A famous experiment was conducted in 1896 involving Processionary caterpillars. What makes these caterpillars interesting, and unique, and gives them their name, is the fact that they instinctively lock step with the caterpillar directly in front of them – forming a miniature train.
French naturalists, John Henri Fa Bra demonstrated these caterpillars unusual behavior with a simple experiment. He took a flowerpot, and placed a number of these caterpillars in single file – until they formed a never-ending circle – around the circumference of the flowerpot’s rim. Making certain, each caterpillar’s head touched the caterpillar directly in front of it.
Fa Bra, then placed the caterpillars’ favorite food, which is pine needles, in the middle of the flowerpot. Each caterpillar followed the next – thinking they were heading for the food. Round and round the caterpillars went. 24 hours a day. Then 48 hours in two day. 72 hours in 3 days. They just kept going around and around the flowerpot – thinking that they would eventually make it to their destination, which just so happened to be their favorite meal.
Fa Bra estimated that these caterpillars traveled the equivalent of a person walking about 90 miles, or completing 3 and a half marathons, without any food, water, or rest.
Those crazy creatures went around the rim of that flowerpot, for 7 full days, and 7 full nights, following one another until finally – after a week of this mindless activity, the caterpillars started to drop dead from exhaustion and starvation.
With an abundance of their favorite food – less than 6 inches away from them, they starved to death. When all they had to do, to avoid dying – was to stop the senseless circling around the flowerpot, and head directly toward the food, which was only inches away.
But unfortunately, these caterpillars confused motion with meaning – and activity with accomplishment. They were locked into their lifestyle, and were not able to change direction. They continued to do the exact same thing, over and over again – and expect a different result.
Today I want to talk to you about goal-setting. I recently read this article titled: Keep Your Eyes On the Prize. And the article talked about a man who was afraid of heights. He decided to conquer his fear, by rappelling off the side of a steep cliff.
A guide was on hand to help just in case something went wrong. But as the man stood on the edge of the cliff – the site of the long drop, and the rocks down below, made him freeze. He completely froze up.
The guide gave him some very simple, yet profound advice, the guide said: “Don’t look where you don’t want to go.”
That might be some of the best advice, any of us could ever receive. Because when this gentleman focused on his GOAL, rather than his fear, he was able to complete his dissent safely and successfully.
And probably most importantly, this man learned how to get past the things that scared him most, by focusing on what he WANTED most.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: You need to write down your goals, and keep them in front of you every single day. Because if you don’t set your own goals in life, somebody else will set them for you. And I assure you, you will not like the result. Jim Rohn puts it like this: If you don’t design you own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!
Writing your goals down causes effects that are a bit difficult to explain. But nonetheless, prove to be extremely effective.
In the movie, The Ten Commandments, Moses says, “So let it be written, so let it be done.” You see, when your goals are put in writing, they become ingrained in your mind. And studies have consistently shown, written goals strengthen your commitment to accomplish them.
So do something your future self will thank you for: When you have a quiet moment, reflect upon where you want to go in life. And then, figure out how you’re going to get there, by working backwards.
Because I assure you, if you don’t take some time to do this, you’re going to find yourself very unhappy and regretful down the road.
I’ve seen too many people in the December years of their life, who when faced in their younger days with opportunities an important decisions, failed to make a choice. They waited for those choices to be made FOR them, and now they don’t like the outcome.
Don’t be like those people! Don’t become middle age, or old age with unfilled expectations from your earlier years. Because you’ll be a very unhappy person if you do.
Decide now where you want to go, and make a plan to get there. Refuse to settle for less than you deserve. Don’t just get by, don’t just wait for life to happen…make it happen! Because something I’ve learned is, we don’t get this day again, so if you don’t make the most of every day, you’re wasting your time.