Have you ever set a goal? And then not delivered on it? What happened? How did you feel? Why do you think you didn’t carry through? Was it not important? Too important? (Those goals that would really be life-changing if you achieved them can be overwhelming and scary.) What would be different now if you had achieved it?
Know what I think? Fuck goals. Goals are almost always far away, abstract, pie-in-the-sky dreams of what we want to be – no wonder we don’t usually deliver on them. It’s HARD to get your head around making life changes; and we hem and haw and procrastinate until that arbitrary SMART goal deadline comes and goes, and then we feel guilty. Fuck goals. No more goal setting. Instead, think of the person you want to be…AND THEN BE THAT PERSON.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how freaking ripped Archimedes is in that picture? Clearly he wasn’t messing around, waiting for the right opportunity to get to work – he was getting shit done, a little at a time.
But I know, it’s not quite that simple. Change is hard and tricky and I’m not trying to sound flippant or smug about it because, trust me, I have walked that path and I know how rocky it is. Really what I’m getting at here is, how do you define yourself, to yourself?
Say for example, you want to lose 20lbs and be so unbelievably fit and hot and jacked that everyone’s (male and female) undergarments fly off when you walk by. You’ve set that SMART goal (maybe more than once) and just can’t get started on it. Instead, look at it this way: You ARE that fit, hot, jacked person. Oh yes you are – now, how does that more awesome version of you live? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they probably do things like schedule their workouts in, and then stick to their schedule. They do whatever it takes to eat properly: maybe they use a premade meal service for when life gets hairy and they can’t face cooking. Maybe they keep protein bars in their glove compartments for when they haven’t planned on post-workout hangriness to strike. What is probably not on their radar, though, is hitting up 7-11 for potato chips because they forgot to eat for twelve hours while they were looking after everyone else.
Here’s another example: maybe you want to be a musician but you have trouble finding time to practice. There are just too many demands on your time and day after day goes by and you just can’t get to it. Adjust your thinking: you ARE a great musician. Do great musicians put their practice time at the bottom of the priority pile? You can bet they didn’t get to where they are by putting everything else first, thinking that once everything else was done, IF there was time, then they’d practice. Nope, great musicians schedule their practice time and it comes first.
Redrawing the lines of how you define yourself is easy. Believing yourself is the tricky part. It takes practice – maybe lots of practice. But I think it’s more fun and more gratifying than feeling guilty while you watch the sand running out of the hourglass on that goal you set. It also brings you closer to why you are doing what you’re doing…and if you are crystal clear about why, you may just be able to hold onto those new habits over the long term.
Story time: a few years ago I decided that I was going to train for powerlifting. A few months ago I added Olympic weightlifting to my training as well, and in the back of my mind I have this crazy idea that I might one day train for a Strong(wo)man competition – you know, hit all three strength sports. BE a strength athlete.
Whoa, hold up. Be a…what? An athlete? The first place my brain goes when I hear that is “Hahaha! I am NOT an athlete.” because for my entire life, I have defined myself as a chubby geek…and even though I have progressed to the point where I compete at the national level, I schedule my training in and it is my TOP priority, I track my macros so that everything I eat will make me better at lifting (well, almost everything), I still have to work at defining myself as an athlete. I haven’t convinced myself yet…but it’s coming. And working on it is sure fun – definitely more fun than always trying to “fix” myself. We don’t need fixing – we just need to embrace what’s inside us that’s awesome so that it grows and comes to the surface.
It comes down to two questions: Who do you want to be? and How long can you put off being that person?