Audience participation time! Think back to when you were a kid, and you had your heart and mind set on one very specific thing that you wanted more than anything else.
Do you remember how much time you spent thinking about it?
Do you remember concocting crazy schemes to find a way to get it?
Do you remember knowing every single last little thing about it?
Could anyone make you feel differently about it or talk you out of wanting it?
Do you remember the day you finally got it and how you felt?
It honestly doesn’t matter how silly you think this object of obsession is today as you stand here wearing your big grown-up pants. When you were younger it meant the world to you.
Growing up I had my fair share of obsessions including Converse shoes, Troll Dolls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Gak. For purposes of this little exercise, I’m going to share with you the story of my sticker collection, which was way cooler then it sounds, or at least it was when I was in third grade.
When I was in grade school all my friends and I were obsessed with sticker collecting. We ran recess like sticker executives. There was no time for playing on the swings or slides as we hit recess ready to make a deal with anyone who was ready to trade.
We all had our one ace up our sleeve, our big fish, that we would only consider parting with if it was the right deal. We considered ourselves experts in ranking the quality and rarity of stickers and we spent hours organizing and sorting our stickers in our books.
Lisa Frank was not just a name in our industry she was power. If you had Lisa Frank stickers you were in the money and you could be sure your deal would be taken seriously.
My biggest catch was a dinner plate size, Lisa Frank sticker of a gum ball machine that was given to me by a boy in our class because he didn’t want it and clearly had no idea the precious commodity he was carelessly giving away for free.
My mom and dad never really got the whole point of it all as we never actually stuck the majority of the stickers on anything but we didn’t care. We were living in our own sticker obsessed world and no one was going to convince us that they weren’t worth our time and effort.
So now you know about a very odd part of my childhood and hopefully you have a your own childhood obsession in mind. If you are like me, remembering this “Mom I have to have it” toy or piece of clothing most likely transports you right back to your childhood self.
Now come back and put on your grown-up pants. Sorry, I know it was a lot more fun back where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cabbage Patch Kids ruled supreme but grow up we must.
What would you do differently if you treated that goal like you treated your childhood obsession?
I want you to think of one of your current goals, and not just the “to-do list”, or “I really should” kind of goal, but think of one that keeps you up at night, one that scares you just a little bit but gives you great joy all at the same time. Think of one that, if accomplished, you would make you a better version of yourself.
Change Your Focus
Would you find time for your goal or just get around to it after everything else was done and you were completely exhausted?
First and foremost your focus would change. When you were a kid you woke up thinking about what you wanted and you went to bed still thinking about it. You quickly became an expert on the topic, looked for it on TV, in the store, and you knew other kids who had what you wanted. It made you daydream and imagine what it would be like when you finally got it.
If this was your goal your focus would change and not out of obligation but because you want to and because you would allow it to be in the front of your thoughts. You would likely think about it in relation to everything else in your day and not just during times when it was most convenient or when it fit in your schedule.
Show The World Your Goal
What would happen if you didn’t care who saw you working towards your goal and you were willing to talk about it with anyone who would listen?
Kids are known for having no filter. I am reminded of this at every piano lesson as it is apparently the time when my children love to share every embarrassing and less than perfect moment you’ve had as a family with their piano teacher. Thankfully, our teacher has a heart of gold and a great sense of humor and eventually they make it back to playing something resembling a song.
When you were a kid you didn’t care who you talked to about your favorite things. I was more than happy to show anyone my sticker collection and explain in detail the reason why some stickers were better than others and what big trade I had recently made. I took my stickers to church, to the doctor’s office, and of course to piano where you were given stickers in return for practicing during the week. I was so proud of that sticker book and I did not ever hide it. (For the record it had Bart Simpson on the cover. Thank you 90’s culture)
If you didn’t hide your goal and you told anyone who was willing to listen your goal would become real. It would get out of your head and find a place among living, breathing people.
Some people may judge you or try to discourage you but when Ralphie’s mom told him “You’ll shoot your eye out!” he didn’t want the BB gun any less. Stick to your goal regardless of the doubts and criticism projected on you by others.
Only after you let your goal out into the light of day would you begin to find others who have the same goal or have been in the same place as you are now. You would begin to be given resources and connections that would begin to link together to help you find your way.
Once others know about your goal you will also begin to be held accountable to yourself and others to make progress towards that goal. Scary right? But worth it.
What would happen if you pooled your resources, made a plan and actually started taking one step towards your goal?
Remember the movie A Christmas Story? Ralphie wanted that BB gun more than anything and so he hid ads in his mom’s magazine, talked to Santa, wrote about it at school and even made up a story about grizzly bears roaming downtown to justify his parents buying him that BB gun.
I’m not suggesting you make up stories about wild animals or ask Santa to bring you your goal but I am saying that you need to take action. Sitting around talking about your goals is a great first step but you cannot talk a goal into reality. Instead take some kind of action that will bring you one step closer to where you hope to be. Put some money towards it, make a business card, get a trainer, buy new shoes, add one new healthy recipe to your week, read one article about it a week, promise yourself leave work fifteen minutes early for three days, get up a half hour early, whatever it is, make it an action rather than a dialogue.
What would happen if we went after our goals like a kid version of ourselves?
Remember a Christmas morning when you got a gift that made you scream out loud before you even got the wrapping paper off? The day you reach your goal you are allowed to run around your house screaming like a seven year old, you earned it.
Kids don’t give up easy. Try telling a kid that they are going to a birthday party only to have them get sick an hour before you are suposed to leave. There is nothing, not even being sick, that makes a kid any less driven to get what they were promised.
Promise yourself that you are going to reach your goal and, You Will.