Probably this post is going to be one of many thousands posted on Linkedin about goal setting in 2016, so here are my top three reasons why you sabotage yourself when setting goals.
1. Your environment doesn’t support your choices
A big thing in the UK at the moment is the launch into space of astronaut Tim Peake. Now Tim hasn’t been to the space station before, and is a novice when it comes to flying around in zero gravity. He will be bumping into things, and moving with the grace of a drunk octopus. But after a couple of days he will be flying through the air like a bird.
A common theme amongst astronauts is how quickly they adapt to living in zero gravity.
The body and brain doesn’t have a choice, faced with no gravity the brain quickly realises that there is only one way to operate.
The take away point
Build the environment that supports your choices and goals, give yourself no other options. Want to eat less sugar, don’t have it in the house, don’t buy it at the supermarket, don’t eat out. Want to eat less processed food, only buy foods that need to be prepared through cooking. Faced with limited choices we adapt and do want we need to do with what we have. This is why when advising my coaching clients we look at developing their lifestyle first then building everything else around the desired lifestyle.
2. You’ll try to change to much.
I wanted to get fit a few years ago, if you see the previous post you’ll see I was a lot heavier than I am now. So I did what everyone does, I joined a gym, tried to work out lots and started running. A couple of weeks into my new regime I had started to miss gym sessions and then out on a run I ruptured my achilles tendon. I was in a cast and this set me back six months before I could exercise again, and now it is four years later I’m only just starting to run again without pain.
The take away point
Take things slowly and build up to the desired level you want to have. Don’t join a gym and expect to go every night if you’ve never exercised before. Going from zero to a 100 miles an hour will be too much of a shock to your system, and you will rage quit after a few weeks.
If your ultimate goal is to exercise 3 hours a week, start with 30 mins a week and exercise as hard as you can, then an hour, then two then three over a period of months. This way you allow yourself to adapt to the new environment (see point 1) and you’ll see progress and achieve these mini goals.
A good tool to use is the 4 step approach.
1. Establish your goal
2. Break this into sub goals
3. Define actions and Who/What/Where
4. Develop a plan using “if X then Y” statements
Focus your changes on one or two things at first, and start slowly. Want to meditate in the New Year? Do five minutes of meditation every day for two months, then make it ten minutes for two months, then 15, then 30, then 45, then 60 minutes. By the end of the year you’ll have established your meditation practice into your routine and have achieved something worthwhile.
3. You don’t make it fun and enjoyable.
My teenage daughter is just about to select which subjects she wants to study for her first set of exams. She has selected everything but had one more subject to choose. She was considering between sport science and business studies, but didn’t know which one to choose.
I asked her, answer quickly which one do you think you’ll enjoy the most?
Sport Science came the quick reply.
There is your answer, I said.
But school says we should pick something useful
But why do anything if it isn’t fun?
The take away point
We achieve more when we engaged in tasks that challenge us AND we enjoy. This is why the concept of using games to learn and achieve goals is growing strongly. I’m sure that business studies might be useful at some point in the future, but probably not right now. If you are trying to achieve a goal, the actions around that goal need to be enjoyable. Why run on a treadmill for hours if you don’t enjoy it? I prefer to run outside, or cycle in the forest.
You really need to enjoy what you are doing, be it learning a new skill, progressing in your career, or losing weight. If achieving your goals become a chore, then we naturally will avoid doing those actions. You’ll look for excuses and procrastinate more and before long you’ll slip back into your old routine.
Finally, whatever your goals are for 2016, I wish you a happy New Year and every success in 2016.