At some point in your childhood, you noticed the horizon for the first time and discovered that, no matter how far or fast you ran, it always stayed “out there.” Once you learned how this trick of perception worked, though, you probably stopped thinking about it and certainly weren’t bothered by it.
So why do so many successful entrepreneurs fall for the same trick when it comes to achieving their goals?
“The Gap” between you and your ideals.
Your brain has its own version of the horizon: ideals. An ideal is a picture of a bigger and better future, and, like the horizon, it moves with you, always out of reach. Why? Because the scope of your expectations and imagination expands in pace with your achievements.
If you use your ideals to measure your progress, you risk falling into what I call “The Gap”—the distance between what you’ve actually achieved and the ideal you’ve created. In The Gap, you always feel a twinge of dissatisfaction, and you can’t see your accomplishments, even though they’re obvious to everyone around you. It’s not a nice place to spend your time.
Ideals are still useful for achieving your goals.
This is not to say you should give up your ideals. All your motivation and inspiration are derived from your excitement about imagining that you really can improve and you really can surpass everything you’ve done before. That future ideal helps you identify and choose your goals.
As soon as you’ve got a goal and get in motion, you start making progress.
The trick here is to inspire yourself forward and measure backward:
- Use your ideal to establish your goal.
- Set specific, measurable milestones to achieve your goal.
- As you reach each milestone, look back and recognize how far you’ve come from your starting point.
Progress is a great motivator. Measure how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go.
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Progress is a great motivator.
Every time you look backward and measure from your starting point, you’re training yourself to stay out of The Gap. Even better, as an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to share this mindset with your team, your clients and customers, your family, your friends, and anyone else in your life.
Over time, this will give you a big advantage. It puts you in a positive zone of energy, pride, confidence, and excitement, which makes everything around you flourish. Even though the world around you keeps changing and you may not have fully achieved your goals, you and those around you will have a greater sense of morale, momentum, and motivation that keeps building.