There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things:
strength and perseverance. Strength is the lot of but a few privileged men; but austere
perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us and rarely
fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time.
If you persuade yourself that you can do a certain thing, provided
this thing is possible, you will do it, however difficult it may be. If, on
the contrary, you imagine that you cannot do the simplest thing in the
world, it is impossible for you to do it, and molehills become for you
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may
not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in
them, and try to follow where they lead.
-Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888, American Author
Having a very specific notion of where you are going and how to
get there, helps you get there. Also, getting explicit feedback about
how much progress you are making towards your daily or weekly sub-
goals is very helpful. Therefore, it is to your advantage to state your
sub-goals in very specific terms, both behavior-wise and time-wise,
e.g. "I want to lose a pound a week for the next 10 weeks. I will keep
records and reward myself for eating less than 1200 calories per day
by watching TV in the evening. Otherwise, I will have to miss my
favorite programs." The weekly weight loss, the reduced daily calories,
the record keeping, and the rewards are all possible sub-goals.
Likewise, your general goal might be "gaining self-esteem" but the
specific sub-goals could be something like, "Whenever I become aware
of a depressing and untrue self-critical thought, I will immediately stop
the thought and remind myself of two positive traits. I'd like to
increase my awareness of these negative thoughts over the next two
weeks (so I can stop them) and be much more self-satisfied in one
month." Thus, being less self-critical and having more positive
thoughts are self-help sub-goals on the way to self-esteem.
Remember, becoming happier and having esteem are hoped-for-but-
not-guaranteed outcomes; specific self-help goals are more
controllable. It is also important to measure your progress towards
your specific goals. Steps 2 and 7 deal with measuring goal-
attainment, as does recording the behavior in chapter 11 and keeping
a diary in chapter 15.