Written by: Andrew Rehs
Are you ready to say hello to the new you? Whether you are successfully working towards a goal, revisiting old goals, or not sure where to start, this article will empower you to reach your desired goal by strengthening your mindset around that goal using 5 key ingredients. It is nearing the end of the second month of the new year, and statistically speaking, most resolutions start to lose steam at this point. Whether this sounds like you, or you are just looking for a dose of motivation, these psychological tools will surely put you closer to your goal…without even leaving your seat!
Before we dive into those 5 ingredients, let take a minute to focus on how we view goals. Some call them resolutions, some call them lifestyle changes, some simply call them goals. Are you looking at your resolution as a solution to some problem within yourself? That may be why some encounter problems with their resolutions! Who wants to focus on what’s WRONG about you? Instead, I recommend using a different term altogether – ‘lifestyle change’ perhaps, or ‘new direction’. By viewing them as resolutions, it could be cognitively counterproductive, as simply a way to resolve something. You are a great person with many positive attributes…own it! So, instead of fixing what is wrong, utilize what is right. It may be more beneficial to view these as measurable and realistic. Instead view them as goals towards lifestyle changes. Goals are mentally positive; resolutions are naturally negative as they are a fix to a deficit. One may be already starting the path to success a step behind.
Let’s get started. Take a look at your personal goals right now. Whether you are well are your way, or “failing to launch”, these small alterations could make a big difference. Consider this a psychology boot camp. If you started with 10 resolutions, that may be your problem right there. Starting with three may give you a much better chance at reaching two goals than if you start with 10 things you semi-desire change in. Make sense?
Starting with the first (of your three) most serious goal, we are going to mix in 5 powerful ingredients to strengthen it. Making these simple changes to the way that you think already puts you miles ahead of where you were before…without even breaking a sweat. To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, I am going to use one of the most popular resolutions…weight loss. Let’s assume that your goal was to lose weight (for your health, both mental and physical, do not be too ambitious with your weight loss goals). This is how it may look:
STEP ONE – Make sure that you know when your goal is met.
This is a big mistake people make when creating lifestyle changes. They lose site of the finish line before the start of the race. Many people make goals such as wanting to lose “some” weight, read “more” books, smoke “less” cigarettes, etc. These are all good for improving self, but there is no way to know that you are making progress towards the end, because there is no end. Instead, make sure that there is a way to measure your goal, like this:
I want to lose 10lbs vs. I want to lose weight.
STEP TWO – Be sure that your goals are positive (removing “negative” wordage or vocabulary from your thought process).
This will help you articulate what is being created from this goal, focusing on the end result and not what you are reducing. In our culture, we focus so much on ridding ourselves of things which already puts us behind psychologically. Examples include LOSING weight, QUITTING cigarettes, LESS stress, REDUCE debt. You see how these are all using negative words? You would be surprised how much this gets in the way of mental success. Instead, it may be helpful to view your goal in an affirmative way like this:
I want to weigh 240lbs (assuming you currently weigh 250lbs) vs. I want to lose 10lbs.
STEP THREE – Be as specific as possible! One is much more likely to accomplish a goal if he or she has a better idea of the path towards that goal.
Runners compete on a course or track. If they competed in a vast piece of land with no sense of direction, it would be very difficult to consider it a competition. Remember, the more focused your goal is, the more motivation you can pack into it. Sticking with our weight loss example, look at the difference between a specific goal and a loosely organized resolution:
I want to weigh 240lbs by running 3x per week for 45min and abiding to a strict nutrition regimen vs. I want to lose weight by going to the gym more (does this sound familiar?)
STEP FOUR –Try thinking of your goals as if they are already happening, or even already happened!
This is the part where I usually lose my clients. There is a little psychological secret in powerful goal setting that goes against our grammatical rules in the English language…but if you could not tell from my blog already, grammar isn’t everything!
This is something that may sound strange when you say it out loud but already puts you ahead of your “2014” self. Many studies in the field of psychology, business, philosophy, and even metaphysics have shown us over the years that thinking of goals in present tense helps us achieve these goals quicker (and stronger). This is how it works:
I weigh 240lbs vs. I want to weigh 240lb
STEP FIVE – Create a finish line.
Now it is time to put it all together with this crucial component. Ask any counselor, therpist, motivational speaker, or mentor and they will tell you that an essential ingredient to any good goal is a realistic deadline, which in turn makes it even more measurable, attainable, and real. There needs to be a finish line to call it a race (whether that “finish line” is literal or figurative). Staying with the weight loss example, here is how a good deadline works:
I want to lose 10lbs by April 1st, 2015 vs. I want to lose 10lbs
Notice I did not use all of the other rules in that last example. I wanted to see if you were still paying attention. Now, let’s try and put all five of these rules together. If you create a powerful goal using a positive, detailed, past or present tense, and measurable deadline, your goal should look something like this:
I completed my goal of weighing 240lb by April 1st, 2015 committing to a strict regimen of running for 30 minutes 3x/week and abiding by a healthy, well rounded diet.
It may seem like a wordy goal, but if you thought of all of your goals like this, you will put yourself at a psychological advantage, thus putting yourself miles ahead of…yourself. This year is YOUR year and anything can be accomplished if you believe it can. This may be the third year in a row you have tried to lose weight, quit smoking, and decrease debt, but it may be the first year you have tried to view your goals using powerful ingredients. Remember to hold yourself accountable for your goals, and keep them in plain sight. My recommendation for this is to take a dry erase maker and write the “details” of your goal on your mirror to remind you every morning where you are at for the weekly components of the goal. For instance, if you want to start running three times per week, right “Run” on your mirror with the numbers “1, 2 and 3” underneath it. This will allow you to simply mark through the number with your finger, holding yourself accountable for your goal and keeping it where you can see it.
REMEMBER THIS: This is YOUR TIME. Say hello to the new you. I would like to end this blog entry by sharing some of the best advice I have ever read by the insightful business author, Brian Tracy: “If you do not have goals yourself, you are doomed to work towards someone else’s goals for the rest of your life”. Go forth and MAKE!