The problem with almost all goals is that they are waaaaaaaay off in a distant future. They are not your problem, they are your future self’s problem.
Today you are going to keep doing what you did yesterday, and the day before, and they day before.
SMART goals, with all their detail and specificity) can be even more depressing… “but I made it measurable, why didn’t it happen?”
Most goals don’t work because you don’t change the day-to-day actions that will get you there.
Most goals are an attempt to change who we are today. Who we are is based on a collection of habits that has built up over the years. It has momentum.
If you are overweight, it is likely because of your eating habits. Wanting to lose weight is well and good, but as a goal, it is not useful. Instead, you need to replace your eating habits with new ones:
- Compulsively write done everything you eat in a diary or app like MyFitnessPal
- No fried or sweet snacks between meals
- Fill up on salad at every lunch and dinner
- Don’t buy packaged food with ingredients that you can’t pronounce
The internet is full of healthy eating advice. There are endless diet programs. Most of them work if followed properly. They don’t work through some sort of magic fat disappearance. If they work it is because you change the food habits that made you overweight to begin with.
Let’s take a work example: You want to make 10 sales.
To get there, you have to make 100 phone calls. You probably already know that, but you still get to the end of the day without making your 100 calls. This is because your habits don’t support making the calls. Maybe instead your habits involve checking email repeatedly, planning who to call in the future, daydreaming about who you want as a customer, checking Facebook etc etc.
The best habits are ones that you can do repeatedly, every day until they become an ingrained part of who you are. They become part of your personality.
- Before leaving work, you plan your calls for the next day. That means that no matter what the time is, or what sort of day you have had, you still make your plans.
- When you arrive at work, for the first hour, you do nothing except make calls. Check email first if you must, but no responses until after calls. (Keep the phone next to your ear between calls, so everyone thinks that you are busy and doesn’t interrupt you.)
- Every time you want to get a coffee, you make 10 calls and then reward yourself
- You don’t go for lunch without finishing a certain number.
If you do any of these things again and again, you will make more calls. As you make more calls you feel good about getting through your work, rather than frustrated that it isn’t happening.
A habit becomes powerful when it is so ingrained that you don’t need to think about it. You just do it, without burning mental energy. Look at all the habits that make up your day – the time of day that you do certain things, the temperature of your shower, the clothing order in which you get dressed, what you eat for breakfast, which pocket you keep your phone in, how you greet people, where you sit at the table, what drink you order…
Take your goals, and make them the work of your current, not future, self by converting them into daily habits.