Baby ThinkingI was at a baby shower yesterday and I realized something very powerful.

Babies always end up achieving their main goals in life. They learn to walk, to talk, to count, etc.

As we get older, we seem to achieve less and less of our goals. Some may argue that “adult” goals are harder but are they really?

As a baby who has never walked before, is it really easy to achieve walking? If you’ve ever watched a baby learning to walk, you can see that there is a lot of effort that goes into it. They get up, steady themselves and then try to take their first step just to stumble right back to the floor.

But do they quit? Of course not. They keep trying for days even months until they can finally walk.

What is interesting is that almost every baby I know eventually learns to walk (I did it, my brothers did it, my wife did it and you’ve probably done it). We were all born with the ability to achieve what we want so why do we end up quitting on our goals and achieving less when we get older?

I think the main reason is:

We no longer have the faith that it WILL happen.

As children, we didn’t doubt whether we would eventually walk, talk, count, etc. We just kept trying until we achieved it. People all around us encouraged us in our endeavors and no one told us that it couldn’t be done. The main point is that we truly believed that our success was a foregone conclusion. That as long as we kept trying we would achieve what we set out to do.

Contrast that with our experience in adulthood where people are constantly telling us what is impossible and I am not going to tell you how many scoffs and/or sarcastic comments I get about being too idealistic when I talk about my dreams.

When was the last time you believed any result was a foregone conclusion?

And that is the difference. If you want to start achieving your goals (becoming wealthy, losing weight, finding a your dream job, etc.), you need to truly believe that if you keep at it, you will get the results you want.

But how do you know if what you’re doing is going to help you get what you want? What if you are wasting your energy doing the wrong thing?

Well, how does a baby know what to do to begin walking?

The answer is they don’t.

A baby learns by doing, looking at the result, adjust their action according to the feedback they get and repeat until they get their goal. They don’t do a lot of strategic thinking or planning. If you don’t believe me, take some time and observe babies.

No matter what your goals are, here are three ways to make sure you achieve them:

Surround Yourself with Proof

It is much easier to believe that our success is inevitable when we surround ourselves with people who have achieved what we want to achieve and being mentored by those who have taken the road we are planning to take. Babies are surrounded by people who walk and talk and do all the things they aspire to do, which strengthens their belief that they can do it. These very people (usually the parents) will help the baby achieve their goal by supporting them and making sure they don’t learn how to walk near the staircase. If you don’t already know people who have achieved what you want to achieve, find them and surround yourself with these people. Use your personal and professional network, attend seminars, conferences and Meet Up groups, read related biographies, etc. The more you surround yourself with evidence of success, the stronger your belief of inevitable success.

Keep Trying

When babies learn to walk, they try one way, “fail” then try another way. What makes them successful is that they persevere and keep adjusting until they get what they want. For myself, there are many times when self-doubt creeps in and I question whether spending all this time and effort is worth it. I get through this period of doubt by remembering that if I keep taking action, reviewing the feedback, making adjustments and repeating the process over, I will achieve my goal. My results alone tell me whether I am doing the right thing or not. If not, then I will adjust my actions. I just have to keep in mind to distinguish between ineffectiveness and delay (click here to learn how). Winston Churchill was right on when he said “never, never, never give up”.

Ignore the Naysayers

As we get older, the number of skeptics, cynics and pessimists seem to grow. As babies, we were surrounded by people confident in our success and willing to help us along the way. It is because they have already achieved what we are trying to achieve so they know it can be done. As our goals get loftier, there are a lot fewer people who have achieved what we want to achieve so the natural reaction is to be skeptical and to dissuade us from continuing on because they truly believe it is not possible. This is dangerous for us because we do get influenced by those around us whether we like it or not and their doubts create doubts in our own beliefs. The best way to deal with naysayers is to ignore them and stop being around them altogether. When someone tells me all the reasons why reaching my goal is not possible or that I can’t accomplish it (and we all know there is no such thing as the word “can’t”), I make a mental note to cut ties with that person which brings me back to the first tip: Surround yourself with proof that it can be done.

An important lesson I learned was that my plan doesn’t have to be perfect. I just have to take action and see what the results are. If it is positive, I will do more of what I’m doing. If it is negative, I’ll do something different. The key is to persevere and keep trying until you reach your goal and the only way to do that is having faith that your success is a foregone conclusion.

What goals are inevitable for you?

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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. If you would like help applying the concepts in this article to your life, contact Robert for a free consultation by clicking here. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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27 Responses to How to Always Achieve Your Goals – Lessons Learned from Childhood

  1. [...] no matter what the result may be, they believe their success is inevitable. They believe that like a child learning to walk, they need to take action first and then modify the action according to the feedback that they get. [...]

  2. [...] no matter what the result may be, they believe their success is inevitable. They believe that like a child learning to walk, they need to take action first and then modify the action according to the feedback that they get. [...]

  3. Robert,

    You’ve done a excellent comparison on goal attainment between children and adults. Indeed we as adults can learn a lot from babies when dealing with our own goal achievement efforts.

    However, I think that one of the reasons that babies get to accomplish a lot of their life goals is simply because of a natural drive, or put it another way, they’re wired by nature (God or whatever) to pursue this growth and thus reaching these goals. You don’t often see a baby succeeds in shedding a few pounds intentionally, do you?

    But many of us adults pursue goals that may not be congruent with our natural growth, perhaps that’s why it seems to take so much effort to reach them. As adults, it’s common for people to want to become wealthy, have big house, create big business, rise to high positions in the company, etc. Of course these are great goals per se, but the real drive behind these goals is usually not aligned with the nature/God/whatever that we are made of, but rather the greed, crave, ignorance, vanity, and all sorts of egotistic reasons, which babies usually have none of. No wonder it’s so difficult to reach these goals.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is, when we set out to reach a goal, it’s wise to analyze a lot of why we want to achieve it, and ask often what is the driving force behind it, and make sure it’s something aligned with our life purpose.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Harry,

      Excellent insight! I agree that knowing the “why” is just as important for setting a goal as the goal itself. Making the goal relevant to our life’s purpose is what will help us have staying power. The only problem some people may run into is if they don’t know their life’s purpose. Then it is say whether their goal is aligned or not.

      I think what makes babies different than adults is that they are naturally open to all learning. That’s why they pick up both good and bad habits depending on how they were raise. They do pursue what is more natural to them and their values have not yet been skewed by society, their parents or other authority figures.

      Adults should return to being open to learning but more importantly finding what their purpose is so the goals that they set are relevant. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    • Sean says:

      Cool survey I stumbled upon the other day relating to the psychology of going about achieving goals….

      http://1survey1.polldaddy.com/s/achieving-goals

  4. [...] Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and his passion is to help undervalued individuals reach their full potential. Visit his website to learn more about him and his philosophy on personal mastery. If you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals [...]

  5. [...] no matter what the result may be, they believe their success is inevitable. They believe that like a child learning to walk, they need to take action first and then modify the action according to the feedback that they get. [...]

  6. Look back at the previous year and weigh up what you could have done better and what you achieved. This may be a financial achievement or you may have just managed to really get your name well known and are slowly seeing the fruits of your marketing efforts. Write down at least ten achievement which you have had over the last year.
    Now that you have looked at what the last year was like, you have in front of you a good outline of what it is likely for the coming year to look like. There is a great possibility that you will probably only do slightly better than last year in terms of getting toward your life-goal. This is why now you must set yourself an absolute goal…for life!

  7. [...] Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and his passion is to help undervalued individuals reach their full potential. Visit his website to learn more about him and his philosophy on personal mastery. If you’re having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals [...]

  8. [...] Another point to keep in mind is that some people lose interest when they begin to lose faith. When they don’t think they can achieve their goals, their interests wanes. If you are having a faith issue, read How to Always Achieve Your Goals. [...]

  9. [...] Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and his passion is to help undervalued individuals reach their full potential. Visit his website to learn more about him and his philosophy on personal mastery. If you’re having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals [...]

  10. I enjoyed reading this and found it really useful, thank you. Babies are a great example to use because we’ve all been there and done that, and it’s a reminder that we’ve already achieved great things by determined effort. I appreciate what you say about adjusting your actions if what you’re doing isn’t working, because right enough it makes no sense to keep doing the same thing if it isn’t working. That can be a motivator too, trying to find a new angle or a new approach to a task, to make it work.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Hi Lorna,

      Thank you for reading my blog. I am glad that you found it useful. As we get older, we lose sight of our successes and forget that if we just keep on taking action, reflecting on the feedback from the world and adjusting, we’ll get what we want. You’re absolutely right that realizing there is a possibility to achieve your goal motivates a person to keep trying.

  11. Danielle says:

    When was this article created?

  12. [...] If you find that you’re having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals. [...]

  13. DB Thaddeus says:

    Hi Robert,
    I believe that most people don’t achieve their full potential because they over-complicate the process.

    Babies don’t set goals. They keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t. They walk because they stand up more than they fall down. They practice it until they get it right, in spite of the bumps and bruises.

    As adults, most of us quit as soon as it gets tough, without giving it our all, without practicing. If we were just learning to walk most of us would be still sitting on the floor, bawling.

    Babies also don’t care if they look foolish. They think it’s great if people laugh at them and they chortle right along. The average adult would rather die than have people laugh at them.

    I’ve been a teacher for most of my life and I’m constantly amazed at what kids can achieve. Oh, to be that unrestricted again

    Regs,
    DB

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thanks for the comment DB.

      You’re absolutely right. I’m sure as a teacher you see it all the time. Kids have the freedom of being themselves and not worrying about what others thought of them because it really doesn’t matter. As adults, we need to realize that it still doesn’t. We have been trained all our lives to think it does (report cards, performance evaluations, etc.)

      The key is knowing that your performance is not you. Poor performance has no bearing on who you are just what you know at the time.

      It’s not easy but most successful people became that way because they weren’t scared to fail and understand that it’s all part of the process.

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  15. Hrishikesh says:

    Mr. Robert…Thanks a zillion. A very very good article. I will try to get that perseverance in my life from now on!

  16. [...] no matter what the result may be, they believe their success is inevitable. They believe that like a child learning to walk, they need to take action first and then modify the action according to the feedback that they [...]

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