Being in the health/fitness/self-improvement/business world, we talk about goals A LOT. Do you have goals? What are your goals? How are you doing on your goals? How I can help you reach your goals? What are my goals? When will I reach my goals? Why haven’t I reached my goals? Goals goals goals goals goals goals goals. We set them, we break ‘um down, we make ‘um big, we make ‘um small, we revise ‘um, we reset ‘um, we reach ‘um, we don’t, and then we set some more.
Now, I’m not saying that goals are not important or necessary to help us evolve on this planet and help us to realize our dreams. However, sometimes we can get so locked in our idea of what goals and goal setting SHOULD look like, that we are left feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and exhausted…especially, if we are NOT REACHING THEM. Setting clear goals, reaching them, and reveling in our success before we set another goal is enjoyable and fulfilling. Setting goals, forgetting about them or not working towards them, feeling guilty about not reaching them, then resetting the same goals again and again is frustrating and depressing.
Too often, our addiction to well-intended but uninspired and redundant goal setting, traps us in a purgatory of empty living, stuck somewhere between the life we are desperately trying to improve upon and the awesome life we can describe, but can’t seem to access. If your GOALS are dragging you down instead of lifting you up, here are four ways to shake things up:
- DUMP YOUR S.M.A.R.T. GOALS: Your goals are boring. Seriously. If you’re falling asleep just thinking about your goals, check out this kickass podcast of motivational powerhouse Brendan Burchard, who challenges our society’s obsession with left-brain “S.M.A.R.T.” goal setting. In this podcast he suggests that we set some “D.U.M.B.” goals instead. This podcast is sure to fire you up to set some goals that are bigger, crazier, and more uplifting than our boring “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based goals” (zzzzzzz). Set some stupid, wild, ginormous, radical, make-you-want-to-jump-out-of-bed, people-think-you’re-nuts kind of goals for a change! Spend some time dreaming and visioning beyond what your rational left-brain, sensible self can conceive of, and consider that anything less than big visioning is settling for mediocrity.
- FOCUS ON YOUR FEELINGS: Instead of setting goals tied to what you want to get, try focusing on how you want to FEEL. We tend to set goals like, “I want to lose 10 pounds” or, “I want to make $10,000 a month”, focusing only on what we want not WHY we want it. Instead of the WHAT, try focusing on how you believe those things will make you feel. Perhaps you want to lose 10 pounds so that you can FEEL confident on the beach, and therefore feel more willing to go to the beach with your family instead of missing out, and therefore feel more connected to your family. It’s not really about those 10 pounds as much as it is about confidence, freedom, and connectedness. By expanding your vision to the FEELINGS you desire, you may realize that there are other ways you can begin feeling those things right now, and that there is action you can take immediately, instead of buying into the depressing false reality that you can’t feel those things until you reach your goal. Yes, you can exercise more and eat cleaner, but you can also get a new flattering swimsuit and sexy sarong, plan some family outings in an environment you feel comfortable, and commit to being more present with your family. The magical thing is that when we start focusing on, and embodying the feelings that we think those original goals will bring us, we may suddenly look up and realize that we have reached our goals without even realizing it!
- FOCUS ON YOUR PROCESS: Part of what tends to keep us in that uninspired goal setting loop of doom is setting countless goals, but having no process or system to reach them. If you think about it, goals are really just wishes or dreams…they are these things we want, but unless we have a strategic plan for getting them, they are just floating out there like pretty butterflies. If you want to catch a butterfly, you can sit and hope and pray that it lands on you (and by the way if it does, then what – have you really thought this through?) or you can grab a net, a jar with some holes in the top, and maybe a few friends to help you corner that sucker. Get a piece of paper and write down all your goals. Then title that list, “dreams”. Now take each one of those and write down 10 action steps you can take to make each of your dreams come true, and get to work.
- SUPERCHARGE WITH ACCOUNTABILITY: There is plenty of evidence that accountability is often what separates high achievers from the rest of the pack. Creating some type of accountability system to help us stay focused on what we are working towards can significantly increase the likelihood of seeing something through, staying motivated along the way, and it can also make the journey way more fun. We are hardwired to want to get things done if we put it out there – sometimes because we want to be a person of our word and because we don’t want to let ourselves or others down, and sometimes because we don’t want to look like a jackass. Either way, give accountability a try – find an accountability buddy, create a mastermind group, find a support group or community in your neighborhood or online, start a blog, post on Facebook, make bets with your friends and family, wear it on a shirt, shout it from the roof tops, put it out there so that it matters in some way if you don’t do it. And if you still don’t seem to be getting what you want, lean on those around you to help give you insight as to why this may be, since accountability is also about taking responsibility for what we are doing or not doing.
One final word on goals and goal setting…as you are thinking about what you want, be sure to constantly check in and make sure your goals/dreams/wishes/process/action plan is what YOU really want, not what you think you SHOULD want or someone else’s idea about what you SHOULD want. It’s impossible to create our dream life when we’re “should-ing” all over ourselves. Be sure the life you’re designing is yours and be sure that the method and plan you have for getting there is fun, inspiring, and joyous…because frankly, if it’s not, every time you hear those damn words “enjoy the journey” you’re going to want to punch someone in the face. Now, go get ‘um, tiger!