In my previous post, I talked about how I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. So, what do I do instead? I focus on Goals. Goals are about moving forward, or simply moving. It is a slippery slope that we navigate every day. We do something one day and then the next day, there’s an emergency meeting, or we have had a late night, or we are simply feeling lazy. All these can work as hindrances but the key is to not let Life and its many challenges get in the way of our goals. Resolutions, on the other hand, tend to make things more rigid without a plan to working on them.
Put Happiness first
What makes you happy? Why not use that as your motivation to set your goals this year? Does having that capuccino give you happiness? Then you can delay gratification by doing a 7 minute HIIT workout first. By using the If-Then logic, you are taking the first step in training your brain to increase your will power.
Goals make me happy because they give me a purpose. Goals make me happy because they release all the right hormones when I have achieved them. I keep my goals small and achievable but not so small that I insult my own intelligence. For example, when I set the goal of exercising in the morning, I do not set the smaller goal as “wear your gym clothes” (as suggested by some websites); but re-wire my brain by telling myself “It will be just a gentle walk”. Later, when I am feeling those happiness hormones flooding my system, I can push myself and turn that walk into a jog, perhaps?
Long-term and Short-term goals
So your goal is to run a marathon this year? As we all know, running a marathon will require tremendous discipline and working on your body every single day. But if you are starting from scratch, then telling your mind that you need to run every day will only result in you throwing in the towel very early on.
Instead, can you chalk out a plan where you make a short-term goal of walking/jogging/running (depending on your current fitness level) a certain number of kilometres in a week? And while you are at it, you can think about not doing too much at once. The sticky-note goal making is a fun way to turn the droll into the daring!
Identify the hurdles
When the day draws to a close, I tend to plan BIG. I am more optimistic about the day to come. But my will power fails me upon awakening the next day. That’s because I tend to bite more than I can chew.
It is important to sit down with yourself and have a heart-to-heart. What is it that keeps you away from your goals? Is fear or self-doubt taking you away from the desired result? Are you going too easy on yourself and not holding yourself accountable? Some honest reflection will go a long way to creating a stronger willpower and sticking to your goals.
Customize your goals
As we look forward to the new year, making goals also involves looking back at the past. It is important to identify what helped you succeed in the past. It is about finding out what works for you and what doesn’t.
In fact, it is a great first step in goal-setting. While Visualisation is an excellent technique towards realising our goals and succeeding in achieving them; what works for me might not work for you. It is important that you think about the things that have not worked for you. Ideally, I would love to be part of the 5am Club. But with a young child and a spouse who works late hours, I have come to accept that this might not happen in the near future. Instead, what works for me is to wake up before everyone to get some much-needed quiet time.
Improvise Adapt Overcome
Change is not easy. When you decide to change some facet of your life, you are bound to face difficulties. Life is unpredictable and is known to throw a spanner in the works. But in order to be consistent in working towards one’s goals, one needs to remember to Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.
The slogan of the United States Marine Corps, I believe, should be something we should keep in mind while we work on our goals. It teaches us to train our brain to fight against disappointments. When things are not going as planned, instead of moping about or worse, giving up; one should pull their weight and start afresh. If you have ever watched a child playing with a cardboard box, you will know what innovation and improvisation means. It is a castle one minute and an Ironman helmet the next.
Get out of your comfort zone and nudge yourself to be better than you were yesterday. Think Goals, not Resolutions.