THE SECRET TO SUCCESS: AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO GOAL SETTING

There have been many times in life that I thought to myself,

“I should be farther along than I am by now.”

I remember thinking this on my 25th birthday, my 30th, my 35th, and almost every year since then.

Now, at 41, the relentless ticking of the clock seems to grow louder with each passing year.

I know I’m destined to do more with my life.

I’m smart, I’m tough, I’m strong, I’m a hard worker.

I’ve done a lot of things that I am proud of. Here’s a few of them:

  • Entrepreneurship: I learned to navigate the challenges of self-employment. I have worked for myself since I was 18.
  • Artistic Recognition: I gained acclaim as a published, award-winning tattoo artist. At the peak of my tattoo career, I had a two-year waiting list.
  • Mentorship: I guide fellow artists, fostering their growth and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Business Sense: I established, built, and sold a thriving tattoo business.
  • Digital Influence: I cultivated an engaged YouTube following exceeding 170k subscribers.
  • Innovative Ventures: My 12-year-old and I started a business selling freeze-dried candy as a side hustle. We made $60,000 in our first six months!
  • Family and Personal Life: I am raising two confident children with my wife of 18 years. And two adorable dogs that come running to the door when I get home.

BUT IT’S EASY TO FALL INTO THE COMPARISON TRAP

I’m often reminded of all the things I haven’t achieved yet, of those goals that seem out of my reach.

It only takes a few minutes of scrolling online to get bummed out. There are dozens of people younger than me with bigger piles of money and more experience. Everybody seems to be living their best life.

At first, I tell myself don’t care about what they have. But then, I feel uneasy and wonder if I’m not doing enough.

I start thinking about all the things I haven’t done yet and wonder if I’ll ever get to do them.

I had so many dreams when I was younger, and I realize that I’m not living them.

Do you ever feel this way?

I’m reminded of a quote that Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It’s unfair to compare our lives to others because we all start from different places. We can’t do exactly what someone else does and expect the same results.

So, should we not set goals at all?

No, we should definitely set goals. But we need a better way to pick the right ones for us.

If you are struggling with this, I have laid out solutions below to guide you.

BIG SCARY GOALS

You need big, scary goals to give yourself room to learn and grow.

Without these productive challenges, your brain might default to anxiety. You’ll feel anxious because your future is uncertain, and you lack a plan.

You can let life happen to you, with its meaningless struggles. Or you can tackle productive problems and create a future that excites you.

RETHINKING GOAL SETTING

You might set goals based on what others have achieved because it shows us what is possible. You see their success across various aspects like wealth, health, and relationships. You believe that following a similar path will lead you to happiness.

This method contains many pitfalls.

Happiness tied to achieving specific outcomes can be fleeting. You can’t control all the variables, so the outcomes aren’t always in your hands. Sometimes you reach your goals, other times you need to adjust your path.

Even if you do reach your goal, the celebration is brief. Then, you kick the finish line down the road by setting bigger goals.

This approach limits your chances to celebrate wins.

Let’s reconsider how you set and pursue your goals.

FOCUSING ON INPUTS = DAILY WINS

You progress by focusing on what you can control: your actions or the ‘inputs’ towards your goals.

Think of each goal as an experiment. You develop strategies and tactics to move towards the goal.

The strategies and tactics are the things within your control. You adjust along the way to get closer to the desired outcome.

If your assumptions from the beginning of the experiment are wrong, you may have to adjust. But, as long as you are moving in the general direction of your desired outcome, you are winning.

As you get closer, you can continue to adjust and hone in on the small details.

By shifting your focus from outcomes to inputs, you get to celebrate daily efforts.

You win when you make meaningful progress that resonates with your true self.

YOU ARE THE PUZZLE

You are a big puzzle. Each person’s finished puzzle is unique.

A puzzle is a big picture broken down into little pieces that fit harmoniously together.

You aim to find pieces and manipulate them into position to join together. As you combine the pieces, you start to see the big picture before it is complete.

One major problem you might face is spending too much time searching for one perfect piece early on. Expecting to see the big picture too early can lead to frustration.

There is no magic single piece that can make you whole.

You need to do the work to form the big picture for yourself.

Your life experience, skills, and knowledge you earn are all pieces of the puzzle.

You might feel lost, not knowing which pieces to choose next. There are an infinite number of options, so it can be overwhelming.

I created a framework that can help you take the following steps.

THE P.I.E.C.E. FRAMEWORK

You can use the PIECE framework to explore your interests and passions methodically. This can help you decide on a direction for personal growth and fulfillment.

This approach encourages exploration and experimentation. It ensures that the path you choose resonates with your true self.

P – Passions

  • Reflect on what activities make you lose track of time.
  • Consider what topics you can read or talk about endlessly without getting bored.

I – Inspirations

  • Look at the books you love to read; what genres or themes do they have in common?
  • Review your YouTube history and podcast subscriptions. What types of content are you drawn to?

E – Enjoyment

  • Think about the tasks or projects that bring you the most joy, regardless of their monetary value.
  • Identify activities where you feel most like yourself, fully engaged and fulfilled.

C – Curiosities

  • List things you’ve always wanted to try or learn more about.
  • Think about the questions you often find yourself asking. What are the topics you’re curious to explore?

E – Experiment

  • Choose one or two interests that stand out the most and experiment with them. Do this in small, manageable ways.
  • Set short-term goals or projects related to these interests. Test your passion and commitment.

APPLYING THE FRAMEWORK

  1. Start with Self-Reflection: Use the PIECE framework to take a deep dive into your current interests and joys. This is a personal journey, so be honest and open with yourself.
  2. Make a List: Create a list under each category of the PIECE framework. Don’t worry about how these interests might converge into a career or project just yet; the goal is to explore and acknowledge them.
  3. Prioritize: Once you have your lists, look for patterns or recurring themes. These are strong indicators of where your true passions lie.
  4. Take Small Steps: Choose one area to explore further. This could be through a hobby, an online course, or a small project. The aim is to engage with your interest in a tangible way.
  5. Reflect and Adjust: After engaging with your chosen interest, reflect on the experience. Did it bring you joy? Did it feel right? If yes, consider how you can incorporate more of this into your life. If not, return to your PIECE framework and select another interest to explore.

Life is a never-ending puzzle game.

Sometimes, you might fit all the pieces perfectly and feel a sense of completeness. Other times, life throws curveballs. You might feel like tossing the puzzle aside in frustration.

But here’s the thing: every piece and experience is valuable. Even if you feel like starting over, each piece you’ve collected along the way still counts.

Remember, there’s no ‘being behind’ in this game. Your journey is unique to you, unfolding at its own pace.

If you ever feel like you’ve lost time, think again. Each moment you’ve lived, you’ve learned something new. You’ve added another piece to your puzzle.

Your life is a masterpiece in the making, reflecting your passions, dreams, and joys. The world needs more of that—more people living their truth, creating a mosaic of their experiences. This, in turn, makes the world a more beautiful place for all of us to live in.

READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

Don’t just wander through this game of life. Grab the reins by signing up for my weekly newsletter.

You’ll get stories, tips, and resources delivered right to your inbox to help you navigate your journey. And you’ll be among the first to know what I am working on next.

Plus, when you sign up, you’ll get a free download of the PIECE framework worksheet. It’s a simple tool to help you identify your next steps and add meaningful pieces to your life’s puzzle.

Take action now. Together, let’s build something beautiful and uniquely yours.

John Garancheski