In one of my favorite Seinfeld scenes, Jerry and Elaine are picking up their rental car when the agent informs them they don’t have what they reserved. Jerry laments how the reservation is the entire point. “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”
You’re not here for a Seinfeld recap so I’ll get to my point. This scene reminds me of the problem with many goals: Anyone can set a goal, it’s the meaning of the goal that’s important.Anyone can set a goal, it's the meaning of the goal that's important. Click To Tweet
We are often bullied into goals through the media. Pick up nearly any health magazine and you’re bombarded with goals of losing weight, getting a “beach body”, eating less, and getting lean muscles. It’s not that losing weight can’t be your goal, but before latching on to some arbitrary goal of losing 15 pounds, do a little digging and see if that’s actually what you want to work towards.
When you pick a goal you feel you should have, pretty soon you’re going to hit a road block and throw it out the window, because you don’t really care about it. It doesn’t have real meaning to you.
We’ve talked about finding your Why; how getting to the root of why you feel you should lose 15 pounds, run a marathon, go vegan, etc, will help make healthier habits stick by connecting you to your goal. Here are some things to consider before committing to any goal:
How does this goal positively impact my life?
A goal should add to your life experience. My goal of running my first marathon, was to improve my endurance so I could easily run shorter distances and give me a new challenge after completing 5 half marathons. I wanted to run more and was ready to overcome the hesitation and fear of such a big distance. Had I chosen to do a marathon so I could do what my friends were doing, it’d be easy to give up the first long run where I struggled, or if my friends started opting for shorter distances.
Think about if your goal will accomplish larger things than the goal itself. Will going vegan enhance your relationship with food and give you more energy, or does it just sound like a crazy challenge?
Would I have this goal if no one knew about it?
Ooooh, this is a powerful one! Sometimes we state a goal because it sounds good coming out of our mouths. We think our friends will be impressed, or that we’ll fit in with our coworkers if we go with whatever goal they are working towards. Goals are not easily accomplished if they are for other people. They need to mean the world to you in order to make the choices and sometimes sacrifices it will take to accomplish them.
Is my goal specific and attainable?
To reach a goal, you need to have a clear picture of what it is and be able to see yourself getting there. A goal of “getting fit” is general enough that it fails to inspire real action. What does “fit” mean in this goal? Does it mean hiking without getting winded or does it mean running a 6 minute mile? It’s cliche, but if you do not know where you are going, you’ll have no idea how to get there. Setting a specific goal allows you to not only find a smart way to get there, but you’ll know when you reach it and when to adjust. One of my favorite quotes on this is, “Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.”
The other aspect of this is attainability. Set an initial goal too high and risk quitting due to frustration. If you want to get into yoga, setting a goal of a handstand is probably not attainable right away. A goal of doing yoga 3 times a week or mastering perfect form on a basic move is a better place to start. You’ll set more ambitious goals as you progress, but keeping them in the realm of possibility sets you up for success as opposed to saying, f@#k it.
For more on setting SMART goals, check out this post!
If you’d like guidance in determining what you really want, or would like help designing an approachable plan to get you there, I would love to work with you in my 4-Week Kickstarter Program! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org today and together we will make your goals a reality!