A Mirage In the Desert

This post is meant to expand on and provide a “how to” for my last post.  Most of us who are working towards our life’s goals are thinking about a destination where life will be easy.  This is a place where we will have plenty of abundance to keep us happy and content.  Many successful people have traveled the road to their ultimate destination, only to find a new set of challenges, and another goal.  If we really pay attention, this is the story we tell ourselves.  We keep this destination in mind and we move forward.   Standard Oil billionaire John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough?”  He answered, “Just a little bit more.”  He was teasing the fact that it will never be enough.  Someone who has achieved so much, realizes that the destination doesn’t exist, only a continued journey. 

That feeling of having given it everything you have, and getting to your goal is a great feeling.  If you talk to most people who have achieved a big goal like reaching a billion dollars in business, they report that initial deep satisfaction of having reached their destination.  Then they often report a huge let down once they settle into their new reality.  In their minds they had imagined a long term sense of satisfaction, only to be disappointed that it quickly faded.  If you want to achieve great things and avoid being fooled by a mirage in the desert read on.    

Goal Setting

The first step in a better way forward begins the same.  Write down your goals and visualize what your goals might mean for your life.  Only a small percentage of people write down their goals, and only a small percentage of people have great success.  That doesn’t mean that if you write out your goals, you will achieve great things.  What it does mean is that the chances of success without specific goals is thin.  It is important that you visualize what those goals will mean for your life as well as write them down. Once you have your goals written down, list the first ten or so things that you will need to do to achieve them. This is where your new path forward diverges from the traditional way of achieving goals. 

Shifting Your Focus

Take that list of ten next steps that you will need to take, and pick the one you are going to work on first.  You have already determined that this is something that you will need to do to reach your goal, so put everything else out of your mind, and just focus on the doing.  Most of the time when we are doing things, our mind is busy trying to distract us.  As I discussed in my last post it is distracting us with pictures of our goal, or by telling us we can’t achieve it.  As soon as you catch your focus going anywhere else, other than on what you are doing, gently push your focus back to what you are doing.  The purpose here is to derive your satisfaction from the doing.  Perform each task with equal parts trying to discover something interesting, and getting the task done.  Look at the task like it has something to tell you.  If you have never done this before, it might feel a little odd, but trust me it works.  

The Reason for Shifting Your Focus

Shifting your focus away from the destination does two things for you.  First it keeps the distractions that your mind will feed you at bay.  Just as important, it will add flexibility to your destination.  If you talk to someone who has grown a large company from scratch, more often than not, the business they created is much different that the business they set out to create. One you have the full picture of that original goal, that should become a second priority.  Your first priority should be on what you are doing right now.


At the end of each week set aside a couple of hours to review what you have achieved.  Review the list of ten steps, and see what you have accomplished.  Then add anything new that needs to be done in the coming week.  Just like any other task along the way, focus on the doing and don’t let your focus move away from the task at hand.  This is a particularly good time to discover new things to guide you forward.  When you are done go back to the big goal, and see how certain parts of it may have changed or stayed the same.  This process of adjusting your goals as you go keeps your reality aligned with your goal.  It causes your goal to become the journey.  It will keep your expectations aligned with the process.

Continuous Improvement

As you perform each task, keeping yourself laser focused on just that task, and performing it as if it is the task itself that is the goal will greatly increase the quality of the work.  You will also start to notice inspiration coming from the doing rather than the achieving.  Continuous improvement will come naturally.  

If you have any questions about this post or are interested in life coaching you can drop me a note at www.brentpinkston.com/contact .  I also keep four fifteen minute spaces open on my calendar each month for free discussions about what you want to achieve via Google Meet.  These can be one on one, or group calls.

A Practical View of Positive Thinking

I have always been interested in positive thinking literature.  What follows are a couple of my own thoughts on the subject.  I understand that when some people hear the term “positive thinking”, they throw up a little bit.  You might imagine a bubbly, and smiling person being interviewed in the aftermath of a natural disaster and they are trying to spin it in a positive light.  I am interested in a more pragmatic approach to positive thinking. Not denying reality but understanding the impact of a positive outlook.  I will start with sharing a phenomenon that most people will be able to relate to.  Before buying a car of a certain model and color, you don’t notice very many of them on the road. As soon as you buy one, it seems everyone is driving a car like yours.  Before you bought the car your mind wasn’t focused on this particular color and model of car.  Once you bought one, you took mental and physical ownership.  In a similar way practicing a bit of positive thinking will help you to notice more positive things and opportunities. Putting more positive thoughts in your mind, will also help you to notice some of the unconscious negative thoughts that can come to mind regularly. If you are spending time everyday thinking intentionally positive, when a negative thought comes it will create a contrast that will help you to recognize it. One of the most valuable things I learned so far through my counseling and life coaching education, is that we are not nearly as conscious and deliberate in our thoughts as we think we are.  If you purposefully notice your thoughts, you will find that the majority of them rise in your mind without any intention.  Most of your thoughts are not an act of conscious will, it is just your brain on autopilot. The act of consciously planting positive thoughts in your mind is like buying that car. It will create a hook that will help you to become more conscious of your negative thoughts, which will allow you to catch yourself in the act of self sabotage. Let’s go back to the car buying experience. When you bought your car, it was a big decision. Maybe you weren’t completely comfortable with the amount you spent on the car or the monthly payment. Maybe your salesperson was applying pressure that made you uncomfortable. Spending that much money is uncomfortable for most people. A lot of people will blame it on a high pressure salesperson, but your resistance to buying the new car is just as much that your mind doesn’t like change. You have done the numbers and you know you can make the payment, but you act as if you are unsure you can afford it. After a few months you get accustomed to the payments. You like the car just fine, and life goes on. Starting to think more positively can be like that car buying experience. It feels good thinking about it, but your brain will resist and try desperately to get you back into your old thought patterns. You don’t like change because your brain doesn’t like change. Starting a practice of positive thinking can be as simple as writing out the goals or the life you want for yourself, and thinking about what good that will mean for your life. Just as important is to stop thinking about the things you don’t want. Toward the last third of the video below Brian Tracy talks about a study that the University of Pennsylvania did on positive thinking. It is interesting what successful people thought about vs, what some less successful people thought about. Negative thinking is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I know what limitations it can put on you, and there are no easy shortcuts.