A New Take On Goal Setting + Free Downloadable GuideDec 28, 2020
We were taught SMART goals when I took the personal training course back in 2010 now, after my years of experience, I think they’re stupid.
SMART of course meaning, SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACTIONABLE, REALISTIC, TIMELY.
This method of goal setting is one of the most popular, widely used strategies around - and in my opinion, it’s outdated and completely ineffective - at least when it comes to using them for our health and well-being.
In fact, I think for the most part, goal setting, in general, is outdated and ineffective.
Since it’s the New Year and goals and resolutions are all anyone talks about that’s what I’m diving into today.
Specifically, how important is goal setting really, and if you stay tuned to the end, I'll be sharing one super simple, but powerful little trick to help you start building confidence right away and help you get off of that on track vs off track cycle that chronic dieters know all too well.
So if you're new here, you may not already know that I was a competitive figure athlete for a while. And I started competing because I had a lot to prove - mostly to myself.
I was trying to prove that my body was good enough, that my willpower was strong enough, that I had the heart and the drive to not ever quit no matter how hard it got.
I was trying to prove that I was worth something.
And the core reason when I look back and break it down was that I needed validation that I was good enough.
I had spent my whole life feeling worthless.
I never really knew that was bubbling under the surface, nor did I know why or how to fix it. So like almost everyone, I spent my life chasing external validation.
At that stage in my life, I thought it would come from winning a competition.
So I set the goal and somehow won.
But within a very short time of walking off stage, I still felt the exact same way that I did before I won.
So I had to set the next bigger goal, a pro card, that would be the thing that finally made me feel the way I wanted to feel, right.
That didn't work out. My body had other plans, it had had enough of my abuse and started fighting back with a bunch of injuries.
Thank God, it was smarter than me because that's what helps me learn freedom. But I digress.
The point is - I’m curious, is being obsessed with reaching goals, really helping us - is that really what we should be focusing on?
Traditional wisdom, along with science says that people who set firm goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don't.
But I suppose that's pretty obvious, right? If you don't even have a goal, then there's nothing to achieve, right?
But is living and dying by goal setting our whole lives, really making us live happier, more fulfilled, and more successful lives overall?
I think not really. And I think there's a better way.
So stay with me while I explain.
As you start thinking about your New Year's goals consider this…
Almost every single goal that we want to achieve is because of how we think will feel when we achieve it. Right?
The income, the weight loss, the car, the job, the competition, the game, we want to win whenever we want those things because of how they're going to make us feel.
I'll be so happy when…
I'll feel so good about myself when…
So if the underlying reason we want to achieve anything is because of how it's going to make us feel what if we stopped setting and focusing on achieving goals outside of ourselves that we believe will give us that very fleeting, external validation and instead focused on our thoughts, our beliefs, our habits, and our choices every day to create those feelings in ourselves?
Because here's the thing, two people can set the exact same goal but have two completely different outcomes.
The other 20 plus women on the stage with me had also gone into that competition with the goal of winning and I was the only one who actually did that day.
Every person who sets a weight loss goal wants to lose weight. But few do.
Every person who sets career goals wants to reach them, but not everyone does.
Every athlete who sets sports goals wants to win, but not all of them do.
So if not everybody who sets goals actually reaches them this means it's not the act of having or setting goals that determine success.
It's not the goal itself that determines success or failure.
It's actually all of our day to day choices that determine our results.
And our day to day choices are determined almost 100% by our thoughts, habits, beliefs, and behaviors, not the goals themselves.
So what if we stopped obsessing over goals, and focused instead, on those things?
I believe we are more likely to be successful, well adjusted, like ourselves more and be happier.
I mean, think about it. The universal reason that most people set just about any goal is almost always because of how they think it will make them feel, which suggests that the only way to change the way they want to feel about themselves is outside of themselves.
Chasing goals keeps us trapped, keeps us in that trap of believing that happiness and feeling good or good about ourselves is out there someplace outside of ourselves and far away at a later date.
We'll feel that way, when....
But reaching goals only really feels good for a short time. And when it fades, we're left feeling the same way as when we started, or back at square one, and needing to keep setting more goals to chase having those feelings again.
See, because reaching a goal only changes the way we feel for a moment.
Winning my last finger competition felt amazing, but every day working towards it was hell. And the high of winning only lasted not much beyond walking off stage with the trophies and getting pictures taken.
I needed to start all over again, with prepping for the next one to make myself feel that way again.
And it would only work if I won again.
If I continued to chase the goal of winning more competitions, I would still be spending every day in that food war over what I wanted to eat versus what I was supposed to eat in order to reach my goals.
And why? For the potential of a few fleeting moments of approval from judges? From other people?
The same goes for any weight loss goal.
We set the goal, right? That magic number that we want to see on the scale, and then we obsess over hitting it for months before usually, ultimately just quitting and why?
So it'll feel good to see that number on the scale one morning, and then what? We live happily ever after?
No, then the battle of being terrified to put it back on starts.
And hating ourselves for every ounce that it moves back up, starts. Right?
So either way, we stay stuck endlessly chasing new weight loss goals to continue trying to create those feelings.
Or we get stuck in that on track versus off-track mindset forever.
Because what often happens whether you reach that weight loss goal or not one of two things? We keep chasing the next goal, or we stop working at it and go back to the same habits mindsets, and behaviors that cause the weight gain in the first place.
So there's no real support and place to make it last, just this notion of I did what I needed to do to get here and I feel great so now I can stop.
Remember those thoughts, habits and beliefs that I spoke of earlier.
Remember, you know the things that actually determine our results. I want to circle back to those for a minute because not only are they the things that actually determine our results, they're also the things that make us believe the lie that all of the things we want to achieve, to feel the way we want to feel, are outside of ourselves.
I wanted to win a figure competition because I felt worthless and thought it would make me feel like I was worth something.
People want to lose weight or get that job or buy that fancy car or house handbag, whatever usually for very similar reasons.
They think it'll make them more confident, happier, maybe like themselves more, because they don't feel like they're enough exactly as they are.
They think all of those feelings can only be found outside of themselves.
And what happens when people don't feel enough or value themselves as they are? They engage in self-destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors.
So it actually makes it even harder to ever reach their goals.
I cannot even tell you how many times I binge and then over exercise to quote make up for it. I was a self-sabotaging machine back in those days.
It's a miracle I was ever even successful or reached any goals myself because I literally self-destructed and self-sabotage all the time.
And that's one of the biggest reasons most people struggle with food and their weight.
They're engaged in self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors as a result of their thoughts, beliefs about themselves, and their habits.
So what if instead of setting external goals outside of ourselves, we thought about why we wanted that thing?
You know, how the weight loss, the competition, the job, whatever was going to make us feel.
And then we focused all of our energy on changing the thoughts, habits, beliefs, and behaviors that were keeping us from feeling that way right now.
The goal in sports is to have the best score, but the athletes who win don't do so because they stand around staring at the scoreboard, they win because they do the daily work to get better every day. And as three times Superbowl winner Bill Walsh says, the score takes care of itself.
The same is true for everything.
Goals are great for helping find direction, but I say stop focusing on them.
Instead, focus on why you want to reach them and put all of your energy into figuring out the underlying thoughts, habits and beliefs that are keeping you from feeling that way already and changing those things so that you learn to create those feelings within and then you're never at risk of losing them.
This way, you won't spend your whole life chasing goals outside yourself for the feelings of worth, and fulfillment you're after - you'll just live.
And you'll create better results.
Because when we believe we're worth more and deserving of goodness, the destructive habits and behaviors that create self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors, stop.
So sure a goal may help give a little direction, but put all of your attention and focus into your daily thoughts, beliefs about yourself, behaviors, and habits, and the score will take care of itself.
And that brings me to the one simple little goal-setting trick that I talked about in the beginning.
So you're going to take one to two minutes every single morning to decide what matters to you that day.
Every morning, ask yourself how do I feel? How do I want to feel? What matters to me today? And what am I willing to do about it.
And you can set one to three super simple and easily achievable little tasks or goals or whatever to help you get there. It can be as simple as just having a glass of water if you're struggling with overwhelm, or depression.
Or it can be to get in a workout, if your body feels like it needs a sweat session.
Maybe it's just a 10-minute nap if you didn't sleep well.
Maybe it's working on a specific habit that you want to change.
Maybe it's noticing your thoughts and working on changing some of them.
The point of this exercise is to get you used to taking a minute to connect with what you need every morning, and to start focusing on those thoughts, habits and beliefs that we talked about earlier.
This is going to help you connect with what you need what matters to you and give you easily achievable little tasks to complete every day so you go to bed at night feeling proud of yourself for being successful and you start building momentum in the direction you want to go.