2017 is almost upon us, and I know many of you are thinking about goals you’d like to set for the New Year but feel frustrated by failed attempts in past years.
In response to last week’s post, someone asked:
“How do I exercise and get more sleep? I write out goals, but I’m not always great at being disciplined.”
Below, I’ve included some tips to think about when setting goals to help you increase your likelihood of following through.
As always, if you would like to dive deeper on this and work together, feel free to comment or click the ‘Contact’ button at the top of this page!
Believe it or not, my answer to the question has less to do with simply being disciplined, and has more to do with the actual process and mindset used when setting goals upfront.
Yes, taking consistent action certainly needs to happen, but setting yourself up for success from the very start is KEY.
>>> WRITE THEM DOWN <<<
I’m sure you have goals up in your head and in your heart, but very few of us actually write down what we want on paper.
This step in and of itself is where you should start. You can include short-term, long-term, and/or medium-term goals. They can be in any area of your life. No limits here.
>>> GET CLEAR ON YOUR PRIORITIES <<<
Goals require time be spent dedicated to achieving them. I know this is obvious, but stay with me.
We each have 24 hours in a day, so unless you are able to automate or delegate responsibilities that you currently have, you will have to CHOOSE to do less of (or completely stop) other things in order to do more of (or start) something else.
Pause and sit with that for a second…
There are often many competing priorities in our lives, and at times, it probably feels like you’re being pulled in every direction. Maybe you spend your days trying to make everyone happy and *succeed* in every area of life, often at the expense of our own happiness and well-being.
I’m here to offer another option.
Ask yourself, “What are MY top priorities right now?” Get REALLY clear on these, and be as specific as possible about what that looks and feels like for you as well as an understanding of WHY these are so important to you.
Your priorities can and will change over time, so don’t be nervous that you’re committing to these for life. But for now, what matters to you most?
Keep in mind that, the fewer priorities you choose, the better. Fewer competing priorities and having more clarity and awareness of what they are can be LIFE-CHANGING.
I say that because once you are super clear on what your priorities are, it becomes significantly easier to say “yes” or “no” to opportunities. To take things off your list and make room for the new. To design goals that are in alignment with what matters to you. To remember why you don’t want to stay up until 2AM every night watching Netflix and scrolling through your social media feeds.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, if a goal isn’t related to your priorities, the likelihood of you reaching that goal is much lower than if it was.
>>> TAKE YOUR PICK <<<
Now using these two lists a a guide, choose a MAXIMUM of 5 goals.
Goals are goals for a reason, they require work and energy (physical, mental, and/or emotional), and they are often challenging, so a goal needs to be something that TRULY matters to you (re: getting clear on your priorities) if you want to see it through.
And when I say limit the number of goals, you don’t have to limit your life goals at large but, just like your priorities, pick a few things that matter most to you for now. This enables you to focus your energy and attention on successfully incorporating habits into your life that are needed to make those goals a reality.
Plus, you are much more likely to achieve at least ONE of those goals if you have more focus and energy on them, rather than spreading your energy to 25 different goals, feeling overwhelmed, and giving up entirely.
>>>DISCOVER YOUR *WHY*<<<
Understand WHY your goals are even goals for you. What will this make you feel? What is the TRUE end goal of this?
And by that, I don’t mean, I want to go to the gym because I’d like to lose weight or gain muscle or *tone up*. Rather, I mean, why do you want THOSE things? What will it mean for you to put on some muscle? What is that going to do for you? How will it make you FEEL? It’s important to understand your true motivation and whether or not this goal will actually provide the desired outcome.
If you’re not solid on your motivation, and your *why* is coming from a place of fear instead of love or faith, I can assure you that in most cases, even if you end up reaching this goal at some point, it will likely be unsustainable in the long-term.
That being said, you may discover that your *why* is actually REALLY FREAKING POWERFUL, and that it’s coming from a place of love. For example, that you want to go to the gym because you love the feeling of being strong, and it empowers you to be a badass. Or that you want to get more sleep because you need energy to show up for the job you love.
This can also be an opportunity to get creative! There are often many ways to achieve the same feeling or outcome that we are truly looking for, but we often don’t give ourselves an opportunity to consider that.
It is easy to become one-track minded and obsessed with adhering to a path that doesn’t serve us or anyone around us, so challenge yourself to think outside the box if there’s another way. (Spoiler alert: There usually is.)
Really notice how reaching these goals will make you FEEL. Close your eyes and imagine you’ve reached this goal. What are the feelings you’re truly after? Is it strength? Connection with others? A sense of peace?
Not only will remembering that feeling help to keep you motivated, it can also remind you that the goal itself isn’t entirely the point. Rather, are you feeling how you truly want to feel? If so, that feeling state is generally the underlying point of your goals anyhow 😉
>>>TAKE BABY STEPS<<<
It can be really tempting to want to wipe the slate clean and jump into our goals at full force. And while this may work sometimes, for most of the long-term lifestyle changes many of us want to make, I’m going to suggest another approach.
Determine what needs to happen, at a detailed level, to reach that goal. Then ask yourself, “What would be something I could do that would move me closer to my goal but that feels easily achievable?” As in, doing it doesn’t feel overwhelming to me.
When outlining these steps, regardless of what your small steps may be, it is most helpful to be as specific as possible.
Not just “I’ll clean the house for 1 hour in total this week.” Let’s say, “I’ll clean the house for 20 minutes a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, after I get home from the gym and before I start cooking dinner.”
Then I dare you to even put it on your calendar to really make it real. Incorporating it into your life to fit around other habits you’ve already built make it likelier to stick.
A lot of people argue against this method, saying the likes of *go big or go home* but sometimes *going big* is way too intimidating, difficult, or unapproachable, that we just end up *going home* (usually with our tail between our legs, feeling defeated, disappointed, frustrated, etc.)
If you’re working with a time constraint, you can still use this method. You may just need to alter your frequency or cadence based on how long you have versus how much needs to get done.
>>> REWARD YOURSELF <<<
None of us are above positive reinforcement, including both me and you.
Whether that means you treat yo’self during or after the process, it just has to be something that you’ll ACTUALLY look forward to and feels like a reward. Not just a cookie-cutter idea that is *supposed* to feel good to you.
It could mean having a glass of wine or a beer while you clean the house. Or enjoying a fun Friday yoga or kickboxing class with your friends after a week of consistent progress on your book all week. The options are limitless!
You may be tempted to skip this step, but I highly encourage you not to.
>>> REMEMBER YOUR WHAT AND WHY <<<
Remind yourself of your goals, your priorities, and your rewards.
It’s easy to forget why we’re doing what we’re doing, so keep these things saved on your phone or posted somewhere in your house, whatever is most accessible to you. It can be a quick way to get your mind and heart back on track.
And if the time comes that you realize your goals have changed – that’s OK!
Just go back to the drawing board.
And lastly, as for discipline, my favorite definition (learned from Dale Partridge) is that discipline is “doing something you don’t necessarily *like* to achieve something you LOVE.”
The process I’ve outlined in this email is a great way to create goals that you love and remind you why you’re doing them, thereby making discipline a bit easier for you.
Good luck in your goal-setting journey! Feel free to share this with anyone who may find it helpful, and I look forward to hearing how it works for you.
P.S. If you need some help with this (or other related topics) and are interested in possibly working together, comment below or click the ‘Contact’ link above, and let’s get talkin’!