One of most exciting activities you can engage in is goal setting. The future is bright and filled with endless possibilities, and by carefully planning a set of actions and milestones you can achieve nearly any goal you commit yourself to.
After you make your plan, first few weeks are energizing as you see yourself moving toward goal. Your vision expands and you can feel positive energy as you visualize future and your anticipated accomplishments.
But sooner or later it's inevitable that you will face an unforeseen obstacle that seems impossible to overcome. The obstacle may be financial in nature, such as unplanned expenses or a failure to achieve initial revenue targets. It may come in form of a person or a group of people who stand in direct opposition to your plans. You'll know when you encounter one of these immovable obstacles when you find yourself feeling defeated. It's at this stage that most goals get derailed.
I think of these immovable obstacles as mules. Mules have three key characteristics.
1) They will completely stop your progress. They seem to wait until you're moving full steam ahead, and then step out in front of you to block path to your goal.
2) They're stubborn. When you attempt coax them to move, they ignore you. When you try to move them out of way, they plant their feet and refuse to budge.
3) They don't go away. They seem determined to keep you from achieving your goals.
When a mule steps out in front of you to block achievement of your goal, you essentially have four options:
1) Abandon your goal. You can rationalize that goal isn't really important, or you can simply give up and feel defeated. This is a common response to mules, especially for people who are in early stages of working toward a goal. Hopefully, you're committed to achieving your goals and have determination to overcome any obstacle.
2) Wait for mule to go away. This will generally lead you back to option one, because if obstacle is truly a mule, it won't go away. Goals, properly set, include milestones and are time-sensitive. The longer you remain in a stalled condition waiting for a mule to move, more milestones you'll miss, and eventually you'll be forced to admit failure.
3) Move mule out of way. This will also generally lead you back to option one, because if it's really a mule, you won't be able to move it. One of most common pitfalls in attempting to achieve a goal is getting de-focused. Trying to move a mule is a totally frustrating experience, and you'll dissipate your energy in process. If you want to succeed, you've got to keep your eye on goal and not on mule. Remember, your objective is to achieve your goal; not to move mule.