Today, I want to share a secret to making “impossible” goals possible…
And in making them possible in your mind, you’re making a huge leap toward achieving them in your real life.
When we come up with New Years Resolutions or other goals — or even as we tackle much smaller tasks in our day — we’re constantly judging what we can and can’t do…
“I can do that…”
“I can’t do that…”
Since we know the best goals are achievable, we will often call our “can’t” goals impossible, and focus our efforts on what we know we can do — even if that means living smaller than our heart desires.
What if I were to tell you that there’s an easy way to turn “can’t” goals into “can” goals?
Now, first I have to acknowledge, there are real limits in life.
For example, I can’t fly using just my body. Neither can you.
I probably can’t play professional hockey, no matter how vividly I dreamed of it as a kid. (Although if I’d set my mind to it very early — much earlier than I even discovered my love for the game — it would have been a maybe.) Today, the opportunity for me to do that has come and gone.
There are things that are either not within the realm of our capabilities, based on real physical limitations and the laws of nature.
But then again, humans have achieved some pretty miraculous things that were previously thought to be impossible.
The trick: ask this strange question about all your “can’t” goals…
Let’s look back at flying.
Rather than saying “I can’t fly,” I can instead ask, “If I could fly, how would I do that?”
Today, the most obvious example is to hop in a plane. Done!
But maybe that’s not the experience I’m looking for…
Maybe I want the experience an eagle has as it’s diving toward prey on the ground. For that, I could go sky diving.
Or if I want the experience of soaring over cliffs, I could learn to hang glide.
If I want the freedom of being able to navigate the skies, I could get an ultralight plane and learn to fly that.
There are a ton of options for flying, depending on the experience I’m after. I don’t find them by saying “I can’t,” but rather by asking, “If I could… how would I?”
Take hockey. “If I could play hockey as an adult, how would I do it?”
I may not be able to play pro hockey, but I could certainly join a beer league in my town, and have a lot of fun playing, if that’s what I’m after. Or, if I really want to play with the pros, I could sign up for a camp that lets me play on pro ice, alongside pro players. Or, I could focus on becoming a wealthy entrepreneur, buy a pro team, and surround myself with the pro experience.
What is it about that goal that I’m really after? If I just say, “I can’t,” I’ll live a life full of regret. If I say, “If I could… how would I?” I have the opportunity to move impossible goals to possible and even real.
Once you shift your mindset, a whole new world of opportunity opens to you…
If you go through life looking at all the things you’d like to do and saying, “I can’t do that,” you’ll never get anywhere. You’re shutting down possibilities before they have a fighting chance of coming to fruition.
If, on the other hand, you go through life thinking of possibilities and think, “If I could achieve that, how would I?” what do you think will happen? Suddenly there’s no such thing as impossible. Sure, some of your goals shift. You’re forced to focus on what you want most out of them. But then you’re likely to find a clear and direct path to achieving that result.
Take Peter Diamandis. He was at Harvard medical school, to become a physician. But before he could complete his degree, he decided he wanted to reinvigorate the American passion for space exploration. And specifically, to stimulate a private space industry.
Over the next few years, he failed — a lot. A handful of space-related ventures failed to get him the results he sought.
He could have given up. He could have looked at his failures, and given in. He could have said, “I can’t.”
But he didn’t. Instead, he asked, “If I could stimulate private interest in space exploration, how would I do that?”
Then, he created the X PRIZE Foundation.
He didn’t have the money, but he found backers to put up a $10 million prize, to be awarded to the first team to put a private passenger-carrying ship into space.
26 teams spent over $100 million collectively to win the $10 million prize, and within 10 years, the prize was one.
From that day a little over a decade ago, a $2 billion private space industry has sprung up, and we’ve entered a new renaissance in space exploration.
Here’s how to apply this for yourself, or with a team…
Here’s how to do this for yourself…
STEP 1: Brainstorm your goals and aspirations — what you want in life. Think big, especially with regards to experiences (not stuff) that if you have them, will make you feel like you’ve lived a full life. What do you most want to achieve? Write these down. And try not to filter at this point.
STEP 2: Go through your big goals, and ask yourself, “If I could… how would I?” questions about the goals. Take notes. Try to think of what you most want out of the goals. Then, think of how you might be able to achieve these in a way that gets you what you want.
STEP 3: Prioritize. Out of all the big goals and aspirations, which are most important? Which do you want to achieve soon? You will get the best results by focusing on less, getting that goal done, and moving on to the next. Trying to do them all at once will likely result in nothing getting done.
Then, go do it!
If you want to use this in a team context, follow the exact same process. You can get together with your “brain trust” for your business, and come up with where you’d like to be in 10 years, and what you want to have accomplished.
Then, ask yourselves, “If we could… how would we?” This will start to create a picture of what needs to be done to accomplish your team’s biggest goals.
And finally, prioritize. What do you want to get done first? Next? Next?
It’s all about shifting your mindset away from “I can’t…”
I can usually tell in a couple minutes of conversation if someone new I meet is going somewhere with their life or not.
I ask them about what they most want in life. And if they start coming up with excuses, and “I can’t” reasons why they won’t get what they want, I’ll know they’re not going anywhere fast.
Equally dangerous though is simply assuming “I can” when it comes to impossible goals. If you believe you can fly without assistance, and you jump off a cliff, you will fall to your demise.
The most likely to succeed are those who go after big challenges, acknowledge the difficulty, but then approach it with a problem-solving attitude of “If I could… how would I?”
Those are the folks I know are going to create incredible breakthroughs…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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