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”A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Laozi)Impossible v2 cats Attaining the impossible through the possible

Remember when you were a kid, and you had absolute, resolute clarity about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Your dream vocation may have been “astronaut”, “pirate” or even “bus driver”, but you knew for an absolute fact that this was what you wanted to be. Sure, your objective may have changed every month, but for that brief moment in time, you had a clear goal to strive toward.

Unfortunately, most adults lack such clear-cut aspirations in life. Most, in fact are just stuck doing what they do because they lack viable exit strategies, and have resigned themselves to pushing forth until some external force magically offers them a solution: “Yes Mr. President, of course I’ll join the Mars mission.”

One of the reasons adults are so reluctant to set clear goals is the fact that as adults, we differentiate between the possible and the impossible. A possible goal would be, say, to reorganize your sock drawer, whereas an impossible goal would be to write a screenplay for an Oscar-winning movie. And obviously, any life goal worth striving for is in all likelihood an impossible one, so we forget about it and rather focus on making ambitious new designs for our sock drawers.

The fact is, however, that very few goals in life are actually impossible. The trick is to slice each goal into small manageable parts. Say you want to write that screenplay? Well, you might decide that this week, you will read up on the basics of screen writing. Next week, you will come up with 5 story ideas. The week after that, you will write a character biography for your lead, and so on. In the end, you will be pitching your screenplay to agencies and studio execs, and probably threatening/bribing members of the Oscar academy.

To your great surprise, the impossible was actually very doable, as long as you stuck to simple, clear-cut tasks. The key is to make sure these tasks are easy so you don’t get discouraged, but rather keep on taking small steps toward your end goal. With the simple habit of setting goals and splitting them up into lots of small steps, you can attain almost anything.

Here are five simple steps which will get you on your way:

  1. Think long and hard about what you would like to achieve in the coming year, and set this as a goal for yourself. The goal should be outrageously ambitious to the degree that you almost burst out laughing at the lunacy of it. Don’t let your past experience or peoples’ expectations hold you back, be honest about what you want. Write this goal into the first column of an Excel spreadsheet under the heading “The Impossible”.
  2. Next, under the heading “The Possible”, write down the smallest incremental step you can possibly take toward this goal. This step should be ridiculously easy, almost an insult to your abilities. You should be absolutely sure you can complete this step within a week.
  3. Below the first step, keep writing additional incremental steps. Whenever you come across a bigger task that seems even slightly difficult to complete, remorselessly tear it apart into smaller tasks. Don’t stop until you have written down all the necessary steps to fulfill the “impossible” goal.
  4. Set deadlines for each step. Don’t over-extend yourself here, it is better to achieve a little each week than a lot in the first month and then give up.
  5. After a year, repeat steps 1-4.

At the end of the exercise, your Excel-spreadsheet should look something like this:

Impossible v1 Attaining the impossible through the possible

“Impossible” is just an excuse for shying away from what we want to achieve. If you’re worried about fitting these small tasks into your weekly schedule, check out our post on Most Important Tasks (MITs) for advice on how to prioritize.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sock drawer to reorganize. I’m starting by reading a fascinating Wikipedia article on socks:

“A sock is an item of clothing worn on the feet….”

Whoah, slow down, you’re going a mile a minute!arrow1 Attaining the impossible through the possible

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