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They'll all fall

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fullfilling goals: Stepups and stepdowns

The other day, I wrote a bit about well-formed goals. In it, I quickly mentioned step ups and step downs. As I see stepping up and down as probably the single most important thing in making goals happen, I think a little more depth is in order. If you use this well and your goals are overall well-formed, progress will "just happen" - motivation and results will follow naturally.

So, what are these magical steps? Briefly, step downs go from larger to smaller goals. Smaller goals are easier to complete and more concrete. Completing them show obvious progress towards the larger goal. Thus, step downs make it possible to complete larger goals. Step ups go from smaller to larger goals. Larger goals are more motivating than the small ones (otherwise, there would be no point in the larger goal.) Thus, step ups allow you to find motivation to complete a small goal, by linking the small goal to your larger life goals.

Let's start with a step up. You want to clean your apartement, and you lack motivation. Step up: What larger goal can you get motivation from? Maybe "I want the hot babe you're bringing home tonight to be as positive to you as possible."? I know that will motivate me, at least - and the cleaning is suddenly easy to do. In general, if you're having problems motivating yourself to do something - do a step up. If you cannot find any larger goal that motivate - the small goal is probably pointless anyway. Go do something fun instead.

As a schematic, the step up goes as follows:
1. Find a bigger goal that the small goal supports
2. Is adding the motivation from that bigger goal enough to motivate you to do the small goal?
3. If it doesn't, repeat step 1-3 until there are no more big goals.
4. Still not motivated? Drop the small goal.

Step downs are a bit more tricky. In a step up, the larger goals to link against are generally obvious. Linking against the wrong larger goal matters little - you just link to as many goals as you need to get motivation. And you can find the larger goals by free association. In a step down, you need to create the smaller goals. Also, you can only pursue a limited number of smaller goals at a time, so the exact stepdown you choose is important.

So - how do you find what stepdown to do? Just ask "What resources do I need to achieve this (larger) goal?" Often, you'll find it easier to ask "What's blocking me from achieving this goal right this very minute?", and turning all the blocks on their heads. A problem is just a resource or an outcome turned on its head.

Let us do an example: Assume the goal "I want to get laid." What's blocking me from achieving this right now? Hmm. Seems like there would have to be a girl here. And she'd have to be horny. And want me. And we'd need some privacy. And we'd need some rubbers or an STD test.

Reversing these, the step-down goal opportunities would be:
- Choose a girl
- Move to somewhere private
- Make her want me
- Make her horny
- Get rubbers (actually, I already have them)

Now, in order to fullfill several of the above goals, I've just sent an SMS inviting a girl I've laid before over for dinner at my place tonight. :-)

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