Week 3- Goals: Finding your Why…
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
“Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.”
“If you have a goal in life that takes a lot of energy, that requires a lot of work, that incurs a great deal of interest and that is a challenge to you, you will always look forward to waking up to see what the new day brings.”
Susan Polis Schultz
“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.”
Booker T. Washington
You’ve decided you will lose weight and get in shape. You’ve started your fitness program. You’ve even eliminated your retreat by telling your plans to everyone you know and a few random people in line at the grocery store! You are on your way.
Today I’m going to show you another way to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will succeed! This lesson is on goal setting. A person without goals is like a ship that sets sail without a destination. It goes where wherever the wind blows, and sooner or later it will end up on the rocks!
Today I will show you how to set effective goals
You can achieve any of your goals if you follow 3 simple steps. Do these three things with any goal, you will find success. If you don’t do them, you may get lucky, but more than likely, you will not reach your goal. Create your own luck. Take control with three easy steps:
1. Define your goal.
2. Define your Why.
3. Create congruence.
Let’s look at all three.
1. Define your goal.
Your brain is constantly processing information, both passively and actively, to move you in a particular direction. If your mind doesn’t have a target, it takes you in random directions. If you don’t know your goal, you’ll never reach it. When you define your goal, on the other hand, your mind constantly focuses, directs, refocuses and redirects until it hits its intended target.
Many people say, for example, that they want to lose weight. This is fine, but it is not a goal. This is a nebulous, ill-defined want.
A goal is specific, positive, and time limited. It may include steps or sub-goals, it may be short- or long-term. But to be a goal, it needs to have a well defined end-point, it should be stated in the positive, and when possible, should be stated as if it has already happened.
Let’s do an experiment. Imagine you are at a weight of 225 pounds and want to lose 50 pounds. Say this out-loud to yourself, “I want to lose weight.” How does it make you feel? Do you feel energized? Resourceful? Do you believe deep down you will do it? Chances are this statement only makes you feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Now try this: first, picture yourself already at your goal weight of 175 pounds. What will you look like? What are you wearing? How do you feel at your goal weight? What are your friends saying to you? As you picture yourself at your goal, now say out loud, “With Slim in 6 and healthy eating I’ve designed my life so that each day takes me closer to my goal. It is now (goal date) and I look great and feel energized at my new weight of 175 pounds.”
Which statement is more likely to support you? Which makes you excited about the process? Which one will really help you get to 175 pounds? I’m betting it is the second one.
When we clearly, specifically, and positively state our goals, then review them regularly, they become part of us. Make it vivid, so part of your mind believes you are already there. It becomes reality in your mind, then your mind works continuously to make it reality on the outside as well.
2. Find your why.
In pre-med and medical school, my goal was always on graduating- getting my M. D degree. I was able to focus like a laser beam on succeeding because it was the thing I wanted most in the world. I got up early, went off to class, studied until late at night, then repeated it all the next day. Every day. It was not a burden, it was just what I needed to do to get where I wanted to go. There was no competing interest. Becoming a physician was my definite purpose at that time in my life. It was my burning desire. I still had fun, but when crunch time came, everything else faded and the next exam was the only thing. My friends and family on board with me. They all wanted me to succeed, and were wonderfully understanding when I came late or left early for holidays, or had to tell them I couldn’t go out because I had to study. Many of my friends at the time were fellow students, so we all supported each other. Everyone knew getting to the prize took a huge effort. A lifestyle change. They were right, they were supportive, and it worked.
To achieve any difficult goal, like finishing medical school or losing weight, that goal needs to become your burning desire. Luckily, since we control our minds, we can create a burning desire any time we want if we find strong reasons.
If you want to lose weight, you must figure out why you want to lose weight. Be as specific as possible. Keep asking why until you get to the root reason. “I want to lose weight.” Why? “To be more healthy” Why? “Because my parents are ill from complications of diabetes, and I don’t want that to happen to me” Why? “Because I want to be able to take care of my children and be there for them as long as I can.” Now you have some compelling reasons. When you wake up in the morning and think about that reason, you’ll jump out of bed excited to get healthy for your kids.
The more reasons you have and the more specific they are, the better they will carry you to your goal. Any goal can be reached if you have enough reasons and if they are compelling enough.
Collectively, all your reasons are called your Why. When your Why is strong enough, it turns your goal into your burning desire. Your Why will get your through the hard times. It will help you work out when you don’t have much energy. It will give you strength to resist the chocolate cake. Your Why keeps you focused on the prize. Find your why and keep it close to you!
3. Create congruence.
Con”gru*ence, n. [L. congruentia: cf. OF. cornguence.] Suitableness of one thing to another; agreement; consistency. –Holland.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996, 1998.
Having a defined goal is step one. Finding your Why is step two. But there is one last step needed to take you to the promised land- you need to create congruence. Have you ever had a goal, something you really wanted, you started out great, then somehow you lost it? Chances are, you lost congruence. A goal must agree with the other major aspects of your life. It must exist in harmony with the rest of your life. Whenever possible, the important aspects of your life should all support one another. If two forces conflict, one or both will fail.
Many people, women in particular, find that the time they started a family is the same time that they started putting on weight. Mom’s are notorious for putting everyone else first. Mom time comes only after everyone else in the family is taken care of. Unfortunately, by the time this happens, there is no time left in the day. Some moms may fear that exercising takes away from family time and they consider themselves selfish if they focus on themselves from time to time.
In this case, a mom may feel that her personal fitness in not in agreement with a happy, healthy family. Exercise seems to not be in congruence with her other major goal. She’ll never lose weight, because she feels it is counter-productive toward her greater goal. In fact, she’ll even sabotage herself, to make sure she does not lose weight which she, subconsciously, feels is bad for her family.
We live in a world of abundance. She simply needs to re-frame her thoughts and restructure her actions to support goals both goals! She should remember that that children learn by example. When she commits to healthy living for herself, her children learn to make healthy choices, too. Studies show that children who grow up in healthy households are much more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle for themselves years later when they are adults. When mom makes exercise a priority, she is teaching her kids how to take better care of themselves. And by giving them a long, healthy life she is giving one of the greatest gifts she could ever give her children. Now ‘mom time’ is in congruence. She knows her exercise helps both her AND her family. Harmony reigns.
She can similarly think of many reasons that exercise helps her family life. Exercise and weight loss will increase her energy, so she can keep up with the kids and be more effective with them. It can increases self-esteem. It can improve her mood. All of which will make her a better mom. It will allow her to stay functional well into her old age so she can help her grand children and great-grand-children, too! I haven’t even mentioned what it can do for her sex life!
She has re-framed fitness, so that she now has congruence. Now one goal supports the other, and she will get better results with both!
Think about obstacles or reasons you have failed in the past. What obstacles held you back in the past. If you still have the same goal, what can you do to eliminate those obstacles or re-frame them so that they now support your goal?
Suppose your goal is to get ripped with P90X or ChaLEAN Extreme. But if your friends want you to go out drinking every weekend, you’ll never achieve that goal. Empty calories from all that beer will go right to your abs, before they ever have a prayer of making an appearance. Your goal of getting ripped is being sabotaged by your desire to go out drinking with your friends. In order to have congruence, something needs to change. Explain to your friends the importance of your goal, that you are challenging yourself and this is something you really want. Tell them that you are excited to go out with them, but you hope they’ll be supportive when they see you dropping your Heineken for a seltzer water with lime. If your friends care about you and your desires, they’ll be glad to help out. By doing this, you are not only creating harmony in two big parts of your life, you are also creating accountability, as we discussed in last week’s lesson. And don’t be surprised if when you start looking great some of your friends change their habits, too.
The same goes with relationship, work, healthy aging, and many other goals. Find a way to re-frame competing interests to create harmony. If there is no congruence, restructure your life to achieve it.
1. Define your goal.
1a. Write down your goal on a piece of paper. Make sure it is specific, stated in the positive, and includes a time frame when you plan to achieve it. Refine your wording so that it feels empowering when you say it out loud.
1b. Write your goal down on 4 note cards. Put one by your bed, one on your desk or bathroom mirror, one on your fridge, and keep one with you. Read and re-read it at least 4 times each day- out loud if possible. Each time you read it- make it vivid. Picture yourself already there. What you will see, feel, hear, taste, and even smell at your goal? The more senses you can involve, the more present and important your goal will be!
2. Find your why.
2a. Write down as many reasons as you can think of why you will achieve your goal. Brainstorm. Fill up a sheet of paper with every reason you can find. Have fun with it. With each reason, ask yourself why until you get to the root reason.
2b. Go back to your list and put a star by every reason you find extra important to you. Of all your starred entries, rank the top 5 in order of most importance to least important. These comprise you why.
2c. Add your favorite reason to our list! To find a great list of reasons people are exercising and getting healthy, some serious, some funny, click here. Join in! Please add your favorite reasons to the list, too!
3. Check for Congruence. Think about and write down any possible obstacle between you and your goal. For each possible obstacle, neutralize it by re-framing your situation or finding a way to have both. If the obstacle is not important or is something you can change or do away with, make plans to do so.
4. Keep pushing play and eating right this week!
To your success,
Kevin Kane, MD
The Fit Doc
Good luck this week!
If you have any questions, please email me!