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goal setting

May 1, 2023

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goal setting is a problem because it’s hard. it’s just plain difficult.

the most common reason you don’t meet your goals is your bar is set too high. 

you set goals that are unrealistic. they don’t seem unrealistic at the time, but your goals often don’t account for the complexity and unpredictability of your internal and external life. 

story time

here’s a little story and accompanying lesson i learned years ago around goal setting.

i was lamenting to a colleague about how I would go to the gym for five days, feel awesome, then i’d miss a day, then two days, then it would be something like three months before i’d be sufficiently pissed off to get back to the gym.

then the cycle would begin again. i would for five days, feel great, then i’d miss a day, maybe back for another day or two, then miss another day, then two, then three more months…and the cycle would start all over.

it was a never ending roller coaster, constantly wrestling with myself about getting back to the gym.

i recall it was exhausting. 

the lesson

my colleague shared with me she set a goal for herself many years ago to go for a walk once a week. that’s it.

now, she often did this over her lunch hour at work, so she was able to get outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery, and often with her colleagues, so her goal included socialization and other benefits as a bonus.

but here’s the real kicker, she was telling me this 30 years after she set that goal for herself. 30 years! that’s sustainability in my book.

i had this conversation about 15 years ago. it was at that time i decided to adopt the approach for myself, setting my exercise goal at “working out once a week”.  

i am happy to report this has proven to be a valuable and sustainable approach for me as well. it allows for vacations, i can get sick, there are a number of things that can happen in my life and i can still maintain my “at least once a week” exercise goal.

have i been perfect?

of course not. i’ve had surgeries, injuries, and other circumstances that have prevented me from being perfect, but perfect doesn’t matter, it’s about sustainability over time. its about getting back on track; its about falling down 8 times and getting up 9; it’s about beginning again.

i’ll tell you it’s a lot easier to begin again when your goal is once a week.  

i will also share i typically exercise more than once a week – but everything after my goal of one is a bonus in my book.

it’s the sense of accomplishment i get from hitting my goal that makes it sustainable. i get all the feelings and positive reinforcements that come along with hitting my goal, every week. 

so think about what kind of goals you want to set in your life, and then lower your bar.

whether it’s exercise, nutrition, career; or whatever your goal, the same principle applies: lower the bar. 

go get it, 

donald

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