I am horrible at setting goals. Let me take that back… I’m fantastic at setting goals! I set amazing, awe-inspiring goals that would make the best life coach/self-help guru proud. I sit, self-reflect, write, self-reflect some more, write some more and create my detailed list and plan. I cover everything from gaining those six-pack abs to launching a business capable of raking in millions (MILLIONS I TELL YOU!!!!).
So here’s where I’m horrible… actually accomplishing my goals. I’ve discovered that I can go strong for about 2 weeks, then I hit “the wall.” I wake up one morning with no motivation… to do anything… so I start letting my goals slide. “I’ll pick them up tomorrow.” I tell myself. And maybe I do. Maybe the next day I hit them back up with renewed gusto. But deep down inside I know, I know that this is the beginning of the end.
Now here’s a conundrum… I want to set and accomplish goals but the biggest goal I need to accomplish is developing the capability to accomplish goals (BOOM! My mind is blown!). Sounds like something crazy that a skinny, bearded, half-naked man sitting at the top of a mountain would tell me after I spent days climbing stairs to reach him.
Once again I find myself sitting and self-reflecting… but this time I’m not trying to think up all the things that I need to do right. This time I’m thinking about all the things that I’ve done wrong in setting goals so that I can figure out what I need to do right. Here is the list I came up with:
1. I bite off more than I can chew
One of my problems is that I want to get better at everything, all at the same time. So I set some goals that individually are obtainable, but collectively they are overwhelming. Then what happens is one goal slips… then another… pretty soon a domino effect happens and I’m left wondering why I suck so bad at getting anything done.
What I need to do is pick the most important aspect of everything I want to accomplish and focus on that. Once I get to a point where it becomes semi-automatic, time to build on it and add the next goal.
2. I set goals based on outcome
“But isn’t that the point?” Yes and no. We often set goals that we may or may not have control over. For example, “I want to lose 15 lbs.” Ok… I need to be more specific. “I want to lose 15 lbs in 3 months.” There, I have my goal and now I work out my eating plan, my exercise plan and on day one I hit it hard. Problem is, I didn’t account for the big neighborhood barbecue that happens every year, my kid’s birthday party, the week-long family vacation, or those days when I’m just too beat to deal with any of it and a $10 pizza from Costco seems like the perfect solution for dinner. Life happened and 3 months down the road I’ve gained 5 lbs… SAY WHAT! I QUIT!!!
What I should be focusing on is setting goals that I can build upon that will ultimately get me towards what it is that I want to accomplish and that allow for some flexibility. I want to lose weight, well then maybe the first goals I need to set are… go to the gym and cook a healthy meal 2 times a week for 1 month (of course I will need to plan on what I am going to do and cook… but at least I would have these goals set). After that, maybe I add an extra day at the gym. It needs to be something I can build on.
3. I don’t focus on the benefits
I want to lose weight so I look better in a swimsuit. But 10 days into my rigorous routine and I’m thinking, “You know, swimming in a sun shirt is actually better for my skin.”
Often times I forget to look at the benefits of what I’m trying to accomplish. In this case, the improvements to my health and energy, the ability to physically do more, be active with my family, have greater self-confidence in my appearance… the list goes on and on. But it is not about just coming up with a list of benefits. I need to work on reminding myself of those benefits so that I can stay focused on why I set the goal in the first place.
4. I don’t track progress
Remember in kindergarten – having that chart… you know the one with the gold stars that would collect in a row as you progressed in learning your alphabet, or shapes, or colors, or whatever. Remember the great pride you had in going up to that chart and slapping on that next gold star and then counting how many empty spaces you had left to fill. When you started kindergarten your teacher found out how much you knew, at the end of the year you had the chart that proved how much you learned.
Somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood, I’ve stopped tracking my progress in life. Maybe I’ve gotten better, maybe I’ve gotten worse. I have nothing to benchmark my progress and no chart to show my effort and I HAVE NO FREAKIN’ GOLD STARS! I WANT SOME FREAKIN’ GOLD STARS!!!!
So, I need to track my progress.
5. I don’t ask for accountability
If I don’t share what I’m trying to accomplish, then I won’t be so embarrassed when I fail. Plus, I don’t get those nagging questions, “How’s the exercise plan going?” But here is the other thing, I don’t get encouragement… the “Come on! You can do it!”
It is so easy to find support through a simple Facebook post – just seeing the “likes” can be encouraging. Bragging a little can help motivate a person to “get it done.” I need to be more open about my goals and be accountable!
That being said… here is my first goal!
I want to test out my theory on one goal… one goal that will help set a foundation for all my other goals. I gave it some thought and I’ve come up with the one that will probably help me the most in everything else I want to accomplish.
I want to sleep better!
So here is what I’m going to do.
- For 4 nights this week I’m going to go to bed at 10:00 pm and set an alarm for 6:30 am.
- I’m going to spend a half hour beforehand not watching TV/being on the computer.
- During that half hour, I’m going to plan my to-do list for the next day so I have a plan as soon as I get up.
- I’m going to do this for the next 3 weeks.
Benefits I hope to gain and review each night before bed:
- More energy to get things done.
- The peace in the morning to have some time to myself.
- Building a healthier habit that will help me with stress, fitness and anxiety.
I’m starting with one goal and providing some flexibility (we like to stay up late some nights and binge watch TV).
I’ve broken it out to simple obtainable tasks and not just “Go to bed earlier.”
I have listed the benefits I hope to gain.
I have my chart in a google doc to track my progress.
Finally, I’m making myself accountable to all of you (and my wife) and will keep you posted on my progress.
I would love to hear your suggestions of what has helped you to accomplish your goals. Or what road blocks you consistently hit. Please leave a comment and let me know!