Goal Setting The Right Way: How to go from Failed It to Nailed It
Goal setting. Does the mere idea of setting goals bring up feelings of disappointment and frustration? It used to for me. For countless years I set ambitious goals only to give up weeks or days later. And don’t get me started on New Year’s resolutions. Epic failures. Let’s face it, completing goals is hard work. And that is exactly what dramatically changed the way I go about setting and accomplishing goals.
Setting goals is easy. Doing the work day after day until you achieve the desired results is hard. Very hard. And the bigger the goal the harder the work.
Ah, the bigger the goal the harder the work. And, the bigger the goal the greater the reward. This is what trips up most people. The reward. Most people get it all wrong. They set the reward too small and then put it at the end. Bad idea.
You are better off rewarding yourself every day. Celebrate your daily wins. Recognize the level of difficulty you are working through and then reward yourself with a high-five or a “Great Job David. That’s just like you to crush it.” Be your own biggest cheerleader and celebrate every step of the way.
How do you do this? Well first of all it is important to recognize the qualities of your goal. We often get too caught up in the quantitative part of goal setting; losing 50 pounds, running 25 miles in a week, or sticking to our diet for 30 days. These are nice ways to measure your progress but they rarely motivate people every day. Instead, look for the qualitative values in your goal practice. Instead of looking at the scale for validation of progress, recognize how you feel. Do you feel more energetic today after a healthy breakfast and a brisk walk? Do you feel less stressed? Are you nicer to be around?
Studies show those who exercise for the long-term goal of losing weight exercise much less and are more likely to give up altogether than those who exercise for how it makes them feel after a workout. In other words, quality over quantity. Putting yourself through pain and suffering never motivates anyone. Why would it? It sucks! However, pumping up your energy, clearing your mind, releasing stress….wow yeah, I can totally get into that.
Is the goal to lose weight, or to live a quality life? How you define your goal makes all the difference. The wrong goals will never work. The right goals will take care of themselves.
So back to your goals. Are you setting goals measured in quantities like pounds lost or miles run, or are you setting qualitative goals?
Ready to rock your goals? Let’s get started with a healthy dose of motivation.
Motivation. This is the rocket fuel you need to get moving and do what you need to do every day. But motivation isn’t easy. To help you develop motivation here is a simple equation developed by Piers Steel in his great book The Procrastination Equation.
Motivation = Expectancy x Value / Impulsivity x Delay
Let’s break this down so you can apply it in your goal-setting strategy.
Expectancy (aka Confidence). This asks the question “do you really believe you can do it?” If so, awesome. If not, re-calibrate your goal so you can. Aiming too high is a great way to fail fast and ensure you never try it again…not a good strategy. Instead, aim for something challenging yet doable.
Value (aka Desire). How bad want it? How big of a difference would it make in your life if you accomplished it? With value, bigger is always better.
Impulsivity. Do you get distracted? Do you impulsively and addictively get distracted from doing the work during the day? Do cravings or instant notifications through you out of balance and into old habits?
Delay. If your goal is a year from now (without smaller milestone goals) you’re never going to maintain peak motivation. This is why it is important to have achievable activities you can complete and celebrate every single day.
It’s almost time to put it all together. But first, we need to recognize that your goals will come with a price. There is no getting around it. This will be challenging and if you go into this knowing the price you need to pay every day you will have an advantage over those who convince themselves it will be a piece of (gluten-free low sugar) cake.
Understand the price. There is time and money, but more specifically there are things you need to start doing, things you need to stop doing, and changes you need to make. There are sacrifices you need to commit to, like throwing out all of the bad processed foods in your pantry.
Once you know the cost of your goal you then need to ask; are you willing to pay the price, not once, but day after day until you succeed? Do not take this step lightly. You will fail if you go in with good intentions but unwilling to pay up when things get tough. And they will get tough.
Okay, now we are ready to put it all together.
Step One: What is your desire outcome? Check your expectancy and make sure it is in the sweet spot of “not too small, not too big.”
Step Two: What is your plan? Break up your goal into smaller and smaller goals until you have daily goals. Make sure you include both quantitative values or measuring your progress AND qualitative values so you can celebrate daily.
Step Three: Get started. The hardest part of any challenge is taking the first steps.
Step Four: Do the work, pay the price, and celebrate!
There are lots of other tips and bits of inspiration I could add but I think you get the idea. If you need any help just reach out to your peers in the Facebook group or the wonderful team at Compass Fat Loss.
Here’s to celebrating your future success…!!!
Author and Optimize Coach
David is a writer and coach specialing in awakening human potential. David likes to think of himself as a conscious creator, student of life, Super Dad, chef, Spartan Athlete, and Optimize Performance Coach. Writing for Dr. Kusher and the CFL community is just one of his many joys.