Very often we are stuck in a rut. It’s this negative inertia that’s holding our actions back, habits in place, and our ability to move forward decelerates and we end up back where we started. In order to get moving we have to set a destination. What is the direction we are heading? We often represent this direction as goals.
How do we start moving towards our goals though. It’s not like we haven’t tried, right? We seem to end up back where we were every time. How do we stop this negative cycle? We begin by setting reachable goals.
Aren’t they all reachable? Sort of. We have to have quick success. We are teaching ourselves that we CAN change. By setting small, easily attainable goals we begin to focus on our ability to achieve our goals. This is an important concept based in psychology.
Let’s take a look at the usual path. We set a goal. Usually out of spite of being fed up with our current situation. Then we go full boar towards that goal, assuring we will burn out because we set a goal that’s grandiose and exciting. Eventually we don’t succeed in making a lasting change, or a change long enough to reach the goal, and we have to back off. Over time we get back on the horse and try again.
The problem with this negative cycle is that we fall into a psychological phenomenon called “learned helplessness.” This state of mind discourages trying again, and ends up in a negative inertia like the one originally described.
So, by setting quick and easily attainable goals we begin to build the confidence in our ability to create change. Lasting change. The goal is actually to build habits that lead up to the attainment of the goal.
When we set goals that are way off in the future, like losing 30lbs, we don’t enjoy the journey. It’s a check mark whether we accomplished it or not. Until we do, we feel this uneasiness to get it done. We don’t give ourselves the carrot, as they say. We have to set manageable small goals that keep us focused on the process. We have to make those goals realistic and measurable. They also need to be accomplished, or teach us something positive about the process. As I like to say, it’s not the goal, it’s who you become during the process of attaining the goal that is worthwhile. It’s who you become.
So tonight, take the next smallest incremental step towards your goal and plot out what the next step for the week will be. A good present will create a good future.
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