Previously in the series … (cue faint TV theme music – I’d love to have my own theme music…)
- On day one we looked at what to do when you find yourself stuck on the starting block, unable to quite find that spring in your step to propel you on the journey to achieving your goals.
- On day two we looked at picking goals which ignite the fire in your belly and get you raring to get out of bed, even when your floor is cold, it’s dark outside and your bed is cosy warm.
- Day three looked at how to turn energy into action and get the momentum going on achieving your dreams
- We also had a bonus article on day three about how opportunities tend to come out of the wood work when we’re ready to recognise our real dreams.
Which brings us to day four: “Don’t Go Changing (Overnight)”
Change is good, growth of character is good. But just like no-one loses 20lbs overnight unless you cut your leg off, effective long term goal achieving change tends to come slowly. In fact, trying to change too much too soon is often what steers us off course from our goals.
Let’s say for example you want to get fit, or lose some of your holiday weight (I’m in this bracket – at the moment I look like the girl who has eaten Amy Harrison and still managed dessert).
The instinct is to see the end goal, think how far it is and want to do everything you can to get there as soon as possible. So for a day you eat super healthy foods or you try and eat very little and you exercise 5 times that first week.
You’re going to feel miserable, disheartened and that chocolate / beer / bag of pork scratching starts to look pretty good.
Or, let’s say you want to get more readers to your blog, and be on a par with the top bloggers.
You start writing, publishing and promoting blog posts like there’s no tomorrow. You’re writing around the clock, studying your keywords, tweaking your titles, but after the first week, your posts haven’t made a ripple except for a couple of nice comments. You’re still not a famous blogger.
You think you’re a failure, your words are worthless and that reality TV show; where models are trained to be underwater ballerinas in front of a judging panel of dolphins, starts to look pretty good.
Your intentions were good, that burst of energy was great, but trying to change overnight is a difficult thing to do.
Consider this: you’ve spent years building up and honing the habits (good or bad) that you have today. So to try and get them to change or disappear overnight is setting you up for a huge challenge.
How do you start on a journey of change without wanting to give up and crawl under the duvet?
Visualise the goal, not the work
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by your goals and see them in terms of the work you have to put in to achieve them. Whilst nothing that is worth having comes without hard work, don’t let the hard work put you off your dream.
Remember the goal, visualise what it would feel like to hand in your dissertation, drive your dream car, work in your perfect job or imagine yourself crossing the finish line of a marathon. Take some time, have a cup of tea and go to town with this. Don’t think about what you need to change in order to get there, just imagine it and let yourself get excited and caught up in your day dream.
I don’t know the science behind whether positive thinking gives you more energy / creativity but I do know that a good old day dream makes me smile on the inside, and that’s got to be a good start to the day.
Set shorter mini-goals
If the idea of losing a stone in weight, or writing a novel seems insurmountable, then break it down. Set smaller cumulative targets. Perhaps a pound a fortnight or 500 words a day. Something which you can fit into your regular routine, but which can be ramped up if you decide it’s going well, is a good idea.
Resist the temptation to set a target that is going to be almost impossible to complete from day one. All too often, people punish themselves over not achieving their goals quickly enough, but if you’re even at the stage of identifying and working towards what you want, you’re on the right path.
Start small – but start
Whether it’s a small walk, 30 minute typing, 15 minutes practising the guitar, do it and do it now (right after you’ve read this).
Acting today is much better than planning the perfect action for “some day in the future.” For more ideas about how to get going on your goals, hark back to day 3 of Translating Goals Into Action!
Reward the wins
You need a lot of love from yourself along the way if you’re going to be working hard on your goals. I’m all for pushing yourself, but remember to be kind as well, even when you think you’ve only achieved something small. Chances are your goals are going to be realised through a series of small accomplishments and not one big over night win.
Finish a run one morning? Let yourself have a little lie in the next day. Written 200 words a day for 7 days straight? Kick back with a DVD and your favourite tipple.
Feel good and reward your progress – you deserve it.
See how far you’ve come
I’m all for journals and logs to mark progress, because it’s a great way to remind yourself of how small actions build up into greater things. Whether it’s a written journal about what you’ve been working on, or a daily blog charting your adventure or a graph showing your weight loss or improvement in your fitness times. Mark it down and it won’t be long before you start to see how far you’ve gone.
Take it a day at a time
Sometimes even the week or month ahead can seem daunting, and whilst it’s important to have a vision of what you would like to achieve within this time, thinking about it on a daily basis makes action a lot more manageable. Taking a little action every day towards your goals is also more likely to help you build up those good habits until you’re running / writing / blogging every day as if you were cleaning your teeth.
Good luck and keep believing.
Day Five: Don’t miss the gold for the goals
And of course:
Day Six: Kick ass resources to help you achieve your goals.