My Daily Dozen Goal Setting Strategies:
1. Goals should be specific, observable and quantifiable: if you can track it, you can prove it. Now, many people object that some goals are not quantifiable. That’s not true. Even subjective experiences of discomfort and pain, of pleasure and gratification, of any feeling can be placed on a continuum of 1-10 with 10 being the most and 1 being the least. If you don’t prefer to assign a value to it, that’s a preference, not a reality. If you want to be in less pain, then record it every day, because you can track fluctuations; and as a result, read back through your journal to see what other events or techniques coincides with increases or decreases in pain. The same is true of pleasure or (my preference) gratification. The 3 F’s (fitness, finances and free-time) MUST be quantifiable, your goals MUST be specific and your progress observed and recorded.
2. Firm up deadlines: You never finish “writing” a book; you only decide it’s time to publish. It doesn’t matter if the date is arbitrary, if you don’t have a specific event or due date. Set a deadline, and then reverse engineer the months, weeks, days or hours backward to crunch out the sliced requirements to make it happen. You won’t finish it someday, as life doesn’t come in calendars of “somedays” - only Mondays thru Sundays. Make a date and keep it. The same is true of the 3 F’s: choose a measurement, select a dollar amount, or plan on a number of hours or days with the family. Do it, work for it, and make it happen.
3. Easy goals are appetizers; eat hard ones for the meal: You need to select moderately difficult goals if you want to succeed, because frankly you don’t need to plan to achieve easy goals; you just do them to warm up. It’s simple to get up and perform 8 minutes of joint mobility every day to increase your focus, concentration, remove pain and improve your health and energy. Yet, most people won’t do it for a lot of reasons. If it’s something that you’re procrastinating, then although it may be simple, for some reason, it’s moderately difficult for you, and it needs goal setting.
4. Don’t just write it down, Schedule it: a journal without a schedule is for complaining not for achieving. Goals without executed plans are wishes. There are 3 types of goals: process, performance and outcome. They can be poorly written or properly defined. For example, a process goal is poorly written, “improve my lunge mechanics;” whereas a properly defined process goal would be, “2 minutes of hip mobility before my lunge routine to stabilize my knees.” A performance goal poorly written, “increase my Clubbell mill efficiency;” whereas a properly defined performance goal would be, “execute one mill per 6 seconds.” And a poorly written outcome goal, “get thinner;” compared to a properly defined outcome goal,“drop 1/2% of bodyfat per week.” Then break up each one of those defined goals into steps.
5. Eat the elephant one forkful at a time: Every large goal is made of a series of small goals. Get a whiteboard. Plant it on your wall. Divide it into three panes: Long-Range (the big project), Short-Term (the primary steps to achieve the big project), and Urgent (what you absolutely must complete today). Have an eraser handy. Take the greatest pleasure in wiping off those mission critical objectives. Few things better in life than that gratification.
6. Act as if you’ve won already, and you have: Make the attitudinal changes necessary to be prepared for the big project, event or goal. What would it feel like to surpass your goal? What would you walk, stand, move, talk, express, observe, sit like, if you were confident, courageous and committed? Start acting like it, even though you don’t feel like it yet. Start planned deception against the habits and behaviors that no longer serve you. Yes, it’s a battle. And if you’re going to walk on the field, be real with yourself that you may be walking into the fight of your life but you’ve got it all covered, that you will acknowledge your fears, and keep courage and persevere anyway.
7. A compass in hand is better than a map in pocket: if you have goals, but don’t have access to them because you haven’t internalized them, they’re detrimental. Even if you go through the daily routine, even if you record them diligently, you still need to passionately, and maybe even obsessively, want it. If you don’t truly believe that surpassing your goal best serves your growth, then it’s not going to happen, even with the best coaches, plans and paper trail. Sometimes you can want it badly enough that you’ll even make it happen without all of these steps. But for the bulk of your goals, you need to plan it out, execute it, wear the new and proper attitudes, and be tenacious.
8. As many styles as people on the planet: Education isn’t about information, but about internalization. How do you learn? The goal isn’t mastering a style, but coming to understanding your unique qualities: mastering yourself. The goal is to learn how you learn. Understand your learning styles, your filters and processing, cultivate a robust and rich environment, absorb the elements critical to achieving your goals. It’s ALREADY going to be hard enough for you to achieve your REAL dreams. Don’t make it improbably by trying to do it someone else’s way. Do it YOUR way. Ask, “of the things I love and that come easily to me, HOW do I learn them?” Now, take that process and apply the same formula to other goals.
9. Easier to add than subtract: If you want to change your diet, don’t remove the bad stuff; add more of the good stuff. The good stuff will displace the bad stuff, by changing you at a cellular level. That applies to all goals. Instead of negative goals (decrease how much money I’m wasting), set positive goals (set aside $100 into savings per month); or instead of even losing 2% bodyfat, increase 2lbs of lean muscle mass per month. Adding is much easier than subtracting psychologically and physiologically.
10. Change the scenery: If you want to achieve a goal, it’s not enough to strive directly for it. Change the entire landscape of your pattern of habits. If you want to lose fat and gain muscle, you can’t merely have the goal of “not eating as much junk.” Stop purchasing it at the convenience store, remove it from your house, avoid people who pressure you to make unhealthy choices, start shopping at the farmer’s market, stock the foods in your house that you can prepare easily when you time presses you, and invite new relationships and activities with old ones which forge healthy choices.
11. Form a team: The greatest resistance you’ll receive often comes from those closest to you, because we tend to define people not by who they are continually becoming, but by the patterns of behaviors they must often repeat; even when those behaviors enable unhealthy habits. To break habits, rehearse healthy rituals with the support of “teammates” who hold you accountable not to who you currently are, but to who you can become. As one grows, so do we all. Set joint goals and work together and hold each other transparently accountable. When you’re not accountable, you don’t work as hard. Yes, that applies to everyone. You’re not the first person in the world who suddenly can achieve the most on your own.
12. Failure is the key ingredient to success. I’m often laughing before I even hit the ground. Don’t be surprised if you get hit on the chin again. If you didn’t get pulverized into goo, you wouldn’t be able to rise again anew. Yes, the phoenix came out of the ashes as one of the most powerful creatures in mythology; just remember that it also had to burn in flames to do so. Honor the flames. It forges you. Respect your ashes. They reform you.