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Even though I’m a big believer in setting audacious goals, I always have a plan B in mind as well, even if it’s way in the back of my mind. The key, of course, is to make sure plan B doesn’t become the default position or completely sabotages plan A (A = audacious, of course). Good can become the enemy of great, as you well know. This applies to all areas of life, including relationships, business, career, hobbies, health, etc.
For a plan A lesson, if you’ve ever studied history, perhaps you’ll recall that the Spanish acquisition of the Aztec Empire in 1521 was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. I’ve heard people refer to this story as a life lesson for all of us, even today. One of the events was when Cortez grounded his 11 ships to prevent his colony from turning back from the new world. He had invested considerable resources and took on large debt in order to build those ships and undertake the expedition.
Sometimes that’s what it takes to achieve your audacious goal. Have you had any moments like this where you sacrificed much in order to focus on a goal?
Leaving behind my heavy volunteer role, selling the family business, focusing on regaining my health and starting a quest to reach five million people in 20 years was my “grounding the ships” moment. There are 3 things involved in such moments and I will list them here and provide some tips on how to deal with them:
Tip Number 1. Leaving behind something you’ve already invested a lot of time and money into. It’s wise to do this gradually, particularly if you have a family dependent on you. You don’t want to throw away a career with financial security without something firmly in place. But that doesn’t mean you can’t burn the midnight oil for many months or even years to make sure plan A comes to fruition.
Tip Number 2. Catching flack from friends or family. You should listen respectfully if friends and family have concern because it’s entirely possible that they will have some wisdom or insight about the situation that you’ve overlooked. Ultimately, however, you don’t need to strive for their approval because approval isn’t something you can get from anyone else. A cautionary note: if moving forward means you might damage certain relationships, be sure to think it through carefully. No man is an island and you don’t want to foolishly cast aside important relationships.
Tip Number 3. Fighting inner resistance. If an opportunity gives you the urge to run away and hide and immediately and say “no”, then it’s probably an opportunity you should explore further. Resistance hates change. If something is outside your comfort zone but is in alignment with your values and passion, you should consider it. Each time the resistance kicks in, you should try to pay attention to that because it means you might be facing an opportunity you really should say “yes” to instead.
In closing, I want to say that not every “grounding the ships” moment is dramatic. It can be as quiet as saying “no” to a bigger job opportunity across the country and remaining in your current home because you want to remain near aging parents and family, even though everyone around you might be shocked that you would turn down an opportunity to advance. It can be as simple as devoting one evening per week to helping low income children learn how to read even though it might inconvenience your spouse who has to watch the kids in your absence. And so on. If you have any stories like these of your own, I’d love to read them. Feel free to leave a comment.