7 Awesome Lessons Learned About Goals

pyramid - MY GOAL

Goals are easy to set and challenging to reach!

Some years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Ek Balam – a Mayan ruin located in Yucatan, Mexico that had recently been opened to the public. Previously, when we visited Chichen Itza, a more well-known Mayan ruin in the same region, we were not allowed to step foot on El Castillo, the massive pyramid. We had to be content with viewing it from afar. However, at Ek Balam, we were able to make our way to the top of the pyramid El Torre (or Acropolis)…at least my husband was!

Climbing to the top of the pyramid El Torre seemed like an easy goal! After all, I’ve been to the top of some pretty tall sky scrapers. What’s 100 feet compared to the height of a sky scraper?

So, confident at the base of the pyramid, I began the climb. Initially all was well, but I didn’t get very far before the steepness of the steps and the narrowness of the treads made the experience more precarious than I’d anticipated.

And everything would have been just fine if I had just kept on climbing and never looked back, but I looked back!

I can’t explain it, but about three fourths of the way to the top I suddenly had the urge to turn around and take in the view. It was wildly disorienting! When stairs are that steep, it’s like turning around on a very, very tall ladder! My legs became weak and my heart began to pound. Sweat appeared on my brow as a paralyzing fear set in – literally!  I couldn’t move!

I never made it to the top of the pyramid.

In my defense…

El Torre was built long before safety rules were in place like they are today, so there were no railings on the very, very steep steps.

It’s sounds crazy, but the trip down the pyramid was far worse than my most-of-the-way-to-the-top trip up. If it weren’t for my husband’s steady hand, I might still be sitting there on the steps of the pyramid today!

I forgive you if you are smiling or chuckling at my wimpy ways right now. My guess is that you too have encountered similar defeat in an attempt to reach a goal.

Successfully reaching goals isn’t as simple as it might seem. Did you know that 92% of the people who set New Year’s resolutions never keep them?

According to Lendingtree.com’s anaylysis of the 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistic:

  • 20% of small businesses fail in the first year
  • 50% fail with in the first five years
  • By the end of ten years only 33% survive.

Food for Thought…

Businesses don’t set out with failing in mind. They set out to succeed!

Weight loss is another popular area for goal setting. While there isn’t complete agreement on how many people reach their weight loss goals and keep it off, there is no denying the weight loss, weight gain roller coaster.

According to Dr. Edward Miller, the former dean and CEO of the hospital at John Hopkins University, even when bypass patients are faced with death, 90% of them will not make the necessary changes to their diet and lifestyle. In other words, even the threat of death is not enough for people to change their habits and lose weight.

Reaching goals is not easy!

What did my pyramid climbing attempt teach me about the process of reaching goals?

1. Stay Focused

You see, the minute I turned around to savor the view, panic set in. If I’d kept my focus on where I was headed, I feel confident I would have reached the top. Now a certain amount of panic still might have set in after finally reaching the top, but I would have made it! And making my way back down would have still been challenging, but I would have achieved my goal.

What goal have you lost sight of?

2. Remember that God’s with Me

To be honest, I don’t remember if I if I prayed in my fear frozen moment or if I was aware of Jesus’ presence there on the steps of that pyramid. My guess is that I didn’t because when I do center myself this way, it makes a difference! I feel pretty certain it would have enabled me to press on!

Taking the time to savor that I’m loved in those fear filled moments changes everything.

What reminds you of God’s presence while in pursuit of your goals?

3. Go Slow!

As someone who is naturally driven, I want to conquer my goals. Crush them! As a result, I tend to be unrealistic about the pace and length of time accomplishing a goal should take.

God is more concerned about me and my character than He is a about my successfully reaching my goal. Often times He, in light of His abundant wisdom and love for me, allows speed bumps along my path to slow me down and teach me a few lessons along the way.

Don’t be fooled – reaching worthwhile goals rarely happens overnight!

In pursuit of your personal or professional goals, where have you rushed the process? Where have you grown impatient?  

4. Take Consistent Baby Steps

There’s a reason why modern-day building codes regulate the pitch of stairs and width of treads. A consistent rise and run matter when people attempt to go up and down stairs. When they aren’t consistent or they are too tall, even the best at balancing might find it hard to keep their footing!

Because the steps to the top of El Torre were tall and the treads were narrow it was a bit of a safety hazard. It wouldn’t have taken much to fall.

The same thing is true when pursuing your goals. When you try to take too many giant steps you just might find yourself stuck like I did on those pyramid steps.

Instead, it’s the small, consistent, incremental steps towards your goal that ultimately gets you results!

What keeps you from consistently taking small steps in pursuit of your goals?

5. Don’t Go it Alone!

By the time I had only a quarter of the way to go, my husband had already made it to the top of the pyramid. Had we navigated the pyramid together, my chances of reaching the top would have increased. Thankfully he did come back to rescue me and even attempted to coax me to the top. Sadly, he was unsuccessful!

Reaching goals is tough! Unexpected challenges and discouraging moments are inevitable along the way. Having someone supporting you through the process, encouraging you, and urging you forward is powerful and a blessing!

Who can support you as you seek to accomplish your goals? Maybe a family member, friend, or a coach?

6. Celebrate Your Progress!

I admit it – heights are really aren’t my thing. They make me queasy! The fact that I nearly made it to the top is not so bad for someone with acrophobia (fear of heights)! Honestly, in light of that, I do celebrate the attempt! Just because I didn’t reach the top doesn’t mean that I didn’t do something courageous!

Be sure to acknowledge the progress you do make rather than dwelling on the failures.

Where are you minimizing your progress?

7. Do Overs Count!

Let’s face it, failing to reach a goal really stinks! It may even lead to some negative beliefs that impact the way you see future goals. Failing has a way of accentuating your weaknesses in ways that have the potential to shrink your strengths. That’s not a happy feeling.

Failing to reach a goal is temporary. I hope that someday I’m able to visit Ek Balam again so that I get a second chance to reach the top of El Torre. I want to put to use what I learned successfully climb to the top! I l also want to celebrate overcoming and growing and not giving up! Baby, ready to head to Mexico again?

Failure is our teacher, not our undertaker.

It’s a temporary detour, not a dead end.

Failure is delay, not defeat.

Failure isn’t something to avoid, but something worth risking!

Struggling to reach a goal? How might you pursue your goal in a fresh way?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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