Are you a self-help book enthusiast like me? If you are, then you know there a countless books on goal setting. I've read a ton of them, partly because I enjoy reading self help books, but if I'm being honest, mostly I read them because I think I should (argh that word should be deleted from the English language) be better at creating goals and achieving them.
I'm surrounded by people who live and breathe daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. They thrive chasing some predetermined number; whether it's dollars, pounds or minutes, they are going to CRUSH that number and ACHIEVE that goal.
I am not built like that. I've tried to be. I'm just not.
I'm more of the open ended, live life day-to-day, things happen as they are supposed to sorta person. Yet, I want to be my best self and push/cajole/entice myself in a way that gets me out of my comfort zone. These two things are often at war in my head.
I think, "I'm going to achieve X goal. I'll map out everything, break it all down and then schedule it out so that I don't have to think about what's next, I'll just do it. Once it's all scheduled out success will be mine and I'll FINALLY be like all my goal crushing colleagues!
ENTER: Project Better Me.
Project Better Me looks like this:
1) Brain dump out all ideas using a lot of different colored pens and nice paper. I love color coding things.
2) Sort ideas. I love sorting and categorizing. I used to be a librarian!
3) Pick one or two main ideas and then list out what needs to happen.
4) Plot them out on my calendar with deadlines; add reminders.
5) Do day one of assigned task, feel confined and cranky because my inner rebel/perfectionist doesn't like be told what to do. Do it anyway.
>>>>>6) Day two, ignore entire project, find something new to work on that has suddenly gained MASSIVE IMPORTANCE in my brain, kinda like cleaning your grout when there is a paper due in the morning.<<<<<<<
7) Beat self up for sucking at following own plan. Ditch plan. Possibly eat some french fries.
As you can see, steps 1-5 work. Every time. I feel better when I do this, it gives me a ton of clarity and energy to figure out a path forward on something I want to do. I teach my clients how to do this. It’s actually pretty fun to do.
The problem is #6. That inner voice is an idea killer. It creeps in and tell us “why bother” “this is going to take forever” “everyone else is doing this better I must suck” etc.. When we believe that voice, we can go from gung-ho to paralyzed in a split second. I know you know what I'm talking about. That, my friends, is perfectionism speaking. If I can’t do it perfectly, then why do it at all?
So how do you get around this persistent roadblock?
Break it down. Is the next step scary or super uncomfortable? Do I need some emotional support to do it? Can I reward myself somehow? Is the result of me NOT doing it going to have a negative consequence? (Think about how you are motivated--with rewards or negative consequences. This is valuable information about yourself!) If you need it, ASK FOR HELP. This is not a sign of weakness!!
Micro-steps are where it’s at. We want to make major dents in our progress so we will be motivated to keep going, right? The fact is, if make our goals TOO big, we get intimidated (hello, Perfectionism) and don’t start or get past the first couple of days. That’s why making micro-steps, or teeny tiny daily goals are far more helpful. Want to declutter your home? Start with committing to spending 15 minutes a day decluttering one tiny area of one quadrant of one room per day. Nope, I’m not exaggerating. Pick ONE drawer on one side of your kitchen per day. Spend 15 minutes on it. Move from drawer to drawer to cupboard to countertop to appliance...each day just picking one small area to work on. In a month, you will have a totally decluttered kitchen. Can you do it faster? Yeah, you can. But will you if you haven’t done it up until now? Ehhhhh...probably not. Micro-steps are not glamorous but dang, do they WORK.
Keep an accomplishment list. You know that to-do list you have that you cross your stuff off of? (And if you don’t, I highly recommend that you do!!!) On the bottom of that list, I want you to write down the stuff you’ve accomplished. Yes, it can seem redundant if you’ve already crossed things off, but trust me on this one, rewriting those items and adding in allllllllll the other things you did that weren’t even on your origianl list will be a major eye opener for you. You, my friend, get far more done each day than you give yourself credit for.
Recognize you WILL deviate from the path, it’s part of the journey. If we think about it, it’s crazy that we ditch our goals when we have an off day, week, or month. Life is unpredictable. Sometimes we make choices that don’t support our goals but don’t make those choices mean more than they do. Cut yourself some slack, try to take the emotion out of it (I know, easier said than done) and KEEP GOING. You ate the candy bar? Ok. It’s a choice you made. It’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your path to your goal. Don’t throw in the towel and make your way through your entire Trader Joe’s stash of treats. You went bananas at your favorite store and bought a ton of stuff you don’t really need? Ok. It’s a choice you made. You can return things, give some other stuff away or just enjoy your new stuff. It’s ok. Keep going on your path to decluttering your house. Learn from the decisions you make but don’t give them more power than they deserve.
Understand that perfectionism is a very persuasive voice in your head who is not at all interested in your best interests. Her role is to keep you “comfortable” where you are, not improving, not stretching, not growing into your full potential. Do you remember the fable of the boiling frog? If you put that (poor imaginary) frog in a pot of boiling water, she’ll jump right out, but if you put her in tepid water and slowly raise the temperature of the pot, she will be accustomed to the change and not realize she’s being boiled to death. Ok, that is one seriously morbid parable but it is a good point. Don’t let perfectionism be your pot of water!!
Make yourself accountable. Find a buddy who is also tackling something tricky and ask if you can be accountability buddies. Check in with each other often and report how it’s going. This is strictly for encouragement so be sure to pick someone who is a good cheerleader! I joined an accountability group and we all share what we are working on each week and then report on what we've done. It's super helpful to be able to share wins AND share what we're stuck on. Ain't no shame in that game! Start a group, join a Facebook community, email your best friend or tell your dog what you're doing this week. Just do it. You'll be amazed at how helpful it is.
Now it's your turn. Do you struggle with goal setting or you a goal crusher? Comment below !
I believe in YOU.