Now is the time when many people start thinking about setting new goals, establishing new habits, or trying out a different, healthier lifestyle. If you’ve ever made a goal (or a New Year’s resolution) only to have it all fall apart a few days later, you aren’t alone. Here, I’m sharing my three favorite tips for actually crushing that goal you set.
If you're feeling ambitious, it's likely that you're also feeling prone to overdo it with the number of goals that you set. I've certainly been guilty of this, and I've seen myself fail quickly in the times that I thought crushing five goals at once was the way to go. You might have a health goal, a financial goal, a relationship goal, a reading goal, and any number of other goals -- that's great! Especially if you are focused on habit-based goals and you intend to track your progress, my advice is to start with just one. Choose the goal that is most important to you -- the keystone goal, if you will -- and commit to that one. If that's exercise, great. If it's reading, great. Commit to doing that thing regularly, and let the motivation you feel from doing it spill over into other areas. You may find yourself more inclined to read a book or connect with a loved one, simply because you're feeling energized by your morning workout. When you start small, you can always build up. But if you start too big, then you can sometimes set yourself up for failure...and that is NOT what we want for you.
If you are focusing on a habit-based goal, decide on a reasonable number of days per week that you will do it. On the days that we set goals, we tend to be overly optimistic, thinking, "I'll do this every single day, no sweat!" The reality is that there will be days that we are busier than normal, not feeling well, or just having an "off" day. Here's the thing: if you set a goal of doing something (let's say working out) every single day of the year, then as soon as you have an off day, that goal is no longer possible. Even if you work out 364 days of the year, you will never achieve that 100% success rate. I know for me, as soon as I've failed on a 100% goal, I find myself no longer motivated to keep working towards it. If the outcome I want is no longer possible, then why bother?
Instead, decide on a smaller number of days per week that you'd like to work on your goal. Perhaps rather than exercising 365 days of the year, you say you'll do it at least three days per week. If you're feeling energetic early in the week, maybe you'll knock those three days out right away and even get in a few more before the week ends. But if you're sick on Monday, then you know that you can still fit your workout in on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with no problem. You can always do more than your goal -- unless your goal is 100%. That's why I always encourage clients to set goals just like this.
Who says you have to wait until the first of the month to start a new goal? Or until next Monday? Or until tomorrow? So many of us fall into this trap, and I think it's again because we're looking for 100% success -- this week is already spent, so why not try again next week and maybe we'll achieve that perfect record.
But here's the thing. We aren't suddenly going to be new, different people tomorrow. It's an illusion that we cling to, that the "tomorrow" version of us is more disciplined and that things like this just come more easily to him or her. Let go of that idea, and take a step, even a small one towards your goal today. If you read for five minutes today, it'll be easier to do it tomorrow. If you exercise for a few minutes today, it'll be easier to do it tomorrow. Use today to build momentum for tomorrow, rather than leaving all of the work for your future self.