I learned the importance of goals back in high school track and field. My coach taught us to develop goals regularly and constantly find ways to achieve them. It was a great lesson because it took my very basic goals such as “set a new personal record” to “I am going to pole vault 15 feet by May”. It is very important to be specific when creating goals. I just recently read in the book, The Compound Effect, a quote by Paul Meyer that said, “If you are not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined”. I think this statement really hits it home. Clear and specific goals are necessary to make regular and consistent progress.
Specific goals also help you avoid falling into the trap of “working really hard but accomplishing nothing” that we sometimes fall in to. It is a disappointing place where you feel like you’re doing so much but not really getting anywhere. If you’re ever feeling like you are in that place, it is because your work is not focused or you are trying to work on too many things at once. It is better to go all in on one thing and do it well than half-ass ten things and make no progress with any of them. Kylee and I went to go see Made for More by Rachel Hollis last night (author of Girl, Wash Your Face) and Rachel made a metaphor that I really liked. She made the comparison of throwing a boulder into a lake versus throwing in bunch of small rocks—which one makes more of a ripple? By going all in on one thing and making progress in that one area, your motivation and drive that you get from that one area will naturally spread to other areas of your life and you will naturally make progress everywhere. Rachel’s content is mainly directed towards women but the message is universal and I really enjoyed it. We will be hearing her speak at the coaching summit that we are going to this summer and now we are even more excited to go! Ladies—definitely check her stuff out. Guys—buy your girlfriend one of her books or something.
People often find a little extra motivation around the new year so this is an excellent time to capitalize on your newfound drive! To make your motivation actually last more than the first two weeks of the new year, you need to create a plan for each of your goals. By making a plan and accomplishing goals regularly, you can maintain that motivation year-round. The plans need to only be as complex as the goals. Even for simple goals though, I would recommend coming up with three things you can do to accomplish them. For example: if your goal is to cut out soda from your diet, you might stop drinking soda (obviously), come up with an alternative to drink when you crave soda (tea), and keep track of how many days you’ve gone without soda. If you give in to your cravings, document what you had and why you ended up having it. Writing down why you gave in is a good exercise to do because you’ll usually end up finding the reason why you gave in to be ridiculous and you’ll be less likely to do it again. Most importantly, if you do give in, don’t beat yourself up over it, write down your reasoning, and just get right back on the horse. Failing is just a part of the process. The only reason you can’t accomplish your goal is if you give up and you’re less likely to give up if you have a plan! Another great quote from The Compound Effect is “a goal without a plan is just a fantasy”. Don’t let your goals just be fantasies. Go write them down, make them specific and quantifiable, create a plan, and please read The Compound Effect.