The smaller, simpler goals are what everyone goes for every New Year’s. You know the ones I’m talking about.
Run three times a week.
Join the gym and use it.
Meditate for fifteen minutes every morning.
Call your parents every week.
Apply to new jobs every month.
These are worthy goals. Important goals. They form the backbone of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle—the staples of self-improvement. But let’s face it: they’re boring. Of course you should be training regularly, regulating stress, maintaining strong relationships, and pursuing professional success. These are non-negotiables. Make them goals if they’re missing from your life, but also stretch for greater things. Stretch for the big, scary goal you’ve always thought about.
What’s Your Big Scary Goal?
Everyone has one (or several). That one goal you pine after, the one that visits you in your sleep, that won’t go away, that feels a little bit unrealistic.
Well, it’s not unrealistic. It’s slightly unrealistic because it isn’t reality, right here and now. You have to grow into it—you must become the person that can accomplish the goal. How do you grow into your big scary goal?
Let’s take my experience with my own goals (the only ones I can truly speak to). My big scary goal for the longest time was “I want to change the way a million people eat” (for the better). I reached it, but what did it take? How did I start?
First of all, it doesn’t happen right away. Even “overnight sensations” are years in the making. There are thousands of steps before you make it.
That first step for me was sitting down, starting a health and fitness blog called Mark’s Daily Apple, and writing the first post. This was a simple step, one that, if broken down into its constituent parts, wasn’t all that difficult.
So that’s the first thing to consider: Each step should come rather easily. It should feel natural, it should be something you’re good at and ideally enjoy doing. I sat down and started writing about the things I knew about. Health, fitness, endurance, nutrition. These are subjects I’d spent my entire life studying and living, so writing about them wasn’t “hard.” These were subjects I was deeply interested in and enjoyed thinking about, so writing about them wasn’t “work.”
Another thing to consider is that your goal and the steps toward it should be open-ended. Rather than lead to a dead-end, the steps should lead to many potentialities and possibilities.
I didn’t think I’d ever actually reach my goal, until I got that many blog readers. Before I knew it, it was reality.
Did I stop there? Rest on my laurels?
Absolutely not. Once I hit a million, I started writing books. I started selling health coach certifications and putting on live events. It kept building and compounding until a million people eating differently sounded small. I co-founded Primal Kitchen and started selling mayo— literally changing how people were eating by altering the constituent parts of a common dietary staple that sits in everyone’s pantries.
The goal started as an abstract, indirect vision: show enough people a different, healthier way to eat and a good portion of them would actually change their diet.
It evolved into a tangible, direct progression: change the physical ingredients of mayonnaise, salad dressing, and other common pantry items so that people would actually be eating differently. And guess what? It worked. All because my goals and the steps required to achieve it led to unforeseen outcomes.
But really? the most important thing of all? Act.
It takes an act. Action. Motion. Doing things. Making it happen. Lifting of the leg to ascend the stairs. Moving your fingers to type the blog post. Whatever it takes, you’ll have to move and do and act. And then you will Be.
The cool thing about big scary goals is that they morph and evolve into bigger and better goals. Once you hit it, it keeps growing so you have to keep growing to keep up with it. That’s the secret of all this.
Trust me, I know.
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.