I’ve been binging on TED talks this last week. I’d momentarily forgotten how inspiring it is to hear clued up people, passionately share their ideas for around 15 minutes.

The other day I came across one that scared me a little bit. It’s by Mel Robbins and it’s called “How to stop screwing yourself over”. Basically it’s about not getting in your own way of living the life you want to live.

The part of it that caused me to sit up, was her declaration that you’re never going to feel like doing the stuff that might ultimately lead to what you want. Now not everyone knows what they want in a big picture, I’ve got it all figured out kind of way. But even if you take seemingly small dreams or desires, most of them require a bit of work or planning to make them happen. I call this the boring stuff.

Writing lists, making plans, saving money, working out, tracking your spending, tracking your eating, are all things that may be necessary steps towards a goal such as travelling, buying a house or losing weight. But they are all pretty boring. You might be really motivated to reach that goal but that doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate enthusiasm for the things that need to be done. It’s really difficult to stay focused on the big picture idea when you’re trying to wade through all of the steps that need to be taken to get there.

Mel Robbins claims in the TED talk that our brains prefer to operate in autopilot. It’s easy, it doesn’t take much energy or thought and you can function perfectly well by societal standards. It’s not however, going to get you any closer to what you really, truly want. Shifting outside of your comfort zone is uncomfortable and takes practice.

The reason this hit me so hard is that I have an idea of how I want my life to be. I have things that I want to get better at, but I currently don’t really do them enough for that to happen. Maybe part of it is a fear of failing at something I have properly committed to, or perhaps I am guilty of waiting to ride the huge wave of inspiration and ignoring all the other little waves of opportunity.

Exercise is a really apt example of this. I want to get better at climbing and yoga. Yet I don’t take up as many opportunities as I could for actually practising these things. When I feel like it, I can make it happen but those waves are too far apart for the kind of progress I want to make. I need to reprogram my autopilot mode to include those activities that I want to see progression in so that it becomes my norm and routine whether the inspiration is there or not.

I think micro goals become super important when you have a big dream. If it’s something that is going to take a long time then you need to have some way of tracking your progress so you don’t get disheartened and give up before you’ve really given yourself a proper chance.

One thing I’ve been trying to do is say my goals out loud more. I tell them to other people whenever I can. Not so they can judge the idea or my progress, but to remind myself of what I aiming for. It makes it seem more tangible and real rather than some shameful secret.

Identify all of the things that you can do right now to better prepare you for where you want to be. Look out for opportunities that get you even just a half step closer to that goal. Better to start now than look back in three years and wish you had. Don’t sit back and wait until you feel like it.