The Engineering of Getting What You Want / Reaching Your Goal
Since I was fifteen years old, I knew I needed to work hard and be intentional to get the things in life that most satisfied my personal and professional life. Although I have been extremely blessed in the good and the bad, I learned that part of being a human being is that obstacles are constant, independently of your social status. Learning to cope and overcome obstacles is an innate ability of every single person. I enjoy being highly productive, intentional, and systematic all the while optimizing my opportunities and resources in an effective and efficient manner. In living a fulfilling and purposeful life, on my personal and professional life, setting goals helped me and my clients to achieve their wants. I’ve set well over hundreds of specific and detailed goals. After doing it so often, setting goals became a habit; and eventually it became natural.
My most recent and scale goal took a month to come to a point of fulfillment. I wanted to grow my business’ social media followers from a few hundreds to 10,000. Mission accomplished; across my social media business platforms, there are 18,203 followers. Not to mention the additional benefits: increased business exposure to 93 countries and 1307 cities, and generated 6,312 leads.
Needs, desires, and comparisons are major factors for conquering and accomplishing. I need a job so that I can sustain my family and myself. I desire an increase in my salary so that I can afford to buy me an apartment on the Copacabana Beach. Her company has more employees and is more profitable than mine... These major factors drive us, consciously or subconsciously, on a consistent basis. Digging even a bit deeper (and going off a tangent for a second), day in and day out, we are often in pursuit of fulfillment and happiness. Truly, with our needs, desires, and comparisons, this is the reason why goals come about. Sometimes our fulfillment is even found in the sustainability and success of others. At the end of the day, or even our existence, we are are truly living when we are accomplished and happy. This writing, however, isn’t about a sense of fulfillment or happiness per se. Although they are the core conscious reasons why we do what we do. The intention to mention this brief side point is just to give you a more encompassing perspective on The Engineering of Getting What You Want.
In this theorized, tested, implemented, adjusted, and applied system of The Engineering of Getting What You Want, there are nine variables that play a role in its succession. Discipline is your determining factor for accomplishing your goal and desire. Knowledge enhances your decisions. Reasoning seeks the need vs. the feeling. Motivation keeps you encouraged. Systems provide you with an efficient and effective step-by-step process. Wisdom optimizes the application of the known. Accountability keeps you engaged. Action is always required. Reward is the end-result.
When we first hear the word discipline, it resonates differently depending on what stage of life you are and on what experiences you have had. One of my brothers graduated from West Point Military Academy and is now a First Lieutenant in Fairbanks, Alaska. For him, discipline might be a matter of compliance and order. For my parents, but especially for my father, discipline can be about being molded in a way to produce a specific character and pattern of behavior. In the academic and professional world, discipline is a systemic branch of knowledge and teaching. At my current stage of life, discipline means self-control and drive.
In terms of accomplishing and getting what one wants, I’ve analyzed and learned that discipline is the determining factor for reaching your goals. It is likely not the first step in the process, but it is the core and drive. When everything has been planned and thought through, when all the resources are available and in place, when the enthusiasm, motivation, and feelings fade, if discipline does not kick in, the probability of you reaching your goal will drop drastically.
One of my client’s goal was to significantly increase her company’s exposure in her community in Texas to increase sales. Willing and ready to start pouring money, talent, and time into this new initiative, she decided to consult with me first. Through my market analysis research, I showed her that her goal was not profitable specifically to her community because her demographics were very likely to not buy what she had to offer. I pinpointed, however, according to my research, which communities in Texas would likely be interested. If the understanding and knowledge of the information pertaining to her demographics were absent, her investment would be highly disappointing.
Most of us have heard the well known “Knowledge is Power,” and indeed it is, for knowledge enhances decisions. It allows us to move forward or halt. It comes in all sorts and forms: data, history, facts, feelings, experiences, awareness, familiarity, information, skills, etc. Essentially, knowledge will equip you to have better options and will allow you to make better decisions. Having a wife who exercises the role of a Project Engineer at a construction company, it seems fair to me on some level to equate knowledge to a layed out blueprint of a building. The blueprint has much detailed information on the plan of the final result, a house or a building. All the information you need is there, but if not learned and used (otherwise it would just be plain information), “knowledge” never takes place. The potential for knowledge is everywhere on that piece of paper. The same way should be with how we approach pursuing all that we desire in our personal and professional lives.
During a casual breakfast with one of my mentors at Bob Evans on the northeast side of Indianapolis, as usually, he spoke some wisdom into my life. His words hit me and I absorbed them in the same manner a dry sponge absorbs water. “The simple secret to live a life where reasoning dominates your daily actions is to learn to Avoid Instant Gratification.” One of the outstanding benefits of being a human is that we have the ability to have emotions. On many occasions, however, the emotion of instant gratification might not be our best option. Training your reasoning to overcome your immediate satisfaction is a potent skill.
Reasoning seeks the Need vs. the Feeling. For the past year, I’ve been attempting to get in the routine to workout and lift weights for the benefit of my health. I greatly dislike going to the gym. I also think it is a waste of time. However, the need to lose weight and have a healthy routine had emerged. In favor of practicing what I preach, I have enrolled myself in a program to workout for 7 days a week for 12 straight weeks! Mind you that the most I had ever been to the gym consecutively was 3 days; and I have probably been to the gym about 20 times altogether. Following my program, on the 23th consecutive day, my mentor’s valuable wisdom made the difference, pushing me to follow through with my workout plan. Typically, I get up and go to workout around 4:30AM, but on this day I was just extremely exhausted from the busy day I had the day before. I decided to workout after work. However, I came home tired after some long hours of strategic planning and looking to further other areas of my business. Exhausted, I ate something in bed with my wife and fell asleep. Waking up totally disoriented, I actually thought it was 7:32 the next morning. It was still the same evening, just an hour later. Dragging my thoughts whether I should still go workout or give in to my instant gratification, I reasonably decided to just go and follow my plan, seeking to fulfill my need and rejecting my current feeling.
When I was on my second semester of my Junior year of high school, as the implications of going to college started sinking in, one of the actions I started to take was to apply for scholarships. I continued applying for scholarships for the end of my Junior year, my summer break, and the beginning of my Senior year. During this time, about 7 months, I had applied to about 20 scholarships. I had been awarded $0! I started questioning myself: Am I doing something wrong? Am I not as good as the other applicants? Are my grades and scores not competitive? Is my strategy inefficient? Soon after, I received a letter in the mail from a scholarship awarding me $1,000! That letter meant much more than just $1,000; it gave me the motivation and reassurance that I needed. It kept me going till the last month of my graduation. At the end of it all, that simple motivating $1,000 scholarship meant much more! Confirming it, at the Senior Awards day at my high school, my counselor announced to all present in the auditorium the amount of money in scholarships I was awarded, $365,000+!
Motivation keeps you encouraged. It provides you with an incentive or reason for doing something. It optimizes your reasoning with your feelings, giving you the fuel necessary to push through beyond your previous thought-of physical or mental strength. Identifying what motivates you in the pursuit of accomplishing your goal is a must. It could be recognition, validation, bigger “blank”, better “blank”, more “blank”; finding and utilizing the motivation unique to you will enhance the possibility of reaching your goal and will emotionally connect you to the process.
If you look around, you will see that everything is a system and works together in a system. Consider one example, your very own device you are likely reading this from: a laptop, tablet, or phone. All the physical elements are put together, connected to the parts it receives and sends information, delivering a result based on one’s ignition move. This is a system. Additionally, we should add the coding and programming infrastructure and system that allows you to interface with your device. When you click your keyboard’s arrow down, or swipe your finger up, your device will display the content following this paragraph. The beauty of a well constructed and established system is that you get what you expect based on your inputs.
Systems provide an efficient and effective step-by-step process, always delivering the same expected result. If everything is a system, and the outputs are always evidences of the efficiency of such system, why should we not create or adopt our own system for accomplishing our goals? With a system, you will be intentional and purposeful, removing idling, wandering around without a purpose, or having latent energy, power, and knowledge. In the front-end, just like any website you will ever visit, it will simply look like a tool for you to get something done. In the back-end, using the same website example, you will see the system built and working in forms of coding and databases to ensure once you do something from the front-end, your output is correctly delivered. Anything that works has a well thought-through and implemented step-by-step process, that is, a system.
Well over a few hundred times, I always found myself witnessing and listening to my father expressing his thoughts on given contexts. Whether with business owners, presidents, CEOs, board members, or pastors, parents, and teens, he always provided foundational, applicable, and problem-solving suggestions. I certainly thought those suggestions were as natural as breathing for him. My father is extremely knowledgeable on how to deal with life and its many implications; and I often asked myself how is he so good at it? After much thinking about it, I’ve figured out that he possesses this innate desire to make people’s lives better. With it, he studied the facts, and logically and strategically rendered them with knowledge; outputting applicable suggestions. I then concluded that wisdom is the exact term for it.
Wisdom is the optimal application of the known. For wisdom to be exercised, we first need to compile information and then knowledge. Information comes in all forms: verbal communication, stories, facts, data, etc. It is essential that information be available to support the optimization of knowledge. Taking a closer look, information and knowledge aren’t the same concepts. Information are the things stated without a decoder decoding the information, although the hope of information is to have an active decoder. Knowledge, on the other hand, plays the part of the decoder to the information. That is, knowledge is decoding and learning the information provided. Thus, the sequential order in which how wisdom is practiced goes from information, then knowledge, and finally wisdom. Exercising wisdom in the goals and desires we are pursuing is the logical approach to better accomplishing our wants.
After about 30 days of asking me what I wanted as a gift for Valentine’s Day, my wife finally got her answer: I told her that the Project Management program I had been looking into for the past year would make me really happy. On February 14th, she emailed me the 16-digit code so that I could have access to my online classes. Thrilled, very late that day I opened my account and started my first of 18 classes. I was so happy with the gift that I told friends, family, and colleagues. Ambitiously, I gave myself 12 months to finish my program. Soon, however, the thrill faded and the in-depth details of some classes slowly pushed me away from logging in and putting some work. “18 classes, hugh Mike? How is it going?” Some of my friends and colleagues would ask. It almost seemed like they were all on purpose alternating to ask me of my progress; and each time they did so was a personal reminder that my wife spent allot of money on me for it and that I could and should follow through with my goal. After many nights, early mornings, entire Saturdays, and even lunch breaks from work, I passed all of my classes and earned my Project Management certificate; and I did so 1 month prior to my deadline.
Accountability keeps you engaged. In my experiences, I have noticed a pattern of two types of accountability: Formal and Informal Accountability. Formal Accountability can be systems, leadership, and responsibilities. An example of Formal Accountability is a task/project you are responsible for within your company. Say you were just assigned to look for business partners from your state only. You need them to partner with your company’s new project initiative: provide a platform for mentoring millennials into leadership in your given industry. Since this task is job related, your direct supervisor/leadership will ask you for updates weekly, biweekly, or/and monthly to ensure you are having progress, thus keeping you accountable, as well as challenge your thinking and approaches.
We can find accountability through many channels to keep us on track or remind us of our goals. Informal Accountability is found from friends, colleagues, mentors, family, and/or even competitors. To cite an example that can use the five channels just described, let’s assume that you are a Business Consultant and your personal goal/desire is to find, apply, enroll, and start your MBA in Entrepreneurship one year from today. To use the power of Informal Accountability, you share this specific goal/desire with key friends, some close colleagues, all of your mentors, your spouse/parents, and your company’s competitor’s business consultant Ben. Mind you that you’ve met and ran into Ben in several events, and he has been performing great and is up for a promotion given his track performance and ambition. Three months pass by and you got swamped and overwhelmed with work and life. As you further continue to interact with your Informal Accountability channels, you find them asking you about your goal. Friends ask. Colleagues ask. Mentors ask. Family asks. Even your competitor asks. If not for motivation, for annoyance (and maybe to honor your word) you will get back on track and take at least another step forward along your progress.
There’s an old Chinese proverb adopted from Lao, a Chinese philosopher, that says “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” There are a few meaningful interpretations that could emerge from this proverb, but I’d like to focus on a single one: the invitation for an action, no matter the monstritude of the goal. Think of the distance of “a thousand miles” as the goal. Like in any goal you want to accomplish, you must set forth action. As a matter of fact, the word “accomplish” is heavily backed by action. You cannot accomplish something if you do not act. Additionally, “step” stands as a synonym for action. Thus, in order for you to move forward, literally in this example, you must take one step; then another; and another; and so on until you reach your final 1000th mile. To entertain you a bit further, according to Arizona State University Extension, a man’s walking stride (the lengthiest and thus used here as an example) equates to 2.5 feet on average. After some math, in order for you to reach your thousand miles journey, you will have to take on average 2,112,000 steps. Without a doubt, this is an ultimate complex goal, but the point is to illustrate that for every goal you set, or desire you want fulfilled, you must take action.
I still remember the process of earning my most arduous, lengthiest, and expensive goal to this date: my bachelor degree from Wabash College. Just in preparation to get to college, consciously pursuing to be admitted into it, it took me 4 hard years of high school. I did everything I could physically and mentally to better my odds. Day in and day out, I went to my 7 classes; I played soccer, football, and baseball; I joined clubs and organizations within my school; I put in about 5 hours a day worth of homework; I volunteered to clean up the parks, help out at the food pantry, raise nonperishable items for the needy, and raise money for our school and clubs; I did internships, shadowings, externships, and seminars; I applied to the colleges and universities; and I applied for scholarships and grants to afford to go to college. Upon starting at Wabash College, I started doing many of the same things to also better my odds of getting into the career I wished for and the company I longed to work with. Four more years of classes, homework, papers, internships, clubs/associations, volunteering, etc. In total, it took me over 2,900 days and beyond 32,000 hours to receive my reward and fulfill my desire of earning my bachelor degree from Wabash College.
Reward is the end-result you were expecting. It can be systematically acquired when you add discipline as your determining factor for accomplishing your goal and desire; when you use knowledge to enhance your decisions; when you apply reasoning to seek the need vs. the feeling; when you activate motivation to keep you encouraged; when you use systems to provide you with an efficient and effective step-by-step process; when you apply wisdom to optimize the application of the known; when you use accountability to keep you engaged; and when you act because action is always required. When accomplished, celebrate it.