Get What You’ve Never Had

Do you struggle with Goal Setting?

I’m not surprised.

“Goal setting” has either been beaten into unbearable dullness by the anal retentive authors of certain business books, or it’s been co-opted by unicorn-riding New Age “thinkers” who tell you all you’ve gotta do is imagine really hard and that Lotus Esprit will show up in your driveway. So you’re either doomed to drooling boredom or confined to strait jackets and padded rooms.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Goal setting is simple, and it forms a key pillar of the Shapeshifter Lifestyle strategies I share with my fitness clients.

So you’ve got your big dream. You know what you want. But how do you break it down into concrete, achievable steps? That’s exactly what one of my readers wanted to know…

Dale asked me: “I know what I want to achieve, but trying to set all the little goals to get to that point kills me. If your goal is something you have never achieved, how do you realistically know the steps to get there?

It’s an excellent question, and an honest one. Your goal is pretty much always something you’ve never achieved. Otherwise why would you bother? But how the heck do you orient your compass when you don’t have a map?

It’s actually pretty easy. You just map the process of another person who has achieved the same or a similar goal.

Find a “role model” who has the sort of lifestyle you’re trying to create. What did he or she go through to get there? What specific things worked, and which “dead ends” should you avoid? What skills or traits does this person embody?

Compare these details to where you are right now. Then figure out what’s missing from YOUR equation – and how you’re going to get it.

I’ll share a personal story that illustrates exactly what I mean.

When I’m not helping average folks redesign beautiful bodies with the

shifter fitness program, I’m also a professional travel writer. How did I learn to write well enough that magazines would want to send me on expeditions at their expense? I didn’t have a teacher, that’s for sure! I did it by myself, sitting alone in a room. Writing isn’t something you can be taught – but it IS something that can be learned.

When I was first starting to write, I devoured the work of a writer whose style and worldview I admired. His name was Lawrence Durrell. I read absolutely everything he published, right down to the most obscure collection in university libraries. Then I read his published letters. Then I read all the biographies that had been written about him. Finally, I read critical articles about his work to see if I agreed with the opinions formed by these authors, or if I’d missed any nuances.

By the time I was finished I knew so much about Lawrence Durrell’s life, and I’d followed his creative process at such a deep level through his work, that I had a pretty clear sense of the skills he developed and how he got there. I also assessed myself – clearly and honestly – to see where my own writing fell short. And then I worked backwards from my vision to my current state to build the skills I needed, step by step.

Yeah, that sounds like a lot of work. But it wasn’t enough…

I followed this same process with every writer whose work resonated with me on a deep level: Paul Theroux (who I consider the greatest living travel writer), Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, and Steve Kilbey.

I lived and breathed my craft. I read the classics. I read poetry to understand how to manipulate images in original ways. I read history and psychology to inform my work. I read old explorer’s journals to honour those who came before me. And I’m still doing it a decade and a half later.

So yeah, that’s it. That’s how you do it.

Mapping is a sure fire way to discover the path to the dream you want to live rather than just wish for. All it takes is a little work.

So who do YOU admire? Who has the type of business you aspire to create? Who lives with the kind of energy and joie de vivre you’d like to experience? Who has surrounded themselves with the kind relationships and friendships you want in your life? And who embodies the career of your dreams?

Pick one person and start your own modeling process. This person can be someone close to you, someone famous, or even a fictional character. The important thing is to go deep and truly feel, know and understand what makes that person someone you admire. How do they act, think and feel? What would they do in a given situation?

Then start imagining, practicing and applying those actions and reactions to yourself.

[Ed. Note: Ryan Murdock is coauthor of the Shapeshifter Body Redesign program. When not helping people rediscover the body of their “glory years,” Ryan travels the world’s marginal places as Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost magazine. Ryan’s work has also appeared in Alo Magazine, the anthologies Traveler’s Tales Central America and Traveler’s Tales China, and Toronto’s Eye Weekly. His Outpost feature “Taklamakan: The Worst Desert in the World” was nominated for a National Magazine Award in Canada.]
  • Great post! I really enjoyed it, being an author too, and it inspired me for a chapter on how to set your goals in a book on doing what you love I’m writing. Is that quote from you, Craig, so I can attribute it to you? Thanks!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      No, it is not from me. I don’t know the original author.
      Craig