How to Achieve Your Goals, Part I: Know Your Starting Point

Do you achieve all the goals you set for yourself?  Is the path to reaching your goals always easy and direct?  If you answered “no” to either of these questions, congratulations, that means you’re human!  Goal setting is the easy part; achieving them is where things get complicated.  If you want to learn the critical first step to achieving your goals, then this blog is for you!

It was the first day of my first job; I was sixteen years old and excited to be on the path to adulthood.  I knew the route to get to work.  I had been there hundreds of times growing up so I was confident as I started the drive that day.  The unexpected happened when a semi blocked the lane I needed to be in and I was forced onto an exit ramp from the interstate.  All of a sudden, I was merging onto another highway, heading in the wrong direction.  At that point, I did what most intelligent teenage girls would do – I panicked!  Although I hate to admit my age, this was way before cell phones or GPS’s so I took the first exit that I could, pulled into a gas station and called my dad.  The conversation went something like this:

By: jelm6
By: jelm6

Me: (hysterical) “Dad, a semi just blocked my lane and I got forced onto another highway.  I don’t know where I am.  How do I get to work?”

Dad: (remaining very calm) “Where are you?”

Me: (getting increasingly more hysterical) “I don’t know.  If I knew that, I wouldn’t be calling you!”

Dad: (amazingly, still calm) “OK, put the phone down, walk outside, look at the street signs on the corner, then come back and tell me what they say.”

My dad knew that he could not help me find a direction until we first established where I was starting from.

Have you ever been so focused on a goal or destination that you forgot to first determine your starting point?

The path to achieving our goals will be different based on where we start.  But sometimes we aren’t honest with ourselves with regard to our starting point.  When it comes to fitness, I am pretty consistent about over-estimating my starting point.  This fact, however, usually results in me never achieving my goals because I am on the wrong route.  For example,  I want to run a competitive 5K this fall, finishing in less than 20 minutes.  This means that I will need to run around six and a half minute miles for the entire race.  When I started thinking about this goal, I researched training plans online.  The first one that I read was for people who are currently running 8 minute miles and want to improve their time.  I thought this sounded like a great plan.  The only problem was that I was consistently running 10 minute miles.  As I started reading the plan, I reluctantly had to admit that it was unrealistic for me to start on this plan.  Although I didn’t want to be honest about my current level of fitness, if I wasn’t honest it would put me on the wrong path.  That would probably result in frustration and giving up on the goal completely.

This principle applies to all areas of life, not just fitness.  Do you want a better relationship with your spouse or kids?  Do you want to get a promotion at work?  Do you need to improve your relationship with God?  If you want to have the best chance of achieving that goal, you should take an honest appraisal of where you are now. We can't find the right path to follow until we know exactly where we are starting from. Click To Tweet

What do you think? In what area have you struggled to admit where you are actually starting from?  What is your best advice for starting the process of achieving your goals?  I would love to hear your comments below:

  • I loved the story and how you didn’t add any extra inapplicable data. It was just enough that I was able to determine the value. I would have liked to add that you need to also Do what your doing in front of you as well. Which might create the longevity of “knowing where your at”. Because it’s good to start with knowing you’re at, it’s also good to keep knowing where you’re at right now as well.

    1. Great insight, Chris. You are absolutely right. We need to continually monitor where we are to ensure that we continue to head in the right direction.

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