We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series about how you can effectively set goals for yourself – whether it’s for New Years or ANY OTHER TIME.
‘Let me explain, no there is too much, let me sum up’
A gold star if you know the movie that quote came from.
We have two sides to us – a rational side and an emotional side
We tend to think the rational side is in control, IT’S NOT. The emotional side ultimately runs the show.
Our emotional side is typically about immediate gratification so goals involving pain and sacrifice are hard sells.
Using will power is NOT an effective strategy. It runs out and you will fail.
Instead we have to craft goals that harness both the strengths of our rational and emotional sides and guard against their weaknesses.
Rational side – Strength: Long term vision, planning. Weakness: Easily gets stuck in analysis paralysis instead of moving on to action.
How we can leverage the good side and minimize the ‘bad’.
Make SPECIFIC goals, not general ones. Lose weight, eat healthier, get in shape are terrible goals. Lose 20lbs, eat a salad every night with dinner, go to the gym 2x a week are specific goals.
Make a ‘good enough’ decision. It may not be the best one, but you could be waiting forever to make a best decision. Find something good enough and try it. If it doesn’t work out, change it.
Break down big, vague goals into smaller goals that have obvious next action steps.
Emotional side – Strength: Tremendous power & motivation. To accomplish anything of value our emotional side must be involved. Weakness: 2 year old mentality, ‘I want what I want, and I want it NOW!’ Easily discouraged by even minor setbacks.
Make sure our goals have emotional resonance – prevent athrosclerotic plaque (heart disease) is a rational goal. Emotional appeal – none at all. Live long enough to see my grandkids go to college, or live past 50 when my father died of a heart attack are emotional goals with some power behind them. Or make your goals fun – hate going to the gym and love dancing, then forget the gym and go dancing!
Get quick wins – break goals down so you can achieve something quickly and give your emotional self a boost on a regular basis
Structure your environment – do you put a plate of cookies in front of a two year old and expect them not to eat them? Why would you do that to yourself? Don’t want to eat cookies, then don’t have them in your cupboard! Want to go to the gym, find one near you, don’t drive across town without a very good reason. Make sure that your environment makes it easy to do the right thing, without forcing you to draw on your limited amount of willpower.
The Bottom Line
For most of us to succeed on a regular basis at our goals, we have to know how we tick, and formulate our goals so that they work with ourselves, not against us. Most people fail because they set goals that go against their nature. Vague, emotionally unappealing goals that they sustain typically for a few weeks until their willpower gives out and it’s back to the way they were, because ‘you know working out and eating better is just too hard, who has the time?’
Hopefully now with the knowledge from this series you can set goals intelligently that help you achieve what you want.
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