Goal Setting and Making Progress
How to improve your daily life by making gaols
A Quick Story
"I don't have anything to do during the day. I just don't know what to do! I am so bored I just watch TV until I fall asleep. Then I wake up and turn on Netflix. I am tired of this! Please, help me figure out what to do with my life!"
That was an email I received recently from a nice young lady from Chicago. She has been single for three years and doesn't find herself to be very interesting. The first thing I told her to do was create more goals!
"I don't know what to do though! I don't have very many interests."
If this sounds like you, then you came to the right spot! I am happy to help, and believe it or not, I have been there before.
Who I Used To Be, Just a Few Years Ago
I used to play video games for more than six hours a day. I would eat crappy take out food, and watch daytime and nighttime television. I knew every actor and actress and what was going on the entertainment world.
One day, I asked myself, "Is this the kind of life I want to live?" I thought, "am I really satisfied with where I am in my life?" The answer to both questions was a resounding "NO!!!"
My idea was simple, I will just create daily goals. They would be easy to begin with and I would slowly make them more difficult. I started by waking up earlier each day. At the time, I was sleeping in until 11am or noon. I was tired of that. I wanted to be a morning person. So, I set a goal every morning that I was going to be up by 9am. After about a week of that, I started getting up at 8am, then 7am, then 6am.
I soon realized that it was pretty darn easy to simply get up out of bed. All it took was one decision first thing in the morning. My moto is: "Improving lives, one decision at a time," but it all starts with YOU! I started making plans with my day. I began running and lifting weights first thing in the morning. Each day there was a new goal. Each day I had objectives to complete.
I can tell you I was not motivated in the beginning. I read some research in psychology at the time that mentioned that our lives are 45% habitual. Yes, nearly half of what we do every day is because that is what we are used to doing; we do what we have done before.
"People don't change," many will tell you. I can say that is true, but if you follow these steps, you will prove people wrong and you will be far happier with your life.
Creating goals doesn't have to be complex to begin with. It can be very simple. Make the goal easily attainable early on, just like I did. Make the goal be something like, "I am waking up at 8am and take a 20 minute walk." Or something like, "I will wake up and eat a healthy breakfast with eggs, fruit, and water." You will find that over time, you will want to improve upon your previous goals.
After eating healthier in the morning, you will start to think, "I want to lose weight." Then your goal can be, "Tomorrow, I will buy a gym membership." After that, you can extend the goal, "I am exercising intensely for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."
See how easy it is? Seriously, once you start, you won't stop. The key isn't to get motivated, it is to get disciplined! After you work on these goals every day and you don't stop, your brain will get habituated. Remember when I said that 45% of our lives are habitual? Setting up goals this way, every day, will get you into the habit of setting goals for yourself, and making each day count! There is a reason you are here, right now, reading these words, and it isn't just because. You are here now so you can get your rear end in gear and starting making this one amazing life!
SMART goals will help you get your brain going and wanting more. Author George T. Doran created the mnemonic and SMART stands for:
Every goal you create needs to be specific. "I want to gain muscle," is NOT specific. "I will gain 20lbs of muscle" is definitely specific.
Every goal you create needs to be measurable. "I want to save money." That is great, but not only is that not specific, how are you going to measure that? If you save $5 in one year, did you achieve your goal? Try, "I'm going to save $50 a month for the next 12 months." If you do, you will have an extra $600 in your bank account!
Every goal must be attainable. "I am going to play Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' on the guitar!" If you are just learning to play, I can tell you that it isn't an easy song to play when you are talking about one of the top 10 solos of all time! Try something easier, then worry about rocking a top solo after you get some practice under your belt.
Every goal must be realistic. Are you out of shape but you want to climb Mount Everest this year? Make it a realistic goal because even the fittest people in the world struggle with the Mount Everest.
Every goal must be time-related. If you want to lose 30lbs, make sure you set a deadline, but make it realistic and attainable. You can easily lose 1lb of fat per week. Ideally, it would take you 30 weeks. How about you make your goal, "I am going to lose 30lbs of fat in 8 months! That will give you time to learn about weight loss, and if you have a few bumps in the road, you have the time to make up for it.
Who I am Now
After implementing the SMART goals into my daily life, I have changed for the better. I eat well every day, and I exercise at least five days a week. I got rid of the video games long ago, because I realized they were holding me back from who I wanted to be. In the first seven months of weight lifting, I gained 25lbs of muscle, I improved my bench press from 95lbs to 225lbs, my deadlift from 95lbs to 315lbs, and my squat from just my own body weight to 225lbs.
We are creatures of habit, and now I have to work out almost every day or I feel like I am missing out on something. 45% of our lives are habitual, and I have trained myself to be healthy and happy. Now it is your turn! See you next time!