When it comes to goal setting and (perhaps more importantly) goal attainment, Self-Talk (ST) runs the show!
Consider these ways to bring awareness to your Self-Talk and make sure it’s acting in your favor as your secret weapon instead of conspiring against you as your saboteur…
See if this resonates:
We want to set a new goal. Let’s call it an exercise routine because, well, almost everyone has been there. Let’s assume that we want to start an exercise routine because we’re hoping to see some kind of result – call it weight loss. So we decide that we will work out 4 days per week for 45 minutes per day. (*disclaimer – this is not a ‘how to set a goal to lose weight’ post… I definitely have thoughts on that too – but this is about our ST)
ST likes this goal because it’s not daily! She says: “Daily would be hard! Ugh we seriously hate exercise!”
This is what we want to bring awareness to! She’s at it already – telling us how hard this is going to be and we haven’t even begun!
So we wake up on Monday ready to start tackling our goal of 4x/week workouts. Maybe we achieve it on Monday! Maybe we even succeed week that first week… but at some point (fairly early on for most) we break a commitment to ourselves and ST starts saying things like:
“Well, I worked out Monday and Thursday… but now it’s the weekend… What day of the week does the week actually start on? Maybe I can work out Sunday and Monday and that’s kind of the same thing… 4 out of 8 days… that’s close to 4x/week… Ugh I knew this would be hard.”
She’s totally in the “push” position.
We have to push her to keep the commitment – to hit the goal – she’s definitely not our cheerleader. We have set her up for failure and as such she’s doing the same right back to us. No good.
So how do we make her our secret weapon?
Here is the often counter-intuitive answer:
We want to set a new goal – exercise – weight loss – you know the deal. Let’s start by thinking about something that would be a lay-up to accomplish but for whatever reason we’re not currently doing it. Maybe this is something we enjoy doing (for example, if you dig dancing maybe you commit to dancing to two songs every night before you brush your teeth) or maybe it’s something that’s so easy it would be hard not to stick to it (like 15 jumping jacks every morning). Something that makes ST say: “Well yeah, we can totally do that, but is it really going to help us lose weight?!”
Bingo. That’s where we want her! The first half of her statement is beautiful… don’t worry about the second half just yet.
Stick to the easy and/or enjoyable goal for a few weeks. If you’re Type-A like I am, make yourself a check list and make a mark each day to signify that you kept your commitment.
John C Maxwell famously said: “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
If you really want to conquer something, make it a habit! Make it a DAILY goal! It is exponentially easier to figure out how to fit in 15 minutes of “X” every day than it is to try to schedule 30 minutes of “X” every other day or 45 minutes of “X” every third day. The more “mental math” is involved, the more at risk you are of not following through.
(And to scientifically define “mental math”, it sounds like this: “What day is it? Wednesday? Did I do “X” Monday? Or was that Sunday? If I skip it today I could do twice as much…” No. No. No. That is awful. That is sabotage.)
So at “easy/enjoyable and daily” goals ST may be our ally, but how do we turn her into our secret weapon? Simple. It happens organically with momentum.
Because I am not a dance-before-teeth-brushing kind of girl, I’m going to run with the jumping jacks example…
Here’s our scenario. We commit to 15 jumping jacks every morning without exception. We tell all of our friends who might be with us in the mornings so that they expect this and encourage us.
(Oh. I don’t mean like friends around the office Keurig – although the more the merrier – I really mean the people who sometimes wake up next to us… our spouses, significant others, family members… or whatever else you’re into. Not judging. Just keep your commitments!)
We print out a Word template calendar and stick it on our fridge to track our victories… and then we rock and roll! This is so easy that we can’t NOT do it. Even if we have some crazy circumstance in the morning we can always knock out 15 JJs before bedtime and call it a win. With every successfully completed session of jumping our ST whispers a little “yes!” Each check mark on the calendar gets a “woohoo!” Sure, she may know this is easy but let her revel in it for a few weeks! Give her some EASY WINS!
Eventually she’ll bite the bullet and say: “You know… we can really do a little more than this. If we added 10 pushups to the 15 jumping jacks it wouldn’t take but a minute more…”
And now she’s in the PULL position!
Every goal is easier to attain when our ST is positive. Positive ST boosts our self-esteem and improves the way we feel – and the feeling of accomplishing is not much different than the accomplishing itself. It’s hard to have one without the other.
This can be applied to all facets of your life. From weight loss to business to literally anything you want to improve. Small incremental changes that seem too easy to matter lead to improved self-talk which will propel you to bigger changes AND improved self-concept.
THAT’S what happens when you take charge of your ST in relation to goal setting and put her to work for you!