This is a transcribed version of my podcast episode

Welcome back to another episode of The Zine Talk. My name is Zinab, I hope you’re doing great today. If you’re not, that’s more reason to stay on because I’m here to pass some good energy on to you. This place is all about life hacks, motivation, inspiration, all that stuff that you need to hear to start doing something out of your life. What I talk about in this podcast, you probably heard a hundred times already, but sometimes we need to hear it just another time to start doing what we need to be doing.

Right my people, I guess, if you are here you’ve listened to the previous episodes, and now you wonder what’s next. And if you haven’t, don’t worry, this is still a value to you. Because today’s topic is about how to become a master at achieving your goals.

And because I’m in a very good mood, I’m even tempted to say smashing your goals.

Like, have you ever had to go and wonder how the hell can I possibly get there? Like, where do I start? What do I do? And how do I do? Well, cool, because now you have to listen to this.

It’s something I could talk about for hours. Like I always say, I think in every topic I will talk about I could talk about for hours. But I’m going to try and break it down for you. So you can take note and hopefully you can remember this.

Remember, again, it’s not about doing what I do. Exactly. It’s about me giving some food for thought. And it’s your choice, how you use it.

Let’s get to it right away.

How To Achieve your Goals?

No 1: Set big goals

Well, number one, before I actually even say anything, I wouldn’t do this episode justice if I didn’t talk about goals in the first place. And by that I mean, I’m going to have to ask you to set big goals in the first place. Achieving goals is great, but achieving big goals is better. Your goals need to be big, my friends huge, so big that they scare the shit out of you pardon my French. I can’t stress it enough is the stuff that wakes you up at night so that you can get off your mind easily stuff that just comes and haunts you from time to time. Like you’re having a very nice, quiet, peaceful shower, and boom, something hits you just out of nowhere, it should disturb your little boring, too comfortable life.

And now you’re probably thinking, why am I even listening to this? Like, what does she want from us? No, but I’m not kidding. If you find yourself wondering how the hell can I even get there, that’s probably a good sign.

Because your goals need to look like they’re impossible to achieve. You need to feel like you can’t do it. But then you know, it’s just your brain tricking you so you can stop being scared. But I’m just here to remind you that your goals need to be totally crazy. And just so you know, not because your goals are crazy means you’re crazy.

Another thing about goals, and then I move on is your goals and dreams belong to you. Don’t let anyone get in the way. I’m not saying don’t ask for help or advice or stuff like that. But your goals are your goals. If you want to do something, and believe you can do it, and you know, you’re gonna work hard for it, then don’t let anyone get in the way. Don’t let people come and start to tell you. Maybe you should aim for less. You know, maybe that’s too much for you. I mean, no, that’s not an option, achieve whatever you put in your heads, not what someone else put in it, not what they put in their head and want you to achieve it. It’s none of their business. If you want to do something, even if it sounds crazy, to be impossible. It’s your choice. And it doesn’t matter if they understand it or not. If you want to do it, just go ahead.

Anyway, moving on.

No 2: Make a plan & write it down

Number two, make a plan. Please make a proper plan. It depends what your goal is. But most goals are achievable with a good plan. I promise you, make a proper plan and write it down. I mean, there’s, there’s no wonder why people don’t know where to start. If they don’t start writing about why to start. Just write it down. I don’t care if you’re more comfortable with the phone, or laptop or board. But put it down somewhere. I’m personally old school, so I see newspaper.

But it will help you visualise the whole thing you need to visualise the finish line. I talked about visualisation later. It’s so important. But for now just write it down and see what it looks like on paper or on your phone.

Then look at where you are right now. Look at your goal, where you need to be and ask yourself, How do I close this gap? What can I do? What do I have right now that can help me close the gap? And what do I not have? And what I don’t have is what I’m going to work on.

You know, one of the reason why people are scared in the first place is because the vision they have of this situation is the wrong one. They focus on the wrong thing. They focus on the gap on what they don’t have and what they’re lacking. And then they just stop there. All they see is the empty, huge blur space between where they are now and the goal then of course is scary. I can’t blame them. It only looks like they’re about to throw themselves into a big hole with just themselves in the darkness. No To no help, no plan, no rescue? Well, of course, you’d avoid a situation like that. I’d avoid it myself.

But when you switch your focus and focus on filling the gap instead, well, guess what, there is no gap anymore.

Closing the gap starts with the smallest things. It’s writing, all the things that you need to do to make it happen. And literally everything. And I’m taking the risk to sound very silly here. But I’m talking about stuff like, I need to write a plan. I don’t have a notepad, well, first thing, get a notepad. Or I focus better when I’m in a clean and tidy room, well, then clean your room, make some space, buy stuff, I don’t know, honestly, that’s the small stuff you start with, then you might end up with 100 things or task filling the gap. But the good news is, there’s no gap anymore.

And now you can focus on each little task one by one, this looks already so much easier and so much more achievable.

No 3: Seat a deadline & work backwards

Right, number three, set a deadline and work backwards.

This is literally the best advice I can give you. Because procrastinators, I know you unfortunately, I’m the same. So if you’re not given a deadline, you’re just going to leave stuff to write.

You guys know this quote from Elon Musk, right? “If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take you 30 days. But if you give yourself three hours, it will take you three hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions and potential.”

Honestly, I love it so much. Because when I do that, it’s the end of me procrastinating is the end of me full stop, like have no excuses anymore. And if you want me to prove that I’m not just telling you stuff that I’m not applying myself, well listen to this.

I had this idea of creating my podcast just before Christmas, and I think it got proper series sometime between Christmas and New Year. And I told you before, I’m a procrastinator myself, but this time, I just didn’t joke. I was like, Zinab, your podcast is out in February, first week of Feb. Why February, I know it sounds like a weird deadline. But basically, I gave myself one month, the month of Jan, that was my deadline. And I said to myself, the whole month of Jan, you’re gonna work your ass off. You don’t know how you’re going to do it because work is mad busy, but you’re going to publish your podcasting in Feb.

So I just did like I told you before I was like, right, what do I have now? What do I not? What do I need to do, and I started filling the gap. And a month later, here I am with a podcast and the website.

Setting a deadline forces you to adjust your life to your goal and not your goal to your life. This is how it should be and how shit works. If you really want it. My whole month of Jan was all over the place because I had to change literally all my routines.

First thing I needed to do, like top priority was find time. So I woke up before work 5am 6am before my 9-5 job, or rather my 8-8 crazy job, honestly. And because there was so much to research on if I didn’t finish I’d work after until 11pm till 12pm.

And I went back home at the time and my brother was like Zinab, when do you actually stop? And I was like shut up, you don’t know what I’m doing (laughs). You don’t know what I’m up to. Same with my mom. She thought it was actually my job, my work. And I didn’t ask her to shut up like I didn’t my brother. But that’s what he took.

Then I had to change all my fitness routine, all my social life, seeing very few friends, and so on and so on.

Discipline my people. That’s what it is. You won’t get anywhere without that.

No 4: Visualisation

Number four visualisation. I told you earlier, I was going to go back to this but oh seigneur, I just swore in French. If there’s one thing you need to take from this episode is this. That’s it.

Visualising yourself is what will get you there, it is the key to the whole thing, in my opinion. And when I say visualise, it’s very precise stuff you need to envision with a crazy amount of details and stuff.

I’m going to try to give you an example of mine just so you can see what I’m talking about and try to make it brief.

But basically after about two years in London, I decided I wanted to get a finance qualification. It’s called ACCA. finance people. If you’re listening to this, you know the pain, it’s a pretty tough one. But basically it’s a set of 14 modules. You take an exam every quarter approximately so it takes you about three years to get from start to finish, even though you can get through it pretty quickly if you had some exemptions, but with my luck, although I studied finance, I only got three exemptions. Three four exemptions, don’t ask me why maybe it’s because I’m French. I don’t know the UK just didn’t want to give me those. But yeah, you can do the maths, 11 exams for me about two years and a half working full time and studying evenings and weekends while trying to have a life. That’s the fun bit.

No need to say it seemed impossible to me. I was like how, in what world does that even happen? So I just had to start somewhere.

But you can imagine I pass the first exam and I’m like, damn, it’s another 10 exams to go. It’s only been 3 months, and I’m already dying. How am I going to do the whole thing?

So I had no choice but to find myself technique to get me going. And that technique was visualisation. I didn’t think of how hard the exams were or for how long I still had to study, all I was putting in my head was me passing each one of the exams,

Visualising myself passing was not just about visualising myself saying  “Yay, I passed!”. I had to make it real in my head to make it real for real, like, visualising myself was seeing myself getting the midnight text, saying to me, Zinab, you passed. Oh yeah, because those crazy guys, they would send us that text at midnight. So basically, if you pass, you stay up all night  because you’d be so excited. And if you fail, you’d still stay up all night because you’d feel so miserable. I can’t believe they did that to us.

But basically, I would see myself getting that text and see myself calling my mom imagining what I was saying to her. And like I said before, it’s with the crazy amount of details like basically do as if you actually got the text, so with the proper wording and stuff, because obviously, I would remember it from previous exams. So that’s what I will put in my head.

And then I will see myself calling my mom because she’d be waiting at 1am or 1.30am. And I see myself speaking to her. Mom, I passed, I did this, I did that and imagine the whole conversation again.

Even during the exam like before taking the exam, I was seeing myself in the exam centre with a sheet of paper, picturing the questions, me answering the questions, see myself coming out of the centre like everything went amazing.

And that’s how we do it. And even like, say, if I was at level five, and I needed to make it up to level six, I would see myself already studying the level six stuff. So I was like, yeah, that’s where I am. Even if I was still working through it, I was not there yet. But in my head, I was.

That’s how it worked for me, always projecting myself in the most positive way.

But saying this way that was funny is actually visualisation doesn’t always have to be positive.

What I mean by this is, I don’t know, maybe I found it easier to see myself passing. But I would actually also see myself failing, because that would be a hell of a motivation trigger as well. I was like, I’m never doing this again, like I’ve never ever again, so I needed to pass.

And just as the positive visualisation, if I can call it this way, I would visualise the proper details of me failing, then I’d get scared and I’d get back to work straightaway.

And it’s not that I would see myself failing because it was too hard or something. At the end of the day, all you need to achieve a goal is some sort of fuel, right, some sort of motivation, something to keep you going towards where you need to be. So it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

And for me, I was happy to work both ways. You can really use both forces if you’re clever enough regarding how to use them and how to balance them.

So yeah, you have to make it real, you have to make it like it’s happening. If you can make your mindset your mind will take you there, I promise.

No 5: Focus on the next step only

Number five, focus on the next step only.

And this will sound like almost the opposite to what I’ve just been rambling about. Like one moment, I’m telling you to project yourself far ahead. And the next I’m telling you, you just need to look at the next step.

But you’re right, it does sound like nonsense, but a good combination of both elements projection and focusing on the right now, that’s the magic potion.

You have to find the right balance because obviously only protecting yourself is not good enough because you’re kind of losing the whole point of like, what do I need to do now to get me moving, and only focusing on your next step is not good either because you may lose vision sight of the end goal.

The best combo, I believe, is to visualise yourself just enough to get the fuel and motivation firing into your body. You need to just like that little spark. Once you get excited again, thinking about how amazing you will feel once you’ve achieved your goal, then that’s it, stop it, go back to work and focus on your next step only.

Only when you feel like you’re losing motivation again and back to thoughts like I can’t do it, I’m tired. I’m not good enough, whatever it is, only then you project yourself again with proper visualisation. And that should be it.

I thought of an illustration I could give to just try and make you picture what I’ve been talking about. And I think running a race is a good analogy of the start and finish line and the gap thing I’m trying to make you see in your head.

You’re at the start line. You’re wondering how the hell you will even finish the race. At least, I’m talking for myself because that reminds me all the time I run half marathon and oh my god, I was dying, but I won’t get there. That was something.

Picture whatever race it is for you, whether it’s 5k, 10k, 21k, whatever.

So you’re at the start line, and you’re wondering how the hell you even finish the race, you think about the long way and the gap between the start, ie where you are now and the finish line. And you’re like, I can’t do that the gap is too big, I can never do that, I can never get to the finish line.

But then remember what I was saying in the beginning, don’t think about how big the gap is. Because that gap, you will fill it with the little steps you’ll be making. And I’m referring to the little steps you do when you run, you know.

Every single step will get you where you need to be, at the finish line.

By the way, don’t overthink, it’s not specific to what I’m saying here. But don’t overthink, if you really want to do something, something that excites you just do it, you’ll figure out how you’re going to do it later.

Back to the example, you’re at the start line. Now what you need to do is visualise yourself at the finish line. And again, you have to make it very real in your head, you have to see yourself crossing the line being done, being finished. Maybe you’re dead at the end, I don’t know, maybe that’s how you see yourself. But to be honest, I’d rather see myself dead, but finishing the race rather than dead without finishing it! So just yourself at the finish line; your friends are there, everyone is hugging you, everyone is clapping, you’ve got the middle, you feel great, and so on, and so on.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve got the adrenaline in, stop there. That was just to get the fuel in.

Now your only job is focus on the next step. That’s your only job. You start with the first step, then second step, third step, fourth step, and so on. That’s all you need to do.

I hate how simple it sounds because when I was there running, that’s not how it sounded! But I can tell you, this little recipe works, just one foot in front of the other.

Then when you lose motivation again, and it starts to get tough, because it will at some point, get back to projecting yourself.

And I like to see that way as well. If 21k is too far, if 10k is too far, if the way to goal seems too far, see yourself somewhere closer.

If you just started and you’re tired, see yourself at the 5k mark. It makes it so much easier and so much more achievable.

That’s one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other one foot in front of the other until you make it to 5k. Then once you’re there, see yourself at the 10k mark, and repeat. One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other until you get there.

And I hate saying it like that again but it’s really that simple. Simple, but not easy. Because you have to make the effort making each of those steps.

Same goes for your goals. Of course you might get injured in the way and you’ll have to change plans, but the recipe is the same.

You move one foot at a time, one task at a time.

And eventually you will get there, the gap will be closed. That’s the idea. If you have to take a longer route, even if I’m not sure why you do that in a race, because all you want to do is be done as quickly as possible! But if you have to because there are no hills on that route or whatever, then do it. It might take you longer to get there to your goal,
but you still be closer to it.

No 6: Focus on yourself

Okay, last but not least, number six, I’ll make it quick but I feel like I have to mention it. It’s part of achieving your goals if really want to.

Don’t feel guilty for cutting people off in your journey. Not in a bad way of course, I’m not asking you to break friendships but you have to review your priorities.

Whatever you’re working on so hard to achieve right now, this should be your priority.

If you tell your friends Well, listen, sorry, I can’t meet up because look, I’m trying to better myself, I’ve got this project I’m working on and I feel so positive about it, and they make you feel bad for it. Well, you haven’t lost anything, my friend. It’s a huge red flag. Trust me it exists even in friendships and you just did yourself a favour, trust me.

A good friend will wait for you. Your good friend will make you feel good about what you do. And they will be there to support. They don’t have to be there physically, but they will be there. That’s what friends do.

I know it sounds very silly but when I see how common toxic friendships are nowadays, no comment. How many times I had to do that myself when I was studying and even with this podcast how many times I said to my friends I’m really sorry, I can’t meet up I’ve got this, I’m working on that.

The real ones stay the whole way through. You don’t have to ask, you don’t have to beg.

Alright I’ll stop here because I’ll probably get too emotional (laughs).

But let’s recap the key points.

How do you become a master at achieving your goals?

1. We said believe in yourself. Goals have to be big, scary, and they only belong to you.

2. Make a plan and stick to it. I didn’t mention the stick to it bit in the beginning but obviously if you make a plan and you don’t stick to it, I can’t help you more.

3. Set a deadline and work backwards and discipline my friends, discipline.

4. Visualisation with lots and lots of details, please.

5. Move step by step one foot after the other.

6. Be a ghost if you need to, and don’t feel sorry for it.

And number seven, which is not a key point, but that’s more of a promise from me. Once you understand this process, once visualisation becomes kind of second nature to you, and especially when you try it, and it works, you will see yourself dreaming bigger.

All right, that was the Zine talk. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode, and can take a few things out of it. As usual. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the podcast and share this episode with whoever might need to hear this. Remember, you can also get in touch with me on my website www.thezinetalk.com. Try the techniques. Tell me about them. I’m very curious to know and I’ll be talking to you soon.

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