Keep Your Eye On the Goal and Go Around the Mule

By: Roger Reece

One of the most exciting activities you can engage in is
goal setting. The future is bright and filled with endless
possibilities, and by carefully planning a set of actions
and milestones you can achieve nearly any goal you commit
yourself to.

After you make your plan, the first few weeks are
energizing as you see yourself moving toward the goal.
Your vision expands and you can feel the positive energy as
you visualize the future and your anticipated

But sooner or later it's inevitable that you will face an
unforeseen obstacle that seems impossible to overcome. The
obstacle may be financial in nature, such as unplanned
expenses or a failure to achieve initial revenue targets.
It may come in the form of a person or a group of people
who stand in direct opposition to your plans. You'll know
when you encounter one of these immovable obstacles when
you find yourself feeling defeated. It's at this stage
that most goals get derailed.

I think of these immovable obstacles as mules. Mules have
three key characteristics.

1) They will completely stop your progress. They seem to
wait until you're moving full steam ahead, and then step
out in front of you to block the path to your goal.

2) They're stubborn. When you attempt coax them to move,
they ignore you. When you try to move them out of the way,
they plant their feet and refuse to budge.

3) They don't go away. They seem determined to keep you
from achieving your goals.

When a mule steps out in front of you to block the
achievement of your goal, you essentially have four

1) Abandon your goal. You can rationalize that the goal
isn't really important, or you can simply give up and feel
defeated. This is a common response to mules, especially
for people who are in the early stages of working toward a
goal. Hopefully, you're committed to achieving your goals
and have the determination to overcome any obstacle.

2) Wait for the mule to go away.

This will generally lead
you back to option one, because if the obstacle is truly a
mule, it won't go away. Goals, properly set, include
milestones and are time-sensitive. The longer you remain
in a stalled condition waiting for a mule to move, the more
milestones you'll miss, and eventually you'll be forced to
admit failure.

3) Move the mule out of the way. This will also generally
lead you back to option one, because if it's really a mule,
you won't be able to move it. One of the most common
pitfalls in attempting to achieve a goal is getting
de-focused. Trying to move a mule is a totally frustrating
experience, and you'll dissipate your energy in the
process. If you want to succeed, you've got to keep your
eye on the goal and not on the mule. Remember, your
objective is to achieve your goal; not to move the mule.

4) Go around the mule. This is easier said than done,
because it's the mule's nature to completely block the path
to your goal. Keeping your eye on your goal, you simply
concede that the mule is truly a mule and will not be
moved. Therefore, you find another path to the goal.

A Case in Point

Last year, my daughter came up with a business plan to set
up an art gallery, a dream she had thought about for years.
The cost to lease and renovate a space in a prominent
location was well beyond her means, but after several
months of diligent effort, she found a backer who was
willing to invest the money to get her started.

She was so excited! After finding the perfect space, she
began working out her goals down to the smallest details.
She was finally on the road to achieving her dream. Then,
just before she was to sign the lease agreement, a mule
stepped out into the road. Her backer backed out of the
deal. Without the finances, there would be no art gallery,
and after an exhaustive search for another backer she was
ready to give up in the face of an immovable mule.

Before the mule had exhausted all her energy and vision,
she began refocusing on her goal, which was to start an art
show business. A friend of hers owns a popular night club
and offered to let her host an art show at the club on a
week night. After a tremendous job of creative planning,
she held her first show and completely packed out the club.
It was a total success.

She recently finished her third highly-profitable,
standing-room-only show, and is well on her way to building
a successful art show business without the expense of a
permanent gallery. In going around the mule, she found
that she could eliminate the need for a major expense and
at the same time take advantage of the established
clienteles of successful night clubs. Today she's more
fired up about her goal than ever, and realizes that the
mule turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Learn to Recognize the Real Mules and Go Around Them
It's often difficult to spot a mule when it blocks the road
to your goal. Unexpected obstacles often get in the way,
and generally with creativity and determination you can
successfully move or eliminate them. But when a real mule
comes along, learn to recognize it by its stubborn,
immovable nature.

When you initially define a goal, you should attempt to
anticipate the obstacles and roadblocks you'll meet along
the way, and plan accordingly. But once you get started,
when you run into an unexpected mule, step back and focus
on the essence of your goal. Get creative. Look for high
ground and assess the landscape. There may be an even
better path to your goal that you've overlookedArticle Search, and if you
can find it you'll have the mule to thank!


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