In Part 1 of this series, we took a high-level look at Extreme Goals. We looked at how to decide if our situation and our goals are appropriate for this aggressive approach to goal setting. We made the comparison to walking a tightrope without a safety net and how that net can sometimes hinder our efforts to do our best. In this article, we’ll look a bit deeper into that.
What’s Your Safety Net?
The biggest obstacle to success for a lot of people is having comfort with the status quo. Let’s face it, it’s not so bad to live like everyone else, right? After all, that’s what nearly everyone else does. Wrong! Allowing yourself to be conditioned that the status quo is acceptable is the biggest mistake that you can make. Just because all your friends are overweight, work tons of hours for peanuts or are in relationships that make them miserable doesn’t mean that you have to live the same way. It’s absolutely okay to break free from the pack.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you hate your job, are frustrated with your relationships, desire a more exciting social life, or dream of more money. In fact, I’d say that you’re pretty normal. Allowing yourself to accept the situation as the way it’s always going to be can lead to dangerous territory — misery and hopelessness. Do not allow others to make you feel like there’s something wrong with you for wanting to make more of yourself. Use it as ammunition to feed your desire to grow.
Now acceptance of the status quo is quite general — in fact, a lot of times we don’t even realize that we’ve become complacent, even if it’s pretty obvious to everyone around us. If you’re dissatisfied with any area of your life (career, finance, relationships, health, spirituality, etc…) but don’t feel an overwhelming desire to change it, then you’re stuck with the status quo.
Removing the Net:
In part one, we covered the first step to Extreme Goal Setting, which is to set a goal. The next step is to remove the safety net to ensure that there’s no turning back. The ancient Greeks understand this very well — when they’d attack by sea, the first order they’d give after reaching port was to burn their boats to ensure no one could turn back.
Sometimes you just have to burn your boats so that you can’t turn back. It’s reckless to take a decision like this lightly — you do need to think it through before taking such a drastic leap. But sometimes, this is the only way you’ll be able to move forward. Again, you know yourself best and it’s up to you to take a good honest look at yourself and determine what’s truly holding you back, whether or not you’re ready for such a drastic measure and if you’re not, what you need to do to get ready. Here are some examples of situations where the safety net has been cut:
- Resigning from a job to start a business or change careers.
- Buying summer clothing (or to be very extreme, a wedding dress) in a smaller size to ensure weight loss goals are met.
- Ending a relation to start fresh.
- Packing up and moving to a new location.
- Volunteering to do something outside of one’s comfort zone (give a speech, enter a contest, etc…) to ensure overcoming a fear by a given date.
When you do something like this, the telltale sign that you’ve made the right decision is the excitement that you’ll feel upfront. If you don’t get this feeling but instead feel a sense of panic, then you’re not ready to take such a big leap. That’s why it’s good to do a little bit of mental role playing beforehand. Simply sit back, close your eyes and imagine that you’ve taken the drastic measure.
You really need to feel it, so imagine it as a film in your head. Watch yourself taking the action and anticipate how others (if others are involved) might react. What’s the best way they could react? What’s the worst way? How could they surprise you? What could they say to change your mind? What doubts might you have? How do you feel?
Answering these questions while you’re imagining removing your safety net will clue you in as to what’s holding you back. These questions will also tell you whether or not you’re ready, and from there you have to decide if you’re ready to take the leap.
When there is no net:
There may be times when you are forced to take action because the consequences of not doing so are so dire that you can consciously consider the alternative. Perhaps you have a medical scare and a doctor tells you that your life is in danger if you don’t start living a healthy lifestyle. Or maybe you find out that your employer is going out of business in ninety days (or less) and that you’ll need to find a new job.
Whatever the case, don’t panic. Keep your wits about you and create a plan. Don’t make decisions in haste or fall into reactive mode. Grab control of your life and start to call the shots. You’re in the driver’s seat and you’re off on an exciting ride.