When we really want to make a change, it’s incredibly tempting to create sweeping, go-hard-or-go-home goals. I’m quitting sugar forever! I’m never drinking again! I’m leaving work by 6pm every single day this month! I’m never letting that psycho get under my skin again!
And we really, truly mean it at the time. We want this so much, and we know it’s best for us, and so we’re sure that nothing will stop us this time.
(And in some instances for sure, circumstances require us to commit to complete abstinence or change.)
In most cases, though, grandiose goals just end up working against us. Because however much we mean it at the time, whether it’s two hours or two days or two months later, real life gets in the way.
In the best case, we laugh that we ever thought something like that was achievable. And we carry on with our usual lives.
In the worst case we punish ourselves, consciously or sub-consciously, for a requisite period and then vow to start the crazy-making process all over again.
Needless to say, neither is ideal. If it’s something that’s important to us, then the ‘oh well I couldn’t do it so will forget about it’ approach isn’t helpful. And obviously, neither is the ‘you lazy cow, when are you going to actually do what you say you will’ method favoured by our inner critics.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There is real magic in the grey. In that wide-open space between perfectionism and giving up. In that one step gained after the five steps forward and four backwards.
So how can you go grey with your goals?
- Check in with yourself and make sure the goals you’re setting are actually what you want for you, not just something you’ve absorbed from others.
- Create your own terms. You are the expert on yourself. It doesn’t matter if that famous athlete or that professor or that expert told you that doing it this particular way will 100% guaranteed absolutely change your life – if it doesn’t feel right for you, then make adjustments until it does.
- Celebrate not just the end milestone but the little wins, every day.
- Be compassionate with yourself and if you veer off course, gently re-adjust until you’re back on track. No beating up necessary.
- Recognise any perceived ‘failure’ for exactly what it is – an hour or a day or a month when you weren’t quite where you wanted to be; not as evidence of your hopelessness/lack of commitment/unlikelihood of ever reaching your goal.
- Shift the focus to how you want to feel. This is the money shot!! Because when we’re striving to achieve something, we’re actually just striving for the feeling we think that goal will bring to us. Work out how reaching this goal will make you feel and commit to bringing that feeling into your life everyday, not just as the prize at the end (more on this in later posts).