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red trail with california oaks on top of Mt Tamalpais

Sneakn’ Up on an Elusive Goal

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: tibchris
Think about a time you successfully achieved a goal… what was the path you followed? Do you know? (Really?)

There’s a clandestine operation afoot – I’m working a stealth move on an elusive goal.

Why don’t we just wait here for a little while
… see what happens…

— MacReady
Character in The Thing (1982)

As you think about the goals you’ve achieved, do you know what strategies moved you from “idea to done?” Sometimes we think it was our determination that made “it” happen – a plan that’s written down,  or our commitment, our persistence, or you name it, blah, blah, blah.  Many times, we’re right. Still, I invite you to look back on your successes and examine which strategies worked best for you.

For me, a direct assault is my best strategy. Sometimes though, I find myself starting over – over and over again!  What then?  Do I abandon the goal?  No, I do not.  Usually I put it on a backburner with the intention of trying again when I’ve mustered up enough steam to overcome whatever obstacles have been blocking me.

But I’m beginning to recognize that some of my most successful efforts were forged a different way: very gently with a hopeful nod to some unconsciously small sidestep onto a new path… a sidestep that was really a stumble marking the moment when I thought I’d finally given up on “trying yet again” to achieve an elusive goal.

A Clandestine Operation Afoot

And with that small sidestep I could choose to keep steppn’ or not…  Inevitably, I took the next step and chose not worry about whether I could climb the whole trail.  I chose to keep going and “see what happens.”  Instead of a direct assault, I was quietly choosing a covert approach…

My resolution became: Refuse to look up at the steep incline. Refuse to be intimidated by the challenge ahead.  Instead, take just one more step, keep going one more day, do one more action… And as time and trail went by, I began to believe and, finally, to INTEND to follow the path through to its logical conclusion.

Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself. You may be surprised at how easily this happens. Your doubts are not as powerful as your desires, unless you make them so.

— Marcia Wieder

Ready, But Didn’t Know…

Often, my first aggressive but unsuccessful forays into goal achievement had, despite my seeming failures, prepared me for tackling a stealth path.  I was ready but I just didn’t know it.  My false starts, while discouraging, had plowed and aerated my mental ground so that I might be ready to receive and nurture the seeds of a sneak attack.

And even though sneakn’ up on the goal was a fragile beginning, it was a start that, small step by small step, became a fait accompli – a done deal. I’d achieved my goal simply by letting myself believe:

  • that I’d just take it one day at a time to see what happened…
  • that I didn’t really care whether I was successful…
  • that it didn’t really matter…

All the while, deep down, I knew it mattered.  And I knew I was doing it.

Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.

— Fay Weldon

That’s how I quit smoking many years ago.  And that’s how I achieved any number of other seemingly elusive goals that had, at one time, bordered on impossible.  And so today I count as victories those sneaky approaches that brought me unexpected but welcome completions.

And I acknowledge to all (including my own psyche) that another clandestine operation is afoot.  I’m quietly cheering myself on as I once again stealthily sidestep obstacles that have been stonewalling my determination. Hopefully I’ll soon be celebrating a solid victory and asking “what took you so long?”

Try It, You Might Like It

Got a goal that’s freakn’ you out?  Try sneakn’ up on it, one little gesture, one small sidestep, one moment at a time… until you get far enough along to begin to believe that you can do it!

And in the meantime, here’s an assignment for all of us:

Give love and unconditional acceptance to those you encounter, and notice what happens.

— Wayne Dyer

If you haven’t tried sneakn’ up on an elusive goal, give it a try and see what happens!

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