We’re almost through the first week of 2016. Here are the headlines in my world: I’ve been sick and el nino brought rain to California. In a nutshell, it has been both a good and rough start. And you know what? I’m completely okay with a mixed bag because that’s life, baby! Life is never all good or bad. It’s a mixture of both, and we get to choose which side of the coin we want to dwell on. I’m choosing to focus on the good. How about you?
Creating Goal Success in 2016 and Beyond
This is the time of year where everyone shares their goals and optimism that this year they will experience goal success. Goals won’t be set and abandoned. Instead, we will set SMART goals, create action plans, focus on a few high-value goals and hold ourselves accountable. I agree 100% that you need to do all of those things to see success. I also think you’re missing a huge first step that must be addressed before getting into the nitty gritty reality of goal achievement.
Why I Used to Fail at Setting Personal Goals
I was always a bit of an anomaly when it came to goals. I did very well against work goals, but my track record against personal goals was poor. Of course, those personal goals were also a bit suspect when scrutinized. I spent little time choosing them and even less time working on them. Still, it bothered me that I was a high achiever at work and less so within my personal life. Call me greedy, but I wanted to succeed both professionally and personally.
So I followed conventional wisdom and made changes, which meant goal success should have occurred but it didn’t. Why? Because I forgot the most important part of change or creating new habits — know thyself.
Know Thyself to Achieve Your Goals
Here’s the thing: conventional wisdom tells us the steps we need to take to achieve goals. They are not wrong, but they forget about the very human side of goal-setting. We are battling ourselves. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there may be a piece of ourselves that is extremely resistant to some change we must make in order to achieve a goal we truly want. This small piece of us fights dirty and does everything within its power to make us give-up.
Sound crazy? Think about it for moment — have you ever found yourself self-sabotaging your own efforts? Failure wasn’t caused by outside influences or things outside your control but by your own two hands (or most likely thoughts). Most of us can at least think of one instance (if not many, many more) where we have self-sabotaged ourselves.
Know Your History to Plan Your Future
For years, I have made a variation of getting healthy a goal of mine. Every year I meant it; every year I failed. Was it because I wasn’t truly committed to doing the work? Truthfully, the answer was yes, sometimes. And yet, I also truly wanted to get healthy. How was I going to bridge this discord? The answer — know thyself. I had to understand what getting healthy meant to me (and me alone) and understand where there were pockets of resistance within myself and most importantly — why they existed.
I learned when my brain hears the word DIET, it freaks out. It conjures up horrible thoughts of never-ending deprivation or unrealistic beliefs that the logical (aka Spock-side) of me knows can’t be true (i.e. being thin means life will be butterflies and rainbows) and rebels against. Suddenly, I’m scarfing down a bag of potato chips and hoarding candy bars, which prior to hearing the word DIET, I wasn’t even craving. Thus, I binge, which leads to a why bother attitude. Goal over before it even really started.
In order to get healthy, I can’t just follow conventional wisdom, assuming I’ll do the work and goal success will automatically happen. Because it won’t. I need to make sure every step suits me and my nature, even if it’s a bit unconventional. Because no matter how SMART your goal is, goal success will remain elusive if you self-sabotage your efforts.
3 Tips To Help You Know Thyself
We all know ourselves, right? Ummmm … yes and no. It’s always very easy to acknowledge the best parts of ourselves; the things that make us proud. We tend to ignore our less becoming parts and go to occasional extremes to pretend they don’t exist. It is not always easy looking under the hood, so to speak, but if you truly want to succeed, then you need to know thyself in order to create a plan that will actually work.
Get In Touch With Your Emotions
This is key. I don’t think we even realize how deeply our emotions affect our ability to succeed. Emotions are often messy, complicated and contradictory. We can truly want something (like getting healthy or out of debt) and still make deliberate choices that fly in the face of our goals (eating a bag of potato chips or going on a shopping spree). Learn which emotions affect you the most and what your emotional triggers are.
Why Do Your Goals Matter to You
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I used to set goals to either please or impress others. You can also imagine how enthused I was to do the “work” when I felt rather meh over the actual goal. You need to know why your goals matter – to every single part of you. You need to uncover those parts that feel resistant to your goal, especially the actions you will need to take to make your goals come to fruition.
Whenever you find yourself hesitating or procrastinating over doing a necessary step, ask yourself why. Likely, you have some belief or mental hang-up blocking you and needs to be addressed before you can achieve goal success. Sometimes, you will need to address the same mental hang-up (or a some variation of it) over and over before you can move forward. Don’t give-up. Be gentle but firm with yourself and keep asking yourself “why” or “why not”.
Understand Past Failures and Successes
Our past is prose and we can learn a lot from examining both past failures and successes. Look for differences and commonalities. A few questions to ask yourself:
- Were you setting meaningless goals?
- Did you create action plans without considering your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and past experiences?
- Were you more successful because you had a coach or someone holding you accountable? Or were your supposed cheerleaders dismissive of your goals?
- Did tracking and celebrating milestones make a difference?
- Did you need to do more research or did too much information overwhelm you?
- Do you have some false beliefs around your goals?
- Did something happen in the past that is creating mental hang-ups?
Don’t doom yourself to repeat your past. Learn from it and adjust your action plan from your past failures and successes.
Embrace Thyself and Create Your Best Life
No matter what you see in TV or read in social media, no one is perfect. We are perfectly imperfect creatures and perfectly capable of achieving our goals. When you know thyself, you not only embrace your imperfections, you harness them to help you live your best life. Here’s to embracing ourselves and goal success in 2016 and beyond.
Does goal success come easy for you? Why or why not?