What’s It All About?
I asked my newsletter subscribers this question a couple weeks ago. I wanted them to think about what drives them. What motivates them, what steers their decisions, even the ones they don’t recognize as being steered by this motivator.
“What’s it all about?”
The answer that came to your mind before the answer that came to your mouth is probably the true one and the one that steers your thoughts and actions. You may or may not have been aware of this pull – but it’s there.
Put that answer aside right now, we will need it later.
I’m going to give you four steps, or exercises, to help you create your goals, or changes that will help you have a better life.
I’m going to give you several things to do in this episode that will probably be easiest if you are at home or in your office and can write things down. But, if you are out and about with me in your ear, please continue listening so you will know what this exercise requires and then you can go back to it when you can write.
#1 – Looking Forward
I’m going to begin by asking you to write. What will 2016 look like if you continue doing what you are doing? In other words, what is your almost certain year going to be like for you if nothing changes?
Take your time and be as detailed as possible. Use paper or a computer, whichever allows for the best flow of ideas. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. Be honest and expressive.
Let’s move on.
#2 – Look At Yourself In The Mirror
Now is the time of year to really take a good look at yourself.
Are you satisfied with the way the past year went for you? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d like to take this perspective for 2016 – before it’s too late.
To do this, I want you to trace your past year. Pull out your calendar and look at last January. Did you have a New Year’s Resolution or a goal for 2015? What was it? Were you successful? Why or why not? Did you fail? Why or why not? Or, were you mediocre?
Think about your actions and the choices you made. I find that most people live their lives like a pin ball in a pinball machine. They bounce from bumper to bumper and try to stay out of the hole for as long as possible. They get up and follow their routines and patterns day after day, even if these routines are not leading them in the direction they want to go. Are you going to live by fiat and just let things happen? Or are you going to make your life better?
Think of the things you just wrote about your almost certain future. Are you happy with it? Or, would you like it to be better?
We all get caught up in our day to day, hour by hour lives. This is understandable, because it is really hard to see the entire forest, when you are in it. Looking over your calendar will allow you to see the entire year, and narrow your focus to a month or a day.
#3 – Rear View Mirror
Here’s what I’d like you to do next, grab a big piece of paper, or perhaps an Excel spreadsheet would be better (use whichever you prefer), and right the months, in order, along the top. Under each month you are going to write something notable from that month. Suggestions would include: goals and milestones you set, any successes you had, or didn’t; vacations; big purchases; any significance at your job (promotion, demotion, etc.).
Compile all these things so you have a summary of your year right in front of you month by month so you can see it all at once.
If you were not successful at reaching a goal, decide why not? With your calendar in front of you many things will become obvious. Time is most people’s excuse for not accomplishing what they set out to do, yet people tend to make time for what they want to have time for. So let’s not use that tired excuse, OK?
It’s important to be honest. If you want to improve your life in some way, you must be able to face your shortcomings and find a way to keep them from ruling you.
Please keep in mind that none of this is intended to belittle or demotivate you. Quite the opposite, in fact. By taking an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, and by changing your approach to goal attainment if you’ve been unsuccessful in the past, you will greatly improve your chances of reaching and maintaining your goals using this method.
#4 – Establish Your Goal(S)
Now that you have your past year at a glance and have accepted your strengths and weaknesses, I want you to recall your answer to my original question “what’s it all about?” Keep this in mind as you write out your goals. This is your true motivator and will probably steer you whether you are thinking about it or not.
Let’s move forward and set some goals. I want to help you set yourself up for success. That is why it is important to do this examination of your past abilities at achieving and maintaining a goal. If you don’t accept your past behavior, you will be bound to repeat it.
You can set a goal for anything. This goal can be a process or a results oriented goal.
With a process goal, the main objective is usually a behavior change of some sort. The goal is the process, or the establishment of a regular habit or response that it different from your normal way of being. Examples of a process goal are: brushing your teeth every night before bed, going to the gym on a regular, predetermined schedule, not eating French fries with your burger (if that is something you normally eat together), etc.
A results goal is the typical type of goal that most people think of when they hear the word “goal”. Examples of this would be: Losing weight, saving a certain amount of money, passing biology class, etc.
The main difference is that a process goal will get you there – even though “there” is not established. While, a results goal generally doesn’t care how you get there, as long as you get there. A process goal can set good habits. That is why they are my preferred type of goal.
I want you to think of these types of goals for this next exercise and use either one, or both.
You are going to make 4 lists.
- I’d like you to write down everything you’d like to improve. Write down every single possible goal you would like to see come to fruition someday, big or small.
- Prioritize each one so the most important to you is on the top and the least important is on the bottom.
- Now comes the hard part. I want you to make another list, in order, of those goals you have the best chance of accomplishing. Be brutally honest.
- Finally, I want you to compare list 2 and 3 and write down the goals you have in the top five on both lists.
This is what I want you to work on this coming year. These are the goals that are important to you and that you have the highest chance of accomplishing.
#5 – Focus on One
I want you to pick one of these goals to start working on first. Just one. Focus on it.
Trying to give adequate attention and resources to more than one goal is a design for failure. Pick just one for now. You can work on another one after completing this first one.
Which one should you choose? The hardest or the easiest? I’m going to leave that up to you. Starting small and easy will allow you to build momentum and confidence. Starting with a process goal will help you establish a good habit which may lead you to a results goal.
Tackling something big and consuming and long-term may be too much for you right now and may not end well. This is why I like to use Stepping Goals to reach larger, harder challenges. Think of it this way: if you want to get to the second floor of a house, how are you going to get there? The stairs, right? Yes. Because, no amount of training, wishing, hoping or praying will allow you to jump 10 feet up to the second floor of a house. But, taking one (or two) steps at a time will get you there.
I recommend using my Stepping Goal Worksheet to plan larger goals.
Download Your Copy Here
Think it through to the end and make an educated and practical choice – not a romantic one. You make the call. I’ve taken you this far. I want you to make a good decision with this.
#6 – Process
This doesn’t mean it will be easy. You will have to keep your mind focused on this one goal. You will have to show integrity, and perseverance even when you don’t want to. You will have to keep your goal, and most importantly, your process (strategy) for achieving your goal ever present in your mind. You will have to set your mind on this accomplishment. But, let me tell you this, it takes energy and attention at first, then you get used to it and it’s not so difficult. There will be a dip in motivation and you’ll think you can’t do it. You will want to give up, but you won’t because you are committed and dedicated. If the goal is important enough to put this much effort into it in the first place, it is important enough to follow through until you succeed.
#7 – Time Machine
Let’s use our mental time machine to jump into the future one year from today.
Where will you be physically, emotionally, spiritually? Picture yourself doing the exact same exercise of looking over your calendar, mapping out your summary of the year, looking over the goals you set the year before, and then evaluating them. How did you do?
Ask yourself this important question “what could I have done better?” Anything?
Granted, you don’t know what will happen in the future, but if you take a look at your current lifestyle, jobs, habits, etc. you can probably make a pretty good guess as to what you will do over the next year. There will be the unforeseen, but I’d like you to focus on the predictable. This is not a time to be an ostrich and bury you head in the sand. This is a time to acknowledge your probably, almost certain, future one year from today if you keep doing what you are doing vs taking charge of your life and designing your outcome.
With this image of your future in your head, you can now jump back to present day and make a plan to steer the course you need for the result you want, not the one that accidentally falls into your lap like a pin ball.
What Are My Goals?
“What’s it all about, for me?” It’s about doing my best to be my best. Looking within and making corrections. Nobody is perfect. What would that look like, anyway? But I, and you, can be better. We can be better than we have been. My Dad once said to me “it’s OK to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it.” I completely agree. I subscribe to the scientific method and view each mistake and failure as a learning opportunity and a foundation to my knowledge. When I learn how to do something, I usually know how to do it wrong. This knowledge gives me the foundation and security to know what is right and why.
This is also why I prefer working with people that are over the age of 40. They tend to have a more realistic attitude of what they can and cannot do. The down side is they often have limiting beliefs of what they think they can’t do – but I can help with that.
Learn from your mistakes and grow. Focus on that one thing you want to change – no matter how long it takes. If you do one all year, that is a success. If you manage to change two or three behaviors, that is exceptional, but I don’t recommend striving for that. Keep your focus until your new behavior is set in stone.
My goals this year are:
- to continue my push to convert 1 million people to a fit and healthy lifestyle (who are not on that path.)
- I plan to do this by producing the best, and most helpful, content such as: podcasts and articles, to constantly improve my programs, to increase my knowledge and hone my craft.
- Continue my education in coaching behavior change, nutrition, and weight loss.
- And, to be an inspiration to empower people to change their lifestyle for better health.
You can help with this by telling your friends and loved ones and by sharing my podcasts, articles and newsletter. 1 million people is a lot, but I know it can happen with your help. Let’s spread the word that good health is obtainable. Everybody can improve. Let’s make 2016 our best yet.
I’ll end this with a quote from A.A. Milne by way of Winnie the Pooh, “Pay attention to where you are going because without meaning you might get nowhere.”
Now go get ‘em.
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