Welcome to 2019! I know what you’re thinking… “Ummmm… Mel… it’s nearly November. Why are you welcoming me into the year now???” Well, because if you’re like most of us, you are realizing how late in the year it is and how far away from your goals you are.
I mean, you’ve probably been toying with the thought since August, but you are just now beginning to allow yourself to actually feel the pangs of anxiety knowing that this is yet another year you have let your goals slip through your fingers.
Making goals is easy. It’s the follow through that sucks. And I believe that is because we don’t really know how to set ourselves up for success. You’ll find plenty of information out there about how to set a goal but not so much on the follow through. So, let’s talk about that.
First, decide what you want your life to look like.
Be as descriptive as you can. Visualize yourself in your best future – what do you see? What’s different? How are you feeling?
Immerse yourself in that picture and really soak up all the goodness that achieving that goal would bring. This is what I call your wellness vision. It is that vision you see of yourself at some point in the future. That picture you paint of your best life. It may be in the next 3 months, or the next year, or in five years. The amount of time isn’t what’s important. It’s having a clear vision of what you want your life to look like and then deciding how long it will reasonably take you to get there.
Next, write it out as if it’s already happening.
Use “I am” or “I have” statements such as “I am living an active lifestyle by doing more things outdoors such as hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, and finding fun races to participate in that don’t involve running.”
Third, decide what steps you need to take to get you there.
If I want to be living an active lifestyle by kayaking but I don’t own a kayak, I need to figure that one out. I can either borrow or rent a kayak or I can purchase one. If I don’t plan on doing either of those, then it shouldn’t be part of my goal. If I want to lose weight but don’t plan on changing how I eat, I’ve set myself up for failure from the very beginning. You know what’s not working for you, so why keep doing it and expect a different result? Set up 2-3 experiments for yourself to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Fourth, give yourself a deadline and a way to measure it.
If you don’t know where you’re headed, how will you know when you get there? In my active lifestyle example, there are plenty of ways to give my goal legs. Here are some examples:
- This week, I will set a budget and search for an affordable kayak to buy.
- By [x date], I have researched different areas near me where I can kayak.
- Within the next month, I have invited friends to kayak with me and we’ve set two dates to go.
Fifth, give yourself the time and space to evaluate your goal along the way.
When my husband and I bought a kayak, the one thing we didn’t count on was how heavy the dang thing would be. So even though we had done the first two steps of buying a kayak and researching places to go, the frequency of kayaking went by the wayside because we couldn’t transport the thing.
We had to evaluate our goal and add in another action step of finding a kayak lift assist that would take the load off us for lifting that sucker onto the top of my car. And then we had to readjust the carrier brackets on the roof rack so that the kayak wouldn’t slip off and crash to the ground. We didn’t wait for “x” amount of time before we adjusted our plan. We did it as soon as we realized the plan wasn’t working out the way we thought it would.
This is the step that tends to get us off track because, for some reason, we expect that once we’ve set a goal, it’s going to magically happen for us. I know, and you know, that logically that doesn’t make any sense, but I bet you can totally relate to that statement anyway. We’re afraid of failure so instead of looking at what’s not working as opportunities, we see them as a negative reflection on us.
Well… here’s some tough love straight from my heart to yours:
get over yourself because nobody ever succeeds without failing forward.
- Walt Disney was fired from a job because his editor said he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. Disney! The creator of the most magical place on earth!
- Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken recipe was rejected time and time again. At age 65, he created Kentucky Fried Chicken and, well, the rest is finger-licking-good history.
- Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes before he finally developed what is now known as one of the best-selling bagless vacuums.
- Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was too stupid to learn anything. But by his death, he held over 1000 patents and had found just as many ways that the lightbulb did not work.
Let me ask you: Do you think any less of them for their past failures and rejections? Do you think to yourself, “what a maroon… I would’ve stopped a long time ago!” Probably not. Most likely, you admire their tenacity and creativity for getting the job done., despite those obstacles. It isn’t any different for you!
The sixth and final step of goal setting is this:
figure out your threshold number of how many times you’ll need to fail, be told no, or be told how ridiculous what you’re doing is before you decide that you aren’t worth the effort.
Is it once? Ten times? One thousand? Or will you be like Dyson and keep going until you find your right thing? Because you have meaning and a purpose and so do your goals. Go after it!