Goal setting is pretty much a part of our culture. We all fundamentally understand the concept of “set a goal, work to achieve it”. I think though, that we often get goal setting wrong. And I’m not talking about ‘save $1000′ or ‘lose 5kg’, I’m talking about those, “One day I’ll climb everest” or “One day I’ll ride across Australia” kind of goals. Because the fact is that most people don’t have a framework to achieve them. So they don’t achieve them. And worse still, because they don’t have a framework to achieve them they stop dreaming about what could be possible. Since I was a kid I wanted to ride my bike from Brisbane to Sydney. Back then it was a Giant Iguana mountain bike, and I imagined packing up my hiking pack, catching the train to Brisbane one school holidays and riding home. There was no way mum was going to let that happen.
A man I hold in high respect taught me a technique for goal setting that I now live by. And it’s such a simple concept, although let’s not call it goal setting, lets call it dream setting, because it’s a bit different to a simple goal, dreams are those things we’re often afraid to tell our closest friends. I want to share it with you; it goes like this:
We exist in a bubble of comfort. and all of those things that are easy are with us inside our bubble, go for a run, quit our job, cook a three course dinner, make new friends. Our dreams though, are a point outside the bubble. Very few people can jump to the dream, that void of unknown is just too much and so we’re paralysed. Instead what we need to do is stretch the wall of our bubble, until our dream is inside it, enveloped by it, and the dream is something that is now part of our comfort zone.
It’s simple once you see it. Achieving the dream is easy because it’s inside your bubble of comfort. Don’t try to jump to the dream, bring it in to your bubble of comfort instead. I think the the reason my original long-distance cycling goal was Brisbane to Sydney rather than Perth to Sydney back then was because we’d driven the road to Grandmas on summer holidays so many times it was a route a 14 year old version of me could visualise; and low and behold my bubble of comfort was a bit closer to that than Sydney to Perth.
So then, how do you stretch the bubble? You identify all of those components that make up your dream that are currently uncomfortable. If I want to ride across Australia, I accept that there are a number of things that make that dream uncomfortable. Camping out, being away from home, my partner and my dogs, relying on the team to carry on the business while I’m gone, riding epic distances. And it would be one thing for me to just set out one day and hope that it all goes well, and maybe it will. But, in the remaining 4 months if I just worked on stretching my bubble to cover all of those aspects then the chance that I succeed would be hugely improved. I could work with Jake and the team to cover my absence from the company, I could practice sleeping out without my warm bed, I could train to ride long distances. And then, instead of having the weight of the entire project on my shoulders, I can stand on the start line knowing that the only part of my bubble that I haven’t stretched is being away from home, which is much much less weight to bear. Achieving the dream isn’t just about doing the road-miles on the bike, although they’re important, it’s about mindfully handing all of the components that make the dream intimidating.
It’s entirely possible to achieve any dream, whether it’s physical or financial just by stretching the bubble, and stretching the bubble is it’s own worthy project. If I’ve done the work, then in some senses the outcome of the Indy-Pac is actually irrelevant, because I’ve become someone comfortable with the idea of it, and that means I’ve become someone who has, “Riding across Australia” inside their bubble of comfort, which is who I want to be. After all, if you want to be a rockstar, you don’t need to be comfortable with standing on the stage, you need to be in love with practicing guitar in your bedroom. I’m enjoying the preparation and stretching the bubble almost as much as I’m hope to enjoy the ride.