are considering goals that you want to go after, as you’re thinking about things that are hard, as you’re wrestling with your Clever Brain and these thoughts that focus on these bizarre logics that keep you stuck, that “oh, well I’m only gonna do it, this difficult thing, if it’s easy. If it’s hard, then I’m not gonna do it.” It’s like, “Well, Sweetheart, if you stay in that logic with your Clever Brain, then you’re not gonna do anything. You’re going to stay exactly where you are.” For a lot of people, that’s not a very satisfying experience. So, it’s really changed my whole view on these difficult goals.

The last thing I want to share is that: Often times the things that seem really difficult, that seem scary, that we frankly talk ourselves out of even seriously considering, ARE the things that are most meaningful to us. There’s the ones that matter the most. Often they are creative projects or things that are very personal, which require you to share with the world what it is that you think or you feel or that you can see or that you’ve created artistically. Whatever is coming from you, that takes a lot of courage. And it is very hard to do! 

Which often can get confusing, because people think, “oh, well if I was meant to do it, or if I had what it takes to do this, then it wouldn’t be so hard.” Not true. If it’s really hard for you, that actually might be a good sign. 

So the thing to look at, when you’re looking at “what is worth my time and investment?” is: Is it something that you really want? Is it hard because you don’t really want to do it and it’s not something that matters to you? Or is it hard because it is everything that matters to you and it is the most important thing to you? 

So. Anyhow. Excited to hear from you guys. What I’ve done with this guide, which you can go to mapyouprogress.com, in the blog section, you will find it. I’ll put a link to it here as well. But you can go through and it will walk you right through how to choose the right hard goal for you. Some experiments with that and taking next right steps and actions. 

Then I’ve also got some other things that you can do. If this is still an interesting subject to you, I’ve got some things you can read, watch, and then also, there’s an opportunity for you to apply for something I call a Goal Alignment session.

I think alignment actually has a lot to do with how “easy” it is to go after our hard goal. When something is aligned with your purpose, and who you are, and what really matters to you, then even when it’s difficult, it’s still a lot easier. 

So one thing that I have been offering, for Mappers, who’ve been purchasing Progress Maps lately, is some customized recommendations. For you and I really get a bit more into the details and for me to make some personalized recommendations on how you can go after your goal in a way that is aligned with who you are. 

So what you can do, is when you grab your guide and you use it to choose the right hard goal for you, you fill it out, then you send that to me and I will give you a Goal Alignment session as my gift to you. 

So that’s it, my Dears! Hope you love the guide, would love to hear about your hard goals. Would love for you to really take this on and experiment with it. Then send me all the details so I can hear all about it! Alright? 

Next week: We are going to be back, Friday. We’re going to be talking about the tides of progress. Because that’s another thing that we often don’t understand. And that gets in the way of us being able to reach these hard goals. So I am excited to share that with you next week, and that’s it! That’s all I’ve got for you.

Anne, thanks so much for being here. Everybody else that’s here, thank you so much! And I’m excited for you! In whatever this hard thing is that you’re gonna go after. Because, as someone who goes after the hard goals, every single day, I can tell you that it is worth it. 

Oh, wonderful! Anne said, you just downloaded the guide today and look forward to going through it. After the March! Right on, sister. I’m gonna be marching too. Alright, guys! Look forward to seeing you next week. Thanks so much for being here. Bye!

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