Are you stuck?
Have you been on that habitual diet for the past umpteen years but still carry an extra 30 pounds? Are you a smoker that has been trying to quit cigarettes to no avail? Maybe you still have debt after years of paying on your credit cards, or, have you tried to p
ut savings away and there is always too much month for your paycheck? You could be a salesman that wants to increase your income. You set goals, but at the end of the year your income hasn’t changed. As a student, you would like to get A’s and B’s, but end up with C’s and B’s, not quite where you want to be. Success Friends, so many of us would like to change something in our life, yet we do not experience success. Everyone that has set a new years resolution or set a goal that they did not reach understands that goal setting does not work.
Success Friends, this blog is for you.
I have some exciting news for you! Geuss what, you are already setting and hitting goals, successfully. Your brain is a goal setting and goal hitting machine. All day long, your brain works on your goals. An example is eating. You wake up and decide you want to make yourself bacon and eggs. Your goal seeking brain snaps to work. First order of business, when do you want to eat, answer? Right now. You direct yourself to the refrigerator and find a problem, you have eggs but you are out of bacon. New question, should you just have eggs or should you go to the store and get bacon? You assess your hunger and realize, yes I want bacon, so your brain now starts putting in place the answer to this sub goal; get bacon. You put on clothes, grab your wallet and keys, or should you just walk down to the corner store? Your brain calculates that a quick walk will do the trick and you leave to get bacon.
We are already setting and hitting goals.
As you walk to and from the store you are thinking about how good your breakfast will taste. In a short time you are back home making your breakfast. You dine and do not even realize that you have set and achieved a goal. Our brain is wonderful. So wonderful, we take it for granted. I believe that a brain able to help us navigate through the day, breakfast being one example, is a brain that can help us achieve the bigger things in life? I believe that the same brain that gets us addicted to smoking, or sugar or booze can get us addicted to something else, something positive, like exercising, eating right or making more money I believe it, and I will explain why I believe it…
How Your Brain Works!
Our brain has preferences we must understand if we are to get our goal seeking machine focused. The first preference of our brain is pattern seeking, our brain loves patterns. Don’t believe me? Back around 1595 Shakespeare wrote about this very thing in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Act 5 scene 1,” Or in the night, imagining some fear,How easy is a bush supposed a bear!”
We look to make sense of our world. Our life is a basket of habits. We arise about the same time every morning, go to work, eat lunch, leave work, have dinner, enjoy our nightly routine and go to bed. We bathe on a regular basis, brush our teeth regularly we even take time off about the same time each year. And unless something happens to upset the apple cart, like losing a job or an illness, we just keep on doing the same routine. Our brain loves this routine stuff. You see, our brain is rather lazy, routines are mindless. In fact these patterns actually get ingrained into our brain. White matter or myelin coats synapses and creates channels in our brain so that thinking doesn’t need to occur. We just react!. And this is the first reason that goal setting doesn’t work, we simply don’t think. Thinking is work for our brain. And after years of putting itself together in a particular fashion, our brain doesn’t want to start over anew. Unless, you provide a great reason.
Our first step to making goals work for us is to be crystal clear about what we desire. Without a perfect vision of what we want to achieve our brain just ins’t motivated to move. However, give your brain a specific target and you will have the most powerful target seeking mechanism available to man. And this mechanism is at your fingertips, this very moment, more powerful than the most expensive super-computer and it is yours for free. Can we achieve our goal? I'm betting we can.
Write "IT" Down!
You have set goals. You have made resolutions, you may have even bought a book or an app that will help you achieve goals. And what happened? You didn’t reach your goal, (why else would you be reading this blog?) You started after your goal, but you were sidetracked. Or you thought of another goal that you wanted to achieve and your original goal was forgotten about. Or better yet, as you were working towards your goal, you thought of a better way to achieve it, so you stopped doing one thing and then started doing something else. Do you ever get the feeling that goal setters are in the business of always starting over? Our brain will do what ever we tell it to do, but each time we tell our brain something, it stops doing what it was doing and starts doing the new thing. And your first goal gets farther and farther away. “See!”, you tell your self. “Goal Setting just doesn’t work!”.
Don’t fret, goal setting does work.
But we need to stay on task, and that is why we need to do one thing before we do the next, and the one thing we must do before all other things, is, we need to write down our goal somewhere. Not only somewhere, but somewhere where we can see it over and over again. I use my free GOAL SFS app, I am reminded of my goal on a regualar basis. However, I do actually take pen to paper and put on a post it note that I stick next to my bed and read my goal before I go to sleep at night, and first thing when I awake in the morning. I put these goal cards on my mirror in my bathroom, on my refrigerator, on my dashboard of my car, on my computer, in my wallet on my window, you get it, I put them everywhere. And this repetition works for me. Between my app and my cards, I am drenched in my goals. Success friends, never change a winning plan, but always change a loosing plan. How is your plan?
Write your goal down. As the lemon drop says, write your goal down, first on a sheet of paper, and then write it in your heart.
How Big is Too Big?
Your goal needs to be the right size, too big or too little and it just isn’t inspirational.
So how big is too big? Will it take more than five years to achieve? If so, then that is a “Grand Obsession”, not a goal. A goal is the type of task that seems to be reachable, but not graspable, you have to really stretch to touch it. Let me try an example. Pretend you need to loose 100 pounds to get at your healthy weight. Part of the problem here is that you have tried to loose the weight before and did not have any luck. So to even start again is daunting. But you write down that you want to loose 100 pounds in two years, and you begin. As usual, you start off like gang busters and you do great, and you think only 23 more months and I am going to be looking the way I want to look. And you keep after it, but you get bored and you let your guard down and you are some place that sets off a trigger, and before you know what you are doing you are chowing down. Goal setting just doesn’t work.
Let me offer an alternative. I have over 30 years of sobriety. When I stopped drinking, I could not see myself having 30 years of sobriety, heck, I couldn’t see myself with 5 years of sobriety. But successful recovery is a recovery based on staying sober for today. We don’t worry about tomorrow, or next year or 30 years, we focus on today. So instead of trying to loose 100 pounds in two years, allow the ideal weight to be your “Grand Obsession” and break you goals down to shorter periods. I love 13 week goals. Anybody can do anything for 90 days. And break the 13 weeks down into weekly goals. Big goal setters, and big goal hitters are weekly goal setters and weekly goal hitters. I will loose a pound a week. I think I could do that. My goal is now believable, and achievable, because it is motivational. And the crazy thing is, it takes the exact same work either way. Perception is a powerful tool. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
To this day I work on my recovery a day at time, and, I am still setting and hitting short term goals, that turn into big time goals. Remember, your brain likes patterns that it can complete in a short period of time. But there is some more fuel that we can add to your fire of desire. Read on.
Repeat after Me.
Another reason that goal setting doesn’t work is that we don’t think about our goal often enough. We need to make our goal into a burning desire if we want success. Unfortunately, many times we “set it, and forget it”. Remember, our brains need to be moved, to move. Sure, I would love a million dollars, and that thought is motivating to my brain. However, if I don’t keep thinking that a million dollars is what I want to go after, then my brain will stop too. My brain will start worrying about what’s directly in front of it, the news, sports, work, problems, debt. My million dollars is long gone. I am amazed at the number of people I meet who tell me they would love to earn the kind of income that I earn, yet, a week later they are off chasing some new dream. Usually it is in the form of a guaranteed paycheck. Or as I like to call it, mediocrity.
But we can do a simple thing to change this problem. We can remind ourselves about our goals on a regular basis. I remind myself through my app GOAL SFS, it comes right to my phone and my watch. I also have cards with my goal written on them located at strategic places around my home, auto and work. I get myself into a goal frenzy. I don’t leave anything to chance. My goals are important, and I treat them as such. So remember, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Oh and one more reason why goals setting doesn’t work…
Achieving goals takes work, belief, change of attitude, change of routine, focus, time, overcoming challenges, repetition and don’t forget the very important, reason why. Our brains love patterns and a reason why provides a pattern. Rewards are a part of the reason why. Recall that our brain needs to be moved to move. Rewards offer our brain motivation. Rewards provide the “if you do this, you will get that “ option that our brain loves. One of the reasons goal setting doesn’t work is that we forget to reward ourselves. Or we say we are going to reward ourselves and we don’t. Our brain remembers, and will learn that rewards don’t happen so don’t be motivated by them. You can’t be like a cloud that drifts over a drought stricken land, promising water but bringing none. And know this, we must absolutely reward ourselves every time we achieve a part of our goal. Now your reward does not need to be a huge reward, it just needs to be some kind of a reward. Your reward may be to sleep in on Saturday morning, or maybe one small piece of chocolate, what ever the reward, you need to make sure that your reward is tied tightly to your goal. While enjoying your reward, think of what you did to reach your accomplishment.
Oh, and speaking of rewards, your goal and your reward need to be positive. When our goals go to negative, our brain doesn’t hear the no, only the positive word. Quitting something? Stopping smoking, drinking or drugs, losing weight, or getting out of debt are not positive goals. When you say that I am not going to drink today, or not smoke today or I am not going to eat sugar today, your brain only hears the drink, smoke or eat sugar. We aren’t really sabotaging our goals, our brain is providing us what we ask. I will not is translated to our brain as, I will. And thus our brain delivers. When I addressed my drinking as a goal, I learned the power of positive goal setting. I didn’t say I would stop drinking, or that I would never drink again for the rest of my life, I said I would stay sober for today. See the difference? Positive vs. Negative. I didn’t worry about tomorrow or long term and I didn’t tell myself I would never drink again, I just told myself that I would be sober for today. And I would reward myself, at first with daily chips, and then, as my sobriety strengthened, I would receive an annual medallion with many congratulations from my peers. I still reward myself if I stay sober for the whole year. I will reward myself for the 31st time coming up in August.
Positive goals and positive rewards are a key to goal setting. Remember, if you don’t pat yourself on your back, who will? Want more help? I am available for one on one classes to help you goal set. I am also available for groups trainings as well. And download my goal setting app - GOAL SFS on the play store and in the App store. GOAL SFS stands for Goal Setting for Success. And don’t forget to sign up for lemon drops and please check out my website, www.tommyfierst.com, for wonderful motivational ideas. Also you can find me on twitter, instagram facebook and snapchat - tommyfierst.