I got about a third of the way through The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting for People Who Hate Setting Goals by Keith Ellis a few years ago before I put it down. Then a couple of weeks ago I picked it up again. This time I set a goal to finish the book.
I found that the earlier attempt hadn’t been wasted — I’m already using many of the techniques he recommends. But finishing the book was worth my time. The latter part of The Magic Lamp addresses stumbling blocks which prevent solid starters from following through.
I found three pieces of advice particularly helpful.
1) Strong-arming yourself with willpower and self-discipline doesn’t work in the long run. Self-discipline is a good habit to develop, but the only motivation that works to see you through the rough spots is Passion. Our goals (or wishes as he terms them) should be big enough to inspire us when the going gets tough.
2) When facing the temptation to fall back into old behavior that undermines achieving your goal, don’t compare it with an outcome that is in the future. Think of your dream as existing now, the choice as between two realities, not between immediate gratification and something you might get someday.
3) Dreams can be revised. You haven’t failed if you realize your dreams have changed and redirect your efforts to a new goal.
This latter point I found to be problematic. Ellis doesn’t really make it clear how a person distinguishes between when they’re giving up because they’ve lost focus on their goal, and when their goals have changed. Nevertheless, I’m glad he acknowledged that a person’s dreams can change over time.
Ellis credits a number of other motivational speakers and authors in his bibliography. Some of them, like Jack Canfield, are probably more inspiring. (Some aspects of The Magic Lamp were repetitive.) But for the most part, I found Ellis’s book to be solid and helpful and I recommend it.